“Food for Thought” Cookbook book club – Buvette and Indulge Cookbooks

“Food for Thought” Cookbook book club – Buvette and Indulge Cookbooks

For our fifth and final meeting for 2014, the cookbook book club focused our cooking on two books: Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food by Jody Williams; and Indulge: Delicious Little Desserts that Keep Life Sweet by Kathy Wakile. We decided to use two cookbooks for this meeting because Buvette didn’t have many dessert recipes and Indulge is strictly a dessert cookbook.

Buvette and Indulge Cookbooks

Buvette and Indulge Cookbooks

I will admit that upon first review of the Buvette cookbook, the group was slightly intimidated by the primarily French-style recipes. But Terri, our host for this dinner, reviewed the book and made suggestions of dishes that are less complicated and she even pre-tested a few.

In carrying out the evening’s theme, we began with a glass of French wine and/or Prosecco.

Dinner started with french wine and prosecco

Dinner started with french wine and prosecco

To accompany the wine, we had a beautiful selection of appetizers!

We had a beautiful selection of appetizers!

We had a beautiful selection of appetizers!

Terri made the cheeseboard with marinated olives, orange zest and red chiles. It was filled with so many yummy items. I had to try them all!

Marinated olives, orange zest and red chiles.

Marinated olives, orange zest and red chiles.

Buvette photo 8

Terri also made gourgeres, which are a baked, savory choux pastry (a light dough used to make éclairs, profiteroles and puffed pastry) mixed with cheese. They are similar in texture to a cream puff pastry but savory instead of sweet. Terri commented that they are easy to make. I thought they were heavenly.

Gourgeres, which are a baked, savory choux pastry, mixed with cheese.

Gourgeres, which are a baked, savory choux pastry, mixed with cheese.

For our final appetizer, I made apple and cheese fricos, commonly known in America as a cheese crisp. I made a few modifications to the recipe, which turned out to be just as good as the original. Instead of frying the frico, I baked them. And I used Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese instead of Montasio cheese. The secret to successfully making them is to use a sil-pad or parchment paper and allow the frico to stiffen a little once out of the oven before folding them over.

Apple and cheese fricos hot from the oven!

Apple and cheese fricos hot from the oven!

The frico were delicious with the apple and sage inside. I would definitely make them again and think they would be wonderful paired with a bowl of soup, chili or stew.

Apple and cheese fricos

Apple and cheese fricos

Terri asked us to proceed into the dining room, which was set in a fall theme, to begin the entrée portion of the meal.

A fall-themed tablescape.

A fall-themed tablescape.

Instead of beginning our meal with a salad, I made the roasted heirloom apples with sausage from the Buvette cookbook.

Roasted heirloom apples with sausage

Roasted heirloom apples with sausage

The recipe was very simple to make. The house smelled amazing from the baked apples, sausage, sage and white wine. The smell reminded me of Thanksgiving stuffing. Terri plated the apples singly for each person.

Singly-plated roasted heirloom apples with sausage

Singly-plated roasted heirloom apples with sausage

As one of the sides for our meal, Sharon made cauliflower gratin. She commented that the recipe was easy to prepare and allowed the dish to be partially made ahead and finished just before serving. There were big pieces of cauliflower laced with yummy Gruyere cheese. It was a perfect dish for a crisp, cool evening.

Cauliflower gratin

Cauliflower gratin

Terri plated the cauliflower gratin on top of a romaine lettuce leaf to follow the tasting courses theme.

Cauliflower gratin on top of a romaine lettuce leaf

Cauliflower gratin on top of a romaine lettuce leaf

For our main dinner entrée, Terri made chicken ala moutarde. The original recipe calls for the dish to be made with rabbit, but specifies that can be substituted with chicken. Terri commented that the dish was easy to make and that she would make it again. The dish’s mild flavors and tender textures go beautifully with its simple, creamy mustard sauce. I enjoyed every bite.

Chicken ala moutarde

Chicken ala moutarde

You’ll want to serve the chicken ala moutarde with plenty of good bread to sop up all the flavorful sauce – and we did! Pat made schiacciata bread, which is a focaccia-type flatbread.

Schiacciata bread

Schiacciata bread

She admitted to never before making bread from scratch with yeast. She did a great job! The bread was light, airy and flavorful.

While we were first intimidated with the Buvette cookbook, we quickly realized that it’s a wonderful collection of French country cooking that meets Italian peasant food style. I think it’s safe to say that many of the recipes we tried will be made again!

For desserts, we featured recipes from Kathy Wakile’s Indulge cookbook. Val made chocolate chili brownie bites. She paired them with vanilla ice cream. Upon first bite, you may think there isn’t enough chili spice to them, but it catches up with you in the after bite.

Chocolate chili brownie bites

Chocolate chili brownie bites

For our “take-home treat,” Susan made beach baby blondies and bitsy brunettes. While she had initially decided on making just the beach baby blondies, she added the bitsy brunettes because blondes can’t have all the fun – ha! Both items were delicious and wonderful treats to share.

Beach baby blondies and bitsy brunettes for take-home treats!

Beach baby blondies and bitsy brunettes for take-home treats!

Many of the desserts in the Indulge cookbook are for what I would call “finger” desserts. Perfect dessert treats suitable for a tasting party.

In total, ten dishes were made from the Buvette and Indulge cookbooks.

In total, ten dishes were made from the Buvette and Indulge cookbooks.

In total, ten dishes were made from the Buvette and Indulge cookbooks.

We had another delicious meal and enjoyed everyone’s company before engaging in the holiday madness.

Our next gathering will be in February. We chose Mario Batali’s new cookbook, “America: Farm to Table.”

Mario Batali’s new cookbook, “America: Farm to Table.”

Mario Batali’s new cookbook, “America: Farm to Table.”

 

Have you ever made a French country style dinner?

Have you tried any of the recipes from the Bravo channel Housewives?

 

Disclaimer:  While the cookbook book club was provided with copies of the Buvette and Indulge cookbooks, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event. 

Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar

Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, Windsor Locks, CT

When I was invited to a tasting of the fall menu at Bobby V’s restaurant and sports bar, I will admit that I was hesitant. I was expecting your typical “sports bar” scene with mediocre food, beer, cheers and jeers. Instead, we found a very nice restaurant with amazing food led by executive chef Jordan Stein, formerly of Pond House restaurants.

Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, Windsor Locks, CT

Bobby V’s Restaurant & Sports Bar, Windsor Locks, CT

Bobby V’s has the typical sports memorabilia hanging on the walls, and 70 televisions, including a 17’ LED TV, are strung across one of the walls to satisfy every sports fans’ needs. But the food, atmosphere and service is much more than you expect from a typical sports bar.

Bobby V’s has the typical sports memorabilia hanging on the walls, and 70 televisions!

Bobby V’s has the typical sports memorabilia hanging on the walls, and 70 televisions!

Bobby V’s has  a 17’ LED TV strung across one of the walls to satisfy every sports fans’ needs.

Bobby V’s has a 17’ LED TV strung across one of the walls to satisfy every sports fans’ needs.

The drinks were fun and made to perfection! We started with a flight of Cracker Jack martinis. They were made with Cracker Jack infused Onyx moonshine, peanut simple syrup and freeze-dried butter. Chef Stein explained that this drink was one that they entered into the annual Faith Middleton Food Schmooze Martini Competition to benefit WNPR and CPTV.

A flight of Cracker Jack martinis.

A flight of Cracker Jack martinis.

We also had a flight of cranberry margaritas. They were a perfect drink for the fall season.

Cranberry margaritas were a perfect drink for the fall season.

Cranberry margaritas were a perfect drink for the fall season.

While we were enjoying our drinks, Chef Stein had us taste several of the menu’s appetizers. The broccoli cheddar flatbread has a thin layer of massed potatoes loaded with broccoli and melted cheddar cheese. It’s topped with an arugula salad using fresh, local greens. It was delicious and a perfect appetizer for sharing.

The broccoli cheddar flatbread has a thin layer of massed potatoes loaded with broccoli and melted cheddar cheese and is topped with an arugula salad.

The broccoli cheddar flatbread has a thin layer of massed potatoes loaded with broccoli and melted cheddar cheese and is topped with an arugula salad.

You can’t go to a sports bar and not taste the chicken wings. The platter contained two of their chicken wing flavors – habanero mango and sticky soy. The wings were crispy and tasty.

The chicken wing platter contained two of their flavors – habanero mango and sticky soy.

The chicken wing platter contained two of their flavors – habanero mango and sticky soy.

Next we were provided with two appetizers from their seafood selection. The seared ahi tuna was served over an Asian slaw with citrus ponzu and wasabi drizzle. The collection of flavors paired with the perfectly seared tuna was wonderful.

The seared ahi tuna was served over an Asian slaw with citrus ponzu and wasabi drizzle.

The seared ahi tuna was served over an Asian slaw with citrus ponzu and wasabi drizzle.

The second seafood appetizer was the calamari sticks. They are dusted in rice flour and paired with a sweet chili and lime dipping sauces. Chef Stein explained that the appetizer is perfect for anyone with a gluten allergy, given the use of rice flour and they use a separate cooking device specifically for this purpose.

The calamari sticks are dusted in rice flour and paired with a sweet chili and lime dipping sauces.

The calamari sticks are dusted in rice flour and paired with a sweet chili and lime dipping sauces.

We proceed on with a tasting sized portion of the Asian chicken salad. It consisted of chicken, Napa cabbage and spinach, mixed with bell peppers, carrots, red onion, cashews and wonton croutons with a spicy peanut dressing. This dish is not only beautiful to the eye but also to the mouth!

The Asian chicken salad has chicken, Napa cabbage and spinach, missed with bell peppers, carrots, red onion, cashews and wonton croutons with a spicy peanut dressing.

The Asian chicken salad has chicken, Napa cabbage and spinach, missed with bell peppers, carrots, red onion, cashews and wonton croutons with a spicy peanut dressing.

In true sports bar style, the menu includes burgers with a wide selection of “build your own toppings.” It also includes sliders – both traditional and some with a slightly sophisticated twist. We had the filet mignon slider. It is topped with arugula and house made bacon and onion jam and paired with homemade barbeque potato chips. The filet was cooked perfectly and the toppings brought further amazing flavors to the meat. The house’s made chips were a delightful treat.

The filet mignon slider is topped with arugula and house made bacon and onion jam and paired with homemade barbeque potato chips.

The filet mignon slider is topped with arugula and house made bacon and onion jam and paired with homemade barbeque potato chips.

Thankfully everything served to this point was in tasting sized portions or we wouldn’t have had any room left for the entrees. Chef Stein made us a platter with a pan roasted day boat scallop served over creamy white truffle polenta and asparagus. The second entrée was grilled pork tenderloin with butternut squash, pears and spinach, topped with caramelized onions. Both were deliciously amazing.

The entree platter included the pan roasted day boat scallop and  grilled pork tenderloin.

The entree platter included the pan roasted day boat scallop and grilled pork tenderloin.

I was very excited to try the scallop entrée since that is one that I had hoped he would serve when I had previewed the menu prior to attending the tasting. This is definitely something I will order again upon my return.

To cap off the tasting, Chef Stein concluded with the white chocolate napoleon and smores fondue. It was a chocolate lovers paradise!

Dessert included the white chocolate napoleon and smores fondue - YUM!

Dessert included the white chocolate napoleon and smores fondue – YUM!

The napoleon had white chocolate mouse with chocolate crackers. It was drizzled with a berry coulis. All I can say is YUM!

The napoleon had white chocolate mouse with chocolate crackers.

The napoleon had white chocolate mouse with chocolate crackers.

The menu says the smores fondue feeds two, but is a perfect dessert for sharing among the entire table. It has rich chocolate fondue topped with toasted marshmallows and paired with graham crackers for dipping. I’m not a marshmallow fan, but was not shy about digging down to the chocolate fondue. It was amazingly decadent!

The smores fondue has rich chocolate fondue topped with toasted marshmallows and paired with graham crackers for dipping.

The smores fondue has rich chocolate fondue topped with toasted marshmallows and paired with graham crackers for dipping.

Chef Jordan Stein was amazing host for our tasting event!

Me and Chef Jordan Stein

Me and Chef Jordan Stein

He has upgraded the trusty perennial sports bar menu and dining experience into one that offers food from scratch, fresh and even locavore. The sophistication he adds to his dishes is handled without being completely out of synch with the restaurant’s venue, but makes the common unique. I think customers will certainly appreciate this twist and the range of choices. I know we will be back!

 

Have you tried Bobby V’s restaurant?

What’s your favorite “sports bar type” food item(s)?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to the complimentary tasting of Bobby V’s fall menu, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event. 

Food Network Studios

Food Network Studios “Behind-the-Scenes” Tour

For the third part of my NYC foodie day – and the whole reason why I made the trek – I had the opportunity to tour the Food Network studio!

I had the opportunity to tour the Food Network studio!

I had the opportunity to tour the Food Network studio!

Food Network’s studio is located above Chelsea Market in the Meatpacking district. Occupying the former Nabisco factory building, the complex fills an entire city block bounded by Ninth and Tenth Avenues and 15th and 16th streets.

Food Network’s studio is located above Chelsea Market.

Food Network’s studio is located above Chelsea Market.

Chelsea Market is known as one of the greatest food halls of the world, with more than 35 vendors selling everything you can imagine, including fresh produce, meats and fish. There is an eclectic mix of restaurants allowing diners to eat just about any kind of food you would desire from many ethnicities.

For our behind-the-scenes tour, we met up with Executive Chef Rob Bleifer, whom I had met a few months back. He began by explaining the history of Food Network and the Chelsea Market building. He also gave us some tips on his favorite restaurants and shops in Chelsea Market.

For our behind-the-scenes tour, we met up with Executive Chef Rob Bleifer, whom I had met a few months back.

For our behind-the-scenes tour, we met up with Executive Chef Rob Bleifer, whom I had met a few months back.

He explained how Food Network is split into three main branches: print, television and web mediums. We saw the Food Network kitchens where chef’s are developing and testing the network’s recipes that appear across all three mediums.

Food Network test kitchens is where chef’s are developing and testing the network’s recipes that appear across all three mediums.

Food Network test kitchens is where chef’s are developing and testing the network’s recipes that appear across all three mediums.

Relative to the print arm, Food Network has partnered with Hearst publishing to develop the Food Network monthly magazine. Chef Bleifer explained how each monthly magazine features approximately 125 recipes. That’s more than most cookbooks feature – and they produce it every month! They are a very busy group!

Each monthly Food Network magazine features approximately 125 recipes.

Each monthly Food Network magazine features approximately 125 recipes.

Chef Bleifer went on to explain all the other areas that his team is involved with at Food Network, including the 15+ shows, catering for large private events, picking the ingredients for the Chopped show mystery baskets and many other projects.

One the day we visited, Chef Anne Burrell was in-house taping an upcoming episode of “Worst Cooks in America.” Because the episode was narrowing down the field of contestants, it was a closed-set shoot and we were not allowed into the production studio area.

I was very excited to have had the opportunity to visit Food Network studios.  I found all the information that Chef Bleifer shared with us fascinating.

I was very excited to have had the opportunity to visit Food Network studios. I found all the information that Chef Bleifer shared with us fascinating.

Personally, I was very excited to have had the opportunity to visit Food Network studios. I found all the information that Chef Bleifer shared with us fascinating. It’s very interesting to learn about the behind-the-scenes facets and understanding all the complexity that goes into something that you watch, read and view every day.

 

Do you enjoy watching Food Network? If so, what’s your favorite show?

Have you ever been to a “behind-the-scenes” tour for a television show?

La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant, Eataly, NYC

La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant, Eataly, NYC

For the second part of my foodie day in NYC, we chose to eat at one of the restaurants in the Eataly, NYC Italian market/ mall.

Even the restaurant plates carry Eataly's logo.

Even the restaurant plates carry Eataly’s logo.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats. Each restaurant is positioned next to the market area that provides its fresh ingredients. Le Verdure is next to the produce market; La Piazza is next to the fresh mozzarella and Salumi and cheese counters. Il Pesce is next to the fishmonger. La Pizza & Pasta is next to the bakery and fresh pasta stations. Manzo is next to the butcher shop. Pranzo is in the cooking school and Birreria is a rooftop restaurant that brews its own cask ales.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats.

Eataly has seven sit down restaurants with both table and counter seats.

We chose to eat at La Pizza & Pasta after being completely fascinated with the fresh breads and pasta being made before our eyes. The restaurant’s menu is divided into three main sections: Antipasti, Pizzas and Pastas. Our waitress explained that the left column within the pasta section is dried pasta selections and the right column represented their fresh pastas items.

La Pasta's menu is divided into three main sections.

La Pasta’s menu is divided into three main sections.

As we continued to peruse the menu, our waitress brought us some of the market’s freshly made Italian bread with their extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Freshly made Italian bread with extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

Freshly made Italian bread with extra virgin olive oil for dipping.

We decided to start our dining by sharing the Antipasto Misto. The menu stated that it’s a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables. The waitress clarified the menu and told us that it included four items: assorted olives, roasted peppers, roasted butternut squash and eggplant Caponata with toasted bread.

Antipasto Misto - a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables.

Antipasto Misto – a selection of the chef’s daily-assorted vegetables.

We are glad we selected this as our starter because every one of the items was delicious and light. It was a perfect starter for our meal.  My favorite was the eggplant.

Keeping with the light theme, Gayle chose the Insalata di Finocchio. It was a beautiful salad that included arugula, fennel, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano with lemon vinaigrette. She loved every bite!

Insalata di Finocchio

Insalata di Finocchio

Terri and I couldn’t resist the fresh pasta selections. I chose the Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo. It was house made fettuccini-like pasta with short-rib tomato sauce. The pasta was cooked to perfection. It reminded me of my Nona’s homemade pasta and sauce.

Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo

Tagliatelle al Ragu di Manzo

Terri chose the Ravioli di Zucca. It was house made ravioli filled with roasted butternut squash, Grana Padano cheese and almond Amaretti cookies, finished with a light brown butter and sage sauce. It was delicious – I tasted it. It was a perfect dish for the fall season.

Ravioli di Zucca

Ravioli di Zucca

We all really enjoyed our lunch at La Pizza/ La Pasta restaurant. I believe we selected well for our first time to Eataly NYC.  I would recommend getting there on the earlier side of lunch because it is first come first served seating and it was completely full by noon.

I look forward to returning to Eataly NYC and trying another one of the six remaining restaurants!

 

Have you ever eaten at any of the restaurants at Eataly NYC?

What’s your favorite kind of homemade pasta and sauce?

Eataly, NYC

Eataly, NYC

Ever since Eataly NYC opened in 2010 I’ve been dying to visit the high-end Italian food market/ mall. Earlier this week, I fulfilled my desire to visit and made the trek to NYC for a food-filled day, with Eataly as one of my stops.

Eataly NYC is located on 23rd street & 5th Avenue.

Eataly NYC is located on 23rd street & 5th Avenue.

In 2007, Oscar Farinetti first founded Eataly in Turin, Italy. It was part of the initial vision to expand locations elsewhere in Italy and New York City. Today there are 31 Eataly locations with two in the United States (NYC and Chicago) and 16 throughout Italy. Among the planned future locations in the United States are Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Los Angeles and a second in NYC.

Today there are 31 Eataly locations.

Today there are 31 Eataly locations.

The New York City location is owned by a partnership including Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and Joe Bastianich. And if you didn’t know this beforehand, you would realize it as you walk through the market because Mario, Lidia and Joe’s products proliferate throughout.

Mario Batali, Lidia and Joe Bastianich's products proliferate throughout Eataly NYC.

Mario Batali, Lidia and Joe Bastianich’s products proliferate throughout Eataly NYC.

Eataly consists of two main branches: a high-end Italian food market and seven sit-down restaurants with both table and bar seating all contained within a mall-type atmosphere.

Eataly has seven sit-down restaurants with both table and bar seating serving a variety of foods.

Eataly has seven sit-down restaurants with both table and bar seating serving a variety of foods.

We chose to eat at La Pizza – La Pasta. I’ll be providing you with my full review very soon, but will say it was delicious!

The market is split into two main sections: House made and the Best of Italy and America. In the house made area, there is fresh food made in house. You will find fresh-made bakery items, mozzarella, gelato, pastry and pasta. I was fascinated to see the fresh pasta being made both by machine and by hand.

The fresh pasta is being made by machine - fresh ravioli!

The fresh pasta is being made by machine – fresh ravioli!

The chefs are making fresh gnocchi by hand.

The chefs are making fresh gnocchi by hand.

There is every kind of fresh pasta you can think of available for purchase from the pasta counter.

The fresh pasta counter has so many different varieties.

The fresh pasta counter has so many different varieties.

The Best of Italy and America market offers beauty, books and housewares, beer, beverages, dry pasta and rice, coffee and tea, dolci and chocolate, olive oil, vinegars, preserves and honey, sauces and condiments, dairy, cheese, and salumi.

The dolci and chocolate section was very tempting.

The dolci and chocolate section was very tempting.

I was amazed to find chocolate torrone. You can easily find the vanilla nougat candy, but the chocolate is a rare find. I’ll save this for Christmas Eve dinner.

Chocolate torrone - an amazing find for the Christmas holiday!

Chocolate torrone – an amazing find for the Christmas holiday!

You also can find the freshest products in the seafood and butcher counters.

Eataly's fresh meat counter.

Eataly’s fresh meat counter.

The produce is fresh from local farms.

Produce fresh from the local farms.

Produce fresh from the local farms.

The salumi offers a variety of imported Italian cold cuts and cheese.

The salumi had a wide variety of italian cold cuts and cheeses.

The salumi had a wide variety of italian cold cuts and cheeses.

I was amazed at the size of the whole Parmesan cheese wheels!

"I'd like a little Parmesan cheese, please."

“I’d like a little Parmesan cheese, please.”

The concept behind Eataly is to challenge the predisposition that quality products are only available to a select few. The market/ mall brings good eating and shopping to all – not limited to connoisseurs. Eat Better, Life Better Today. The shirts worn by the staff exemplify this philosophy.

Love this philosophy!

Love this philosophy!

We truly enjoyed our time at Eataly and look forward to returning and trying more of the products and restaurants.

 

Have you ever been to Eataly NYC?

What’s your favorite authentic Italian food product?

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Bundt Cake

When I was a kid, every year my aunt would make a wonderful pumpkin pecan cake for the Thanksgiving holiday. I’m not a fan of pumpkin pie, but remember loving the cake. I asked her to share the recipe with me so I could carry on the tradition.

This recipe is very simple to make because it starts with a cake mix.  I slightly modified the recipe to include mini chocolate-chips instead of pecans. The cinnamon, pumpkin and chocolate combination is amazing. The cake is so moist it literally melts in your mouth.

A few years back, I had the opportunity to make the cake for my aunt at Thanksgiving before she passed. She told me the cake was delicious – better than she made. That is the highest compliment I could have received!

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Bundt Cake

Pumpkin Chocolate-Chip Bundt Cake Recipe

1 pkg spice cake mix (18 oz size)

1 cup canned pumpkin

½ cup canola oil

3 large eggs

1 pkg vanilla instant pudding mix (sugar free is okay to use)

1 tsp cinnamon

½ cup water

½ cup mini chocolate chips

Dash of flour to dust the chocolate chips

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grease the bundt pan liberally, first with butter or Crisco and then sprinkle flour and tap the pan to ensure it’s coated all around, including the center tube.

Mix all the ingredients together, except the chocolate chips, at medium speed for 4 minutes. Dust the mini chocolate chips with a small amount of flour. This will ensure they stay mingled throughout the cake and don’t fall to the bottom. Fold the chocolate chips into the cake batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, ensuring it’s evenly spread around the pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake 40-55 minutes. The cake is cooked when it springs back when touched lightly and when a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.

The cake is cooked when it springs back when touched lightly and the  toothpick comes out clean.

The cake is cooked when it springs back when touched lightly and the toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the bundt pan for 10-15 minutes on a wire rack.

Invert the cake onto a cake plate. The cake can be served warm or at room temperature. Serve it with whipped cream, no frosting needed.

 

This dessert is perfect for a crowd as the bundt shape cuts easily into 24 pieces. If there are any leftovers, do not worry. The cake will stay moist for several days if kept in an airtight container.

This dessert is perfect for a crowd as the bundt shape cuts easily into 24 pieces.

This dessert is perfect for a crowd as the bundt shape cuts easily into 24 pieces.

With the fall holidays coming up fast, try this recipe on your family and friends as a change from the traditional pumpkin pie dessert. “Let them eat cake… instead of pie.”

 

What’s your favorite dessert for the fall/ winter holidays?

What’s your favorite pumpkin-flavored baking recipe?

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana

It’s a fierce argument that splits some Connecticut families and friends and it doesn’t involve the Yankees and Red Sox baseball rivalry. In the New Haven County that debate includes who makes the best pizza – Frank Pepe’s or Sally’s. Not being from the New Haven County, I haven’t participated directly in that debate, but have heard about it often.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is a third-generation owned and operated pizzeria.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is a third-generation owned and operated pizzeria.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana is a third-generation owned and operated pizzeria. It has seven locations in Connecticut, one in Yonkers NY and will be expanding into Boston soon. The establishment’s history began nearly 90 years ago in 1925 with the first location in the Wooster Street neighborhood of New Haven, CT.

The establishment’s history began nearly 90 years ago in 1925.

The establishment’s history began nearly 90 years ago in 1925.

Frank Pepe’s grandson Gary Bimonte carry’s on the family tradition using the recipe, methods and passion for the Napoletana style pizza that patriarch Frank Pepe grew up with in the town of Maiori, on the Amalfi coast of Italy.

Frank Pepe’s grandson Gary Bimonte carry’s on the family tradition.

Frank Pepe’s grandson Gary Bimonte carry’s on the family tradition.

According to the rules proposed by Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, neopolitan-style pizza’s dough may be no more than three millimeters thick and baked in a stone oven. Frank Pepe’s follows that tradition.

Frank Pepe’s follows the neapolitan pizza tradition.

Frank Pepe’s follows the neapolitan pizza tradition.

Last week I had the opportunity to sample Frank Pepe’s pizza when the West Hartford location celebrated its one-year anniversary.

I had the opportunity to sample Frank Pepe’s pizza when the West Hartford location celebrated its one-year anniversary.

I had the opportunity to sample Frank Pepe’s pizza when the West Hartford location celebrated its one-year anniversary.

We were treated to a selection of Pepe’s popular thin-crust, coal-fired Neapolitan style pizzas, including their award-winning white clam pie.

The award-winning white clam pie!

The award-winning white clam pie!

The Pepe’s menu offers diners the opportunity to build their own pizza from a variety of toppings.

Pepe’s menu offers diners the opportunity to build their own pizza.

Pepe’s menu offers diners the opportunity to build their own pizza.

Additionally, the menu offers several specialty pies that include: Pepe’s original tomato pie; white clam; white spinach, mushroom and Gorgonzola; and margarita.

The menu also offers several specialty pies.

The menu also offers several specialty pies.

From July to September the menu also includes Pepe’s fresh tomato pie.

Pepe’s fresh tomato pie.

Pepe’s fresh tomato pie.

While I enjoyed a slice of several different pizzas, my favorite was the white spinach, mushroom and Gorgonzola specialty pie.

My favorite was the white spinach, mushroom and Gorgonzola specialty pie.

My favorite was the white spinach, mushroom and Gorgonzola specialty pie.

Following the classic, Italian restaurant style, Pepe’s serves wine in stemless, four-inch glasses. Some people use these glasses for juice or other beverages. They are a great casual alternative to regular wine glasses, completing the old school charm.

Pepe’s serves wine in stemless, four-inch "juice" glasses, completing the old school charm!

Pepe’s serves wine in stemless, four-inch “juice” glasses, completing the old school charm!

The generosity of the Pepe’s team continued with a beautiful tray of traditional Italian desserts. The platter included pizelles, angel wings and pumpkin cookies. I felt right at home since my mother makes pizelles and angel wings, which she calls rosettes.

Pizelles, angel wings and pumpkin cookies - my favorite Italian desserts!

Pizelles, angel wings and pumpkin cookies – my favorite Italian desserts!

Often touted as a “New Haven Institution,” Pepe’s is ranked #1 in The Daily Meal’s “101 Best Pizzas in America” and claims several “best pizza” awards here in Connecticut.   I agree with the experts and give it “two thumbs up” in my book!

 

Have you tried Pepe’s pizza?

Where do you stand in the Pepe’s versus Sally’s pizza debate?

What’s your favorite pizzeria restaurant?

 

Disclaimer:  While I was invited to Frank Pepe’s complimentary anniversary celebration for the media, the opinions and views expressed above are my own and describe my personal experience at the event.