Blog Posts by Lauren Torrisi

  • ‘Lidia’s Italy in America’ and Boston Cream Cake Recipe

                                                                                    Image Credit:  Lidia Bastianich and Hirsheimer and Hamilton

      Dishes commonly served at Italian restaurants, such as clams casino or spaghetti and meatballs, aren’t as authentically Italian as you might think. In her new cookbook ,”Lidia’s Italy in America,” Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, along with her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, spent time traveling and speaking with Italian-Americans across the United States to gather recipes that we assume are Italian, but are actually American.

    The recipes in the book are explained with historical information of the location or history of the dish along with many pictures Bastianich took herself during her travels. I had the opportunity to taste a few of the fabulous recipes from the cookbook, and you must try the “Fried Marinated Artichokes” and the “Orecchiette with Mussels and Broccoli Rabe.”  

    As an Italian-American myself, I was surprised when I found

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  • Korean Fried Chicken from the "Serious Eats" cookbook. Robyn Lee/Clarkson Potter Publishing

    The quirky and fun food site, “ Serious Eats“, now has it’s very own cookbook.   The site, which covers everything from the best restaurants to recipes now has a cookbook that encompasses just that.  No matter where you are in the United States, this cookbook has a restaurant you have to check out.  Read what Ed Levine, the founder of Serious Eats, has to say about the site’s first cookbook.

    1.  How did the “Serious Eats” community influence your decision to write this book?  Did they offer advice or favorite places you had to try?

    The community informs everything we do at “Serious Eats.”  We often depended on both contributors and the community for advice about where and what to eat in a particular city.

    2.  I love how you include recipes as well as restaurants in your book.  Why did you feel it was important to include recipes in a book that is a guide of American

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  • 'Momofuku Milk Bar' Cookbook


    "Momofuku Milk Bar" cookbook and cookies. Image Credit: Gabrielle Stabile.

    Christina Tosi, pastry chef extraordinaire of Momofuku Milk Bar has now decided to share her fabulous desserts in a cookbook.  With whimsical recipes like Cinnamon Bun Pie, Red Velvet Ice Cream and Pretzel Ice Cream Pie, you’re probably going to want to make everything in this cookbook.

    Read below as Chef Tosi gives us some insight, via email, into how she creates recipes and what advice she would give to budding chefs.

    Q: Why did you decide to write your new cookbook, “Momofuku Milk Bar”?

    A: Honestly, Milk Bar was only a year old when the “Momofuku Cookbook” came out in 2009. People were so immediately attached to the baked goods, they began to get upset when they realized the “Momofuku Cookbook” only traced the steps of Noodle Bar, Ssam Bar and Ko. So I decided to pick up where Dave left off with “Momofuku Milk Bar.”

    Q:  How would you describe “Momofuku Milk Bar” and its desserts to those in

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  • It’s National Chocolate Day

    Image Credit: Getty Images

    There is no better way to celebrate Halloween’s approaching than with a piece of chocolate.  But just in case you need another excuse to try your favorite treat, it’s national chocolate day.

    Chocolate can be used in almost any dessert.  It can be enjoyed plain, mixed into your favorite cookie dough or glazed on top of a cake.  While I always enjoy the way chocolate tastes, I never really think about how it’s made.  Here are a few insights into how your chocolate bar makes it into your grocery store.

    Chocolate 101:

    Cacao trees grow around the world in tropical areas.  They grow pods, which contain about 20 to 40 cacao beans.

    The beans are removed from the pods, and then fermented in piles for about one week.  This process allows for the beans to dry out and develop their color and flavor.

    The beans are then taken to the factory and roasted.  Next, they are “hulled” by removing the outside shell from the inside of the bean called the “nib.”

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  • 'Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook'

    'Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook' Image courtesy of Francesco Tonelli.

    “I fell in love gradually, not all at once. The experience had a sweetness all its own, ” Frank Bruni said in his four star review of the restaurant “Eleven Madison Park.”

    For those who have had the opportunity to eat at the much lauded restaurant, Bruni’s description rings true.  Eleven Madison Park opened in 1998 under the helm of restaurateur Danny Meyer and, later, Chef Daniel Humm and received numerous praises from restaurant critics and diners alike. And it still does.

    Known for its market-driven fine cuisine, the food resembles more of an artistic painting that your average dinner.  With plates composed using exquisite color and the best ingredients,  you’ll regard eating the food of Chef Humm as a distinct privilege and welcome opportunity after just one bite (especially since dinner is a bit out of the average person’s budget).

    For those who haven’t had a chance to visit the restaurant, “Eleven

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  • It's National Potato Day

    Baked potato with herbs. (Pornchai Mittongtare/Getty Images)


    Fried, baked or mashed, everyone loves a good old-fashioned potato. Cheap and easy to prepare, spuds are America’s favorite side dish. Accompanying everything from a juicy burger to a Thanksgiving turkey, potatoes are versatile and can be served with almost anything.

    Potatoes in pasta? Mario Batali uses spuds in his gnocchi recipe. And potatoes for dessert? Emeril uses sweet potatoes in this pudding.

    Grab a 10-pound bag of potatoes and plan a potato-centered menu.

    Try some of these easy and fun recipes and celebrate “National Potato Day” with your family.

    Jacques Pepin’s Potatoes Gratin

    Rocco Dispirito’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes

    Emeril’s Red Bliss Potato Chips

    Rocco Dispirito’s Sweet Potato Fries

    Emeril’s Sweet Potatoes


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  • Throw Your Own Food and Film Party

    Throw your own food and film partyMeryl Streep portrays Julia Child in Columbia Pictures' "Julie and Julia." (David Giesbrecht/Sony Pictures Entertainment)

    This weekend, while attending the NYC Food Film Festival in which we watched the “world’s favorite foods” being made  in documentaries, features and short films – and then sampled the foods afterward — I started thinking about how much fun it would be to try a version of this at home.

    We heard about the delicious  Danny Macaroons, and then got to  taste them right away.  Danny prepared them in the film, and then there they were, miraculously getting  passed around.

    It was like a dream.  I mean, how often do you watch the Food Network and wish you could taste, or at least smell, how good that food is?  Or have you ever watched a movie like “Julie & Julia” and wished you were sitting on the couch with a plate of Child’s beef bourguignon and a glass of cabernet?

    With a little preparation, I’m pretty sure you can. First, pick your favorite foodie film. 

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  • It's National Chocolate Cupcake Day




    It’s National Chocolate Cupcake Day. What are you doing to celebrate?

    Good Morning America” has a ton of delicious chocolate cupcake recipes you can make for friends and family. Perfect for birthdays, bake sales, or just curbing your chocolate fix, these recipes are sure to bring a little sunshine to your day.

    Here are a few tips on how to make your cupcakes look more like the ones at the bakery:

    1.  Consistency is key:  Pipe batter into muffin cups or scoop batter using an ice cream scoop to create equal sized cupcakes.

    2.  Don’t over mix:  Over mixing the batter causes a much more dense, tougher cupcake.  Mix the batter until it is just incorporated to guarantee a lighter, fluffier result.

    3.  Baking is a science:  Don’t estimate a cup of flour, measure it. The more consistent and exact you are in following a recipe, the better the cupcake.

    4.  Cool off:  There’s

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  • 'Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible'

    Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible

    Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY./Courtesy Ben Fink

    Paula Deen, the bubbly Food Network star, has released her cookbook “Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible.”  Known for her use of large amounts of butter in recipes, Deen offers a variety of southern comfort food guaranteed to please everyone.  (She doesn’t disappoint with her “Butter Burgers” or “Gooey Butter Cake.”)

    In addition to her delicious recipes, Deen always focuses her attention on family.  Her cookbook contains recipes that you can’t help but imagine eating with your loved ones and enjoying a laugh.

    Deen’s cookbook aims to mimic “The Joy of Cooking” with its textbook like nature but with a southern twist.  With few images, she sticks straight to the recipes, offering tips and time-saving tricks for the home cook.  With 325 recipes, this book is your go-to guide for southern food.  Check out this recipe for Paula Deen’s Best Ever Southern Fried Chicken, excerpted from her new cookbook,

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  • It's National Pasta Day

    Ravioli, tortellini, spaghetti, penne:  Pasta takes many shapes and sizes.  Do you have a favorite?

    Sometimes, I’ll see a type of pasta or sauce on a menu (written in Italian) and wonder, “What is that?”

    Below I’ve decoded a few of the mysterious pasta shapes or sauces you’ve seen before but have been afraid to ask.

    Agnolotti:  These are half-moon shaped pasta that look like ravioli.  They come from the Piedmont region of Italy and can be filled with cheese or meat.

    Bolognese:  This tomato based sauce is made with ground meat and pancetta.  It has a soffritto base made with celery, carrots and onions that are cooked in olive oil or butter.

    Bucatini: Long and thin like spaghetti, bucatini look like straws made out of pasta.  This pasta is usually served in Rome “alla amatriciana.”  This simple sauce is made with pork, tomato and pecorino cheese.

    Cannelloni: Often confused with manicotti, cannelloni are pre-formed tubes that are stuffed with a meat or cheese filling,

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