Jul 25

Three Chefs and a Wineau

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Tagged in: Recipes , Events , Celebrity Chefs


On June 27, 2009 the most magical event happened at my house! Three star chefs, a wine expert, and an artisan beef expert converged on my home to produce a fabulous night of unbelievable dishes, great friends, and great wine.

Carrie Oliver from the Oliver Ranch Company flew in from Canada, bringing with her a variety of artisan steaks from different ranchers and different breeds. The goal of the night would be for the chefs to each create a dish which highlights the quality of the beef, while adding their own flair and creativity.

Chef Fabrizio Schenardi (a Florida Trend Golden Spoon award winner, and the #1 chef of the Renaissance hotel chain) from Piemonte, Italy left his Tampa based Pelagia restaurant for the evening to perform his magic with Carrie Oliver's steaks.  Chef Gui Alinat (A French chef born and trained in Provence) joined us to represent the French way of cooking. And I was there to give a representation of how the northern Italians might prepare these filets, with my own southern (as in US) twang.

Matt Horbund of AGoodTimeWithWine.com  was gracious and came up from West Palm Beach to provide excellent wines carefully selected for each course. The selection of French, Italian and American wines paired perfectly with every dish.
Dr. Terry Simpson surprised us, flying in from Alaska with salmon and halibut he had caught the day before.  Chef Gui took on the challenge and would use the salmon as his first course.

The guests arrived both locally and from around the country.  Famous author and lecturer Tom V Morris came in from California, Author Jackie Silver from Tampa, Tampa Tribune writer Jeff Houck, The Gourmet Girl Magazine team Elaine and Louis came up from Naples, and Daytime TV producer April Wilson filmed the entire event.  Other notables included my publicist Sandi McKenna and beer expert Ashley Rouston.

The first course arrived.  Chef Gui prepared the salmon by poaching and dressed it with an incredible creme fraiche, I made a salad of arugula, caramelized apples and onions, brown sugar toffee, sauteed beets, and walnuts.  Chef Fabrizio prepared halibut and dressed his with a typical green sauce from the Piemonte region.
Since no Italian meal would be complete without pasta, Chef Fabrizio and I served a small plate of his gnocchi with my Bolognese sauce, topped with fresh parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Then came my watermelon sorbetto, to cleanse the palate before the main courses.

Chef Fabrizio served a parmesan topped filet, I prepared my steak and served it with a red wine reduction, and chef Gui served his filet with fois gras.

For the final dish, we each created one of our signature desserts.  Chef Fabrizio prepared a strawberry mousse, I showed off my Italian rum cake, and Chef Gui demonstrated his caramel topped poached pear.

It was a great competition where everybody won, especially our friends in the dining room!  Great conversations were had, new friendships were formed, and old bonds were made stronger.

May 22

To Bake or To Steam

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Tagged in: Umbria , Tuscany , Recipes
Dolce Debbie makes Gnocchi 

After attending the SOBE Food and Wine Festival back in February and hearing Rocco DiSpirito divulge his secrets to perfect gnocchi, I couldn’t wait to get home and try it for myself. So of course, it took me 3 months to actually “get around to it” and try for myself.

One of my dear friends, @missattitude (Jen Straw), has been coming for cooking lessons and this was to be the next lesson. So before she and my neighbors arrived, I decided it would be a good idea to try some of these new tips myself.

May 12

Ricotta Pear Chocolate Torta

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Dolce Debbie makes a traditional Amalfi Coast dessert 

As all the i’s get dotted and the t’s get crossed for our upcoming trip to the Amalfi coast, being the food lovers that Barry and I are, we have spent a large amount of time reflecting on the meals we had on our last trip to this paradise along the west coast of Italy. One of Barry’s favorite treats was of course a type of pie, he does have an enormously large sweet tooth. This particular pie was a specialty of the small villages along the coast.

We were introduced to this slice of heaven by one of our dear friends, Giovanni. We had invited him by the villa for dinner one evening and as you know, Italians never arrive empty handed, and this evening was no exception. He brought with him a pie; of course everyone was trying to politely pass on dessert after one of my “light” dinners. After some coaxing by Giovanni and me on the fact that this was a light treat, everyone agreed to try. And of course, no one was disappointed. This was truly a light, fresh dessert, perfect after a heavy meal and during the summer heat.

May 04

Dolce Debbie on Daytime TV

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  (Click here to see Debbie on Daytime TV)

Thanks to my friend Sandi McKenna introducing me to a friend of hers, April Wilson, I had the fantastic opportunity and pleasure of being on Daytime with hosts Lindsay MacDonald, Dave Nemeth and Cyndi Edwards.

I wasn’t sure what to expect meeting these guys that I have spent years watching, what would I say, what would I prepare?  I only had 4 minutes to prepare something delicious and easy. Not to mention, would it be one of those situations you hear about, you know, big stars with big attitudes?

Well, I’m here to tell you that it was one of the most fun atmospheres, not to mention welcoming, that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing.

After fretting over what I was going to prepare, I finally decided on my mother-in-law’s recipe she handed down to me for manicotti.  In fact, it was one of the first recipes that mom shared with me, the trick is in the making of the crepes.

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