Monday, April 28, 2008

Mad Skills: Knife Skills 101

In an effort to provide continuing education (or maybe primary education) to you culinarians out there, today marks the first of many "Mad Skills" lessons to keep you safe and efficient in the kitchen.

Today's lesson: Knife Skills 101

One of the golden keys to cooking is the proper handling of a knife. Lets face it, nobody wants to lose a finger and a bloody marinade over your vegetables just isn't going to wet my appetite. Find yourself a knife (a chef's knife is a good place to start) that you feel comfortable using and take time to learn the proper way to hold and position both your knife hand and the hand that braces whatever you are cutting. The following video should give you a basic idea of the proper grip and motion of a chef's knife:

Once you're comfortable with your chef's knife, cut up some stuff! Check out this video from Men's Health (yes, Men's Health) with some basic cutting techniques:

Just remember: slow and steady wins the race. If you rush things, you'll just end up lopping off your index finger. Get the technique down first, then start hacking away at things like Martin Yan:

Yan can cook! So can you!

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The first grilled pizza of the season!

It was just too nice not to give it a whirl. Tonight's fare was grilled pizzas -- some freshly grilled tomatoes and roasted red peppers on the bottom with kalamata olives, grilled chicken and an asiago cheese blend all melted together on top. Did I mention the crispy wafer thin crust? DELISH.

Really people, what are you waiting for!?!?

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

What are you in the mood for?

Ever have one of those days where your stomach is growling for something in particular but you can't put your finger (or tastebuds) on it? Or, you've defrosted chicken once again tonight, but just don't want to cook it the same old way? Maybe, you know you want to grill, but want to give it an Indian flare!

Regardless of the situation, this new little site may hold the key to solving your munchie mysteries:

Cookthink lets you input ingredients, types of dishes, cusines and even what type of mood you're in and spits out out some options to consider.

It practically takes the guesswork out of deciding what to eat!

Take a gander, foodies, and be sure to pass along any delish recipes that you enjoyed!

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Grand Poobah of Pie

Just mere moments ago, your Diva took home top honors (champagne!) at the first annual company pie competition! Frozen Key Lime Pie, courtesy of Ina Garten, was a big hit. Of course, I added my own little twist to the recipe, but you can find the originalversion on the Food Network web site.

Off to drink (and enjoy) my winnings!

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Happy Tax Day!

Hopefully by this point your taxes are done and you're not scrambling to file before the deadline. Reward yourself for completing your annual fiscal responsibilities by stopping at Dunkin' Donuts today for a free donut with purchase of a hot coffee. Woo!

I'll take a chocolate stick, thank you.

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring has sprung

The nice weather planned for this week and a recent Cooking Light article on three plants for every cook have me believing that Spring has sprung, which for me means that it's time to clean out the flowerbeds and get ready to plant a new season of herbs and vegetables.

This year's plan is for a variety of herbs (parsley, basil, mint, chives, rosemary, sage and thyme), the old staples (tomatoes and cucumbers) plus some new additions to the mix (lettuces, zucchini, broccoli and spinach).

Now, while I have a large yard (15x15 lawn in front, 90 foot driveway, 15x30 patio/backyard), my planting space is actually quite limited. I currently plant in a half wine barrel (the greatest thing ever) and 2 flowerbeds that are about 3 feet wide and 12 feet long, which, when things get to growing, can be a little tight.

The key to a successful garden is planning. Planning planning planning. How long does it take for crops to grow? How big do they get? Can one crop be harvested and another planted in it's place?

For those of you starting off, do your research: iVillage has a good beginner's guide to planning a a garden. Definitely heed the advice on creating a healthy soil environment and on using mulch to keep weeds down (unless you're weird and like weeding all day in the hot summer sun). One note on the mulch -- don't use cocoa bean hulls. Been there, tried that -- the dog kept trying to eat the mulch. Also, timing the planting to occur at different times (or once faster-growing crops are harvested) is also a good idea, if you want to sustain the availability of home-grown goodies all season long.

If you're like me and have limited space, consider a container garden -- even if it's just some herbs and a tomato plant. has a good how-to if you want to take the plunge. Basil and parsley are easy starters, and certain varieties of tomatoes are quite hearty. I typically plant my herbs in a half wine-barrel, and make sure to replace the soil each season to maintain it's health. Despite what many say about rot, I haven't had this problem with my barrels. It helps, though, if you fill the barrel halfway with packing peanuts and a plastic shopping bag before adding the soil (you don't need all that weight or depth for shallow-rooted plants) and then keep the barrel off the ground using some small bricks.

Get ambitious and plant a garden this spring. Your wallet and taste buds will thank you!

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I scream, you scream, we all scream for....

...Opening Day at Fenway!?!

That's right, foodies, Fenway. Stop by JP Licks all day today and get yourself a free ice cream cone in any flavor you want. Why? Because it's Opening Day, hooray!

They even have fun Red Sox-related flavors: Green Monster Tea, Rice DICE Kream, One Sweet World Series, Manny's Mocha Chip, and Cherry Ortiz (formerly Cherry Garciaparra).

Really, do you need any other excuse for free ice cream? Or any excuse at all?

For more info, visit:

Happy brain-freezes!

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Monday, April 7, 2008

What if you could only grocery shop once a year?

Yesterday, I came across an NPR segment and article on the cafeteria at McMurdo Station, the U.S. base on Antarctica (think South, cold and penguins). The base is the year-round home to 1,100 people and contains one cafeteria responsible for providing everyone with 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, all year round.

Now, if you don't get around to listening to the segment or article, here's the deal. Antarctica has one sunrise and one sunset per year; it stays light for months....and dark for months....and if you venture too far from the base, you're toast (or perhaps ice). The kicker here is that they only get a food delivery once per year when an icebreaker can get through to them. ONCE PER YEAR!

Can you imagine that? My grocery shopping consists of regular trips to the butcher shop, farm stand and regular market -- and I *try* to spice things up and make new and different things as much as possible and take advantage of fresh ingredients that are available locally. It's crazy to think that these people get one shipment of food, mostly frozen, to last them an entire year. Actually, it's pretty damn amazing, and a testament to just how good a chef Sally Ayotte is.

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Time for some kudos!

Hey readers,

Time to give kudos to some fellow bloggers who are furiously writing about some pretty neat stuff:

Chronicles of a Fatty: A skinny girl's struggle to remain fit while living in a smorgasbord of fabulous food: San Francisco.

Park Street Rambler: Trust me, it's funny.

Yes Chef, No Chef: One man's journey through culinary school.

Dear Reader: You'll want to curl up with a good book...

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Baby, it's cold outside...

I know. I'm a slacker blogger for not writing for a full week. What can I say, work beckons and it's been a race against the clock to repaint my apartment before new furniture arrives tomorrow (thank goodness). I'm tired, I have a new-found hatred for those TLC/HGTV/DIY network shows where they revamp an entire house in 2 days (Crappy workmanship, I don't care how cute the carpenter is) and

Anyway. Enough complaining and onto the food!

I'm going to admit it here, for everyone in the online universe to see: I have undying love for my freezer. My roommate during senior year of college throught my love bordered on obsession. She'd stare in awe as I would individually package chicken breasts in ziplock bags (why does a single girl need 3 chicken breasts at once), freeze half a muffin (what, it was a big muffin, ok?), spoon pasta sauce into one-seving tupperware containers....the list goes on.

Look in my freezer at any given time and there's a variety of frozen meats (currently pork, chicken, beef and lamb) in a wealth of cuts (tenderloins, tenders, breasts, tips, chops, sausage, bacon strips and ground). Add in the frozen bagged veggies (a critical ingredient for working-girl dinners), all the herbs from the garden that I freeze at the end of the season and your run of the mill pastry doughs and there's very little room in there. But I don't stop there. In go the loaves of bread for sandwiches, as do the 3 dozen bagels from Jersey (sliced, individually wrapped in saran wrap and then ziplocked), the chunk of ginger that I'll maybe use twice a year (hey, Rachael Ray says its okay to freeze it....even though she's evil), candy bars, desserts, frozen pizzas, lean cuisines (a throwback to my single days), girl scout cookies, home made stews, sauces, a bottle of homemade limoncello for when Mr. D comes to town, and cookie dough.

Yes cookie dough. The Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe is fantastically freezable, in case you were wondering. Use half butter, half shortening in the recipe and spoon those babies out onto a cookie sheet. Pop them into the freezer until set (30 minutes or so) and then toss them in a freezer bag until you want them (i.e., every night of the week). When you're having a cookie craving (i.e., every night of the week), preheat your oven and put a few in. They melt down just perfectly and nobody will ever know.............

Maybe it's the little old Italian lady in me, who knows. Some people hoard chachkies, I hoard foodstuffs. All I know is that if there's EVER a major disaster, you'll be wishing you were stuck at my house.

What about you out there? Any crazy kitchen obsessions? Do you like gadgets (ha, just wait until I post on THOSE fun little thingamabobbers), expensive pans? Drinking milk or OJ out of the carton? I wanna hear about it!

Fabulous Feasting,
The Diva.