Skip to content

Archive for

Brief Update- Life Is Precious

Nando and his monkey

Nando and his monkey

I want to thank everyone for your kindness, your sensitivity and sticking with me through my partial breakdown. You need to know how dear you are to me and how much I appreciate your concern and kind words. Thank You!!

Nando is still with me, Over the past few days I have been doing some real soul searching, life and death is a very serious matter. I have had to euthanize my beloved pets before, its terrible, heart wrenching and so hard to do but as they always say “you will know when it’s time” thats very true, however with Nando it is not that clear cut. He is old, he has diabetes, he is blind, he has neuropathy, he has pain,  I agonized over this and came to the realization that it was not a clear cut decision and since thats the case I could not have Nando put to sleep. We have sleepless nights, but so do many people, we also have good nights like last night where he went to bed with no pain meds and slept like a baby.

I had a revelation the other day. I sit with Nando sometimes on my stoop and he just loves to lay on the warm stone with the sun shining on him. While I sat there a very old man walked by, very slowely, his back was bent much like Nando’s and he walked with a cane. I said hello to him and he stopped and looked at me and gave me this huge smile and said “it’s a glorious day” and was on his way. I looked at that frail old man who obviously has pain and other problems associated with old age and thought he is still full of life and was enjoying his walk in the warm sun.  At that moment my decision was made and I knew that I could not at this time end Nando’s life, He enjoyed the sun, he enjoys his food, he loves laying on the bed with lots of pillows and blankets. I think the good days mitigate the days and nights that are more challenging.

For me, I have sleepless nights and still have to care for my boy and work, I will take that as part of the cycle of life. I won’t feel sorry for myself any more and will continue to work on my blog, keeping it current and fresh is one of the joys of my life and I couldn’t not do it. I know the day will come when I will no longer have Nando but for the time being I will enjoy the time we have together. I have an amazing support group, wonderful friends that selflessly come here and sit with Nando while I go out to my appointments. I am so grateful.

Thank you for listening (reading) I have a lot of catching up to do reading your wondeful blogs, drooling over your amazing recipes and cooking up my own.


Thank you so much!


Suzanne – A Pug In The Kitchen


Introducing TDPC – Linda

I would like to introduce Linda, well for those of you who don’t already know her and her gorgeous blog La Petite Paniere. Her recipes are amazing, her photo’s are gorgeous and we are so lucky to have her as part of the collective.

The Dinner Party Collective


A long time ago, I fell into the cooking pot (like Obélix into the magic potion). I had the chance to grow up in Algeria, in Algiers, a wonderful city full of flavors and colors just like it’s cuisine. Coming from a family who loves eating, cooking and enjoying the small pleasure of life always around a garnished table. I had the chance to be introduced to the cooking world at a very early age, thanks to my Grandmother. She was really good, and never used a cook book or a cup to measure. She always said to use your 5 senses in the kitchen, and I totally agree with her. Smell the flavors, see the colors, touch the textures, hear the noise of the sizzling and of course taste. We were neighbors (my grandmother, my mother and my aunts), all living in the same street. I had a lot…

View original post 256 more words

The Weeks To Come….



Hi Everyone;

I will not be posting regularly nor can I comment on all your wonderful blogs with any regularity during the weeks to come.  I am afraid that it’s physically impossible for me to do this right now.  Work is extremely busy, Nando is at the end of his life and requires a lot of time and attention. I have told you before my boy has Diabetes, he is 14 1/2 years old, blind and has neuropathy which a complication of the diabetes. He can barely stand anymore. It’s heart breaking and difficult for me to watch him deteriorate almost daily. He is still eating but that is becoming increasingly difficult for him. I cannot leave him alone for more than 2 hours at a time, I have to rush home between appointments. I do have a dog walker who is great and he will come in and check on Nando and take him out if I have to be gone more than 2 hours.

Pardon me for this, it’s a very difficult time for me right now losing Izzy just a few months ago and now Nando is failing, it’s hard for me to deal with and I just wanted everyone to know I am still around but you won’t see me posting or commenting with any regularity.



Couldn't resist, all dressed up for Christmas

Couldn’t resist, all dressed up for Christmas

Introducing TDPC – Sandra

I would like to introduce you to Sandra one of the talented cooks that I will have the pleasure of working with at TDPC. Her blog “Please Pass The Recipe” is filled with fantastic recipes and lots of helpful information, without further ado meet Sandra……

The Dinner Party Collective

Sandra from PleasePassThe Recipe Sandra from PleasePassThe Recipe

Sharing good food, fine wine and stimulating conversation at the dinner table is my favourite pastime, so planning, cooking and posting for a virtual dinner party hosted by “The Dinner Party Collective” is for me an exciting new project.

Australia’s ground breaking food doyenne Stephanie Alexander is responsible for my obsession with food. I dined at her very first restaurant in the 1970s and that single experience unleashed a latent interest. I developed a passion for cookbooks and an enthusiasm for cooking schools which led me to being a willing captive in the kitchen.

I have pursued my passion for food in many ways, from feeding my kids to leading a kitchen brigade of ten. It’s the alchemy of transformation that holds me in it’s thrall, the art of creating well crafted, delicious tasting food from simple fresh seasonal ingredients. My influences are broad and eclectic…

View original post 189 more words


When I recently made my Pasta Piselli dish I was reminded of this wonderful, simple and utterly delicious pasta dish from my dear friend Cynthia, “The Solitary Cook”. Cynthia and I met through Food 52 and I admire her, she is a Chef, an amazing and creative cook and one of the nicest people you will ever meet, Besides our mutual love of food we share a love of animals and her assortment of furry and feathered friends is wonderful. I hope you enjoy this recipe, I make it all the time, I have mentioned Cynthia to you all before, making her great recipes for bread, she is an astounding bread baker. Visit her blog, you’ll see how wonderful she and her blog are… Enjoy!!!

The Solitary Cook

Is Wednesday still called “hump day?”  Well, whether your work week is a straight Monday through Friday shot, or a variation thereon, chances are it has a middle that you need to get past in order to get to the other side.   On nights like that I need something fast.  But good.  Very good.  Points are awarded if it’s easy to clean up after.  And leftovers for the next day’s lunch are a big plus.

This has become my go-to for such evenings.  Like all favorite foods, this one has a story.  I first posted it and the recipe on the lovely, where I’m known as boulangere.  It was early last August, not long after I had returned from Italy and France with the dancing daughter.   Since then, it’s garnered over 5,000 views, and 175 people have saved it.  Neither is even close to a…

View original post 1,472 more words

Vegetarian Bahn Mi – A Challenge And I’m Bringing To Fiesta Friday #63


The Wynn Resort in Las Vegas teamed up with famous vegan chef Tal Ronnen to create exquisite menus of vegan and vegetarian cuisine for every restaurant at the Wynn. 

The challenge was to pick an item off the the amazing menu and make it my own, in other words I could pick any item and change it, putting our own spin on the dish. I am always up for a challenge and looking at the menu it was hard to decide from all the amazing dishes that Chef Ronnen created for Wynn.



I chose the Gardein “Vegan” Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Creamy Polenta.  So you wonder what Bahn Mi has to do with this right, well I took creative license and took the meatballs and created an entirely new dish, Vietnamese not Italian.  I appreciate and love vegetarian food but am not vegetarian, I have never cooked with a “meat substitute” before, therein lies the challenge. I wanted to make meatballs and to stay somewhat true to the dish I found Gardein “Meatless” meat. I was happy to see that Gardein is non GMO and has very few ingredients, I can pronounce all of them. My dish is Vegetarian not Vegan, I needed egg to hold the patties together and wanted to use Mayonaise on the sandwich. This could easily be veganized I am sure by using flax seed egg substitute and a vegan mayo.

I’m bringing a bunch of these Vegetarian sandwiches with me to the party today. Our host, Angie@The Novice Gardener is making good use of our new digs throwing a great party with our wonderful co hosts, you can party with Julianna @Foodie On Board and Hilda @Along The Grapevine.


I thought I could take this product and form it into meatballs, it didn’t work very well. I added some corn starch and egg along with some ginger, soy sauce and chili paste. They would not form a ball so I made a patty and fried them. Honestly, they were very tasty.

Gardein Patties

Gardein Patties

I pickled some vegetables, whats Bahn Mi without pickled veggies. I used cucumber, carrot, and watermelon radish which I made into thin strips by using my vegetable peeler, then you simply mix rice wine vinegar, sugar, sesame oil and salt and pepper together and pour it onto the vegetables. Let it sit for a little while, about 30 minutes.

Pickled vegetables

Pickled vegetables

Next you clean your cilantro, make spicy mayo. I used garlic chili paste and mayo, cut a piece of a baguette approximately 6 inches long, slice it in half and hollow out the middle. Slather with the spicy mayo, place some cilantro, then the patties and top with the pickled vegetables, drizzle some of the vinegar onto the top inside half of the bread and put your sandwich together.

Vegetarian Bahn Mi

Makes 4-6 sandwiches

The patties

2 cups meatless meat (I used Gardein brand)

2 eggs lightly beaten

2 tbs corn starch

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

2 spring onion the light colored part chopped finely

1 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs chili paste

salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything together and let sit for about 15 minutes. Heat skillet with some oil, place a spoonful of the mixture into the hot pan, flatten a little with your spoon and fry until nicely browned. Flip over and fry the other side. Set aside.

Pickled Vegetables

1 watermelon radish

1 large carrot

1 cucumber peeled

1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

2 tsp sesame oil

Juice of 1 small lime

handfull of cilantro

1 jalapeno pepper seeds removed and thinly sliced

Using a vegetable peeler peel off thin slices of the vegetables and place in a bowl, Mix the vinegar, sugar, oil and lime juice and pour over vegetables and let it sit while you prepare the bread and mayo.

Putting the sandwich together.

Hollow out both halves of the baguette, mix some mayo with chili sauce and spread on the bottom half, place some cilantro and jalapeño pepper on the bread, lay seveeral patties on and top with some of the pickled vegetables. Drizzle some of the vinegar from the veggies on the other half of bread and put it together. Enjoy!

Bahn Mi

Bahn Mi






I’m A Finalist On Food 52- Pasta Piselli

pasta piselli

pasta piselli

I am so happy and thrilled to be a finalist in the latest contest on Food52, the challenge “Your best recipe with 5 ingredients or fewer”. I submitted my recipe for Pasta Piselli. See below the Food 52 review and my introduction. This dish is so ridiculously easy and quick but very tasty. If you don’t mind voting for me if you are so inclined. I would really appreciate it if you are not already registered you will need to, I guarantee it’s painless, you will not get inundatd with junk at all, I have been a part of the community since 2011 click here to vote, thank you so much I really appreciate it.

Food52 Editors’ Comments: WHO: Sdebrango currently lives in Brooklyn, NY and comes from a large Italian family that loves to cook. WHAT: An easy-peasy Italian pasta for springtime. HOW: Cook peas and fresh pasta in chicken broth, then add in an egg and a hefty serving of Pecorino Romano cheese to bind it all together in a blanket of cheesy goodness. WHY WE LOVE IT: This soup’s depth of flavor belies its short ingredient list and quick cooking time to make it the perfect weeknight meal, courtesy of your pantry. The earthy peas compliment the full-flavored, velvety broth, brightened by a pinch (or two) of lemon zest—we just might make it again for dinner tonight.

I first had this when I lived in Italy. I was invited to a friend’s house for lunch and this soup was served as a first course. (Lunch is a big deal in Italy with multiple courses.) I watched my friend’s grandmother make this soup as it took her just a few minutes and a handful of ingredients: Chicken stock or broth, homemade (or dried) pasta, peas, egg, and grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Note: You can use Parmesan cheese instead of Romano, or mix them.

Pasta Piselli

Serves 2 to 4 depending on serving size

32 ounces (4 cups) chicken broth or stock
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1/2 pound fresh pasta (I used linguine but capellini or spaghetti works just as well. If you don’t have fresh, dried works great, also.)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus some to serve (Parmesan also works.)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of lemon zest (optional)

If using fresh pasta, bring the broth or stock to a boil in a large saucepan, add the peas, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the fresh pasta and cook for about 3 minutes. If using dried pasta, add the pasta into the broth before the peas. Cook the pasta for 3 minutes, then add the peas and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, beat the egg then add the grated cheese and combine. Remove pot from the heat and pour the egg mixture in slowly, while continuing to stir the pasta to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste, and a pinch of lemon zest if you like. Serve with more cheese grated on top.

Photo by Bobbi Lin for Food52

Photo by Bobbi Lin for Food52

The Dinner Party Collective Begins!

I can’t tell you how excited I am to present this to you all. I look forward to my collaboration with the best and most talented group of bloggers. We will be bringing you more as time progresses. Soon you will see our first menu for a summer party and I am thrilled to be a contributor. This is the brain child of Margot from the amazing Gather And Graze, stay tuned…..

The Dinner Party Collective

To all, a warm welcome to The Dinner Party Collective! We are a group of 12 dedicated and passionate Food and Wine Bloggers from right around the world who are coming together to collaborate and create what will be an ever-growing series of seasonal menus. In time, there will be a delicious array of formal, semi-formal and casual menus for you to choose from.

The first of our menus are being worked upon as we speak and will be published in early June. There will be a winter menu for those in the southern hemisphere and a summer menu for those up in the north. From then on, with each new season, a fresh duo of menus will be released for each of the corresponding hemispheres.

Included will be an Appetiser, Main and Dessert (each dish beautifully prepared and photographed by one of our individual Food Bloggers) and to accompany…

View original post 584 more words

Braised Lamb Shanks With Charred Lettuce And Peas Easter Dinner The Main Course.

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

I wanted to make lamb for Easter but wanted to do something different than the more traditional leg of lamb, I saw this recipe the other day in an email I got from Tasting Table (you can find the recipe by clicking on the link). It immediately spoke to me, maybe that sounds silly but I am sure there have been recipes you have seen that you immediately knew you had to make, well thats what I mean here. I knew I had to make it, the combination of lamb shanks slowly braised until they are fall off the bone tender atop delicious spring peas and grilled lettuce is a marriage made in heaven in my opinion. To top it off you drizzle the lamb with a mint,garlic and crisped shallot sauce. It’s beautiful, the very essence of Spring and ridiculously delicious. I decided to add a few more ingredients to this dish, some micro potatoes roasted until the skin is crisp and some roasted carrots. The platter is beautiful, the flavors assertive and fresh. It’s a wonderful meal, it’s not quick to make but it is a holiday. Happy Holidays to All of you, I hope you have a wonderful day with family and friends and some amazing food.

Note: I did modify this recipe a bit. I did not use anchovies, instead I made a paste with garlic, sea salt, worcestershire sauce and rubbed that into the shanks. I also did not put them in the fridge uncovered, put them in zip lock bags and stored overnight. It worked just fine. I also did not brown the shanks in the oven I used my pan, I wanted to have all those lovely brown bits. When I put them back in the oven I  kept at 400 for 15 minutes then reduced the heat to 325 degree’s, I wanted a slow braise. The result was pretty much the same, the meat was fall off the bone tender and the sauce reduced nicely in my pot.

Vegetable porn for the braising liquid

Vegetable porn for the braising liquid

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

  • Meat and peas and lettuce

Meat and peas and lettuce

Carrots and potatoes too!

Carrots and potatoes too!

Photo's courtesy of google

Photo’s courtesy of google

Happy Holiday! Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

aerial view

aerial view

Carrot cake is the quintessential Easter dessert, well maybe it is, but this is my first time making it for Easter. It’s a wonderful cake and although this is the first carrot cake I have made for Easter it is not my first carrot cake, it has however been a long time since I’ve made one. This recipe is one that I have used for many years. It’s from Nick Malgieri’s cookbook simply titled “Perfect Cakes”. This carrot cake is delicious, moist, and pretty much perfect. I love using pineapple in my carrot cake, something about that addition makes the cake absolutely wonderful. You of course must frost with cream cheese frosting, it’s imperative IMHO. The recipe is from Mr, Malgieri’s book but was written by Martha Turner from North Carolina. Going against everything I have been taught I am serving dessert first, the main dish is coming soon.

Martha Turners Carrot Cake

Makes one 9 inch double (or 8 inch triple) layer cake or 24 cupcakes

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp powdered ginger (I add this it’s not in the original recipe)

4 large eggs at room temperature

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 cups grated carrot

1 8 oz can crushed pineapple with it’s juice

3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Pre heat the oven to 325 degree’s. Butter or grease two 9 inch round cake pans or 3 8 inch round pans, line with parchment, grease again and dust with flour. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt.

In stand mixer combine eggs and sugar beating briefly until light approximately 1 minute. slowely add the oil in a steady stream with mixer on, beat just until combined. Add the carrots and pineapple with the juice and mix to combine, fold in the dry ingredients. Add the optional pecans stirring to mix them in. Scrape batter into prepared pans.

Bake for 45 minutes or until cake is golden brown, firm and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Invert onto cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting the cake.

Carrot cake

Carrot cake


Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz unsalted butter softened at room temperature

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar

half and half or milk or cream added a tsp at a time until it reaches desired consistency. NOTE: When I frost my carrot cake with cream cheese frosting I use pineapple juice instead of milk or cream. 

Beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time with a splash of cream or milk or for this cake pineapple juice. Frost the cake immediately.

Slice of cake

Slice of cake

Happy Easter

Happy Easter