8 Perfect Places to Drink Coffee

To say I love coffee, understates. I adore, crave, treasure coffee. The only thing better than drinking a perfect cup of coffee, is drinking a perfect cup of coffee in an amazing setting.

Here are 8 sensational places where I find ultimate coffee-drinking joy.

INVERLOCHY CASTLE HOTEL

FORT WILLIAMS, SCOTLAND

This baronial mansion turned hotel in 1969 earned the praise of Queen Victoria who said, “I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot.”

The accolades keep flowing as Inverlochy continues to win top awards for both its hotel and restaurant. A day at Inverlochy that begins with wake-up, room-service coffee consumed in a luxuriously plush bed, and then, more coffee to accompany a full Scottish breakfast served in a lovely sunshine-filled dining room just could be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Inverlochy Castle Hotel and for the restaurant’s delectable shortbread recipe.

A plush bed at Inverlochy Castle Hotel  with coffee on a side table.

A full Scottish breakfast as served at Inverlochy Castle Hotel

FRENCH COUNTRY WATERWAYS HORIZON II

UPPER LOIRE, FRANCE

Nothing beats traveling divinely, dreamingly, deliciously on a French hotel barge, especially on the Horizon II, a barge that floats with the grace of a swan, through the man-made canals of the Upper Loire. Everything about the Horizon II charms. I adored breakfast at the dining table, but lounging on the deck, sipping a cup of coffee while floating through the backyard waterways of France could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about a Horizon II cruise.

The Horizon II Floats Through French backyard waterways.

Drinking coffee on the deck of the Horizon II

TONGABEZI LODGE

ZAMBIA

This luxury lodge near Victoria Falls in Zambia sports guest houses with only three walls. The fourth wall is open air where the bedroom and patio overlook the Zambezi River. Without telephones or alarm clocks, the lodge sends a valet with coffee, biscuits and a breakfast menu to rouse guests from sleep. Lounging on the patio as the sun rises, watching monkeys frolic in the trees and hippos bathe in the Zambezi River while drinking strong and fragrant morning coffee, could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Tongabezi Lodge and unique recipes for sweet potato jam and Zambian beans.

A valet brings wake-up coffee to enjoy on the deck of a room at Tongabezi Lodge

 

CAFÉ DE FLORE and/or CAFÉ DEUX MAGOT

PARIS, FRANCE

Café de Flore, named for the Roman goddess of flowers and fertility, opened sometime in the 1880s. Its rival, Les Deux Magot, named for “two stocky figurines from the Far East,” is equally historic. The cafes sit across from each other in Saint-Germain-des-Pres, in Paris’ 6tharrondissement. Through the years, both cafes collected a long roster of famous guests, including high-profile writers, philosophers, intellectuals, actors and celebrities. Sitting at one of these historic cafés, squeezed into a table facing the street, sipping un café and watching Paris walk by, could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Sitting at Cafe de Flores in Paris

 

Sitting at Les Deux Magot

SUNSET AT THE PALMS

NEGRIL, JAMAICA

Palms and ferns, bamboo, orchids and jasmine, plus a jungle worth of other lush vegetation surround the 43 stilted treehouses at Jamaica’s Sunset at the Palms resort. While walking paths yield a garden of earthly delights, lounging on the deck of a treehouse room, overlooking gorgeous greenery while listening to woodpeckers add drumbeats to songbird serenades, just could be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about Sunset at the Palms resort and a terrific Jamaican chicken recipe.

Lush greens surround a treehouse at Sunset at the Palms

 

Drinking coffee on a deck of a Sunset at the Palms treehouse.

CANYON OF THE ANCIENTS GUEST RANCH

Near MESA VERDE and CORTEZ, COLORADO

A rooster crows a wake-up call. I brew a cup of coffee in my rented stone cottage and take it out to a lounge chair placed in front of the pasture. The rising sun revels flawless blue sky. The brilliantly fresh and cool air wears the scent of drying dew on growing grass. Mooing cows and clucking free-range chickens play the soundtrack. Enjoying coffee in the incredibly peace of this working ranch/farm could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more information about Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch and a wonderful lamb stew recipe.

The front door of a cottage at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch

Sitting in front of the pasture at Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch drinking coffee

JADE MOUNTAIN RESORT

SAINT LUCIA

I don’t want to make anybody jealous, so am going to list a few drawbacks to my room at Jade Mountain in Saint Lucia. The room at this luxurious mountain-top resort only has three walls. The infinity pool, where the fourth wall should be, doesn’t stretch forever into the Caribbean—it’s an illusion. The mountainous Pitons that dominate view never change; I waste a lot of time just staring at them. And although drinking butler-brought morning coffee at the ledge of the infinity pool overlooking the Caribbean and the awesome Pitons may be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience, the coffee eventually disappears from the cup before I am ready to move on. Just saying, nothing to arouse jealousy here.

 Click HERE for more information about Jade Mountain and for an extravagant chocolate ice cream sundae recipe.

Sitting at the ledge of the infinity pool at Jade Mountain overlooking the Caribbean

LAKE MEADE

NEVADA/ARIZONA

Untold glory awaits families and/or friends who rent a Forever Resorts houseboat and steer it through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Nevada and Arizona. Swimming, fishing, cooking and just hanging out fill the days, but it’s the early morning that brings me supreme pleasure. While my companions sleep, I make a cup of coffee and wander away from the boat to find a secluded spot among the rock formations that line the shore. Alone with Mother Nature and her exotic desert creatures–lizards, burrowing owls, cacti, boulders–sipping strong and flavorful coffee while I wait for the family to wake could just be my ultimate coffee-drinking experience.

Click HERE for more about the houseboating experience and for an outstanding egg strata recipe.

A collage of docked Forever houseboat and drinking coffee on a boulder.

 

Third Wheel Brewing and Brewmaster Abbey Spencer

Abbey Spencer holding a beer inside Third Wheel Brewing“I love the sensory,” says Abbey Spencer, “It’s my passion.” No doubt, Abbey’s dedicated attention to aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, appearance, and color accounts for the high-quality beer she produces for Third Wheel Brewing, a brew pub that opened in 2017 in St. Peters, MO.

Abbey became fascinated with beer after moving to St. Louis (from Chicago) in 2008 to be with her fiancé (now husband), Benn Overkamp. Abbey and Benn liked beer. And not just drinking it. Shortly after the move, the pair enrolled in a free beer school held at a local restaurant and started making beer at home from kits.

One thing led to another and Abbey produced so much home brew that she had to throw multiple parties for family and friend to consume the excess.

in her Pink Boots Her interests in beer became layered. She worked at a craft beer retail shop as well as at local beer bar. She co-founded The OG St. Louis Women’s Craft Beer Collective, a non-profit dedicated to “educating and involving St. Louis-area women in the craft beer movement.” She entered beer competitions—and won. She joined the Pink Boots Society, a non-profit which “assists, inspires, and encourages women beer (and other fermented-alcoholic-beverage) professionals through education.” Abbey and her beer obsession thrived. Her reputation grew.

In 2016, one of the attendees of Abbey’s home-brew parties, and a former owner of a brewpub frequented by Abbey and Benn, asked her to brew beer for a brewery that he was opening with a handful of partners. Reluctant at first, Abbey eventually accepted, becoming not only the brewmaster of Third Wheel Brewing, but also one of the partners.

Collage showing inside and out of Third Wheel Brewing

 

Timeline on chalk board showing when Abbey joined Third Wheel Brewing

At Third Wheel Brewing, Abbey produces, she says, “unique takes on classic styles and classic takes on unique styles.”

Brewing tanks at Third Wheel Brewing

The tap menu rocks with year-round staples, seasonal specialties, and special releases. From pilsners to “crazy big” stouts, there is a style of beer to please every customer. In addition to beer on tap, Third Wheel Brewing bottles and cans beer—and is branching out to sell in additional markets.

Collage of different types beer at Third Wheel Brewing

 

Beer, of course, takes central stage, but patrons can back up their brew with food from The Window, an independently owned kitchen inside the brewery.

A look into The Window kitchen  at Third Wheel Brewing

The Window’s menu includes many dishes designed to match beer and/or even contain beer, with specialties such as The Boozy Brownie, made with Abbey’s Goomah milk stout, a top seller. (Recipe follows.)

Third Wheel Brewing not only weathered the covid years, but also thrived, continuing to offer stunning beer, good food and a range of beer-centric games, educational programming, and musical events. And Abbey continues to blossom, not only producing outstanding new products, but also taking on new endeavors. She recently became an adjunct instructor in Saint Louis University’s Brewing Science and Operations program. True to form and passion, Abbey teaches about beer sensory evaluation.

THE BOOZY BROWNIE (aka GOOMAH BROWNIES)

The Goomah Brownie topped with Ice cream and chocolate sauce

(Recipe supplied by The Window at Third Wheel Brewing)

Yield: 6 brownies.

Shortening to grease baking pan

6 ounces dark chocolate chipsA can and a glass of Goomah Milk Stout

1/3 cup Goomah Stout (or any good chocolate or milk stout)

½ cup butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar

½ cup brown sugar

3 large eggs

¾ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon hop salt (or sea salt)

Ice cream

Chocolate sauce

Grease an 8 X 8-inch baking pan and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F

Put chocolate and stout in a double boiler and heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars together until well blended. Stir in eggs. Then stir in chocolate/stout mixture. Add flour, cocoa powder and salt and beat just until ingredients are combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Set in preheated 350°F oven and bake until top is slightly firm and batter no longer juggles when pan is lightly shaken, about 28 minutes.

Cool before serving.

Serve topped with ice cream and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

For more about Third Wheel Brewing, click HERE.

Floor mat from Third Wheel Brewing

Beef Stew Recipe/Food Writer Daniel Neman

Head shot of Dan Neman

Dan Neman
Photo by Chris Lee of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch

He’s a food writer for sure, but he’s also a movie-loving, food comic with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that has a bit of a bite. Just think of this sentence that Daniel Neman wrote on January 8, 2014, introducing himself as the new food writer at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Can’t help it, can’t get over it, can’t do anything about it.” Dan was referring to both being a Cincinnati Reds fan and disliking meatloaf. He also claims a distaste for Provel cheese—something untenable to native St. Louisans—but that’s another story.

Raised in Cincinnati where he honed his taste on childhood favorite foods that included beets (go figure) and Cincinnati Chili, a home-town concoction made with ground beef, tomato paste, and seasonings that usually include cinnamon, cloves and sometimes chocolate. This chili is spooned over pasta and topped with chopped raw onions, beans and mounds of shredded cheese.

A big plate of Cincinnati Chili

Dan studied at The University of Chicago and then worked as a movie critic for The Richmond Times-Dispatch. He developed an interest in food when he met his wife, a news editor, who turned him on to herself and her cooking. The pair bonded over the stove.

After movie critics faded out of the newspaper industry, Dan took up food writing, eventually becoming food editor of The Toledo Blade before moving on to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

As the majordomo food writer for the Post, Dan writes features, develops recipes and stars in Prep School videos, showing viewers step by step recipes for dishes ranging from soup (asparagus) to nuts (candied walnuts).

Dan Neman Frying Fish

Dan Neman frying fish for upcoming story. Photographed by Hillary Levin of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

When asked what food shows and contemporary food writers he admires, Dan replied that he gets a kick out of The Great British Bake Off and likes Steven Raichlen, author of The Barbecue Bible; Helen Fletcher, author of Craving Cookies; and Clotilde Dusoulier,author of Tasting Paris.

Collage of Dan's favorite books.

When asked if he ever came to like Provel, Dan replied that he, “sure enjoys the Cincinnati Bengals.”

And when asked if he has a favorite recipe to share with Sweet Leisure, Dan said he likes to make beef stew for the weekly free meal distributed at his wife’s church. As homeless people with problematic teeth often attend, he developed the recipe from a chuck pot roast, cutting the meat into small pieces that are easy to eat.

Thank you, Dan Neman, St. Louis is lucky to have you—even if you don’t like Provel—tsk, tsk!

BEEF STEW A LA DAN

Yield: 6 servings.

2½-3 pounds chuck roastBeef Stew a la Dan

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ onion, chopped

1 large clove garlic, crushed

1 cup dry red wine

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, tomato purée, chopped tomatoes or diced tomatoes, with juice

Juice from 1 large orange

3 whole cloves

1 cinnamon stick or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ cup frozen peas

Cooked egg noodles, for serving

Trim meat of large deposits of fat, and cut meat into 1½-inch cubes.  Liberally season with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat and sear meat in batches until brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add onion and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add wine and stir to dissolve any brown bits that may be on the bottom of the pan. Cook until wine is reduced by half. Stir in tomatoes, orange juice, cloves and cinnamon. Return meat to pot and stir so that all sides of meat are coated.
Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook until meat is very tender, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in peas and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

Serve over hot egg noodles.

PS: If you order one of the outstanding books above from the Amazon link provided, Sweet Leisure may receive a teeny tiny commission. 

Noodles, Spaetzle, Dumplings and Chicken

Betty Manlin in her eighties.

Betty Manlin

I started reading my mother’s diaries. This is not as intrusive as it sounds as mom (Betty Manlin) wrote them when she was well into her eighties for her kids to read as desired.  When packing her home after she died, I put the diaries in a storage box, only to be found many years later, during Covid lockdown.

The diaries fascinate me—not that they disclosed secrets, but because they offer mini-memories of family cooking.

Maggie Steffen on her wedding day.

Maggie Steffen (Granny)

Mom was a remarkable woman, but a wretched cook. On the other hand, her mother, Maggie Steffen, won kudos for her culinary skills.

Granny lived in rural Missouri on a small family farm. Like other original farm-to-table cooks, she grew vegetables and herbs in a kitchen garden; plucked apples and plums from her backyard orchard; kept a cow for cream and butter; and raised chickens that wandered at will, yielding colorful eggs and flavorful dinners.

I find my mom’s food memories touching, like the one of an old noodle board that she inherited from her mom and describes in her diary here:

Page two of diary

Noodle board diary continued, page 3

Page 5 of Noodle Board diary

Last page of Betty's diary about noodle board

As far as I remember, Granny used similar dough—and her noodle board—to make two kinds of noodles. The dropped version resulted in squiggly dense bites also known as spaetzle.

Spaetzle in a bowl.

Spaetzle

She cut her rolled version into various sizes, with the thick, broader cuts also called dumplings.

Keep in mind that Granny didn’t use measurements, so my interpretation of ingredient amounts in the recipes below are “abouts,” to be adjusted as desired.

GRANNY’S DROP NOODLES (Also called Spaetzle)

Yield:  About 6 servings.

3 cups flour

Salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 eggs

Water

Butter for serving

To make noodles: put flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Break eggs into the well and then add 1 cup water. With a fork, first beat eggs and water together until blended and then start incorporating flour from the side of the egg mixture. Keep incorporating flour, adding more water, if necessary, to make a smooth, thick moist batter.

Bring a large pot of water or broth to a rapid boil.

Put a portion of the batter on a wooden board. With a sharp knife, cut a sliver from the batter and roll it along the board until it curls into a slender noodle. With the knife, push the noodle into the boiling liquid.

Repeat until all batter has been used.

Collage showing making spaetzle

Noodles are cooked when they rise to the surface of the hot liquid.  (See NOTE.) Transfer hot noodles to a serving dish and toss with a generous amount of butter. Correct seasoning and serve immediately.

NOTE: If not serving immediately, transfer noodles as they are cooked to a bowl filled with cold water. To serve: drain noodles. Melt about 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet, add noodles and toss gently over medium low heat until noodles are hot. If desired, sprinkle with salt and serve immediately.

GRANNY’S CHICKEN AND SPAETZLE NOODLES

Chicken and spaetzle noodles

Yield: 6 servings.

About 4 cups chicken broth

1-1/2 cups trimmed, peeled carrots that have been cut into thick rounds

1 cup peas

3 cups cooked cubed chicken

Cooked drop noodles from recipe above

Bring broth to a rapid boil. Add carrots and boil until carrots are almost tender, about 15 minutes. Add peas, chicken, noodles, and more broth if necessary to cover all ingredients. Simmer until ingredients are hot throughout and flavors are blended, about 10 minutes.

GRANNY’S CHICKEN AND DUMPLING NOODLES 

Chicken and dumplings

Yield:  6 servings.

3 eggs

1/4 cup water

1-1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups flour

5 to 6 cups chicken broth

3 cups cooked chicken, cut into large chunks

2 tablespoons butter

Beat eggs, water and salt together. Add baking powder and 1/2 cup flour and mix well. Stir in flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until mixture forms a soft dough. Spread remaining flour on a countertop. Place dough on top of flour and knead lightly for 30 seconds incorporating enough flour to make a smooth soft, but not sticky, dough. Roll dough 1/4-inch thick, turning dough over to coat evenly with flour. Cover with kitchen towel and let dry 30 minutes.

Turn dough over and dry another 30 minutes.

Put dough on board and slice into noodles with a very sharp knife. (Can layer the dough pieces and cut through several sheets at one time. Cut thick or thin, as desired.)

Spread cut noodles out on floured surface, cover with kitchen towel, and let dry another 30 minutes.

Collage of rolling and cutting noodles

Bring broth to a rolling boil in a large saucepan. Pick up handfuls of noodles and shake off excess flour. Drop noodles by handfuls into pot, stirring constantly.

Add chicken to noodles in pot and cook over medium low heat for about 15 minutes, until noodles are tender, but no longer doughy. Stir in butter.

 

HOMEMADE for the HOLIDAYS

Festive Christmas decor

 

Gift wrapped in sugar and spice and everything nice, Sweet Leisure

brings you

some sensational,

truly terrific,

and

downright delicious

recipes that you can make for happy holiday indulging.

Click below for:

 

GOOD, GRAND AND GROOVY GOURMET GIFTS TO GIVE

Collage of Gifts

Peanut Butter cookies, Hot Cocoa Cake, Coffee Rub, Spiced Pecans, Sponge Candy and Pompelmocello. Click HERE for recipes.

A bowl of dill mustard.

Dill Mustard, click HERE for Recipe.

A cheese board with condiments

Condiments to serve with cheese: Port Wine Sauce, Fig Rum Conserve, and Preserved Kumquats. Click HERE for recipes.

EXTREMELY PLEASING EDIBLES TO ENHANCE ENTERTAINING

Wedges of Brie and Gorgonzola cheese

Brie and Gorgonzola Torte, click HERE for this special party dish.

Smoked salmon pate decorated with endive and salmon roses.

Smoked Salmon Pate, recipe available HERE.

A bowl of avocado hummus

Avocado Hummus from Farmshop, click HERE for recipe.

A collage of creative cocktails/

Click HERE for Creative Cocktail recipes.

DELIGHTFUL DISHES FOR DISTINCTIVE DINING

A collage of two soups.

For elegant rich as silk Cream of Brie and Cream of White Bean Soup recipes, click HERE.

A Sugar Baked Holiday Ham on a cutting board.

The Best Ever Sugar Baked Holiday Ham (promise it’s delicious) recipe is HERE.

A Sweet Leisure Cake lit with candles.

An extravagant Sweet Leisure Celebration Cake recipe can be found HERE.

Have yourself a luscious merry Christmas and a scrumptious happy New Year.

CRANBERRY SALAD FROM BARBARA GIBBS OSTMANN

Portrait of Barbara Gibbs OstmannBarbara Gibbs Ostmann and I have been friends for so long that I don’t remember how we met. I think it was when she first became food editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sometime in the mid 1970s. She interviewed me about my cooking school for kids and then subsequently hired me to freelance, not only feature articles, but also a column for the newspaper.

Barb stayed at the Post-Dispatch for 16 years filling St. Louis kitchens with wonderful recipes and terrific food advice.

After leaving the Post-Dispatch she worked for the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group and was an assistant professor and coordinator of the Agricultural Journalism program at the University of Missouri. She’s still at it—writing food and travel articles for multitude of publications and editing for different concerns.

Barb was/is the ultimate editor. Through the years she compiled a slew of cookbooks, not only putting together The Best Recipes Cookbook for the Post-Dispatch, but also producing, along with fellow food editor Jane L. Baker, a series of Food Writers Favorites Cookbooks, with subjects that include American regional and local specialties, appetizers, cookies, and grilling.

Cover of The Best Recipes CookbookSome Food Editors' Favorites books

In 1995, Barbara and Jane teamed up to create THE RECIPE WRITER’S HANDBOOK, the quintessential guide giving all the details of everything anyone should know to write a proper recipe. This book is so popular it has been updated and reprinted and belongs in the kitchen of community cookbook contributors, writers, bloggers, restaurant chefs and…well… everyone interested in writing a recipe for others to follow.

Covers from The Recipe Writer's Handbook

Barbara must have a zillion treasured recipes. Asking her to name one favorite is like asking an orchard to choose one favorite apple. Nevertheless, we did ask Barb to share a favorite recipe along with a few words as to why it is a favorite. Here’s her reply and a few photos to illustrate the recipe:

CREAMY CRANBERRY SALAD

Creamy Cranberry Salad recipe

A bowl cranberries.

Collage of ground cranberries and adding cream

Ground cranberries and adding cream.

Close up of Creamy Cranberry Salad

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

 

 

SCALLOPS, LIMONCELLO, FABRIZIA

Phil Mastroianni

Phil Mastroianni

It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. Here was Covid, giving the world lemons and the Mastroianni brothers turning lemons into lemon aid—the kind of aid that helps the soul feel pampered and privileged. We’re talking heavenly booze and divine baked goods. But let me backtrack.

Inspired by a family trip to Italy in 2007 where he sampled a cousin’s homemade limoncello, Phil Mastroianni started making the drink in his parents’ garage in Newton, MA.

As you know, limoncello is a famous Italian liqueur made of lemon zest, sugar and alcohol. Phil’s limoncello earned such praise that a year after his first experiment, the 26-year-old, second-generation Italian American launched a limoncello business, hiring his still-in college brother, Nick, as helper.

a bottle of Fabrizia Limoncello

One thing led to another and soon the brothers were running a full-fledged spirit company.

Then along came Covid. As much of Fabrizia Spirits went to restaurants—and as restaurants were shutting down–the enterprising brothers came up with some zesty ideas to stay in business. They turned to mail order. They started making lemon-based hand sanitizer (of which the brothers donated $50,000 worth to first responders, nursing homes and the like). And best of all to sweet-tooth foodies, they started a baking business base on their extraordinary limoncello.

Today Fabrizia Spirits and The Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company are flourishing and expanding.

Fabrizia Spirits products include such delights as Fabrizia Blood Orange Liqueur, Fabrizia Crema de Limoncello, Vodka Sodas, canned cocktails and, a newbie to the list, Pistachio liqueur.

Products from Fabrizia Spirits

The Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company produces a stunning array of treats. My favorites include cookies as big as saucers, whoopie pies and to-die-for limoncello truffles (rich and gooey cake and icing balls, coated with white chocolate).

Three Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company Products

But of all the lovely products, the original Fabrizia Limoncello still takes first place in the heart of the family, the company and discriminating limoncello fans.

Phil says that he has three favorite ways to enjoy Fabrizia Limoncello. He likes to:

Drink it ice cold straight from the freezer.

And make a FABRIZIA LEMON CRUSH. (Put two parts Fabrizia Limoncello in a cocktail shaker with one part vodka and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Shake ingredients together and pour into a glass over ice. Add a splash of club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge.)

A tall cool Fabrizia Lemon Crush

Lemon Crush

And last, but by no means least, use it to sauce sea scallops.

FABRIZIA LIMONCELLO SCALLOPS

(A favorite recipe of Phil Mastroianni)

Yield: 1 to 2 servings.Ingredients to make Fabrizia Limoncello Scallops

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon salt

1 pound sea scallops

½ cup Fabrizia Limoncello

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 tablespoon heavy cream

Put oil in a medium size skillet and set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add garlic and cook, stirring constantly for about 10 seconds. Stir in lemon zest and salt. Add scallops and sauté about 2 minutes. Turn scallops over and cook until just barely cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer scallops to a serving dish and set aside.

Wipe out skillet with paper towels (see NOTE). Add limoncello to skillet and simmer until volume is reduced by half. Whisk in butter and cream. Pour sauce over scallops and serve immediately.

NOTE: Although the original recipe does not say to do this, after removing scallops from the skillet, I like to reduce any juices left in the pan and then add the limoncello, cream and butter.

 

Fabrizia Limoncello Scallops

 

HOW TO ORDER

To order bakery goods from Fabrizia Lemon Baking Company, click HERE.  Sweet Leisure readers can use code ‘Susan15’ for a 15% discount on any bakery order.

Some spirits including the famous Fabrizia Limoncello can be ordered online, but not all products can be mailed to all states. Click HERE for more information. 

Some spirit are available in some retail stores—but these are also relegated to a few states. To find a store near you that sells Fabrizia products, click HERE.

A basket full of lemons.

 

FABULOUS FEAST FOOD FOR THANKSGIVING

In the spirit of Thanksgiving past, present and future, Sweet Leisure revisits a cornucopia of recipes so that you can fill your table with fun, festive and frankly fabulous feast food.

Squash and Pumpkins

 

HARVEST VEGETABLE SOUP

Harvest Vegetable Soup

A simple, special, superb, savory soup that combines the best of the season’s harvest to jump start a sumptuous feast. Click HERE.

 

SHRIMP AND CORN CHOWDER

Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Happy are the diners who get to eat this heavenly, home-made, hearty chowder–a copycat of the hugely popular, head-over-heels dish served at Steamboat Bill’s restaurant in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Click HERE.

 

FAMILY FAVORITE PUMPKIN BREAD

Pumpkin bread

A prize recipe, my personal favorite, that is easy to prepare and particularly popular with those passionate about pumpkin. The praiseworthy sweet bread is a perfect pick to perk-up a Thanksgiving party. Click HERE.

 

BACON CORNBREAD MUFFINS

Bacon Cornbread Muffins

Creative cooks choose these crumbly and caloric muffins from Sea Island Resort to celebrate Thanksgiving as they contain classic favorites of creamed corn and crisp bacon and can be conveniently made in advance. So cool! Click HERE.

 

BAKED BRUSSELS SPROUTS

Brickhouse 737 Brussels Sprouts

This brilliant Brussels Sprouts recipe comes from Brickhouse 737, a beautiful restaurant in Ouray, Colorado. Both busy cooks and blissful guests beam with pleasure and go bonkers over the sprouts’ big, bold bountiful flavors. Click HERE.

 

CAULIFLOWER SALAD

Cauliflower Salad

Cauliflower, camouflaged as grated cheese, adds a crisp texture to this crave-worthy salad. A captivating crowd pleaser, the salad captures center stage at any celebration dinner no matter how copious the other components. Click HERE.

 

DANNY MEYER’S BACON ROAST TURKEY

Roast Turkey

Ta-da! Thumbs-up to trail-blazing restaurateur Danny Meyer for this top-notch, time-saving turkey recipe. Tender and tantalizing, Danny’s turkey teems with flavor and easy enough for any time-strapped cook to tackle with terrific results. Click HERE.

 

DESSERTS

Delightful, dazzling, delectable, delicious and dangerously addictive, the following desserts are the darlings of cooks and diners alike.

 

BEST EVER CARAMEL APPLE PIE

For the  best ever caramel apple pie recipe click HERE.

 

WORLD’S BEST CARROT CAKE

A slice of carrot cake.

For the world’s best carrot cake recipe click HERE.

 

LEMON CHESS PIE

For a luscious lemon chess pie recipe click HERE.

 

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

Pumpkins and Squash

HONEY CRACKED WHEAT BREAD and SUZANNE CORBETT

Glory be! Suzanne Corbett just launched a new book. A Culinary History of Missouri: Foodways & Iconic Dishes from the Show-Me State, co-written with fellow food and travel writer Deborah Reinhart, promises to excite everyone interested in food, history, Missouri and recipes.

Book cover of A Culinary History of Missouri

Suzanne declares a passion for “food history and anything that fills a plate or glass” and has shared this love in such a reader-rewarding manner throughout her long career that we wanted to know more about her. So we asked and she replied:

Q: Tell us a bit about your personal background? I know you studied dance and drama, but turned that interest into food and culinary history. Can you outline the path from one to the other?

A: I was born and raised in South St. Louis County on a truck farm with tomatoes the cash crop. (The reason why I don’t eat tomatoes today.) My mother always encouraged me to thrive and pursue my dreams, which in my youth was dance and drama. I’m sure my past theatrical dreams explain why I embraced cooking, teaching and living history work—all things I can perform in.

Q: When did you first become interested in cooking and food history?

A: I learned to cook as a young child watching my mother and grandfather, picking up skills now considered oldways – foodways, such as open kettle canning and baking and cooking techniques of the late 19th and early 20th century. I embraced the ways of the past. A past that was served to me on the table.

Q: When did start cooking professionally?

A:  As many women who need to make a living or monetary contribution to the household, I started cooking for others. I ran a catering business and decorated cakes. I also worked for various candy stores decorating sugar molded confections and creating panoramic easter eggs.

I started teaching at Community education classes back in 1976 after I took a class, returning home to complain that I could have taught it better. My husband, Jim, said, “then go do it.”  I did, teaching at various cooking schools throughout the St. Louis area from then on.

Q: How did the culinary history aspect come into play?

A:  One of my cooking students, a curator at Jefferson Barracks Historic Site, asked if I could come up with a food demo/program for an upcoming Civil war weekend and come in costume. I went to that first event as a bread baker—baking historic breads—then called “old-fashioned” bread not “artisan” breads as they do today. I soon became known as the St. Louis Bread Lady, baking in open hearths, wood burning iron stoves and over firepits. This first event launched my pursuits as a food historian/foodways interpreter where I work to discover, preserve and share stories that connect us to our past through the table. Stories that define who and what we were and are via the food we eat.

Suzanne Corbett in Costume

Q: You’ve worn so many titles in your professional life that you think of yourself as a phoenix—albeit one with “singed wings.” You’ve been a successful teacher, writer, historian, preservationist, author and, lately, a media producer, winning prizes for video production. How do you tie the different facets of your professional life together?

A: While those titles may seem disjointed, they’re not. The connective thread has always been food. Food and history are my passions, which defines not only my career, but feeds my soul.

Q: In addition to the remarkable Culinary History of Missouri, you’ve authored a variety of books. Can you tell us a tidbit about a few and how to order?

A: A Culinary History of Missouri: Foodways & Iconic Dishes form the Show-me State is only a small taste of Missouri’s foodways. A history that is always being discovered and made with each passing year. Pushcarts and Stalls: The Soulard Market Cookbook, the first book of which I was credited as author and not a contributor, is a collection of turn of the 20th century recipes reflecting the famers and vendors who worked and sold their wares and produce at Soulard, another story that is changing over its nearly 200-hundred-year history.

Cover of Suzanne Corbett's Pushcarts and Stalls.

Both books are available on Amazon.com with A Culinary History of Missouri also available at Arcadia Publishing.

Cover of Unique Eats and Eateries

 

 

Unique Eats and Eateries is a collection of my personal picks of what I considered the quintessential St. Louis restaurants. Each included restaurant has a great story and, of course, great food and drink. Copies can be ordered at ReedyPress.com.

 

 

Copies of The Gilded Table: Recipes and Table History from the Campbell House, a book that spotlights the food, culinary traditions and social decorum of 19th century America through the private home and social life of Robert and Virginia Campbell, one of Missouri’s wealthiest couples, is available through the Campbell House Museum’s website.

Suzanne holding a copy of The Gilded Table

 

Q: Considering the vast number of recipes that you have tested, developed, prepared, published, photographed and taught, do you have one single favorite that you would share with us?

A: Wow, that’s tough for any cook, gourmet/foodie/gourmand. That said, considering how my career began and my historical work, I would have to say Honey Wheat Bread and its variations is a favorite. After all, I was the Bread Lady.

HONEY CRACKED WHEAT BREAD

(Recipe provided by Suzanne Corbett)

Yield: 2 loaves.

2 cups stone ground whole-wheat flourHoney Wheat Bread

1/2 cup cracked wheat

2 packets (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast (1/2 cup sourdough starter can also be used)

2 cups warm water

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup wildflower honey

1/2 cup melted butter

2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour

Shortening to grease pans and bowls

Put whole-wheat flour, cracked wheat and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir in water and salt. Add in honey and butter. Stir in enough flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out on a floured surfaced and knead until smooth. Place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover and allow to rise until doubled in bulk.

Punch down dough, divide in half and shape into two round loaves.

Place loaves on a greased baking sheet and allow raise once more.

Bake in a preheated 375°F degrees for 35 minutes, or until dough sounds hollow when tapped on bottom (or when bread registers 190 degrees).

Suzanne, The Bread Lady

 

DOSA AND MAYURA INDIAN RESTAURANT

Padmini and Aniyan

Padmini and Aniyan

Dr. Aniyan, or Padmini as her friends call her, greets guests at the door of her south Indian restaurant with a smile as brilliant as the gold trimmed sari that she explains is her “work” uniform. The Ph.D professor of business management and accounting and her restauranteur husband, Aniyan Puthanpurayil, immigrated to the United States from Kerala, India, in 2003. Two months later, Padmini sister, Sathi, joined the couple. 

When the immigrants went looking for a business model to support their new life, it was only natural to settle on a restaurant as Padmini’s parents owned a restaurant in Kerala where Sathi cooked and Aniyan and his parents were also in the restaurant business. 

In 2006, the husband wife team opened Mayura Indian Restaurant in the heart of Culver City, California, with Sathi in the role of chef.

Storefront doorway to Mayura

“We chose the name because Mayura is a Sanskrit word meaning peacock,” explained Padmini, “and peacocks symbolize grace and elegance.”

Shrine in Mayura with Buddah, candles and peacock feather.

Shrine with peacock feather inside Mayura.

Early on, Mayura caught the eye of Jonathan Gold, famed restaurant critic of the Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly. Gold became an ardent fan, featuring the restaurant in many articles and spreading it’s fame. Today, a long wall above the buffet displays multiple awards earned through the years as well as photos of guests from around the world—including Abdul Kalam the former president of India.

Wall of awards and photos inside Mayura

Mayura serves traditional and authentic, vegetarian and non-vegetarian home-style specialities of Kerala. 

Detail of wall hanging in MayuraA tiny state, Kerala sits on a slender strip of land tucked in between the Arabian Sea and Western Ghats in the southwestern tip of India. Culinary spices that include the famous Malabar black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves grow in such rich abundance as to support a thousand-year-old spice trade, elevating Kerala to a multi-cultured, cosmopolitan center known for its cuisine.

“Southern Indian cooking differs from northern Indian food in its spicing,” Padmini said, “North Indian food is spicy in the sense of “hot.” The foods of Kerala rely on a complex combination of spices that produce a subtle,  unique and special flavor.” 

“We want to make sure we cook with love, serve with love and live with love,” says Padmini. “We believe in karma and want to do the best for the community.”

Judging by the restaurant’s popularity, the community returns Mayura’s love, especially for the Kerala menu specialties that include several different varieties of dosa.

Dosa from Mayura's Menu

Originating in southern India in the 5th century AD, dosas are crepe-like goodies that cooks usually make from a simple fermented batter of lentils and rice. Eaten warm, served in crispy cones, in flat disks, plain or rolled or folded around flavorful fillings, dosas delight diners at breakfast, for snacks or as a special part of an elaborate meal.

The following recipe is fashioned after Mayura’s Gee Roast Dosa, a delectable, golden-grilled, paper-thin, crisp cone-shaped masterpiece.

Although the restaurant cooks this spectacular dosa on a large, flat surface, spreading a circle as big as a super-sized frisbee to make towering cones, the size of home-made version will depend on the size of home cook’s skillet.

The recipe may look daunting, but it is actually easy. Really. See for yourself:

DOSA

Packages of ingredientsYield: 6 to 12 depending on size.

1/2 cup urad dal (skinned, split black lentils)

2 tablespoons chana dal (split and polished yellow lentil)

1/2 teaspoon methi seed (fenugreek seed)

1-1/2 cups raw rice

2 tablespoons poha (par-boiled and flattened rice)

Non-iodized rock salt or sea salt

Oil, butter or ghee 

Put dals and methi seed in a strainer and rinse with cold water until water runs clear. Transfer dal mixture to a large bowl, add water to cover by several inches and set aside to soak for 4 to 5 hours.

Put rice in a strainer and rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Transfer rice to a large bowl add water to cover by several inches and set aside to soak for 4 to 5 hours. 

After dals and rice have soaked and before blending, rinse the poha and put it in a small bowl with 1/4 cup water, stir to mix and set aside for 30 minutes.

Put soaked poha in a blender jar. Drain dal mixture and add to blender along with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 cup water. Blend until very smooth, adding more water if necessary to make a frothy, thick batter of pouring consistency. Transfer batter to a large bowl.

Drain rice and put in blender jar with 1/2 or a little more water.  Blend until mixture is very smooth. 

Add rice batter to dal batter and mix well (some people say mixing with your hands adds warmth to start the fermenting process). The mixture should be thick, but of pouring consistence; if too thick to pour, thin with a little water. 

To ferment batter: cover bowl and set in a warm place until batter increases in volume and turns light and bubbly. Fermentation takes from 8 hours to overnight depending on room temperature. Warm is quickest. (Batter placed in an oven that had been preheated at lowest temperature for 10 minutes then turned off, with oven light kept on and door closed, takes 8 to 15 hours to ferment.)

Before and after dosa batter ferments

Before and after fermentation.

Do not over ferment. Test readiness by dropping 1/2 tablespoonful of fermented batter into a bowl of water; the batter will float—not sink—if ready. Once fermented, you can refrigerate batter up to 3 days until ready to cook.

When ready to cook, transfer some of the batter to a mixing bowl. Thin to a pourable consistence with a little water. Add a tiny bit of oil, butter or ghee to a seasoned cast-iron skillet and rub well with a paper towel until the fat is absorbed. (Can use a heavy-bottom non-stick skillet without oiling.) Set the skillet over medium high heat, using the largest burner so heat reaches edges of pan and crepe cooks evenly. When the skillet is hot, turn heat to medium, stir batter and pour a spoonful in center of pan. Immediately spread the batter in a clockwise circle over bottom of skillet to make a thin circle. 

Cooking Dosa in a skillet

Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon oil, butter or ghee around edges of crepe and let crepe cook until edges start to lift from pan and underside is browned. Lift from pan and roll or fold for serving. (If batter sticks to the pan, the batter was too thick or pan too hot. Adjust batter consistency with a little water or reduce heat before cooking more.) 

Collage of chef at Mayura making Dosa

To curl into a cone, with a sharp knife, cut crepe from center to one edge. Lift the crepe at edge of one side of the cut and roll it to the other side. 

Rolling dosa into a cone

 

Cone-shaped dosa.

For more information on Mayura, click HERE.