Friday, August 31, 2007

i just love free!!!!!!

Anna Deavere Smith is coming to Baltimore. She is performing
"Snapshots: Glimpses of America in Change" at the Walters Art Museum
Graham Auditorium on September 20 at 7:00 p.m.


Opportunities like this don't drop into our laps too often.

You can reserve tickets at Only
two tickets are allowed per person.This is going to sell out, so make
your reservations now.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

On Holiday

We'll blog ya when I return. I doubt I will get any screen time while I'm away.
I know, you'll miss me terribly.

July 07 Article Written for WomanScope Newspaper

Food & Wine by Natasha OrtizFortier

As a child, during early summer months, a Saturday didn’t go by without my mama dragging me to Miller Farms in Clinton, Maryland to help her pick strawberries. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy picking (and eating) the fruit, we'd just had to get up so gosh darn early. And I still am not a morning person. I can only guess mama wanted to beat the mid-day heat.

The cashier would often joke, “I think we should put her on the scale instead of the baskets.” It was true for every one berry I put in my basket, I’d eat three or four. The flavor of the berries bursting in my mouth was so sweet, juicy, fleshy yet bumpy. The taste and texture were so addictive, I couldn't help my self. By the time we finished picking and went to the register, I was tired and full.

We didn’t do much pickling or preserving. In retrospect, it would have been great to enjoy during the winter months. Whatever we picked during the weekend, we ate during the week. Sundays were my favorite, I’d get to add the fresh blueberries to the ragga-muffin mix. It complimented the farm fresh eggs and thick-cut slab style bacon so well. For a special treat, mama would make, one of my many favorite, strawberry and chocolate chip pancakes. Strawberry were added into the batter and placed on top with melted butter and chocolate syrup. I’ll admit, it sounds gross but on my it tasted delicious! We also made lots of muffins, cobblers and cakes.

Patty Oakley-Audia, pastry chef at ATWATERS recommends “adding a little sugar and lemon juice to the fruit, put it in a tart pan, add mixture of oats, brown sugar and butter and sprinkle on top [of the tart]. Bake it and you have a fruit crisp.”

Choosing fruit can be tricky, here's a few helpful tips:
Peaches and Nectorines:
• should be firm in hand but not mushy.
• should be free of soft spots and blemishes
• too ripen let sit on the counter 2-3 days

• always taste the batch you plan on buying
• should be plump, full and free of mold
• should have a deep red or blue color
• store in air-tight containers

Making the most of your summer fruit can be fun. You can pickle your watermelon rinds, make preserve, or simply grill it. For a quick and easy dessert, add fresh berries and fruit to sorbets and ice cream. In a rush to catch your carpool or commuter train, make a smoothie. They are healthy, quick and very easy.

If you reside on the east coast, summertime is like Christmas for folks who love fresh, locally grown produce. The supply is abundant, the quality is good and prices are affordable. Try something new and tell me about it.

Recipe Round-up:
You can use a simple syrup mixture to macerate (soak) your fruit, but this recipe kicks it up a notch. I like to use Rieslings or Vouvrays. Keep in mind, when macerating, if your fruit is very sweet select a wine that’s semi dry. If your fruit isn’t sweet, choose a sweeter wine. Feel free to substitute fruits. This recipe is a wonderful compliment to serve over new york style cheesecake or vanilla bean ice cream. Or you can simply add a dollop of whipped cream and enjoy! I've also used grand marnier instead of wine in this recipe, it's also quite good,

Macerated Fruit Salad, serves 4
All fruit should be fresh.
4 White peaches, pitted and sliced
1 cup of blueberries
1 cup of strawberries
2 Tbsp of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of semi-dry (or sweet) Riesling
Fresh Whipped Cream

Toss fruit in a large bowl. Pour sugar and wine over fruit. Mix gently. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours. For best results, chill overnight.
Serve with whipped cream and a spring of mint (to make it pretty).

Black & Blue Powerhouse Smoothie Makes 2 services
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup of fresh blackberries
1 Tbsp ground flax
2 Tbsp honey (add more if you like it sweeter)
2 scoops of protein powder
8 oz vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup orange juice
ice, if needed

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend to desired consistency.
For thicker shake add more yogurt and less juice.
I use frozen berries instead of ice.

Sipping Notes:
“The biggest misconception about Rieslings is that they are super sweet but they can also be bone dry,” says Matt Carroll, wine associate at Grand Cru. I must admit, I shared this view of Reislings until I began to try different varieties. While I am mostly a red wine drinker, during the dog days of summer, I prefer a light semi-dry white wine. This is a nice alternative, when you get bored with drinking Chardonnay. I provided three offerings, with Trimbach as my favorite!

2004 Cave Spring Riesling Ontario Canada ($12-$16)
A fair yet well-balanced semi-dry offering.
It’s a little drier than I expected but refreshing.

2004 Trimbach Riesling Alsace France ($16-$20)
Truly something special. I love this Riesling. It’s fruity with
pronounced peach flavor and a nice finish. It’s the perfect balance between dry
and sweet. A symphony of flavor in your mouth (i.e. totally yummy).

Basignani Riesling Sparks, Maryland ($11-$14)
A local Maryland winery that offers a decent Riesling.
It’s for those with an affinity for sweet wine.

Writer Bio___________________________________________________
Natasha OrtizFortíer is a writer, educator and creative marketing
communications consultant living in Baltimore City.
Please feel free to share your thoughts, inspirations and
culinary finds by e-mailing
Please put Food + Wine in the subject line. Live Well, Eat Good!
Or visit my blog

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

I know, I know, it's restaurant week. But dayum...Chef Goeff...completely sucked!

Wee...Heeee...Big Pee Pee

A terrific toddler potty moment occurred this week. The boy wakes up, at the crack of dawn, bellowing for "mmmmaaaaammmmeeeeee." He usually follows with "I want milk" or " milk please."

This particular day, as I stumble into his room, barely functional and still very sleep, he says "maaamee, I want pee pee." It was as if I had a triple shot of espresso! I quickly yanked him outta the crib and made a mad dash for the potty.

As soon as his diaper was off, I could tell, it was pee pee time.

And boy, did he make big pee pee! I was completely thrilled. It felt like I was the person selected at the contestant on the Price is Right. We did our pee pee dance. We sang our special song. We gave each other high-fives.

Aaaagggghhhh, the joys of parenting!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Macerated Strawberries & Blueberries

I learned this yummy technique from my foodie friend Chef Bryan. It's a delicious way to enjoy seasonal fruit.
I purchased a 6pk of shortbread tart shells from whole foods to craddle my berry creation.
Recipe coming...

What's for Dinner Wednesday?

I am inspired today. It’s Wednesday! I’ve read all my food sections. And I am preparing to cook dinner.

On the menu:
Beef Tips, Mushrooms, Garlic and Thyme
Steamed Broccoli with real butter
Cornbread (I’m a Jiffy girl)
Macerated Strawberries & Blueberries with homemade whipped cream served on a shortbread tart (tarts compliments of whole foods)

I went to Costco this past weekend. I really like the variety the offered. Plenty of organics and specialty food items. In my never-ending quest to answer the age-old question “what’s for dinner” they provide plenty of delicious quick fix solutions.

What makes Costco fabulous? They sell their culinary magazines at a 30% discount. BTW-is cheaper than Wal-Mart (only 20%). I am a huge fan of the PSB series American’s Test Kitchen. These are the same folks that publish Cook’s Illustrated.
If you live in Baltimore, it’s aired 4pm on Saturdays and 3:30 on Sundays. They also have a magazine of Fast and Fresh recipes (which I purchased). Most are of the 30 minute Rachel Ray variety. Surprisingly, they are pretty doable in a fair amount of time. It took me longer than 30 minutes but I didn't mind too much.

Beef Tips with Mushrooms, Garlic and Thyme
(Adapted from: America's Test Kitchen Fast and Fresh Recipe Card Collection)

Notes: I added more garlic. I used dried thyme. I added only 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard. I cooked my meat longer by adding it to the sauce and simmering for 10 mins or so. I served this dish with brown rice and a side of steamed broccoli.

Serves 4
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
10 oz white mushrooms (sliced halved or quartered)
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
salt and pepper
¼ cup brandy
¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tsp of chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1Tbsp-unsalted butter

HEAT 1 tablespoon oil in skillet.

COOK mushrooms until brown (about 5-6 mins)

ADD garlic (cook until garlic is browned and crisp; careful not to burn)

Remove garlic and mushrooms from skillet and set aside

Return skillet to heat

HEAT 2 tablespoons of oil

SEASON beef with salt & pepper

PLACE beef into pan so that pieces don’t touch

REDUCE heat to medium; cook until browned (about 3-5 minutes on each side)

TRANSFER beef to platter; tent loosely with foil

COMBINE brandy, broth, thyme and mushroom mixture to skillet

SIMMER until thickened (about 5-7 minutes)

ADD accumulated beef juices back to skillet

WHISK in mustard and butter

Optional (add more seasonings to taste)

Pour mushroom sauce over meat