Archive for the ‘General’ Category


We have gathered together more than 100 terrific recipes from countries all over the world and now we are getting ready to make some of them on a brand new cooking marathon scheduled for Saturday, February 26 at 10am.  Right now it looks like we’ll be making Chinese Dumplings, Irish Stew, Ceregi, Cassoulet, Stollen, Pastitsio, Chicken Cacciatore, and Paella.   this is a show you won’t want to miss.

Foreign Cuisine

I need your help for a new cookbook and show we are putting together.  I want to gather the recipes for the most famous dishes from every cuisine.  French, Italian, Irish (?), Greek, Indian, Eastern European, etc.  So for French it would be things like Coq Au vin and for Greek it would be Pastitsio.  But I need at least 20 dishes from 20 different cuisines.  Please let me know your candidates.


I’ll be at two great food events this weekend.  First I’ll be serving up crepes, quiche and French onion Soup at the French Booth of the St. Malachy’s Nationality Festival.  Melissa Kehl was one of the “Church Ladies” in our original cooking marathon by that name and I’ve been going out to her parish to help ever since.  IF you go, don’t miss the heavenly donuts, the sinful pierogies and everything at the Italian Booth.  All the food is amazing. You can get more information here –

Then on Saturday I’ll be driving out through the beautiful Fall foliage to enjoy the Ohiopyle/Stewart Volunteer Fire Department’s Fall Buckwheat Festival.  All you can eat buckwheat or regular pancakes, sausage, home fries, apple sauce and sweet pickles.  The food is just great and the atmosphere is authentic America.  They’ll be open this Friday and Saturday, October 8 and 9 from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM.  I have to remember to pick up some of the delicious apple cider they have.  It’s the best I’ve ever tasted.  And I want to make sure I get my fill of the buckwheats because the Master Chef who has been making them for years, Al Smith, is making noises about retiring and training someone else to take his place.  Someone else can make the cakes but no one will replace the master.  


In this months issue of Pittsburgh Magazine they featured a long list of “The Best in the Burgh.”  One of my selections was the home fries and Ham Off the Bone that they serve at Nancy’s in Wilkinsburg.  They couldn’t include a photo in the article so I thought I would post one that I took this morning.  I was happy to see that the little restaurant was humming with warmth and activity.  The food is real and so are the people.  A big hug from me to Nancy and the whole family.  You are the Best of the’Burgh!


The picture quality is terrible but I did want to post a few photos from the dinner at Benihana this week for the benefit of the three Rivers Adoption Council.  My son, Joseph. and I were stationed at a table with the folks from PNC Bank.  They seemed to have a good time and no one got cut or burned – so I guess it was a success.  Have to also mention that the staff at Benihana is so very gracious and helpful for this event.  Many thanks to them.

First Winner

And the first cookbook goes to….. John Michael Keba.

Best thing he ever ate?  Just go to the “comments” section at the bottom of the posting.  Now I’m waiting for number 10.


There’s no way for me to tell if anyone is checking out my blogs.  So I came up with an idea.  I’d like to ask all of you to send me a response to this blog listing the best thing you ever ate.  I’ll send an autographed cookbook to the 1st, 10th, 20th. 30th and 40th response I receive.  It would be great to hear from you.

It might have been these pastries I ran into in Paris – I’ll have to think abouot my answer.  In the meantime, send me yours and you’ll have a chance to get a free cookbook.


While I wasn’t looking, Sunday has become another booming day down in the Strip district.  Most of the stores used to close their doors for a day of rest but that’s no longer the case.  I went down this past Sunday to take advantage of the lobster sale at Wholey’s (ya gotta love Robert Wholey standing out in front of the store with a microphone shaped like a lobster.  He calls it his “shell phone”) and the sidewalks and the stores were filled with shoppers.  Just a few doors down at the New Sam Bok Oriental Food they were serving up tasty skewers of marinated chicken, egg rolls and a delicious scallion pancake with mung beans.  It had a crunchy exterior and an almost creamy center.  I didn’t get the name of the chef but she was kind enough to pose for a picture and to cook one extra crispy for me.  It was delicious.  They have srirachi available if you’d like to spice it up.

She looks like a tri-athlete and cooks like Martin Yan.  And although the New Sam Bok serves food every day, she mentioned she is only there on Sundays.  Another great Pittsburgh character!


When we were visiting my daughter, Maryann, in Rome last summer, I was completely captivated by the coffee culture in Italy.  In the morning people might linger over a big bowl of coffee into which they have poured hot milk and crumbled some day old bread.  On their way to work they might stand at a coffee bar for all of 10 seconds while they down a quick shot of espresso.  The afternoon might call for another shot while lingering at a cafe to chat or watch the world go by and then a cappucino for dessert after dinner with a little biscotti.  Different coffees for different times of the day in different kinds of cups.  The picture above is my afternoon pick-me-up.  Just a quick shot of pure coffee joy to get me through the afternoon.  The crema on top is what makes it perfect for me.  Thanks to Jura Capresso for the machine and LaPrima for the beans.

Field Trip to Penn Hills

I’ve been to Penn Hills many times but apparantly I haven’t seen the best parts – until today.  Thanks to Fred Vaccarelli for introducing me to Pasqualino’s Restaurant on Frankstown Road where the soups are better than home made and for guiding the way to Leonard Labrila’s store just a few hundred yards down the same road.  That store is AMAZING with one of the largest selections of DiCecco pasta I have ever seen and the greatest variety of canned tomatoes, olive oils and other Italian food specialties this side of the Strip District.  But the star of the show out there is Elvira Palumbo how hand makes the crispiest, and yet most tender pizzelles you’ve ever eaten.  They taste home made because they are!  She’s right there in the store with her little griddles turning them out two at a time.  But she is a machine!  She stopped long enough to give me a sample and a smile.  I don’t know which was sweeter.