The Dining Dish blog is Dara Bunjon's take on anything food, both national and in her hometown of Baltimore. Warning: this food blog can be harmful to your waistline.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Food - the common denominator

Let’s face facts, everyone has to eat. Food is a subject common to all mankind, without it we are nothing. When talking politics and religion is a general no-no, everyone can talk food. One can be obsessive about food (i.e. me) and others could care less what they eat (hard to believe)-but without food, we are dead.

In its best form, food brings people together at one table where ideas and conversations are shared. I came from a home where the family sat at the table for dinner: no TV, no radio, and no newspapers – only genuine conversation about everyone’s day, their dreams and desires. I am saddened to see that dining together is a rarity in households: to me, this is core to feeling the warmth and love of the family.

Oh, one might be on a diet but one talks about the foods they aren’t eating, shouldn’t eat or want to eat. I am quoting a bit out of context from a book called The Memoirs of Bambi Goldbloom: “Money makes the world go round but you have to eat everyday. There are 4 kinds of people: those thinking about dieting, those dieting, those thinking about eating and those eating.”

On the precipice of 2009 may my wishes be for full plates for everyone, that hunger in this world disappears and hope that over a dinner table somewhere peace can be achieved.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What are your New Year's Eve nightmares?

Which party dress should I choose? Where shall I dine? Who will join us? What will make this evening special? You might be surprised by all my answers.

My party ensemble will more than likely be my fuzzy blue slippers with the pompoms, blue jeans and a 15 year old sweatshirt. With that get up the fashionistas will picket me like the PETA people after they hear that I’m going to boil lobster for dinner. So where I will dine is answered- at home. We might even splurge for a movie on demand but doubt the husband will stay awake past 8 p.m.

My Nightmare

The last time we went out for NY Eve it was a COMPLETE disaster. It was an overnight package at a suburban hotel. My poor friends who suggested it still apologize for the evening. Both couples checked into the rooms and then on to the dining room. We waited at least 40 minutes before we saw a server and got water and bread-that was all that we had. We waited another hour and never got our order placed. We checked out. So where do you go at 11:30 on NY Eve? We ended up at the Nautilus Diner in Lutherville, had steak and eggs, celebrated the ringing in of the New Year with complimentary champagne and went home. Of course the ordeal didn’t make the husband a pleasant person, like I knew this was going to happen. They say that home is where the heart and this year,all of me is going to be home for New Year's Eve.

I know I can’t be the only one that had a hellish times on New Year’s Eve – do share.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Meridian 54 Restaurant – new hope for an old corner

This triangular shaped restaurant location at the corner of Montford Avenue, Boston Street and Hudson Street in Canton has gone through a number of permutations from Weber’s multiple owners, to the French incarnation with Dennis Manneville to Red Fish and its multiple owners. Renamed Meridian 54, it offers a refreshed, light and airy décor, a creative menu and a talented local chef, Russell Braitsch - this could be just the right mix.

The bar pretty much remained the same as it has always been in decor but the dining room is a light, sunshine yellow countered with the subtle tones of the upholstered banquettes and harmonious sounds of the multiple waterfall panels. It was a sunny afternoon, just prior to Christmas when I met my friend there for lunch.

Executive Chef Russell Braitsch
It was great to find Chef Braitsch again, I knew him from his days as Chef-de-Cuisine at Corks when I was selling Vanns Spices. He’s has moved about a bit to Gardel’s, Noah’s on the Side, Iron Bridge and now stirring up his knowledge of flavors with a slant to Mediterranean on Meridian 54’s menu. Desserts and breads are baked on premise and he utilizes free range, organic and locally grown products.

Four menus
Yes, four different menus: lunch, dinner, lite fare and brunch so depending when you arrive there is an appropriate menu.

Let me start with lunch, because that is when I dined. We opted for the soup of the day ($6) which was a hearty brisket of beef soup that was served in a crock along with housemade bread, perfect for a cold wintry day. We shared the smoked duck and red grape salad dressed with a lovely lemon and cardamom dressing ($9). It was a generous portion of duck that accompanied the salad although my personal preference would be to have the duck not as chilled – a bit more to room temperature.

We opted for the crab cake sandwich ($12) and Wagyu beef burger stacked on a Kaiser roll with applewood smoked bacon, wild mushrooms, Fontina cheese and a basil aioli ($12). Both were accompanied with “Pops” hand-cut French Fries that are topped with Parmesan cheese, truffle oil and chives. They even brought out a sample of their house-made charred beef gravy for us to sample. I thought the burger was a winner both for taste and size. The crab cake was large, generous although it isn’t lump or backfin. I think they have more interesting dishes and flavors to try – Duck Confit Pizza ($7), Shrimp Dumplings ($10), Mediterranean Sea Salt Baked Salmon ($12), Porcini Scented Breast of Free Range Chicken ($14).

We wrapped up lunch with the Whoopie Pie ($6) and the Arborio Rice Pudding ($6). Honestly we only needed one dessert but you know me, gluttony is my middle name. The rice pudding was Arborio rice in a chocolate cup topped with macerated figs and lemon zest served with macaroons. The rice pudding was yum and I liked the fig and lemon zest touch. I believe they are changing the accoutrements to this dish and taking off the macaroons. The Whoopie pie is very rich with a hint of peanut butter on a bed of raspberry coulis and crème anglaise.

Brunch looks good
For $12.95 you get your entrée and a choice of a Bloody Mary, Mimosa or Sangria. The SOS (creamed chipped beef) is served with flat iron steak, Parmesan grits, braised spinach and buttermilk biscuits or the Belgian waffle- both tickle my brunch palate, sweet or savory. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Check out the links below for a look at the dinner & lite fare menu.

If you haven’t made arrangements for New Year’s Eve, this might be a good alternative for you. They are offering multiple prefix menus for the evening, food served up until midnight.

In conclusion, I think the dining room makes a good destination for an upscale business lunch – a really nice atmosphere, subtle – no flat screen TV’s in the dining room distracting you from the joys of conversing with others. Meridian 54 is still refining their soul but they are all heart will Chef Braitsch’s culinary expertise. The question always is would I return and the answer is yes.
For more info:
Meridian 54
845 S. Montford Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21224
Open 7 days
11 a.m. to midnight – Monday through Thursday
11 a.m. to 1 a.m. – Friday
10:30 a.m to 1 a.m. – Saturday
10:30 a.m. to midnight – Sunday
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. – Monday through Friday
10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m – Saturday and Sunday
5 p.m. to 10 p.m. – 7 Days
Lite Fare:
10 p.m. to midnight – Sunday through Thursday
10 p.m. to 1 a.m. – Friday and Saturday

Meridian 54 on Urbanspoon

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Top 5 Dining Examiner stories

Pearl S. Buck said, “One faces the future with one’s past.” I look to 2009 with a review of my favorite posts in 2008, my top 5, and leave the top 10 to David Letterman.

Is there such a thing as too many desserts? - I chose this story because it is every foodie’s dream to dine at a world renowned restaurant, to have cache in the kitchen with the celebrity pastry chef and be treated like someone special. Though this took place a number of years ago, it is my favorite restaurant memory.

Shark repellent alla Julia Child - Here was an opportunity to inform you of untold stories about Julia Child, as shared with me by the producer of a number of her television series. Also my experience sharing a table with Julia at her first crab feast.

Chef Barbara Tropp rediscovered - This was my salute to a ground breaking chef from San Francisco who died too early. Her husband, Bart Rhoades, shared a recently found uncompleted/unpublished story she was writing for Bon Appetit. She was a leading expert in Chinese food and forerunner in her philosophies of what we should eat. This story will lend insight into the passion of a chef.

2. Overwhelmed in the Wildwood food triangle - This is my foodie “ah ha” moment, a moment for the hereafter and for the here-and-now, a recipe for one of life’s best sandwiches.

1. Two views from one table - A unique evening with the Food Examiner and I, the Dining Examiner, having dinner together and each of us writing about our view of the evening and the food. The restaurant, Bicycle, was a great back drop and good food. The story has a link to Juliette Goodwin’s view of the evening, it has video and photographs. As they say, and who the h*ll knows who “they” are, there are always two sides to a story.

Do you have a favorite Dining Examiner story, if so; I would LOVE to know which tickled your gastronomic fancy?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ideal meal for a cold chilly day-recipes included

It was cold and damp out and I thought soup and potato pancakes (latkes) were perfect for a luncheon I was preparing for a friend. It wasn’t my original menu but the luncheon got rescheduled for the next day and the main course had been marinated from the night before, so the husband and I ate it for dinner the night prior.

The soup was what my mother used to call a sweet and sour cabbage soup and she always served potato pancakes with it. I hadn’t made it in a very long time and my pre-Hanukah potato latke craving was kicking in. My friend, Monyka, is an adventurous eater so I didn’t worry. We ended up eating 2 bowls of soup and wiping out all the potato pancakes.

Desserts were cranberry/pistachio biscotti, chocolate ginger biscotti (Click HERE for the recipe) and orange cranberry muffins.

Potato Pancakes (yield 8 to 14 pancakes)

2 baking potatoes, peeled
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
1 large egg
1 tablespoon flour
Kosher salt – to taste
Fresh ground black or white pepper to taste
Canola oil or melted rendered chicken fat

Food processor with grating blade & regular or box grater-large holes
Fine mesh strainer or tea towel
1 large bowl
Pancake griddle or fry pan
Pastry brush
½ sheet pan or cookie sheet

I personally use the food processor with the grater blade to do the potatoes and then put in the regular blade and add back the grated potatoes with the quartered onion and process into smaller pieces.

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees or warm.

Once the potatoes and onions are processed I add the mixture to a mesh strainer over a bowl to let the excess liquid drain out. If you don’t have a fine mesh strainer then put the potato/onion mixture in a tea towel and twist it real tight over the sink to help get rid of the excess water content. If you are using a fine mesh strainer you will see liquid in the bowl but a pasty white substance at the bottom. That is starch so I add that back after I drain off the liquid.

I have the potato/onion mixture in a large bowl I then add a generous portion of kosher salt and grind or two of pepper, the egg and 1 tablespoon of flour and mix well.

I have a griddle pan that goes over two burners so I turn on my burners to medium high and let that preheat a little while. I had some melted rendered chicken fat (most of you won’t) but it is an indulgence once a year. I use a pastry brush to coat the griddle top and proceed to make the pancakes.

Once I finish a batch of potato pancakes I put them on the ½ sheet pan and put them in the oven to stay warm. You can use a fry pan, with a small coating of oil and fry the pancakes.
I am a potato pancake purist; I just add salt – no applesauce, sour cream or ketchup when I eat them.

This is the ideal soup for a cold, damp, chilly day. It will warm you through and through down to your toenails. Monyka and I had two bowls and polished of a good number of potato pancakes

Sweet and Sour Cabbage Soup serves 6 to 8

I am going to give you the short version of this recipe. Tell you I used my pressure cooker to speed up the time. I didn’t measure a thing so these are estimates. I used my homemade chicken stock.


Oil to coat stock pot, dutch oven or pressure cooker bottom
1 package of flanken (cut of beef) or Korean cut beef ribs
(approximately ½ pound to ¾ pound)
Salt and pepper
1 onion, peeled and rough dice
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups shredded cabbage
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of salt
½ small can of sauerkraut
3 plum tomatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon sugar
8 cups chicken or beef stock (homemade preferably – less sodium)

5 to 6 quart pot or large pressure cooker w/lid

Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste

Heat your pot to medium high to high heat, add the oil and then the flanken or Korean cut beef ribs and brown them on both sides. You will probably be doing this in batches so once brown remove to a plate and let the natural juices accumulate.

Add the onions, carrots, shredded cabbage, garlic and salt, stir and cook until the onion and cabbage start to soften.

Add the ½ can of sauerkraut, tomatoes and stock and bring to a simmer and let cook covered for about 1½ hours at a low simmer. If you know how to work with a pressure cooker, cook for 30 minutes.

As the soup cools, taste it for additional seasoning.

If there is soup leftover, this freezes very well.

If you have any questions, please reach out to

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Restaurant gift certificates redeemable at over 500 Maryland restaurants

Resolve your restaurant holiday gift certificate giving conundrum as to who would like which restaurant. Give a gift certificate from the Restaurant Association of Maryland redeemable at over 500 local Maryland restaurants.

Started in 1994, RAM's restaurant gift certificate program provides a win-win for Maryland diners and restaurants by providing easy and flexible redemption options as well as additional business for local restaurants.

"When consumers 'give the gift of dining' to their friends and family with our restaurant gift certificates, they are playing a significant part in strengthening the state's economy. When people buy local this holiday season, we all benefit by keeping money in Maryland, with Maryland businesses that provide Maryland jobs," commented Paul Hartgen, President and CEO of RAM. "Many large employers in the state have also recognized the value of these restaurant gift certificates, using them as a chance to reward their employees with a night out when they may be tightening their own belts" Hartgen continued.

A recent article in the Baltimore Sun recommended that this holiday season consumers give restaurant gift certificates from RAM. “Our dining certificates eliminate the guess work in choosing that special gift. They are easy to purchase in varying increments, without the hassle of parking lot mayhem. Recipients are presented with numerous dining options throughout the state for any and every occasion” added Hartgen.

To make it easy to 'give the gift of dining' RAM restaurant gift certificates are available for purchase in increments of $10, $25, or $50 online at, by phone (410) 290-6800 or in person at RAM's headquarters located at 6301 Hillside Court, Columbia, MD 21046. For a complete list of member restaurants participating in RAM’s gift certificate program please visit the website at or simply click on

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WIN Iron Chef tickets, cooking class or dinner with Eric Asimov

For $10, you can buy a virtual raffle ticket to win a one-on-one cooking class with me and an autographed copy of YUM-Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats (item # UE38), win exclusive tickets to the filming of Iron Chef (item # UE27), dinner with Eric Asimov of the New York Times (item #WB02) and more.

As a self professed foodie-gone-awry, I have had the pleasure of food styling for a number of culinary greats including Giuliano Bugiali, Nick Malgieri, Sara Moulton, Steven Raichlen and many more. This one-on-one cooking class will last 3 hours either in your home or mine on a date that is mutually agreeable.( class is limited to the Baltimore-Washington DC area). (item # UE38)

I am also donating an autographed copy of my co-authored cookbook with Jeff Spear, YUM – Tasty Recipes from Culinary Greats that features recipes from culinarians from around the country like Jody Adams in Boston, Jacques Torres, Nick Malgieri, Sara Moulton in New York, Susanna Foo in Philadelphia, and José Andrés, Michel Richard, Nora Pouillon in DC.

So many more; Steven Raichlen, Norman Van Aken, Susan Spicer, Sherry Yard, Jamie Gwen, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Christine Keff, Jerry Traunfeld, Tom Douglas, Dan Barber, Suvir Saran, John Fleer, Nathalie Dupree, Joanne Weir, Susan Hermann Loomis, Charlie Trotter, Dorie Greenspan, Rick Bayless, Rick Tramonto and more!

Hear more about the book in this audio interview on public radio – Click HERE.

Food Bloggers World Wide
Each December, food bloggers from all over the world join the campaign by offering a delectable array of food-related prizes for the Menu for Hope raffle. Anyone – and that means you too - can buy raffle tickets to bid on these prizes. For every $10 donated, you earn one virtual raffle ticket to bid on a prize of your choice. At the end of the two-week campaign, the raffle tickets are drawn and the results announced on Chez Pim.

Last year, we raised nearly $100,000 through the online food community and that money went to supporting the school lunch and farming program for the children in Lesotho

List of Prizes
There are many more culinary prizes available in this raffle -check out all the prizes HERE and HERE for East Coast prizes

What is Menu for Hope?
Menu for Hope is an annual fundraising campaign hosted by Chez Pim and a revolving group of food bloggers around the world. Five years ago, the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia inspired Pim to find a way to help, and the very first Menu for Hope was born. The campaign has since become a yearly affair, raising funds to support worthy causes worldwide. In 2007, Menu for Hope raised nearly $100K to help the UN World Food Programme feed the hungry.

Who is the beneficiary of this year's campaign?
Once again we’ve chosen to work with the UN World Food Programme. WFP is the world’s largest food aid agency, working with over 1,000 other organizations in over 75 countries. In addition to providing food, the World Food Program helps hungry people to become self-reliant so that they escape hunger for good.

Who collects the money?
Certainly not me, nor is it the other bloggers participating on the campaign. We know our readers trust us, but we also want to be completely transparent in our fundraising. So, we use a very good online fundraising company called Firstgiving, who has worked with us since the first Menu for Hope years ago.

Donors can make an online donation with a credit card. Firstgiving collects and processes the payments and, at the end of the campaign, transfers the donations in one lump sum to the WFP. This is a win-win situation for all parties involved. The bloggers never touch the money. The WFP doesn't waste overhead on processing mini-donations, the majority of which were between $10-$50, that’s a whole lot of tenners. Firstgiving does all the work and collects a small fee, which include the credit card processing charges.

Last year, Firstgiving gave back 1% of the total amount raised in lieu of a discount on their processing fee. Thank you Firstgiving, we appreciated it very much!

To Donate and Enter the Menu for Hope Raffle
Here's what you need to do:

1. Choose a prize or prizes of your choice from our Menu for Hope above(be careful with your item numbers)
2. Go to the donation site at Firstgiving and make a donation.
3. Please specify which prize you'd like in the 'Personal Message' section in the donation form when confirming your donation. You must write-in how many tickets per prize, and please use the prize code.
Each $10 you donate will give you one raffle ticket toward a prize of your choice. For example, a donation of $50 can be 2 tickets for EU01 and 3 tickets for EU02 - 2xEU01, 3xEU02.
4. If your company matches your charity donation, please check the box and fill in the information so we could claim the corporate match.
5. Please check the box to allow us to see your email address so that we can contact you in case you win. Your email address will not be shared with anyone.

For more info: Join the giving and win – Donate HERE Any questions email me at

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

The best biscotti recipe ever with bonus recipe

Baltimore Dining Examiner: The best biscotti recipe ever with bonus recipe ; photos

Posted using ShareThis

Brother, can you spare a dollar?

A friend told me her father hired a part-time helper in his shop and realized the gentleman was not eating lunch. He advised his employee to stop and take lunch. The helper said it was more important that there is food for his children and was skipping the meal. My friend’s father is now keeping peanut butter, jelly, bread and ramen soups for his employees, so no one goes hungry.

Yes, times are tougher for all of us but could you skip the cost of one lunch and send that money to a charity that helps put food on the table for the less fortunate? Could you spare time to help get the food out to those in need? Could you check on friends/family/neighbors/coworkers? - You might be surprised who might be in trouble?

Hunger, hungry children and lack of permanent shelter on a local, national and worldwide level is growing by leaps and bounds. Even though you are cutting back on your decaf latte from Starbucks, there are people trying to figure out how to feed their family of four for the cost of that one coffee.

A friend and local food blogger, the Baltimore Snacker, posted a story about a couple in San Diego who decided to live on one dollar a day for 30 days. Their experiment crystallizes what families are going through. In reality, more and more families and individuals are facing this plight and it will get worse before it gets better. Let me direct you to his story: $1 a Day

Empty plates
We tend to think of the less fortunate around the holiday times. Dining Dish has put up permanent links to two local organizations that help put food on the table, Meals on Wheels and Maryland Food Bank. The links will remain as a gentle reminder that we need to help year round.

The money I usually spend on holiday cards and postage has been donated to charity. What can you do?

For more info:
515 S Haven St
Baltimore, MD 21224
(410) 558-0827
2200 Halethorpe Farms Road
Baltimore, MD 21227
Phone: 410-737-8282

Monday, December 08, 2008

SCAN IT! Save Time! Save Money!

As I dashed into my Gucci Giant Supermarket on Old Court Road, at the entrance I saw this new display with hand-held scanners that you take with you in your shopping carts. New technology, I’m game…alas, it kicks off tomorrow, December 9th.

Giant’s new SCAN IT! allows you to scan your groceries, get extra savings, keep track of your total and bag your groceries while you shop. When you are done your shopping you just pay and go!

-When you enter the store you pick up scanner and bags. And at the SCAN IT station scan your bonus card.
-The scanner rack will light up, identifying which SCAN IT! scanner to use.
-Take the scanner and some bags
-Place the bags on the inside of the card and begin shopping

Extra Savings

-Get extra savings exclusively with SCAN IT!
-Special offers just for you every time you use SCAN IT!


-Select an item and scan the barcode
-After scanning the item, place it in the bag and continue shopping

Special Care Items

-Produce: Most produce items can be scanned after printing a label at the SCAN IT! scales in the Produce Department. For items that are pre-packaged, like bags of apples or containers of cherry tomatoes, just scan the barcode on the product.
-Bakery: For baked goods that are sold individually, like donuts and bagels, scan the SCAN IT! barcode on the appropriate sign in the Bakery Department
-Bulk Coffee & Candy: Weigh your bulk coffee and candy during the checkout process.

To remove an item:

-Press the remove button and scan the item
-The item will be removed from the scanner and the total will be adjusted

Pay & Go

-When finished shopping, proceed to the checkout lane.
-Scan the “End of Order” barcode at the checkout area.
-Place the SCAN IT! scanner in the return rack at checkout.
-Scan your Giant Bonus Card at the checkout register and follow the on-screen instructions to complete your transaction
-Pay and Go!

I will report back once I have tried the new system.

I never seem to have my bonus cards when I need them. Maybe I need a personal barcode tattooed on my palm that will cover all this. SCAN IT! convenience for us, time & money savings for us…not such good news for the checkout staff.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Have you eaten a Harley burger?

Today, as the husband and I detoured today down Druid Hill Avenue, past my former elementary school and long-gone Carlin’s park, we chatted about their ice rink, roller rink and swimming pool. I immediately flashed back to the pan of Harley burgers sitting in the mystery red sauce that was served at the pool’s food pavilion.

I’m not sure what the red sauce was and I’m food curious if any of you might have an idea what was in it? I did like my Harley burgers. I know they were tasty, yes! – healthy, aaah doubtful. I’m not sure what kind of meat was in them, supposedly beef.

Don’t talk amongst yourselves; the floor is open to discussion.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

2008 Best Xmas Light & Music Display

Michael Mohammadi of just sent a link to this great holiday video...I'm sharing. We need something to smile about.

Double Cheeseburger more at McD's

Nation's Restaurant News yesterday reported that the real barometer of our economic times has hit. That gastronomic delight called the McDonald's Double Cheeseburger will be increasing to a suggested retail price to $1.19, still maintaining its double patty-double cheese and come off the dollar menu. Don't worry, the Dollar Menu will include a NEW sandwich, the McDouble - which is made with two pattys and one slice of cheese. Now can you live without that extra slice???????

Papa John's hits $1 million in sales from mobile-phone web orders....Yoo hoo restaurateurs, here is your wake up call - get with it, get the technology to help your bottom line. SIDEBAR: When will we totally loose the ability to personally interface with other human beings. I know I spend too much time at the puter. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What You'll Eat in 2009: Predicts New Food Trends

Here is another list of food trends for 2009.

What You'll Eat in 2009: Predicts New Food Trends

Be sure to check earlier post on 2009 Restaurant trends.

Hot, Hot News from Clementine Restaurant

I just ran into Chef/Owner Winston of Clementine (the place is packed every night - you need reservations) who informed me they just got their permit today to expand. They will soon be opening a bar and a curing room where they will be curing their own of meats as well as adding some additional seating. Yippee!!!!!!!!!
Clementine Restaurant
5402 Harford Road
Baltimore, MD 21214
410 444 1497

Cheesecake Lollipop Recipe Experiment

Make something different than cookies for the holidays. Learn how I played with ready-to-eat cheesecake filling to make cheesecake lollipops. It truly dresses up the holiday table with a not-too-filling sweet finish that is festive.

President elect Obama has a fancy for Fran’s Chocolates out Seattle which is caramel, chocolate and smoked sea salt -I paid homage with some of my chocolate caramel cheesecake pops with smoked sea salt.

Cheesecake Lollipops

1 Tub Container – 24 oz Philadelphia Ready-to-Eat cheesecake filling

12 to 18 ounces – Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
12 ounces - Caramel Sundae Topping
12 ounces – White chocolate chips
8 ounces – Nutella

Assorted chopped nuts
Cookie decorations like jimmies, colored sugars
Coarse sea salt & smoked sea salt

Freezer Space
1 glass of warm water: for dipping the melon baller between cheesecake balls
24 lollipop sticks (or cocktail stirs)

Freeze the cheesecake filling in its container or spread in a wax paper lined ¼ sheet pan (or cake pan) and put it in the freezer. You want the filling to firm up so they can be shaped in small balls. I found that a minimum of 30 minutes was needed on the ¼ sheet pan and would really leave it a full hour athe next time. If you are freezing the whole container, you might allow 1 ½ hours and check the consistency at that time and give it more time if necessary.

Once the filling is firm, use a melon baller to shape them in little balls, a full rounded tablespoon. I found I finished shaping them in my hands. So keep a damp towel handy. I also suggest you work quickly and do ½ a batch at a time because the filling will defrost quickly. Put the lollipop sticks in the cheesecake balls and replace in the freezer for 1 hour.

You can prep your coatings and toppings in the mean time. I highly suggest you go with one topping at a time i.e. chocolate, white chocolate. Now I had to keep heating up the toppings because I was working with too many. Microwave the chocolate, Nutella and caramel at 50% power for 30 seconds. If they haven’t soften enough, another 30 seconds, etc. You will need to whisk the toppings to make sure they are pliable and smooth. The white chocolate chips took longer in the microwave and set up faster. You want to heat the toppings just prior to taking the cheesecake lollipops out of the freezer.

When your pops are frozen, take out only what you can coat quickly and dip them in one coating at a time. Sprinkle on your toppings and place them back in the freezer on a wax paper lined pan. I dipped some of mine in caramel, then the chocolate and sprinkled on sea salt( the above homage to Obama). Keep your cheesecake lollipops in the freezer until 30 minutes prior to serving.


If you make the lollipops too big they will bend over on the cocktail straw, the regular lollipop sticks might hold it better. These are not hard, just time consuming as to really letting the cheesecake firm up that working with it is simple.

The finished product is in the photo. You could tie little ribbons around the pops for added color and presentation. I took a wide mouth jar, filled is the floral glass balls to hold the sticks and tied a ribbon around the neck of the jar.

I discover a couple other recipes where you make your own cheesecake filling …this is much simpler. If you make these pops, send me photos… I’m sure you can come up with some clever presentations that you can share.

I found the ready-to-eat cheesecake at Super Fresh. I didn’t check any other stores. They did not have lollipop sticks. You might check with William Sonoma or the Cake Cottage on Belair Road for those.

I shot a lot of this in video and spliced it but it didn’t upload correctly, I got the audio from the whole thing but only the last section of the video. HELP!

Monday, December 01, 2008

One World Cafe takes the Eat In Season Challenge

Baltimore’s best all-vegetarian dining spot, One World Café, will take Slow Food Baltimore’s Eat in Season Challenge this month from December 8-15. Chef Sue Novak and co-owner Cindy Novak, have created a special locally-sourced, seasonal menu. Anyone who enjoys healthy, seasonal, delicious food will find these options inviting:

Organic split peas soup with baby carrots, leeks and golden potatoes

Cranberry goat cheese salad with organic baby spinach with sliced Clementine, pear slices and toasted walnuts served with pomegranate vinaigrette

Organic butternut squash puree with a pumpkin butter sauce and toasted pumpkin seeds

Root vegetable pot pie with turnips, parsnip, carrot, radish and red potato served over sautéed mustard green with kale and topped with a roasted shallot gravy

Organic red and golden beet stir fry with sweet potato, fennel and crispy tofu sautéed in a sweet and sour sesame sauce served over organic brown rice with candied pecans ( vegan)

Sliced tofurkey with Brussel sprouts in a creamy horseradish sauce served with mashed parsnips and granny smith apple sauce

One World is located at 100 West University Parkway in Baltimore, across from the Hopkins’ lacrosse fields. It is the eighth restaurant to meet the Eat in Season Challenge.

A diverse group of area restaurants has stepped up to take the Eat in Season Challenge, an initiative of Slow Food Baltimore that invites area establishments to serve -- during one week of the month -- a special three-course menu each night with the primary ingredients in each course to be locally sourced, and either currently in season, or traditionally preserved. The metro-wide campaign encourages chefs to be innovative; to create food that otherwise may not be featured or showcased. The Challenge also teaches people about the powerful benefits of eating seasonally.

For more information visit, and click on “Eat In Season.”

Friday, November 28, 2008

Stimulate your cooking desires!

Do you love to cook but there are few people around you that share your passion, who understand why you sit by the TV waiting for the next Top Chef episode and they can’t comprehend why reading a cookbook to you is like reading a great novel? If you answered yes, then maybe it is time you start a culinary dinner club.

Shrimp Ball Soup - Photo by Brian Carmen

How to start a culinary dinner club

Starting a culinary dining group is simple, it is fun and a great reason to show off recipes you know and ones you want to try. Start small, reach out to friends and co-workers who like to cook, maybe 3 other people – if you know more, then invite them as well.

- Rotate hosting the gatherings at different homes
- The host gets to choose the theme (i.e. ethnic, regional, seafood, cookbook or celeb chefs recipes, spa cuisine, vegetarian etc.)
- The host can coordinate what dishes are coming to the dinner or choose not to (I don’t coordinate it….it is more fun.)
- Choose how often you want to hold them every 4 weeks, every 6 weeks –you get the picture?
- Voila – you have a culinary dinner group!

Over the years, I have been part of two such groups and always enjoyed them immensely: not only for the food but for the friendships.

I recently reached out to an acquaintance who I knew was into cooking and suggested we start a group. She would invite about 4 to 6 friends and I the same.

Tuesday night was an inaugural dinner at my house with the new group. Choosing a couple days before Thanksgiving to host it wasn’t the best choice of days and we had a couple of cancellations at the last minute. All-in-all, there were 6 of us including two guests (since there was so much food). The theme I chose was “Anything but Turkey.” Our dinner ended up being eclectic, fun and tasty.

The dishes for the evening:

-Oysters in a champagne cream with spinach served in an artichoke heart
-Vietnamese spring rolls with nuoc mam dipping sauce
-Shrimp ball soup (recipe link) - see photo above
-Russian herring and potato salad
-Honey truffle thyme marinated chicken thighs
-White asparagus with lemon zest
-Apricot almond cake - I have a link to the Kerrygold cookbook but you have to click on dessert tab and then on the apricot almond cake- here is the (link)

A miracle fruit experiment to wrap up the evening

Early this summer I participated in an experiment with the magic berry, a taste altering fruit which contains miraculin. It alters your tongues perception of sour and bitter foods making them sweet. MiracleUK company from Great Britain sent me a complimentary pouch of the freeze-dried miracle fruit. After the culinary dinner posse had eaten we tried the experiment. I kept it simple, each was given some of the powder that they left on there tongue for a minute or so, then I gave them a slice of lemon to suck on and a taste of vinegar, both became sweet to them.

Let us know what your culinary groups do or any suggestions for people putting a group together.

For more info:

If you are a member of http://www.facebook/ check out my “Love to Cook” group.

Miracle Fruit: I have written about the miracle fruit in past posts in greater detail and here is the full story and also another one I posted on Gordon Ramsey’s reaction to the magic berry.

Purchase Miracle Fruit:

Monday, November 24, 2008

MadTV Brit and K-Fed Thanksgiving

A little Thanksgiving humor

What we eat for Thanksgiving

When the welcoming Wampanoags Indians brought turkey to our forefathers and started the Thanksgiving tradition could they possibly perceive the tradition of bringing family and friends together to share the bounty of the land and its economic stimulus.

What we spend on the food and drink during Thanksgiving week:

$46 million – Stuffing
$34 million – Cranberries (canned & fresh)
14 million bottles – Wine (red and white with red a bit more – favorites are Pinot Noir & Riesling)
19 million cans or $14 million in sweet potatoes and yams

Chump change!

Figures were compiled by

What do they call the night before Thanksgiving?

There is Thanksgiving and then Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, but what is the night before Thanksgiving called? In my single days (back in the Stone Age), it was a night to hit the hotspots, see friends who were back in town visiting, a night to be raucous and rambunctious. I was flashing back to this subject last week when I was at Ra Sushi because the vibe there is full of adrenaline, the food fun and the room allows for movement as opposed to the people-packed-like-sardine-filled neighborhood bars.

This was my second visit to Ra Sushi, my first was happy hour with the Media Mavens. The place was packed that evening and the Ra Sushi food kept flowing. Since I was there this past summer, Ra Sushi has kicked up their happy hour and it would be perfect for the yet unnamed night before Thanksgiving or any night from Monday through Saturday (yes, Saturday). Happy hour starts at 3 p.m. through 7 p.m. They are offering ½ off sushi, ½ off appetizers with $1 Hot Sake, $2 Budweiser, Bud Light and Miller Lite but you can get a Cosmo or Apple Martini for just $4.

Sake to me!

Let me not forget the sake, a rice wine. I got to enjoy a sake tasting with a selection of Ra’s new menu items.

-Hananomai Katana sake which is full bodied and dry with the new Shrimp Shumai and Spicy Octopus & Cucumber Salad

-Kizakura Nigori sake which is unfiltered offering a smooth, light and sweet taste. This was paired with the new beef tataki roll, the pictured mango lobster roll and the Kona Kampachi Nigiri.

-Kizakura Pure sake, a filtered sake that had a smooth, crisp slightly floral taste that paired with Ra’s very popular Apple Teriyaki Salmon

-Sho Chiku Bai Nigori sake another unfiltered sweet sake was an ideal pair for Ra Sushi’s Coconut Crème Brulee.

I remember the excitement of the night before Thanksgiving and hitting the bars with my gal pals, staying up to well, not even going to sleep, and on into Thanksgiving Day. Now I am just happy I am able to remember those days because this gal can barely make it past midnight and the husband would be a serious drag on me hooking up. (LOL)

I tend to digress, so back on subject….is there a name for the night before Thanksgiving?

For more info:
Ra Sushi
1390 Lancaster Street-Harbor East
Baltimore, MD 410 522 3200

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Inaugural Fever - for just $200,900

I just read in Nycci Nellis’s TheListAreYouOnIt – Buzz Section about a hotel package at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington DC that is a mere $200,900 (excludes taxes and gratuities) for January 17th through to the 21st. You’ll be dressed by Ralph Lauren for the inaugural, a private dinner at CityZen with Chef Eric Ziebold and sommelier Andrew Myers, a chauffer driven Maserati, daily spa treatments and obviously much more. If you want to know what is going on in the DC restaurant scene and more details of the Mandarin Oriental Inaugural package then sign up for TheListAreYouOnIt.

The Baltimore Scene

Want to know what is happening in the Baltimore restaurant scene check out for food, drink and shopping specials and the localist for events happening in Baltimore including food and drink.

The biq question is who will treat me to the Mandarin Oriental Inaugural package?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Simple chocolate and salt fix

It is simple, it is fast and it hits all the food buttons: sweet, salty, crunchy, rich – it’s a Nutella panini. If you have a little caramel sauce or banana then throw them between the two pieces of bread.

Nutella Panini Recipe:


Crusty bread with soft interior
*Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread)
*Smoked or regular sea salt (Coarse grain where possible)

Sliced banana
Caramel sauce


1. Horizontally slice the bread so you have crust both on the top and bottom the way a hot dog roll is sliced.
2. Smear on generous portions of Nutella on both top and bottom pieces of bread
3. Sprinkle each side with sea salt and put the two pieces of bread together
4. Put in preheated panini machine or George Forman grill No machine, simple…heat a fry pan or griddle and coat with some oil, put the sandwich on that and put a heavy pan on top of that. Flip the sandwich top to bottom and put the weight pan on top.

*You’ll find Nutella in almost any grocery store…look for it near the jelly, jams and peanut butter and sea salt at most upscale food stores. In Baltimore, you can find an interesting selection of smoked sea salts at Neopol at Belvedere Square.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rachel Ray comes to the Baltimore area

Meet the perky Ms Rachel Ray on December 13th when she comes to the Baltimore area to promote her new cookbook, Rachel Ray's Big Orange Book. Get your favorite foodie an autographed copy at Books-A-Million at Arundel Mills Mall as a holiday gift. This is a ticketed event.

About the Book

In the 10 years since she served up her first 30-minute meal—and thousands of delectable dinners later— Rachael Ray has learned just about all there is to know about getting a great tasting meal on the table in a hurry, whether it is one of her patented 30-minute miracles or something just a tad more involved for a special gathering. Rachael’s Big Orange Book is the ultimate resource for busy cooks.

Need kitchen inspiration? It’s all here and it’s all new—and bigger than ever!??Just one for dinner tonight? Forget the cold cereal. Rachael has a chapter of recipes that make dining on your own a thoroughly civilized occasion, with great meals that won’t leave you with a fridge full of leftovers.

Vegetarians on the guest list? No problem! Choose from dozens of meat-free meals that are every bit as satisfying as your tried-and-true standards and savory enough to please the carnivores in your crowd.

Observing a Kosher menu? Check out the selection of menus just for Kosher cooks, all ready in less than, you guessed it, 30 minutes. There's even a mother lode of burger recipes for fans of the bun—so many options you could make a different burger every day for a full month!??

DATE: Saturday, December 13
LOCATION: Books-a-Million
Arundel Mills Mall
7000 Arundel Mills Circle
Hanover, MD 21076
Ph: 443-755-0210
This is a ticketed event.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Eat pork on Thanksgiving

It is hard to believe but there are some of you out there who don't like turkey and dread Thanksgiving.

It is for you, the gobble-gobble phobics that I write this little note. Pork, the other white meat, is a great alternative and goes well with stuffing and sweet potatoes.

The 'Whole Hog'

Executive Chef Aharon Denrich of Mr. Charles Market in Owings Mills has created the 'Whole Hog' similar in concept to a Turducken (a semi boned turkey stuffed with duck and chicken ).

Chef Denrich starts his 'whole hog' with andouille sausage that is wrapped in a pork tenderloin seasoned with herbes de Provence that is wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and then wrapped with a bone-in pork loin that is finally wrapped in maple bacon. You can purchase by the slice (rib bone size) or purchase a whole roast.

Mr. Charles Market
12147 Park Heights Avenue (near Walnut)
Owings Mills, MD 21117
p 410.356.3844
f 410.363.914

P.S. Congrats to my friend, Chef Bill Crouse of Sotto Sopra Restaurant, who won the popular vote of the 300 guests attending the "pork" competition this past weekend. Click HERE for the entire story

Friday, November 14, 2008

NEW Middle Eastern Restaurant Opens

On Tuesday, Tahina’s opened their doors introducing a new Middle Eastern fast food restaurant concept in Owings Mills. The stylized concept has succinct offerings: falafel, beef or chicken wraps with multiple toppings from spicy goat cheese to the traditional tahini sauce. On the go, grab a snack of hummus with pita chips, falafels or enjoy their fries with the choice of 8 dipping sauces from spicy cucumber to the standard ketchup. They even offer black or green ice tea. This first Tahina’s is serving as a prototype for multiple units.

Tahina’s is just off Reisterstown Road on Owings Mills Boulevard, tucked into the Best Buy’s shopping center nestled between a Noodles Restaurant and Qdoba Mexican Grill near the Ravens headquarters.

I tried the beef, a marinated brisket, with numerous toppings. The beef was so tasty that the next time I think I’ll keep my toppings simpler and enjoy the flavor of the beef.

Yesterday I spoke with Jeff McCabe, one of the partners and he said since opening the doors on Tuesday, business has been very brisk with positive reponses from the customers. Check it out and let me know what you think.

For more info:
10450 Owings Mills Boulevard-Suite F
Owings Mills, Maryland 21117

(Photo - left to right) Simon Haddad, Jeff McCabe, JorySchunick, Morris Scherlis- Partners

Top 5 Gift Items for Foodies

Here is my list of great gift items for the foodies in your life. Please SHARE your foodie holiday gift ideas here…leave a note in the comments about your favorite kitchen tool, cookbook or cooking class. Tis the season to share.

1. Microplane $15

If there isn’t one in your home then this is a great gift for a foodie. You can find them at William Sonoma or any store carrying quality kitchen supplies. They run around $15..maybe less at some locations. The Microplane is a unique grater that makes a great stocking stuffer – all the chefs use them, it makes haste of zesting citrus, cheese, chocolate –FABO! No kitchen should be without one.

2. Food Magazines $15- $20

If the foodie in your life isn’t getting Bon Appetit, Gourmet or Food and Wine buy them a subscription. New recipes with color photographs every month –a foodie’s dream.

3. Gift Certificate for a Cooking Class From $10 to $425

Click HERE for my list of cooking classes available in the Baltimore regional area.

The classes are diverse from your home to in a restaurant kitchen ~ there is something for everyone. I personally prefer a hands-on class, working in a kitchen. Cooking is very Zen for me. I recommend Chef-for-the-Day at Sotto Sopra for a real restaurant experience and For the Love of Food with Chef Diane Bukatman – both offer hands-on training with a chef.

4. Restaurant Gift Certificates

5. Cookbooks

There are a trillion, well maybe thousands of cookbooks. Let me tell you about a couple of current releases so you won’t be duplicating what might already be on your cookbook shelf. I am listing the suggested retail price on all these books but I recommend you go on line to purchase at or . At Amazon, you can buy the books used and in excellent shape.

For the bakers:

The Birthday Cake Book by Dede Wilson $19.95
75 Recipes for candle-worthy occasion

The Modern Baker by Nick Malgieri $35.00
Time-savings techniques for breads, tarts, pies, cakes and cookies

For the cheese lover:

Cheese, Glorious Cheese! by Paula Lambert $26.95
More than 75 tempting recipes for cheese lovers everywhere

Cheese Hors d’Ouevres by Hallie Harron $12.95
50 Recipes for crispy canapés, delectable dips, marinated morsels and other tasty tidbits

For the lover of food and wine pairings:

Wine Mondays by Frank McClelland $24.95
Simple wine pairings with seasonal menus

Simple Italian:

Giada’s Kitchen by Giada de Laurentiis $32.50
New Italian Flavors

For holiday entertaining:

Great Bar Food at Home by Kate Heyhoe $17.95

The reference book each cook must have on their shelf:

The Science of Good Food by David Joachim and Andrew Schloss $37.95
The ultimate reference on how cooking works

Everyone wins on this book:

Yum! Tasty Recipes by Culinary Greats by Dara Bunjon and Jeffrey Spear $28.95
100 recipes from culinary greats (Steven Raichlen, Ming Tsai, Elizabeth Faulkner, Norman Van Aken, Jose Andres, Rick Bayless and many more)

Profits from the royalties of the sale of this book go to the National Kidney Foundation and if you purchase the book from the Restaurant Association of Maryland Education Foundation (click HERE) $15.00 is tax deductable and proceeds go towards culinary scholarships to students within our state. This was released last fall.

For the lover of a good food story:

Hometown Appetites by Kelly Alexander & Cynthia Harris $ 27.50
The story of Clementine Paddleford, the forgotten food writer who chronicled how America ate.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

How to get on Top Chef

Want to get on Top Chef? Dining Dish just learned that Chef Jill Snyder's audition tape was on YouTube and have it below for your perusal. Don't forget to watch her tomorrow night, Wednesday, November 12 at 10 p.m. on Bravo. Good luck Jill-"Win One For the Kipper" yeah, yeah..I know it really is the Gipper, I'm taking foodie license and changing it.

Who are my top chefs?

With the season premiere of Top Chef- Season 5 tomorrow night at 10 p.m. on Bravo, I think about two local women chefs who are participating in my favorite food reality show, Jill Snyder of Red Maple here in Baltimore and Carla Hall of Alchemy Caterers in Washington DC. I am excited to see these talented women strut their culinary ‘stuff’ and will be cheering them both on.

My Top Chefs

It was also terrific this past Sunday to see many other women chefs strut their culinary ‘stuff’ at a fundraiser, some of which will help subsidize a selection of the culinary scholarship and internships offered from the Women Chefs and Restaurateurs organization. The event at Willow Restaurant in Arlington, Virginia was to launch the WCR 2009 Calendar and Recipe Collection - Crowning Cuisine: More Than Sugar and Spice. Featuring some of the Washington DC area's finest female chefs, cooks and sommeliers, this extraordinary collection provides signature recipes, wine pairings and preparation tips from Nora Pouillon, Ris Lacoste, Jamie Leeds, Tracy O'Grady, Barbara Black and many more talented women of food. (watch video below)

I was busy volunteering in the kitchen that evening and shot a bit of video, my own reality program. If you look closely you will see Kate Jansen of Willow, Ris Lacoste of the soon-to-be Ris, Nora Pouillon of Restaurant Nora, Janis McLean of 15 Ria, Ann Yonkers and many other women chefs.

Calendars can also be purchased at these participating establishments in the Washington DC metro area or buy on line HERE:

15 ria, Addie's, Argia's, Arrowine, Bazin's on Church, Black's Bar & Kitchen, Black Market Bistro, BlackSalt, Buzz, CommonWealth Gastropub, Eatbar, Equinox, Great Falls Tea Garden at Cathy's Corner, Hank's Oyster Bar DC, Hank's Oyster Bar Old Town, Hollin Hall Pastry Shop, Hook, ici Urban Bistro, La Cuisine, L'Academie de Cuisine, Lansdowne Resort Restaurants, Mia's Pizzas, Moorenko's Ice Cream Cafés, Pizzeria Paradiso and Birreria Georgetown, Pizzeria Paradiso Dupont Circle, Restaurant Eve, Restaurant Nora, Red White & Bleu, Rock Creek Bethesda, Rock Creek at Mazza, Swiss Bakery and Pastry Shops, Tackle Box, Tallula, Teaism, The Majestic,Vermillion, Willow Restaurant.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Behind the scenes of Hell’s Kitchen

What questions would you ask Season 3’s winner of Hell’s Kitchen, Rock Harper, if you could have lunch with him? That was the question put forth in Downtown Diane’s weekly Baltimore E-Newsletter. The person submitting the best questions and most compelling reason to have lunch with Chef Harper would enjoy dining with the reality TV star at Roy’s Restaurant in the East Harbor.

I already filmed Chef Michael Midgley and Chef Ilan Hall, both of Season 2 of Top Chef, on video discussing their audition process. I felt it was my responsibility to you, my readers, to send a convincing note to Downtown Diane so I could get Chef Rock on video for your review.

I captured the prize seat at the table, ate a wonderful lunch (menu and pictures below) and had an intense conversation with Chef Rock and his beautiful wife Tamara. Below are the my questions, Rock's answers and the promised video.

Q & A with Chef Rock

Q: What about reality TV were you unprepared for?

A: I thought it would me more TV-ish and wasn’t going to be as kitchen related. They kept it so true to what went on in the kitchen.

We weren’t manipulated with the exception of our down time when we were asked to remain focused and chatting about wanting to win the job and what it would mean to us. We were to avoid sports or arts discussions.

Q. The quality of the contestants seems very diverse. I got the feeling that some of the contestants were chosen for more amusement value as opposed to talent. What do you think?

A: Chef Ramsey asked that this year the chefs brought to the competition truly have a higher culinary skill level.

Q: If you could take back one moment on film, what would it be?

A: The scene on the show where I was snoring I could do without. I would like to edit out the couple of times where my temper flared, which is a natural occurrence in any restaurant kitchen.

Q: Do you think working in Hell’s Kitchen was a real portrayal of what actually happens in a restaurant kitchen?

A: In some ways yes, it showed the intensity of a real restaurant kitchen.

What wasn’t realistic is the seating of all the guests at once. In a real restaurant all the guests are not seated at once, all orders don’t come to the kitchen at once. In Hell’s Kitchen, 50 guests were seated per team. The first order ticket arrives and if anything on that ticket went wrong (undercooked, overcooked) we would have to throw out everything for that course at the table and start over. So the other orders would wait until we finished, we would run out of food, it created a trickle down effect of continuing errors and problems throughout service.

Q. Are you keen to watch the 2009 reality food show Chopping Block with Chef Marco Pierre White? Chef Ramsey worked for Chef White, who is known for throwing pots, pans and even breaking Chef Ramsey down to tears as told in Devil in the Kitchen. Have you ever thrown anything in the kitchen?

A. Yes, I’m looking forward to the show. The same production company that does Hell’s Kitchen will be working on Chopping Block. It will be on NBC. I must admit that I have thrown things in the kitchen, not often, rarely – but it happened.

Lunch at Roy’s

Chef/Partner Rey Eugenio of Roy’s gave everyone a tour of his kitchen, which is stadium-style, similar to Hell’s Kitchen. Grab a seat at the counter on Saturday night to really see how a real restaurant kitchen works. Chef Eugenio and Chef Harper were discussing the prejudices and obstacles that women chefs face in the kitchen. Both are proponents for women chefs, in fact, chef Rey employs 5 women in his kitchen. As a member of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, I was thrilled to hear and know that they support women in the restaurant industry.

We had luncheon in one of Roy's private rooms. There were 13 of us and everyone enjoyed Chef Eugenio's delicious and generous buffet.

Buffet Menu

Pad Thai
Green Curry Beef
Grilled Atlantic Salmon
Korean BBQ Chicken
Grilled Romaine with Caesar Dressing
Roy’s Organic Blackened Tuna
Golden Lobster Pot Stickers
Lakanilau Roll with crab tempura and Kobe beef
Baby Back Ribs
Jasmine Rice

Dessert: Chocolate Molten Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream

Rey Eugenio, chef/partner
Bryson Keens, managing partner
Roy's Restaurant
720 B Aliceanna Street
Baltimore, MD 21202

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Lobster Alert! Lobster Alert!

This is a drive-by post, short and sweet. Super Fresh Markets have live lobsters, 1 to 1 ¼ lbs, for $6.99 a pound. The sale runs through Monday, November 3rd. I had them steam 2 lobsters and picked up one chilled for under $5. So lunch is lobster and movie.

I also found Mahogany clams, tiny like cherrystones – 50 for $6.99. I look for these each year -tiny, sweet and tender. I’ll steam most of them as a nosh but do clams casino for dinner along with spaghetti and meatballs.

It is a good food day in the Bunjon household.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tapas Teatro Takes the Eat in Season Challenge

Tapas Teatro Takes the Eat in Season Challenge

Tapas Teatro will take Slow Food Baltimore’s Eat in Season Challenge from November 8-15. Chef Antonio Baines has created a delicious array of seasonal, locally-sourced tapas dishes suitable to the cooler weather of fall. The dinner menu includes:

· Farm fresh fried Green Tomatoes with herb-scented yogurt and a sweet
garlic-cornichon-piquillo vinaigrette ($6.95)

· Mixed Roasted Beets "au jus" finished with pinenuts, hazelnut oil, and
sea salt ($5.95)

· Roasted Beet and Arugula Salad with toasted hazelnuts, dried cherries,
currants, golden raisins, and marinated red onion finished w/ a currant vinegar-elderberry vinaigrette ($8.95)

· Roasted Turnips "au jus" finished with shaved garlic, farm fresh sage,
cracked peppercorns, and house made creme fraiche ($6.95)

· Farm fresh Brussel Sprouts in a parmesan-truffle cream ($7.95)

· Pan-Roasted Halibut paired with farm fresh wilted spinach finished
in a Serrano horseradish cream ($14.95)

· Duck Leg Confit with cannellini beans ($17.95)

· Organic Egg Omelet with farm fresh broccoli, cremini mushrooms, Swiss,
and truffle peelings ($8.95)

· Chicken and Orzo soup with roasted garlic, fennel, and farm fresh mint

· Dessert: WineSap Apples in Puffed Pastry ($5.95)

All produce and herbs are sourced from Fig Leaf Farms in Howard County, a five-acre piece of land leased at Rox Farm by Tapas Teatro owner Qayum Karzai (also owner of "b" in Bolton Hill and The Helmand in Mount Vernon).

The apples are from Black Rock Orchards in Carroll Country and poultry and eggs are from Evensong Farms in Sharpsburg, MD.

Tapas Teatro is located at 1171 N Charles Street in Baltimore. It is the seventh restaurant to meet the Eat in Season Challenge.

A diverse group of area restaurants has stepped up to take the Eat in Season Challenge, an initiative of Slow Food Baltimore that invites area establishments to serve -- during one week of the month -- a special three-course menu each night with the primary ingredients in each course to be locally sourced, and either currently in season, or traditionally preserved. The metro-wide campaign encourages chefs to be innovative; to create food that otherwise may not be featured or showcased. The Challenge also teaches people about the powerful benefits of eating seasonally.

For more information visit, click on "Eat In Season."

Baltimore Area Cooking Classes - Adult & Children

I have investigated and gathered a pretty comprehensive list of cooking classes in the Baltimore region. The list offers many formats of classes; at your home, at the instructor’s home, in restaurant kitchens, at schools and at stores. From cake decorating to being a chef-for-the-day, there is something for everyone’s taste here. I have particularly noted some classes that are in November; in fact one is this Sunday. Look the list over. The classes are for beginners to the advanced, children and adults.

If you are wondering what to get the "foodie" in your life, a gift certificate to any of these classes would be an awesome gift.

Do you know of other cooking classes, please let us know.

Once you take one of these classes you are required to invite me over to taste test what you learned. - Deal?

Anne Arundel Community College – Main Campus
101 College Parkway
Arnold, Md 21012
Assorted non-credit and credit culinary classes at various campus locations

Cake and Wedding Cottage
8716 Belair Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21236

The classes are held as single events (demos) or as a weekly, one night per week series. Basic Cake Decorating is one night per week for 6 weeks and Intermediate Cake Decorating is a 6-week course, again one night per week. Rolled Fondant is a 3-night course, held one night each week. All other classes are normally one session

Multiple classes in November – check the website

Chef Professor In-Home Cooking Classes
Chef Jack E. Batten, CEC
Phone: (301) 627-4496

Where the Chef Comes To Your House to Teach You (and maybe some of your friends, too). Chef Professor offers Personal Cooking Classes presented in a client's home in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland suburbs including Northern Virginia and Southern Maryland areas.

Chef’s Expressions at Grammercy Mansion
1400 Greenspring Valley Road
Baltimore, Maryland 21153-0119
(410) 561-2433

Chefs Jerry Edwards and John Walsh conduct culinary tastings at the Gramercy Mansion Carriage house. Jerry and John create 3-4 special courses and recipes for attendees to taste while enjoying the entertaining hijinks of the two trend-setting chefs.

Cooking with Ben
Ben Tehranian
6402 Wind Rider Way
Columbia, MD 21045
Phone: 410-312-0001

Ben Tehranian invites you to his kitchen to share his experience and skills in a relaxed, involved, and hands-on environment. Or if you prefer, he will hold the classes in your own kitchen using your equipment. Ben also offers assistance with planning and preparing your special gatherings.

Culinary Kids Cooking School LLC
Nikki McGowan, Executive Chef
Ellicott City, MD
Phone: 978-223-3068

Our classes and parties are all hands-on. We incorporate science, math, nutrition, and kitchen safety into the preparation of fun and delicious culinary specialties.

Our classes and parties are offered to elementary and middle school age children in schools, community centers, churches, and homes in Baltimore and the surrounding area.

Cooking with Donna
Chef Donna Crivello
Donna's Cafe at Snowden River Parkway
5850 Waterloo Road, Suite 100
Columbia, MD 21045

Fast Mediterranean meals for everyday and for entertaining. Practical cooking classes with tastings and recipes. We'll talk about Mediterranean ingredients, (shopping and stocking) plus techniques for pulling together great, quick and healthy dinners. Learn more about cooking without recipes . . .(not just pasta, but vegetables, chicken and seafood, legumes) and how to create dishes with great flavor at Donna's in Columbia (Snowden River Pkwy)

Upcoming classes: $45 per class

Nov 4 quick dinners
Nov 11 Italian thanksgiving side dishes
Nov 18 holiday brunches
Dec 2 holiday food gifts
Dec 9 Italian Christmas eve (seafood)
Dec 16 the New Year’s Eve hors d’oeuvres party

Elkridge Furnace Inn
Chef Daniel Wecker
5745 Furnace Ave.
Elkridge, Maryland 21075

Upcoming class
November 25: Adult Cooking Class
7:00 pm to 9:30 pm
$80 inclusive of service and tax
Reservations are required, limited space available

Whether you love cooking or want to learn some new skills join us for this interactive cooking class taught buy Executive Chef Dan Wecker. The class will be “A twist on Thanksgiving” featuring: Butternut Squash Soup, Ballotine of Duck, Root Vegetable Galette & “Ragout”, and Braised Lettuce Provençal.

For The Love of Food & Catering
Chef Diane Bukatman
20 Clarks Lane
Reisterstown, MD 21136-5810
443-865-0630 or 410-833-5579

For the Love of Food -Cooking Classes, Team Building, Kids Cook!

New Dates! Monday Series!
A 6-Class Series for aspiring chefs
MONDAYS, January 12, 19, February 2, 9, 16, & 23 at 7 PM $400

The ideal hands-on cooking series for seasoned cooks and beginners alike! We begin with Knife Skills and move on to sautéing, roasting, braising, poaching, pan & classic sauces and variations, and stocks. We'll cover butterflying meat and chicken, and the best cuts of meat for different types of cooking. Learn to tell when meats, poultry and fish are done without cutting into them! Overcome your fear of cooking whole fish and filets...and more ~ much much more!

Experimentation and questions are encouraged. There is no such thing as too much of a beginner - everyone will feel comfortable, and we guarantee everyone will leave a better cook than when you arrived!

Inn at 2920
Chef Roxanne Levis
2920 Elliott Street
Baltimore MD 21224
410 342 44450

Saturday, December 6th & December 13th
Cookie Demonstration $65.00 - 11 to 4 p.m.

Attend the ongoing (come and go as you please) cookie making demo by Chef Roxanne Levis on Saturday from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Live demos of cookie making, come and go as you please. Take home your very own Gift Basket filled with: Ginger Molasses. Pistachio-Cranberry Biscotti, Snicker Doodles, Chocolate Covered Pretzels, Baked Caramel Popcorn, and more. Take home a cookie basket

Maja’s Kitchen
Maria Springer
Call for reservations:
410-561-1157 or
Your reservation will be held upon receipt of full payment of $60.

Every year in December the Gingerbread House Decorating Afternoons in Maja’s Viennese Kitchen have become an event, and a tradition in many families around Baltimore and DC area.

Children come dressed for the Candlelight Holiday Tea which is served after they decorate their houses. Every child receives a pre-built house, a pastry bag filled with Royal Icing, and lots and, lots of candy to choose from to decorate their special Gingerbread House for the holidays.

Within an hour and a half they all finish eating candy, and decorating, after which they all go down to the basement where a Candlelight Holiday Tea is served. Children and adults are served hot chocolate or tea in china cups and saucers, and have many pastries to choose from at the Holiday Buffett.

Gingerbread House Decorating Sessions and Tea –
2 weekends in December…………….

December 13 and 14
December 20 and 21

All Sessions start at 12:30 PM and end at 3:30 PM
Children 5 to 12 need to be accompanied by an adult.
$60 for child and adult

Pierpoint Restaurant
Chef Nancy Longo
1822 Aliceanna Street
Baltimore, MD
410 675-2080

NOVEMBER 3RD INTERNATIONAL BBQ come learn techniques of International BBQ from all over the world , rubs, smoking techniques, as well as a few sauces from our on BBQ states in the good old USA. Barbecue is heating up again in the culinary scene, come find out how to make some of your own.

NOVEMBER 10TH BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND- Come learn lessons on how to cook a modern thanksgiving dinner, and all the short cuts a chef could teach you about how to cut your cooking time down for the big turkey day. We will also cover turkey sauces, chutneys as well as smoking, we promise when you leave here you'll never be stressed about thanksgiving cooking again, we promise.

Class fees are $75 per class, soft drinks, wine, beer, and recipes are included. Aprons will be provided, as well as a group meal. Please call 410 675-2080 to reserve a space as space is limited to 10 persons per class. Classes are approximately 3 hrs long, and include recipes, aprons, as well as food tastings of all items we cook in the lesson.

Roland Park Country School
Kaleidoscope Adult Class Series
5204 Roland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21210

One Session $70
Saturday, December 13
11:00 am – 3:00 pm
William Matsuzaki

In Japan, there are certain dishes that are especially enjoyed by the people during the cold months, to warm them up and help gather the family together. There are variousnabe-mono including sukiyaki, shabu shabu, and yose nabe. In this class, you will learn how to make sukiyaki, a dish with various vegetables and meat in soy sauce-based sauce. You will also learn how to make tempura soba and tempura (shrimp, potato, onions, mushrooms and carrots) and soba. A fun family adventure.

Roy's - Baltimore
Chef Rey Eugenio
720 B Aliceanna Street
Baltimore MD 21202
(410) 659-0099 (go to What’s New – Special Events)

Chef Rey advised me they are tentatively looking to have a cooking class the beginning of December. It will be a demonstration class with optional hands-on. Pricing and details will be posted on their website under “What’s New-Special Events” – look for the Baltimore location.

Sotto Sopra Restaurant
Executive Chef Bill Crouse
405 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
For more information or reservation call Monika Pawlak at 410-625-0534 or email at

Cooking Class:

Cooking Class
Sunday, November 2nd
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Executive Chef Bill Crouse brings you into the back-of-the-house, Sotto Sopra's kitchen for a cooking class featuring the great foods of autumn. This will be his last class for 2008, so don't miss out.

The class is demonstration with the option of hands-on participation. You wrap up the class by enjoying those dishes taught and prepared with a glass of vino. Cost per person is $65/reservations required.


What's it like to work in a restaurant kitchen? That question can be answered with Sotto Sopra Restaurant's Chef-for-the-Day Program under the tutelage of Executive Chef Bill Crouse. For $100 you will work hard through the day and after evening service, enjoy a good meal.

Prior to coming into Sotto Sopra's kitchen, Chef Crouse assesses the Chef-for-the-Day's skill level and also offers up an additional challenge of creating a menu promoting them as the Chef-for-the-Day at the restaurant.

Chef Michel Tersiquel
8293 Main Street
Ellicott City, MD 21043
410 465 4004

Day with the Chef

Join Chef at 5:30 a.m., yes that is a.m., at the Jessup Wholesale Seafood & Produce Market. Work with Michel as he inspects every product from kiwis to skate in his pursuit for only the freshest and best ingredients. There really is no telling what will be on the special board until after the "Market Run". This is a hands-on experience with an accomplished Chef who knows and appreciates quality and freshness.

You will then open the restaurant. We recommend getting started with a cup of freshly brewed French Roast Coffee. And then it's time to work. The real work day begins, including checking the stockpots, putting away the produce and preparing the mis en place. Your day will continue with hands on practical tasks in many of the stations. Learn mis en place, work with the Garde Manger and learn how our fine dinning kitchen works.

Chef's day continues with the exciting and ever changing process of day-to-day restaurant management with numerous purveyors and clients vying with the ovens and line for Chef's time. Throughout the day Chef is constantly working with a range of staff from our Sous Chef to dishwashers, hands on coaching and teaching the best ways to handle and prepare the products purchased fresh that day. Working with his Father in the garden and with the purveyors at the market, Michel changes the menu seasonally to reflect the freshest ingredients in what is now commonly called "from the farm to the plate" cooking. This is your chance to experience the way a restaurant kitchen is run, hands on and with passion to present a quality dining experience. Once your day of work is complete, please join our front of the house staff and enjoy a chef's menu for two.

Chef Michel looks forward to seeing you at 5 am.

To reserve your day with Chef Michel or purchase as a gift, please contact the restaurant.
Cost to participate $425.00

Whole Foods Market – Mt Washington
1330 Smith Ave
Baltimore, MD 21209

What's Cooking Wednesday
See what we’ve got cooking in our departments from noon-2:00pm and 5:00-7:00pm. We’ll have live demonstrations. Come join us every Wednesday.

Each Whole Food Market has its own calendar of events. Go to and find your store and you will see your store calendar.

William Sonoma
Store Locator:

Cooking Classes
Sign up for our weekly classes. Conducted by culinary professionals, these occasional series cover the latest trends in recipes and ingredients. Enrollment is limited. Contact your local store for a schedule of upcoming classes. This is a demonstration class only. Lite nibbles of what is prepared.

Yum-Yum Sisters
Call Sandy Spanos @ 410-833-1108

Join the Yum-Yum Sisters (Ilene Spector and Sandy Spanos) for a very special cooking class “Holidays in Paradise” at Roy’s Restaurant at the Harbor East.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

4 course Lunch and Cooking Class with demos by Roy's chefs
*Watch & taste new Yum Yum Sisters recommendations for home entertaining to "wow" your guests this holiday season!

Begin with a glass of POG (The traditional Hawaiian Breakfast Beverage) and seasonal breakfast treats as well as a "backstage" tour of Roy's Kitchen

Roy's will demo and serve their signature "Yamaguchi Sushi" and special "sizzling" hors d'oeuvres. Lunch will include a Hawaiian-Fusion Cuisine plated double entree, wine and Roy's famous signature sides

The finale will include a custom dessert for this event by the Pastry Chef as well as a taste of Roy's menu dessert favorites
Coffee & Tea

*Lots of surprise prizes
*No one leaves empty handed!

Discount Parking will be available

Bring your mother, sister or best friend as a special gift!
$60 per person. Only your check in advance secures your reservation
RSVP by November 5, 2008 – Contact Sandy Spanos 410-833-1108


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