C&C Club

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

Enjoy a lovely green cocktail!

Shamrock Number Two


Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

A casserole of Ribolitta ready to serve.

In some areas of Tuscany, ham fat and bacon rind are added to the vegetables.

Tuscan Ribollita

Preparation:  1 hour

Total time from start to finish:  2 hours and 40 minutes

serves 8 to 10 people

I prepared this delicious, homey soup for the most recent Culture and Cuisine Club. In my version I used 3 cups of dried cannelini beans. I soaked them overnight, adding water once to cover them. The next day I drained the water and picked through the beans. I covered them with cold water, brought them to a boil, reduced the heat and cooked them for 40 minutes.


3 cups dried cannelini beans soaked overnight for at least 12 hours

1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 medium size leek

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch Swiss chard leaves

8 ounces red cabbage

1 bunch cavolo nero, a speciality item

1/3 cup celery, cut into 1/4″ dice

1/3 cup carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ dice

6 ounces (3/4 cup) zucchini, cut into 1/2″ dice

1 cup canned whole peeled tomatoes with their juice, coarsely chopped

8 ounces white boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice


Freshly ground black pepper

A slice of good crusty bread for each serving (optional)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

This version is slightly different from mine, in a good way. My soup did not have enough liquid, and I also was missing some flavors, like tomato and chicken broth.

1.  Put the chopped onion and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a 6 to 8-quart heavy bottomed soup pot and place over medium high heat.  Sauté until the onion turns to a light golden color, about 5 minutes.

2.  While the onion is sautéing, trim the leek by cutting away the root end and removing the tough green tops of the leaves.  Cut the leek in half lengthwise and then across into 1/2″ pieces.  Soak the pieces of leek in cold water to loosen any dirt.  When the onion is ready, add the leek and turn the heat down to medium low.

3.  Add each of the following vegetables as you prepare them, periodically stirring the contents of the pot.

Swiss chard: cut off the root end and shred it finely.

Cavolo nero: remove the stalks. Wash the leaves in cold water and chop them very coarsely.

Red cabbage: cut off the root and finely shred.

Celery: peel the back of the stalk to remove the tough strings, rinse under cold water and dice.

Carrot: peel and dice.

Zucchini: scrub under cold water and dice.

Canned tomatoes: chop coarsely or simply break them up with your hand.

Potatoes: peel and cut into 1/2″ dice.  Wash them by placing them in a bowl of cold water as you cut them.

Add the bacon rind and saute with the veggies for 10 minutes or so.

4.  When you have finished adding all the vegetables season generously with salt and pepper. Separate and puree about half the cooked beans with an immersion blender. Add the puree, the whole cooked beans, and the reserved cooking liquid to the pot with the veggies. Pour in the 5 cups of water or chicken stock, cover the pot, raise the heat and, when the soup comes to a boil turn the heat down so that it cooks at a gentle simmer.  Cook for at least 2 hours checking it about every 30 minutes to stir.  The soup is done when the vegetables are very tender, almost creamy, and the beans are soft. There is no such thing as al dente beans!

5.  When you are ready to serve the soup, toast or grill the slices of bread and place them on the bottom of each soup bowl.  Pour the soup over the bread and let it stand for about 5 minutes.  Just before serving, drizzle a little olive oil over each serving and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Cavolo nero on the left and Swiss chard.

Delicious Korean Barbeque

Saturday, February 16th, 2013

A scrumptious plate of Korean fare.

The spirit of the Culture and Cuisine Club was in evident at the recent dinner.
Hot and Spicy Beef Soup  

1.25 lbs  of Skirt Steak
4-tsp of sesame oil
4-tbsp of chili powder
2 garlic clove finely chopped
2-tbsp of vegetable oil
1 cup of bean sprouts
2 leeks sliced
2 scallion sliced
1- 1 oz  package of Phillips Mushroom Farms dried mixed mushrooms
4-tbsp Asian/Thai Sweet Chili Sauce

1.  Place skirt steak in a medium pot and cover with water.  Bring the water to
a boil, cover, and let simmer for 30-45 minutes until tender.  Skim the surface
of any fat.

2. Remove steak for the pan and strain the stock into a large bowl.  Place the
dried mushrooms into the stock and let reconstitute.  This added more mushroom
flavor to the stock...

3.  Cut the beef into thin strips and place in a bowl.  Add the sesame oil,
chili powder and chopped garlic and proceed to coat the meat.

4.  Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the meat with the bean
sprouts, leek and spring onions.  Stir-fry for 2 minutes.  Strain the stock into
the pan, collecting the mushrooms and the place the mushrooms to the side in a
bowl.  Bring the contents of the pan to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30
minutes or so until tender.

5.  Add the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the Sweet Chili sauce
to taste and serve.
Prepared by our host, the original recipe is from "The Korean Kitchen."
The adjustments made by the cook are included in the above recipe.

Cocktail: The King of Seoul

Monday, February 4th, 2013

The King of Seoul

The tradition of a yummy cocktail is one of my favorite things about a Culture and Cuisine Club dinner. At our latest celebration, our host invented a fabulous cocktail he aptly named “The King of Seoul” in honor of Korean cuisine. Delicious!

Fill Scotch Tumbler with ice
1 oz of King's Ginger
1 oz  of Sake or Soju
1/2 oz of Pomegranate Juice
Top off with Tonic Water
add one slice of lime
add 3 Pomegranate seeds



Island-Style Fried Rice

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

This is one of the delicious recipes I served for the most recent Culture and Cuisine Club’s Hawaiian night. I made the following adjustments: I used one cup of ground pork in place of the Chinese sausage. After the meat was cooked to a light brown I removed it, and scrabbled the eggs in the same chef’s pan. I did not remove them as per the original directions. I added the cooled rice in large scoops, stirring on medium-high heat constantly, blending the scrambled eggs in with the rice. I did not use all the rice I made. Then, I added the meat and drained pineapple back in. I used twice the amount of the oyster sauce that the original recipe called for. Also, garlic powder is indicated in the directions and not in the ingredients. Don’t miss that. I just made about two light sweeps across the rice with garlic powder.

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 (12 ounce) can fully cooked luncheon meat (such as SPAM®), cubed
  • 1/2 cup sliced Chinese sweet pork sausage (lup cheong)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 (8 ounce) can pineapple chunks, drained
  • 3 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onion


  1. Bring the rice and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the rice is tender, and the liquid has been absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the rice cool completely.
  2. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a skillet over medium heat, and brown the luncheon meat and sausage. Set aside, and pour the beaten eggs into the hot skillet. Scramble the eggs, and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and stir in the rice. Toss the rice with the hot oil until heated through and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic powder, toss the rice for 1 more minute to develop the garlic taste, and stir in the luncheon meat, sausage, scrambled eggs, pineapple, and oyster sauce. Cook and stir until the oyster sauce coats the rice and other ingredients, 2 to 3 minutes, stir in the green onions, and serve.

    Island-Style Fried Rice

Nutritional Information open nutritional information

Amount Per Serving  Calories: 511 | Total Fat: 28.1g | Cholesterol: 145mgPowered by ESHA Nutrient Database

Here is a link for the Allrecipes site where I got the original recipe. There is a calculator option where you can enter the amount of people being served and it will change the individual amounts of the ingredients. Very handy.

England Awaits …

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

In honor of our next C & C Club dinner our future hosts treated us to The King’s Ginger, an iconic  liqueur. Needless to say, we did sing “God Save The Queen.”

Here is the link to the site for the historical background to this potent liqueur.


They Eat Hors D’oeuvres in Heaven

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

My contribution of Swedish Meatballs.

Sarde in Saor Venetian Style

Our most recent Culture and Cuisine event was a twist on the normal theme. Our lovely hostess and always charming host wanted to do an hors d’oeuvres extravaganza. We were all happy to oblige!

Baccala Mantecato on polenta.

We started the evening with a sparkling crisp Proseco. It was the perfect palate cleanser for the feast that followed. Enjoy these photos, the recipes will be here on the blog as soon as I can copy them.

An amazing antipasto from Mazzaro's Italian Cafe and Market.


Luscious escargot en croute.

Apple Sharlotka

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

The basic recipe I used was adapted from Smittenkitchen.com. This is a

My first Apple Sharlotka!

wonderful place to look for unique recipes, and the photos of the food, from preparation to finished product, are wonderful. According to the author, this is an old family recipe, which was why I was happy to find it for the monthly C & C festivities.

Butter or nonstick spray, for greasing springform pan

6 large Granny Smith apples

3 large organic eggs

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon + good vanilla extract

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Ground cinnamon, to finish

Powdered sugar, also to finish

Chop apples after peeling into 1/4 by 1/2 inch chunks. Then preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the bottom and sides of the pan liberally. Pile the cut apples in the prepared pan. In a separate bowl, combine all the other ingredients and and beat with an electric mixer until the batter is thick. A good way to test it is if it forms ‘ribbons’ or ‘ripples’ after mixing a bit.

Pour batter over apples in pan, insuring that the apples are completely covered. You can spread the batter with a spatula and press down lightly to do this. The top of the batter should be level with the apples. Bake in oven for 55 60 minutes until tester comes out clean of batter. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on a rack, then flip over onto a plate, then flip again onto your pretty cake dish. Have someone help you with this part if you’re nervous. Dust lightly with cinnamon.

The dessert can be served warm or cooled, dusted with powdered sugar. The traditional way to serve is plain, but you can add homemade whipped cream, or sour cream as an garnish.


What Happens in Havana, Stays in Havana

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

Grammy's 60 year old fryer, the only photographic evidence.

This month the Culture and Cuisine Club enjoyed the cuisine of Cuba and we hosted.  You will note that there are no pictures of this event.  Usually I at least get a picture of my cocktail which was a perfectly balanced mojito, the Cuban cocktail of choice.  I was so concerned with monitoring the plantains I was frying that I simply forgot photos.  And after two of them, well, you get the picture.

The food was simply wonderful.  Our appetizers, while we enjoyed our cocktails, were pressed cuban sandwiches and deep fried crab rolls. We were treated to the famous 1905 chopped salad from the Columbia restaurant in Ybor City.  It is one of my favorite salads ever!

We moved on to the main course, and I had prepared two different choices for my guests.  I marinated two whole chickens which were then roasted in the beer can method and finally glazed with a guava jelly reduction.   I also prepared garlic marinated pork roast which I roasted in the oven.  The timing on the pork was off, unfortunately, and only the outside was cooked to the correct inner temperature.  It was a shame as the meat was wonderful.  The problem was a change in the cut of the meat suggested by the butcher, from a shoulder to a butt, and I needed another hour at least.  So, lucky for me I also had the chickens which were really good.  Debbie prepared the traditional black beans and rice from scratch, and the beans were cooked perfectly.  The rice had small pieces of mango in it, and it was a wonderful compliment to the full flavor of the meat.  She also made a fresh fruit salsa with apples.  Very yummy!  I will post the marinade recipes under the recipe section.

Dessert was a luscious flan, and wonderful pastries from El Segundo in Ybor City.  I always try to serve the coffee of the particular country, and I lucked out in finding an espresso coffee that matched the style Cubans prefer.  We then had our ritual “big reveal”, which is when the hosts for the next dinner reveal the country we will visit. The next country we would visit Denmark!  This is when the night began to go downhill, or uphill, as we enjoyed a shot, (or two or three), of a cherry liquor called Heering.  We decided to take our wine and liquors outside onto the lanai to enjoy the special treat we planned for our guests, hand rolled cigars we had purchased the week before and stored in our humidor.  I wanted a picture of us with the cigars, but since we have two educators, a dentist, and a health care executive in the group I was turned down.  Zeus amazed me with his match tricks as he lit my cigar numerous times.  The toastmaster wanted to know how come she had never smoked a cigar before, “Lois, why didn’t I know about this?”

So what type of entertainment can our hosts provide to surpass the bar set by Coquine and The Hammer?  Only time will tell as the suggestions, most of which are illegal in the state of Florida, were thrown out for discussion by our friends.  As our guests left we surveyed the damage and realized it had been a successful C & C event.  The house was trashed.

One of the white wines we enjoyed, minus the Halloween decor.

The C & C Club visits Peru!

Friday, August 26th, 2011

The most recent C & C Club celebrated the cuisine of Peru!  The members of the C & C Club are very serious about our cocktails, and our charming host provided a delicious Pisco  sour.

Boris makes friends with Lou

There were three appetizers:  A salad of shrimp, hearts of palm, olives and other ingredients tossed in a light dressing, tomato and cheese served on toothpicks, and wonderfully juicy skirt steak grilled and served on skewers.

Lou grilling the skirt steak appetizer

The main course was Seco de Chivo, which is lamb cooked on the shank. When they were removed from pot they looked like dinosaur bones. She cut off all the meat piece by piece.  It was moist and full of flavor.  It was served with rice and the cold corn side dish I provided.

Ensalada de Choclo

Dessert was ‘the sigh of a women from Lima’, with a soft cinnamon taste enhancing the creamy meringue and caramel flavors.  A beautiful end to a wonderful meal.

'the sigh of a woman from Lima'

As usual we enjoyed some stellar wine, including a new discovery, a bottle of Ciccetti.  Next, Chuck and I will host Cuba at our home in September.

Some of the wine enjoyed