Jury Doody... And then Wine of course!

Hey everyone! I've been away on Jury Duty, and work has been a doozy too... but now I am back!

I'd like to share a wine with you.
It wasn't the best flavor in the world, but this is why I want you to know about it:
This wine was ORGANIC.

I never had organic wine before... but there is a certain special feeling when you drink it. I can't really explain it. When I drink wine I normally feel like I am doing something bad for my body that feels good. However, when drinking this wine I could actually taste why they say red wine is good for you. It tasted real, not chemical. So, the next time you are at your favorite Wine & Liquor, ask for an Organic Wine Recommendation.

What are the benefits of drinking Organic wine?

  • Organic wines are produced with organic grapes, which means they are not sprayed with chemicals and pesticides like traditional grapes. In addition to producing a healthier wine, this also creates brighter flavors in the wine.
  • Organic wineries do not add flavors, such as oak chips, to their wines and use very basic wine making techniques that involves yeast for fermentation.
  • Organic wines contain less sulfites then traditional wines. Sulfites are salts or sulfurous acids that occur naturally in most wines (it is very rare to find a wine that does not have any sulfites). Traditional wines contain addedsulfites to help in their preservation, whereas organic winemakers do not add sulfites. The less sulfites a wine contains, the healthier it will be for your body.
As far as price is concerned, this bottle cost 19 bucks. About 4 bucks more than I like to spend, but I think that's worthy of the effort the winemakers put into it!


Creamy Mushroom Barley Soup

This is soup is so hearty, filling and delicious, I can't even have seconds!
And that's just crazy talk!


What you'll need:

  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 4 1/2 cups mushroom broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth divided
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive
  • 1 cup minced shallots (about 4 medium)
  • 8 cups sliced white mushrooms (about 20 ounces)
  • 2 stalks celery finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry-to-medium sherry
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh chives

What you'll do:

Combine barley and 1 1/2 cups broth in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until the barley is tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine porcinis and boiling water in a medium bowl and let soak until the mushrooms are soft, about 20 minutes. Line a sieve with paper towels, set it over a bowl and pour mushrooms and soaking liquid through it. Reserve the soaking liquid. Transfer the mushrooms to a cutting board and finely chop.
Heat butter and oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add white mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until they have released their juices and started to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the porcinis, celery, sage, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, until the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Add sherry and cook, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon, until most of the sherry has evaporated, about 1 minute.
Add the soaking liquid and the remaining 3 cups broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the celery is tender and the soup has thickened, 18 to 22 minutes.
Add the cooked barley and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream until incorporated. Garnish with chives.


English Breakfast!

I lived in London for a few months back in college.
I miss it. I miss the buildings, the pubs, the gardens, the accents,
and of course... the breakfast!
Many cringe at the thought of baked beans in the morning...
you are seriously missing out!

To prepare this meal you need lots of veggies, beans and toast. And don't forget the tea!
Sautee mushroom caps, spinach and tomato slices separately in olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook the baked beans (fat free can/vegetarian) over the stove. Toast and butter the bread.
Brew the tea. It's that simple!
Add scrambled eggs, sausage, veggie sausage, or Canadian bacon!


Jamie Oliver's Baked Mac n' Cheese


1/2 medium cauliflower
8 ounces cheddar cheese
4 ounces parmesan cheese
1 bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
sea salt
1 lb macaroni, uncooked
1 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

TO PREPARE YOUR PASTA: Remove the outer green leaves from the cauliflower and discard. Slice the end off the cauliflower stalk. Cut the head into small florets. Halve the thick stalk lengthways then slice thinly. Grate the cheddar cheese and parmesan into a large bowl. Finely chop the parsley stalks and leaves.

TO COOK YOUR PASTA: Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the macaroni and all of your cauliflower and cook according to the macaroni packet instructions. Place the bowl of cheese over the saucepan and add the creme fraiche. Carefully stir every so often until the cheese is smooth and melted. If the water boils up underneath the bowl, just turn the heat down slightly. Add all the chopped parsley to the melted cheese and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Carefully remove the bowl of cheese using a towel or oven gloves and set aside. Drain the macaroni in a colander over a bowl, reserving the cooking water. Return the pasta to the pan, pour in the melted cheese and stir. It should have a lovely silky consistency, but if it's too thick, add a splash of your cooking water to thin it out a bit. At this point you can either serve the macaroni as it is, or finish it under the grill to make it crispy and golden on top. To do this, preheat your grill to medium heat. Add 150ml of the reserved cooking water to the macaroni, stir in, then transfer to a baking dish. Place under the grill until golden and bubbling.

TO SERVE YOUR PASTA: Divide the pasta between plates or bowls, or place the baking dish in the middle of the table next to a nice green salad and let everyone help themselves.


Empanadas, Mojitos, and MORE Cocktails... OH MY!

Libertador Parrilla Argentina (89th and 2ndAve) is a fun place to eat, drink and be merry! Sunday afternoon we enjoyed empanadas, cocktails and people watching!

BTM recommends:

To Eat:
Spinach, Fugazza Onion & Mozzarella Cheese, and Black Bean empanadas!

To Drink:The mojitos were really strong and not sweet enough for me... but they may be perfect for you! As far as the other drinks we had, I said those mojitos were strong- I don't remember! HAHA!
The red drink was great though. It had mango, raspberries and rum... YUM! I think it had the word Pasion in the title. I know, I'm bad!


Bloomin' Saturday

You can find a lot of beauty in Central Park these days!

After a long walk in the Park, head over to the West Side (88th and Amsterdam) and sip some vino and dine on delicious brick oven pizza at Bodrum.
Great, authentic, fresh Turkish Mediterranean treats!
Try the Sigara Borek (feta stuffed filo cigars), Hummus, and Artichoke Pizza!

What was the wine?
Lechthaler Lagrein Rosato 2008


Garlicky Whole Wheat Pasta with Broccoli

What better way to get fiber than a big bowl of garlicky pasta and broccoli.
You can easily add grilled chicken, fish, or beans to this dish!

(serves 4-6, depends if Italians are in the room really...)

What you'll need:

-1 box of your favorite brand of Whole Wheat Spaghetti
-1 cup of cooking water from pasta (use as desired)
-2 whole garlic cloves, ROASTED (see here)
-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
-1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons for broccoli
-1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
-pinch of oregano
-1-2 bunches of fresh broccoli
-salt and pepper to taste
-Grated Parmesan for garnish

What you'll do:

Roast garlic heads for about 40 minutes or until the little cloves are soft. After about 20 minutes, add to another dish the broccoli and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Salt and pepper the veg to taste. Cook in oven for remaining minutes with garlic. The aromas of the garlic will seep into the broccoli! Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. RESERVE 1 CUP OF COOKING LIQUID. In a food processor or blender, add the garlic cloves (without the skins), oil, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Blend until you get a thick sauce. Add this sauce to the pasta and coat it as best you can. You'll notice that it now needs the help of some of the starchy water. Begin adding little bits at a time until you reach the desired consistency for your sauce. Add in the broccoli and toss. Serve in bowls with some parmesan cheese.


Wine Time!

What a Conundrum!

Conundrum 2008 is a fabulous blend of California whites. There is an endless amount of fruit and other crisp flavors: Apricot. Honeysuckle. White Peach. Pear. Vanilla. 2008 also has a hint of oak which I like in whites. I used to be a steel barrel fan, but now, I can actually taste the steel in most cases! This is a great summery afternoon wine that tastes fabulous when paired with smoked oysters, spicy Asian cuisine, blue cheese, and pears!

Price Range: $25-20


Savory Palmiers

If you want a kick-ass appetizer recipe that will please EVERYONE
(veganize it via no cheese or vegan cheese) give this recipe a try.
It's easy, and SO DELISH!

(The Barefoot Contessa)


  • 1 package frozen Pepperidge Farm puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1/4 cup prepared pesto, store bought or homemade
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese, such as Montrachet
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Kosher salt


Lightly flour a board and carefully unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Roll the pastry lightly with a rolling pin until it's 9 1/2 by 11 1/2-inches. Spread the sheet of puff pastry with half the pesto, then sprinkle with half the goat cheese, half the sundried tomatoes, and half the pine nuts. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Working from the short ends, fold each end halfway to the center. Then fold each side again towards the center until the folded edges almost touch. Fold one side over the other and press lightly. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat the entire instructions for the second sheet of puff pastry using the remaining ingredients. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut the prepared rolls of puff pastry in 1/4 inch thick slices and place them face up 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.

I actually folded these incorrectly. Forgot that last fold over, but they were still awesome!


Easter Cupcakes!

When making cupcakes for Easter,
I decided to go with Amy Sedaris's recipe.
It's true, she's just as funny as she is an inspired cook!

Amy Sedaris' Cupcakes
1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter

1 ¾ cups of sugar
Beat well, then add:
Add 2 large eggs2 Teaspoons of pure vanilla
½ teaspoon of salt
2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
2 ½ cups of flour
1 ¼ cups of milk
Beat well, fill cups, and bake at 375 degrees for 18-20 minutes. You should get 24. I get 18, 'cause I'm doing something wrong.


1 stick of unsalted butter
1 box of Domino confectionary sugar
¼ cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla
Whip for a while, color if you want.

That's her recipe for icing. I actually used fat-free milk and added just a hint of red dye so that it would come out pink!

What sweets did you make for Easter Sunday, or for your post Passover indulgences?


Wine Time!


I'm a sucker for Italians... Italian Reds that is. Ok, men too! Palazzo Della Torre is made from the Corvina and Rondinella grapes. These grapes are vinified at harvest time while the rest are sent to the drying room where they become "raisined" until they are pressed in January. This juice is then blended with the fresh wine that was made in September and now the second fermentation process begins! It is complex, aged in oak, and has a fruity, spicy and pleasant taste on the tongue. I love it when wine is given this much attention and amore! Allegrini's Palazzo Della Torre makes you feel like you are sitting out in the Italian sun... with someone named Marcello massaging your aching feet of course!

Palazzo Della Torre retails between 25 and 15 dollars depending on the distributer.