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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Selection of Sweets - Eggnog Pound Cake

It began pretty much the same way this year as it always has since I was a wee one: I pour a small glass of eggnog, sip it, remember how cloggingly thick and goopy it is and instead of just throwing it out (or not buying it at all in the first place!) I wait until the whole carton expires, when it has slowly stiffened to a blue-ish green color in the back of the refrigerator.

This year however was different--I found a recipe for Eggnog Pound Cake and set to work! We didn't have rum extract, nor did I wish to search for it. Orange extract is an admirable substitute, as is orange zest for a different flavor.

My rooting around process was minimal and Melissa's Southern Style Kitchen readily stepped in with the recipe here.

Below is our loaf before the powdered sugar was sprinkled and before I delicately dripped the absolutely necessary glaze over the whole thing. Do enjoy and thanks to Melissa for this truly wonderful seasonal Eggnog Pound Cake!

Friday, December 16, 2016

A Selection of Sweets - Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops

I find that I've been baking a lot lately, which is not something I usually do. Perhaps I'm still in the honeymoon baking phase but everything has turned out really well. I used to think that baking was an exacting "other" when it comes to being in the kitchen; it's not the same as creating a cassoulet or making a meatloaf, where I think variations more readily adhere to personal taste (ie while it is perfectly fine for additional pepper in your pork chops, it is ill-advised to pour an undue amount of confectioners sugar into your glaze). But while I am making my way, carefully measuring out flour, cubing my butter for cakes and whatnot, stumbling here and there, I also remember that food just wants to be good. Certainly that's something we can all agree upon. So do give it a try, if you have a mind to - mix your dry ingredients and wet ingredients together with vigorous abandon and look for more baking adventures here!

Here is the link to Snowy-Topped Brownie Drops from the Dec/Jan 2017 issue of Saveur.  I think I would omit the ginger next time and just let the orange zest speak out. Also, plan ahead with these cookies--they should be refrigerated overnight and certainly tasted the best the following day.

Happy Holidays, Everybody!

Thanks for reading

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret - A Poisoner's Ring

Have you ever looked deeply into a blood stone?  Murky green with faint blemishes of crimson... This here is the real gem, elegantly positioned in a very old poisoner's ring, perfect to slip something dreadful into an unsuspecting victim's vichyssoise perhaps. How deliciously Borgian! The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Manor is available on amazon and Also, signed and personalized copies available on these links (hardcover or paperback) at your request from my personal collection on ebay (seller name phalseysherwood). Under notes please include any personal inscription you'd like. Do read on...

"Above the considerable burning fireplace, the portrait of Grandfather Wolfson Perigord presided, preserved in oils. It appeared that he just might crawl out of the frame and over the threatening flames on an evening. The defiant eyes were deep hollows, gouged into the painting, cut stern and gray, piercing the canvas under a shock of white, worrisome hair. His posture was slightly stooped, and the large knuckles of his clutching hands were white as well, the long fingers wrapped tightly around a glittering blood stone on the head of his black cane..." #murderydelicious

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret - It's Personal!

Perhaps while constructing The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret, I may have ventured past this simple entrance on an evening and with artistic licence paused to scribe, "Inside the great hall, an enormous, dazzling teardrop chandelier hung down loosely, fragilely comprised of several others in miniature, giving the effect of a tiered wedding cake, iced with faded grandeur, even though newly installed. Just beyond, a winding, carpeted staircase bordered with stiff rods angled up to the floors above..."

Discover what else hovers over the stairs in my thrilling new novel! Signed and personalized copies available on these links (hardcover or paperback) at your request from my personal collection on ebay. Or look up The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret with seller name phalseysherwood and under notes include any personal inscription you'd like. Thank you!

My Secret is also available on amazon, and wherever books are sold. Go to for more info. #murderydelicious

Friday, October 28, 2016

A Bloody Good Interview with Writer's Bone

I dropped by to talk about my new fiendishly funny foody novel, The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret! Click here to listen in to the podcast where we also discuss the perilous plunge into writing itself and my favorites list of novels I've read this year. Also go to and #murderydelicious for more info. Available on,, iTunes and Google Play. Thanks as always to the kindly folks at Writer's Bone!

Here's their fantastic review!

"Sherwood’s finale to the Murdery Delicious is much like the author himself: 'very witty and very smart.' We find Reynald and Willoughby Chalmers, 'a little older, perhaps wiser, and undoubtedly more terrified,' and trying to survive the perils of the Blood Stone Manor with their wives and children. The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret is chock-full of Sherwood’s theatric dialogue and whimsical prose.

I always feel better about literature and writing whenever I finish a Sherwood yarn (not to mention hungrier!), and this novel was no exception. It’s been a real joy tracking Sherwood’s progress as a writer, and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. While I hope that this isn’t the last time we see with the Chalmers brothers, if it is, then it is more than a fitting (and ghostly!) conclusion to their adventures. Standing up applauding at the end...chilling."

The Chalmers brothers have returned in the devastating finale of the Murdery Delicious trilogy—a little older, perhaps wiser, and undoubtedly more terrified. As The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret unfolds, a breezy summer getaway at their newly restored ancestral home quickly becomes a crawl through the gnarled branches of the Chalmers’ family tree. Reality itself is questioned even as fear takes root, center stage. Along the Chalmers’ journey, readers have followed them through literary genres such as the penny dreadful and the classic whodunnit. Now, the brothers, their wives and children find themselves subjected to perils only found in a decidedly ghastly ghost story. Who can uncover the buried secret of Blood Stone Manor? What lurks behind the drapes? The only certainty is that some houses are never meant to be left behind as much as some inhabitants pray to leave them. Do peer past the gate, won’t you? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Betty, Please ... Chicken Tetrazzini!

I first heard of Chicken Tetrazzini in the late 70's while I was in fits watching the hilarious Laverne & Shirley episode where they attempted to open a diner called 'Dead Lazlo's Place.' The clip is below but even before youtube I always remembered Laverne stuffing a whole chicken in a pot of boiling water in an attempt to make the dish. Now, shield your eyes from the SPOILER ALERT: Hopes for the diner didn't pan out and by the end Shirley (responding to Laverne's sweaty calls of 'Betty, please' and 'Pick Up, Betty' as you may remember) suffered a total collapse and ran out shrieking at the grabbing hands and demands of the unruly customers and a burned mess of 'hash blacks.'

Somehow over the years however,  the dish lingered in memory ... then I happened to be poring through a grand, gilded-in-bronze edition of A Treasury of Great Recipes by Vincent Price (yes, that one--the celluloid ghoul of legend who also provided the cackle at the end of 'Thriller'). I discovered in its glorious pages a recipe for Emince of Chicken Tetrazzini au Gratin that he and his wife enjoyed at Sardi's. It may surprise you to learn that the Prices were international epicures and the cookbook reflects their culinary journeys, laboriously detailed with menus from some of the world's most historied chefs. But oh boy, was this glogging Tetrazzini loaded with fat on top of fat (ie. adding heavy cream to an already rich veloute sauce and then sour cream). No, no--although it may have been created for the opera star Luisa Tetrazzini ("when calories didn't count"), I have no plans of padding my bellows to thunder through a tempestuous Wagnerian epic. I enlisted the help of another, less frantic Betty instead, that old gal Betty Crocker came through. Armed with a cooked rotisserie chicken and low-fat cream soups (subbing for the veloute sauce), I easily prepared her much trimmed-down version of Chicken Tetrazzini, great for any night of the week and quick to go as well. So ... pick up, Betty!

The link is here. So, my suggestions? Just shred that aforementioned rotisserie chicken, and for the suggested soups, use one can each of low sodium/fat Campbell's cream of chicken and cream of mushroom with a can of 2% milk and 1/3 reduced fat sour cream. Pre-sliced baby bellas fit the bill for the mushrooms.

And in case you'd like to watch the entire Laverne & Shirley clip, in its hilarity, click here!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret - An Olde Family Receipt

Image result for dispatching crayfish

Dispatch the crayfish! Here's a dastardly recipe ripped from the pages of my new novel, The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret! Serve it to someone you wish to torture or seduce. 

An Olde Family Receipt
(Inspires the amorous eater)
Cut a suggestive, skinned eel into short pieces and rub them with truffles of a secretive nature and a thick layer of lard. Wrap in brittle, buttered pages pulled from a recently discovered dusty box of receipts. Bake in them in an unbearably hot oven for a grueling quarter of an hour, or less, depending upon your threshold for discomfort. Serve on a potent bed of crayfish tails which have suffered a good stewing in the driest white wine that has been administered with laborious lashes of cayenne. 

Go to #murderydelicious for more info. In the meantime, a morsel about the book (available on Amazon, and wherever you may find yourself):

The Chalmers brothers have returned in the devastating finale of the Murdery Delicious trilogy—a little older, perhaps wiser, and undoubtedly more terrified. As The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret unfolds, a breezy summer getaway at their newly restored ancestral home quickly becomes a crawl through the gnarled branches of the Chalmers’ family tree. Reality itself is questioned even as fear takes root, center stage. Along the Chalmers’ journey, readers have followed them through literary genres such as the penny dreadful and the classic whodunnit. Now, the brothers, their wives and children find themselves subjected to perils only found in a decidedly ghastly ghost story. Who can uncover the buried secret of Blood Stone Manor? What lurks behind the drapes? The only certainty is that some houses are never meant to be left behind as much as some inhabitants pray to leave them. Do peer past the gate, won’t you? 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret - A Blind-Man's Bluff Cocktail

As you tear through the haunting pages of my new ghost story, The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret, I thought it might be of interest to some readers to discover where I found inspiration during the writing of it. For example, one evening I entered Tipsy Parson in my neighborhood--a chapter ensued, one particularly gripping chapter, where our heroes, the Chalmers brothers, come across a particularly peculiar parson who is not quite what he seems. There are other recipes in the novel that precede each chapter and dispense hidden bits of information, scattered hereabouts and thereabouts. Can you spot the clues...before it's too late? Too late for what, you ask? Read on!

Blind-Man's Bluff
(Serves a tipsy parson)

1 ounce Bourbon
1 ounce of the darkest rum
¼ ounce simple minded syrup
1 ounce falernum bitters
1 orange peel, twisted and cast out
1 woodsy clove, cracked

Stir and strain the mixture over one big rock. Utilize the twist and discard. Place the cracked cloves on an ice cube and enjoy the welcome blindness.

The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret is now available on amazon, or wherever you buy books. Do peer inside, won't you?

Thanks to Holly Mathis Interiors for the pic! 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Recipes of Our Mothers - Tess Labas' Angel Food Cake

I'm not exactly sure why I thought of Angel Food Cake the other day--but there it was, in fond traces of childhood memory, my dear Nana and the spongy clouds she harnessed in her kitchen. Perhaps a beneficent angel bent down to airily whisper with a breath of vanilla...a gentle reminder that it had been years since I had eaten this cake, a subtle prodding to get baking! My old pal's mother stepped in to share her recipe. Delicious thanks to Tess Labas!

Such perfection on its own or draped with a fruity coulis, topped with fresh berries--and what an entrance! The appearance of Angel Food Cake at your table is sure to be a delighted surprise that will elicit more than a few reminiscences as well. Further reveries that involve other shuffling angels' feet, I leave to you. Do enjoy!

Chris writes:

Here's my Mom's recipe!

A whole dozen of egg whites or about 2 cups (or pre-packaged egg whites)
1/4 tsp salt
1.5 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 tsp almond extract (Whole Foods has a good one)
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1.25 cups of sugar
1 cup cake flour (I switched to King Arthur's from Gold Medal)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the salt and cream of tartar, then beat until soft peaks form.
Then add the almond and vanilla and then gradually add the sugar and then beat until stiff.
Sift the flour over the egg whites and gently fold it in.
Bake in an ungreased tube pan (10") for 50 mins to an hour (toothpick meter). Invert the pan on a rack and let it COMPLETELY cool before removing, 90 mins.

Mom said that her pan has small metal attachments on the outside for inverting the pan that prevent the cake from sticking to the plate/rack; otherwise, invert and hang the pan on a bottle. She also tells me one of my aunts used to do that with a fluted pan, until she got the Angel Food Cake pan.

I can just smell this baking in our kitchen with afternoon sunlight pouring through the window...


Thanks to Chris and Mrs. Labas for sharing with me here on Evenings With Peter!

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret - A Recipe for a Pepper-Riddled Filet

Now that the shocking finale of my fiendish murder series has hit the shelves, I would like you to consider the following recipe found among the fiendishly funny foody pages of The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret! There are sure to be more ghastly concoctions presented here over the upcoming weeks ... although I would not suggest trying any of them at home. A bit about the book:

As The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret unfolds, a breezy summer getaway at the Chalmers family’s newly restored ancestral home quickly becomes a crawl through the gnarled branches of the family tree. Reality is questioned, even as fear takes root center stage. They find themselves subjected to perils only found in a decidedly ghastly ghost story. Who can uncover the buried secret of Blood Stone Manor? What lurks behind the drapes? The only certainty is that some houses are never meant to be left behind as much as some inhabitants pray to leave them. Do peer past the gate, won’t you?

A Recipe for a Pepper-Riddled Filet
(Serves two)
3 tablespoons rook black peppercorns
2 (8-ounce) filets of a butchered beast, roughly cut 1 1/2-inches thick
2 tablespoons herbed butter, softened by an unwanted touch
1 tablespoon vegetative oil
1/3 cup swilled Cognac
1 dented can beef broth, pulled from a musty larder
½ cup harmful heavy cream, expired
Shattered rock salt, to taste

Enmesh the peppercorns in a filthy rag previously used for wiping up blood. Crush with the heft of a large, murderous skillet. Shake what’s become of the peppercorns onto a chipped plate, and roll the filets around the plate to sufficiently cloak the raw devils. Consider the salt.
As the butter and oil slowly succumb to the perils of the skillet, at a temperature of medium-high, hurl the filets with purpose to brown them … only the briefest of minutes per side … leaning toward rare doneness until they leak crimson tears. Stash these somewhere, allowing them to ruminate under a plot of foil.

Splatter Cognac into the screaming hot pan, procure an elongated kitchen match, and pinching it with your forefinger and thumb, set something on fire, preferably your sauce. The blaze will die out quite on its own without any further prodding from you. Add the broth and shame it into reduction by half, relegate the cream to a similar fate with a stir here and there, until thick and curdled. Drown the steaks with the sauce and looking back, consider the salt again. 

The Murdery Delicious Blood Stone Secret is now available on For more info on my books please go to #murderydelicious

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Red Eye Gravy Two Ways

In the photo above, red eye gravy is tossed with a number of ingredients to make a slightly pink pasta sauce encouraged by heavy cream, but let's start with the basics. A perfectly good recipe for classic Ham with Red Eye Gravy served with grits may be found here, courtesy of Paula Deen. Usually I reserve making grits with grits for Derby Day but I was duly inspired to make this gravy (without ham!) and serve it with steak instead over grits for something more autumnal. See below for Notes on a Side Dish with Brussels sprouts!

The recipe for the Red Eye is fairly simple. For enough gravy to serve four:

1 (3-pound) country ham, store bought, sliced
2 tablespoons fat from the ham
1/2 cup coffee
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 beef bouillon cube (optional)

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fat from the ham and render. When the fat is rendered, add the ham steaks and pan-fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove the ham from the pan and set aside on a plate and keep warm. To the pan, add the coffee and water and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the butter and the bouillon cube and stir to incorporate. Serve the gravy over the ham steaks on grits.

I followed this somewhat but instead prepared a London Broil with lots of pepper and salt to go under the broiler, cooking as per package instructions. But first! I browned my steak (not ham) in a large skillet with some butter and smoked turkey wings, capturing the flavors before removing the steak and wings and deglazing the pan as the recipe suggests. I made the grits, per Deen (using only a tablespoon of butter, not 1/2 cup!) while my steak broiled and the gravy simmered. I then served the steak over the grits covered with the gravy. Deen mentions grits that need to simmer for 30 minutes but the Quaker brand does make quicker grits that only require about 5-7 minutes time.

To go beyond with a terrific pasta, try using the gravy as a solid foundation for sauce, as I did. While the pasta water was boiling, I trotted out more smoked turkey wings and added cubed pancetta too.  I removed these before deglazing the pan with the coffee and water. I whisked in a judicious amount of heavy cream over medium low heat until thickened and added frozen peas (fresh certainly welcome) until warmed. Once the pasta was just al dente, I drained then tossed in grated pecorino cheese and topped with chopped chives and mint that I shredded by hand. A little fresh black pepper and dinner was served!

NOTES ON A SIDE DISH:  I found shaved Brussels Sprouts at the market and tossed them with a little oil and salt in a skillet until slightly browned. They will simmer down so plan on a large handful of sprouts per person before going into the skillet. Once browned, add about a  1/4 cup of water in to the mix, stir and cover over low heat for about 7-10 minutes. A delicious complement to the pasta--oh, and dessert was a delightfully Dalmatian dish of orange yogurt with figs.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Casual Acquaintances

Click here for a short story ineluctably entwined around food! Casual Acquaintances published by Writer's Bone. Do enjoy!

"There is a tide in the affairs of men."
-William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Thursday, May 19, 2016

In The Kitchen With Jacks - Cider Cake Rules

It seems like whenever Jackpot wants to assist in the kitchen (ie. chew on a beef jerky and look at me periodically from her dog bed) there are always spoons she isn't allowed to lick, forks to test or batter-splattered bowls to run a lazy finger through. For example, she, and dogs in general, can't eat the avocados (due to all sorts of upsets) included in a recent post. In this particular scrumptious case, the raisins involved aren't great for her kidneys. I didn't mean to torment her but here was the issue: I recently had people over and apparently they didn't think chilled bottles of Woodchuck pear cider were as good an idea as I did, so what to do with all this cider! I remembered a cider cake at April Bloomfield's Spotted Pig restaurant and while I couldn't readily find that recipe, I gladly thank for her Apple Cider Pecan Cake--although my creation resembled more of a torte. Link here! Also, below are my conversions. Only one bottle of cider is called for and I bought some snack bags of pre-sliced apples (did not grate, as recipe suggests) and sort of broke the pecans in half with my hands (didn't chop) before tossing them into the batter. I thought it was a riot, and felt like a hearty pilgrim tearing things up, mixing a rustic cake for the feast of the equinox--or setting a simple table to have a few folks over coffee, or tea. Jacks is invited too, of course. 

Apple Cider Pecan Cake
Approx 330 ml cider (1 regular bottle)  
150g butter, melted (1 stick, plus 2 TB)
4 apples, peeled, cored and grated
2 large eggs
150g soft brown sugar (1/2 cup)
300g plain flour (1 ½ cups)
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
0.25 tsp nutmeg
200g raisins or sultanas (1 cup)
100g pecans, roughly chopped (1/2 cup)

1. Pour the cider into a saucepan and bring to the boil then lower the heat to a simmer and reduced to approximately 100 ml (1/2 cup, reduction took a long time in an otherwise very quick recipe!). Pour into a bowl with the melted butter to cool slightly.

2. Once the cider and butter are just warm set the oven to 180 C/160 C (350 degrees) and grease/line a 8" diameter, loose bottomed cake tin.

3. Mix the eggs and sugar into the apples followed by the melted butter and cider. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices then stir in. Finally stir in the raisins or sultanas and pecans.

4. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and level the top then create a slight dip in the centre with a spoon - this helps the cake to rise evenly. Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 1 hour (check at 50 minutes) or until a cake tester inserted into the centre comes out clean.

5. Leave the cake to cool on a wire rack for at least 15 mins then carefully turn out of the tin and cool completely. Dust with a little sugar if you wish.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

(Not So) Quickie Cassoulet 2016

As much as I like to linger in the kitchen, I simply didn't have much time this year to make a languorous celebratory cassoulet and thereby mark the seventh anniversary of my blog,! I couldn't help but think of Arlene Dahl's culinary epic No Time for Cooking as I set out to make Jacques Pepin's 30-Minute Cassoulet. I'll be perfectly frank--it didn't work out, at first. Entre nous, and with all due respect to the great chef, Pepin's cassoulet was more like a 90-minute 30-Minute Cassoulet. As presented, the recipe made little sense and nothing was fully cooked at the 30-minute mark. Was the Le Creuset skillet I used at fault? Was it not roomy enough for all the ingredients? I can't say for sure but after I fiddled with it for an additional hour, my cassoulet ended up being quite tasty. This may be served straightaway but the most important thing I've learned about cassoulet over the years--let it cool before sticking it in the refrigerator overnight and then reheating the next day to release the full flavor.

Let's go through this together, shall we?

1) Everything mostly goes into the pan in parts, starting with browning the ham (rolled shoulder ham a.k.a. daisy ham or Boston Butt) and Italian sausage and then cook covered for 7-8 minutes. Fine.

2) Add bratwurst, mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme and bay, cook for another 5-6 minutes. Add canned cannellini beans, tomato, water (only a mere 1/2 cup!) and pepper to things, return to boil then reduce for 5 minutes.

And that's it.

So what to do with a bowl of under-cooked nothing with next to no soupy-like liquid for dipping a grilled, olive oil-slathered slice of country bread? I removed the bratwurst and mushrooms from the pale disaster in a skillet and browned them in a separate pan with the onions. I added two cups of water and a porcini mushroom cube and some tomato juice (from the can of already diced tomatoes I used) to make stock. The bratwurst mixture went back in to the skillet. I let this simmer for about a half hour (toward the end, uncovered) to reduce the liquid.

About here it began to resemble cassoulet--and cooked at that! The lesson here? Flip this recipe around a bit and remember it is not a race to achieve a great cassoulet--cook onions and mushrooms first and brown all the meat! Double the amount of liquid at least and simmer down! Let all the ingredients cordially greet one another in the refrigerator overnight and served with grilled country bread!

Do enjoy and thanks to folks for reading!

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Transporting Cake!

I had appropriated the Betty Crocker's Cake and Frosting Mix Cookbook ("featuring more than 300 recipes for every occasion") years ago from my parents' basement but it was only recently when thumbing through the candy-colored pages filled with rainbow nonpareils, glaceed cherries, and sparkling sugar that I pointed out the "Choo Choo" Birthday Train to Baby. He was immediately taken by it, remembering the sweet embrace he felt as a child when his mother made it once for him. So I thought, what a wonderful surprise if I created a special train for him--what a charming dessert with a cargo of Sweetheart candies and jelly beans for a transporting Valentine's Day! It was all really quite simple to put together and such a beautiful laugh riot--Baby's eyes became moist as the cake itself! Great for a little one's surprise party or anytime for inspiring the child in all of us. So find the recipe below and climb aboard!

Outfitted on a rustic wood slab cutting board and a pitcher of two dozen roses as back drop. The marshmallows dipped in cocoa powder with mini-marshmallows were my idea, suggestive of snow covered boulders. The wheels are peppermints but Lifesavers would certainly do, carting the sparkling sugar dusted cargo of Jelly Belly mixed jelly beans and those Sweethearts with little Valentine's Day messages on them! A Twizzler is the smokestack and string licorice made tracks.

An aerial view!

"Choo Choo" Birthday Train
(My notes in italics)
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour six small loaf pans (I only used two, it was only for the two of us!), and an extra pan (for the batter that doesn't fit in the 'cars'). Prepare Betty Crocker Devils Food cake mix (yellow was Baby's preference) as directed on package. Fill each loaf pan half full of batter and pour remaining batter into the extra pan. Bake loaves 20 to 25 minutes. Cool.

Prepare Betty Crocker chocolate fudge frosting mix as directed on package (I used a can of B.C. classic chocolate frosting). Place each small loaf upside down on individual aluminium foil "plates" or large serving tray. Frost sides and tops of loaves. Decorate with hard candy circle mints for wheels and candleholders (no candles here), red 1-inch gumdrop for smokestack. Use candles on engine and first car. "Fill" each additional car with one of these: red cinnamon candies, nonpareils, peanuts, and colored decorator's sugar.

Place in line down center of table. Serve on aluminum foil "plates," one for each child, or cut in half to serve two. Little balloons, sparklers, plastic grass or wrapped, beribboned candy crackers for additional display at your discretion!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

DriveThru - Hamilton's

A quick stop into where to eat with Pete! 


Pull up a stool and possibly a few childhood memories at a new soda luncheonette in the West Village.

The mere mention of old soda fountain notions such as fizzes, ice cream sodas, sundaes, and rickeys always gets me terribly excited. How wonderful to discover that the sun-filled Hamilton's serves up these staggering delights alongside old mainstays such as juicy burgers and hot dogs. We pulled up to the marble counter although there are about 20 small tables as well. The joyful step back into a fanciful candy land from a simpler time has yet to be fully realized--I don't mean the staff needed to sport colorfully striped uniforms necessarily but I do wish the backbone of shelves offered by way of design were flooded with jars of practically glowing candy, the sound system provided a mellow, jazzy score and that there were more decorative vintage advertisements proffering sweet treats such as those surely posted in the shops of yesteryear. But the boxes of fresh ice cream, actual soda fountains and vats of malt powder on display were still quite irrepressible!

The Quick Bites:
Scrumptious black & white malt;
Refreshing chocolate phosphate, a "straight soda with a dash of acid phosphate" made me long for a lazy summer day or a good dash of spring as well;
Sturdy hearts of pale romaine (for our greens!) dressed with perfectly pungent, chunky blue cheese and shards of crispy bacon;
Hamilton double patty classic, medium rare with American cheese, drive-in approved, served with a bright dilly of a pickle and side of golden delicious fried onion rings;
Super tasty reuben sandwich corned beef sized just right for easy manageability so as not to create much of a fussy mess;
A snowball of pistachio ice cream scooped out of an old time cardboard box from Jane's in Astoria;
Butterscotch high ball shake brought out syrupy sweet childhood memories enveloped in rich vanilla ice cream!

Until Next Time:
The list goes on! Grilled cheese and tomato soup, a tuna melt, any of the "take out TV dinners" that include macaroni and cheese with green beans and stuffing.

Hamilton's is located at 51 Bank St, New York, NY, 212-661-1515,

Monday, January 18, 2016

In The Kitchen with Jacks--Osso Buco

Jackpot took a moment to pose for me but was otherwise ensconced in her doggie bed while I prepared an osso buco courtesy of Emeril with Creole seasonings! Two veal shank pieces (roughly 8 oz. each) is an ample portion for two, when served with a heaping side of rice and a salad dressed perhaps spiked with a shallot vinaigrette, sumptuous mushrooms and crisped pancetta. If you don't happen to have something like Zatarain's around for the seasoning, a recipe easily created from items most likely found in your spice cabinet may also be found here. What's best is that the meat simmers for about two hours, so guests enter to a wildly fragrant aroma--and then the dish finishes cooking while you're chatting over hors d'oeuvres and wine! Sit down and serve!

I veered from this recipe with highly satisfactory results. Since I have a most confounding, irritating allergy to tomatoes, I pureed a can of cannellini beans with some water as a substitute for the red devils (or for a great tomato-less marinara to be used, click here). I also cracked open a bottle of a hearty beer instead of opening up a whole bottle of red wine (course an opened bottle of wine rarely lingers). The result was truly an impressive, really easy rustic delight! Now, make sure you serve with tiny spoons to scoop up all the delicious marrow from the bones!

Friday, January 8, 2016

DriveThru - Jun-Men Ramen Bar

A quick stop into where to eat with Pete!

Far East meets West Chelsea with ramen craze newcomer

Jun-Men (translation, please: pure noodle) may not be much to look at, nor is there much to look at here--it's so tiny--and the little ramen bar has an abbreviated menu as well but sure does pack in as many flavors as it does folks hovering about outside, waiting for a spot at one of the 28 seats. Baby and I piled in recently and the whole affair reminded me of a hoppin' joint I would have crashed around two in the morning with a bunch of friends, somewhere in the East Village in the late 80's. I have however, left such behavior behind, and Baby and I were seated at a more reasonable hour, such as 8:30 pm to experience the latest ramen rage.

The Quick Bites:
Terrific, meaty double fried chicken wings sweetly glazed with Jun-Men sauce;
Fried rice with smoky Chinese sausage, a bit of a bitch-slap from kimchi, gently fried egg, sweet tobiko, micro basil;
Salad of kale, quinoa, tomato, white cheddar, grilled corn and lively lemon somewhere in there, ever so delicately tossed with miso dressing

Chewy chashu (stewed pork) bone with dormitory-approved ramen noodles, sumptuous kikurage (wood ear mushrooms), menma (fermented bamboo shoots), a slightly trembling egg, with chopped scallions and a drizzle of black oil all in a delectable broth;
Rich and rewarding mazemen (dry noodle) with pancetta crisps and frizzled shallots smacked of a Korean carbonara preparation with porcini butter and truffle oil stepping in for the classic egg/Parmesan mixture, topped with a balanced, refreshing plunge into sea urchin. Uh-huh.
Tart yuzu sorbet and ginger gelato for a sweet finish!

Until Next Time: yellowtail ceviche with kimchi jus, pickled mango, fried dumpling skin; green tea cheesecake

Jun-Men Ramen Bar is located at 249 Ninth Ave (b'twn 25th/26th Sts), New York, NY, 646-852-6787,