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Friday, March 30, 2012


I was having a little fun this morning with the Mike and Jon on the radio this morning - I was teasing them that we were going to talk scotch and eggs......somebody figured it out and blew the whistle that I was probably bringing in Scotch Eggs - a luncheon staple from our friends across the pond!

I really wanted to cover what I think is the best way to hard boil eggs - especially with Easter approaching and this recipe fit the bill.  Having been a cooking instructor for ages - this question comes up at least two or three times a month - so covering it before Easter seemed like a smart thing to do!

My super simple method for the perfectly hard boiled egg......Place your eggs in a pot, not more than two layers of eggs.  Cover with cold water.  Place on medium high heat, uncovered, until the water comes to a full rolling boil.  Remove from the heat and cover for 20 minutes - TIME THIS!!!  At the end of the 20 minutes, run the eggs under cold water until they are cool to the touch and either peel or refrigerate right then.  I have had GREAT success with this method for a long time.  The egg yolks are nice and yellow and moist - no green tinge to the yolk (which is harmless, just not all that appealing) and they are pretty darn easy to peel.

One other note - as a rule, farm fresh eggs are not the best choice for boiling - the membrane is so tight  for the first week or so that even though they taste spectacular - they are harder to peel.  Go for the older eggs if you have a choice.

RECIPE TIP:  Add a teaspoon or two of vinegar to the water if it appears some eggs may have hairline cracks - the vinegar helps to coagulate the white so it cooks nicely.

Here was my treat for WHMI this morning!

Scotch Eggs and Pickles!


5 hard boiled eggs (see note)
1 lb favorite bulk style breakfast sausage
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375.  Peel, rinse and dry boiled eggs.   Mix sausage with bread crumbs until incorporated.  Split breakfast sausage into 5 equal pieces.  Press one section flat in your hand or on cutting board, place peeled egg in center and work sausage around egg, pinching and pressing to seal.    Place in baking dish.  Repeat with remaining eggs.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until sausage is done and
beginning to brown.  Remove, cool and cut into 
halves or quarters.  Serve with dill pickles.

RECIPE TIP:  I like to use the bread crumbs with the sausage to make it a little easier to handle.  It’s not necessary for the success of the dish, but it does make the sausage a little easier to handle.

RECIPE TIP:  You can use any brand or style of bulk sausage – I like it with the spicy hot breakfast sausage but it’s good with any flavor.

CALORIE COUNTERS:  Yes – delicious with turkey sausage!

Hope this recipe and tips for hard boiling eggs is helpful this Easter season!  I like to serve the Scotch eggs as an appetizer on Easter - but it is also a great lunch with a handful of pickles and maybe a hunk of nice bread.


Thursday, March 29, 2012


One of the most fun things about doing what I do is developing recipes around what I like to call 'rock star' products.  These are products - or ingredients - that have a little somethin' somethin' extra special that makes them stand out in a crowd.  For me, this usually means an exceptional flavor profile that allows me to use it in a recipe that will wind up in one of my cooking classes.

I have been teaching cooking classes for over 25 years - and each and every one of those classes, and recipes that I develop for the classes is based on the premise that I believe that anybody and everybody can prepare a recipe or meal from a gourmet cookbook - from the internet - or from a restaurant, and pull it off if - and maybe I should say IF.....they have a day to plan, a day to shop, a day to prep and a day to cook....because that's what a lot of the gourmet recipes require.  Lots of special and expensive ingredients - lots of cooking techniques and special equipment and quite honestly - I know that most people don't have that kind of time or money to invest in a single meal so what I do as The Great Foodini is take popular recipes, flavors and trends, and make them 'deliciously doable' for the home cook.
Mmmmmmm - spicy!

So when I find a great product that brings a lot to the table - well, I am one happy lady!  This recipe uses Red Gold Tomatoes - specifically their new Culinary Classics line and a flavor that you have seen here before in my Red Gold Huevos Rancheros - the Diced Tomatoes with Chipotle as well as the petite diced regular tomatoes.

This recipe for Southwest Shrimp Shooters is from my Dinner Party Diva series of cooking classes called Small Plates - Big Tastes, which is my tapas class.  Tapas is a latino word for small bites - or appetizers which over the years has proven to be a really popular class with my students because of how often we get invited to an event or party and we need to bring an appetizer - everybody is always looking for something fun and new to share.  I think you'll find this recipe just that - and, with a little spice!

Southwest Shrimp Shooter by Great Foodini


1 lb raw shrimp (36-40 size or so) peeled, tail on
1 cup Margarita Mix 
1 ½ cups chipotle seasoned diced tomatoes (lightly drained)     
1 ½ cups petite diced tomatoes (lightly drained)                        
⅓ cup tequila   
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon sugar
½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
small handful cilantro
tortilla strips/chips for garnish
Place rinsed shrimp in zipper bag and add Margarita mix.  Seal and place in refrigerator to marinate at least one hour.

Combine both tomatoes, tequila, lime juice, sugar, salt and cilantro in blender or deep mixing bowl (for stick blender).  Pulse several times until mixture is blended, but not completely smooth.   Set aside if serving soon, or refrigerate for later.  I like this mixture at room temperature when serving.

When shrimp has marinated, remove and drain liquid.  Heat grill pan or griddle until hot and quickly cook shrimp on both sides until just cooked, taking care not to overcook. 

To serve, place tomato mixture in shot glass (or appetizer serving spoon….or small bowl…..) and top with shrimp and tortilla chips.  Enjoy!

PRODUCT ALERT:  Red Gold tomatoes are an outstanding product - I was a huge fan even before I was invited to visit and tour their facility.  The fact that they are grown here in Michigan and the midwest is a bonus!

RECIPE TIP:  If you are unable to find raw, tail on shrimp, you may use the precooked variety.  After marinating in the margarita mix, simply flash grill the shrimp for just a few seconds on each side - they will pink up and curl - perfect for the shooters!

How is that for a simple recipe?  It is so trendy - you will see 'shooters' on menus in all the good places - and it's fun, good and definitely something new!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!

I am teaching the Small Plates - Big Tastes class tonight at Howell's MainStreet Winery - and these are on the menu!   If you are coming - come hungry!


Friday, March 23, 2012


Enjoying our water taxi ride to Port Lucaya for dinner
I'm baaaaaack!!  Mr. W and I are back from a GREAT vacation to the Bahamas!  We traveled with some wonderful friends and not only got some much needed  R & R but also did a little R & D while on the islands - and I want to let you know that.....a lobster a day keeps the hunger at bay!!!  It was full throttle lobster season in Freeport and I think we had lobster every single day!  It was wonderful!

This was one of the fish I (wish I) caught !

Rock lobster - no claws, big tail and DELICIOUS!!!

I was even making up recipes on the plane!  Adding fresh
fruit juice to my Bahama Breeze!

Kayaking for the first time - so fun!

So, back in town and I hit the ground running with classes this week in the schools - Small Plates-Big Tastes which is my Tasty Tapas class and part of the Dinner Party Diva series and then a private lesson for all of my tennis girlfriends at the winery in Howell - we had the Flavorful French menu.....

Is it wrong to have so much fun at work?

Food, wine and friends - a marriage made in Heaven!!

And this morning on the Foodini Friday show on Livingston County's Own 93.5......Grilling tips and tricks!
To listen to a replay of the program, click here.... Foodini Friday - Grill Time!

One of the questions I get all the time is about testing the temperature of meat - I always recommend using a meat thermometer with poultry and roasts, however for steak and burgers - the finger test is really the way to go - you always have your 'thermometer' with you and you aren't poking the meat and letting the delicious juices out.  Here's a little photo tutorial as to how it works.....

This is the area to use - make a fist but relax your hand.  If you
press here now - this is how raw steak feels.
If your steak feels like this - it's pretty rare....

If your steak feels like this, it's medium rare...probably the
most frequently ordered temperature.

Ring finger - if it feels like this, your steak is probably medium
to medium well ...and.....

If it feels like's well done
This is one of those techniques that takes a little practice - but with what looks like a nice, long grilling season - at least here in Michigan - I think you'll have plenty of time for that this year!!!  I hope this little tip comes in 'handy'!!!!!

Medium....with a little horseradish sauce please!

Mike asked me about marinades and rubs - here are a few that I like to use.....and my recipe that I've posted several times before for my horseradish sauce....enjoy!


8 oz sour cream
3 tablespoons horseradish
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated 
Blend well and chill.


2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder                                          
1 tablespoon onion powder                                          
2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (or more to taste)

Mix all powders together – breaking any lumps sometimes found in the onion and garlic powders.  Be careful not to breathe in the powders – seriously!!

The Rub is really good on pork, chicken, steak and makes fabulous shredded beef for tacos or fajitas. 

Hope you enjoyed these tips and tricks - I am excited that summer is on the horizon - and I am also really enjoying this unseasonably warm weather - we are definitely firing up the grill whenever we can!

Enjoy your weekend - I have another full weekend planned, starting with a presentation tonight at the Jackson District Library - Smart Choices for Real People!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Ahhhhhhhh NUTS!

So much R & D going on around here the past couple of weeks!  That's what always happens before a new class comes along - Mr. W just hates it, hahahaha!  I love teaching new classes but have to admit getting a little stressed from time to time when I am developing recipes.  I have been making and keeping notes for a couple of years in preparation for the new class coming up - it's part of my Dinner Party Diva class series and this one is called Small Plates Big Tastes - Tapas!  Tapas, or small bites, is the new 'thing' in restaurants and one of my favorite ways to eat - lots of tastes of lots of flavors - I just love a variety of foods and often would rather order a couple of appetizers instead of a meal.  Sometimes I do!

Just a little garlic for you!!!
So - over the past couple of years, I have jotted notes about great tastes I have had either in restaurants or with friends - one of the core recipes in the classes I have coming up came from our Cooking With Friends group - it's a garlic confit of sorts that I have played with a little and this is the base for a bunch of recipes or even good on it's own.

The recipe I took into the radio station this morning is really yummy and fun - Pub Nuts - I saw these on lots of menus in wine bars and trendy bars in Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles so here's my version....(Be sure to click on the WHMI link or visit my facebook page to listen to today's show -
there is a funny story about the guy I didn't keep!!!

Caramelized salty goodness!
1 lb mixed nuts or peanuts      
2 t butter  
2 t olive oil    
2 T brown sugar       
 ½ teaspoon dried or fresh rosemary
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Sea salt to finish

Preheat oven to 325.  Place nuts in oven safe baking pan, about 9 x 9 size.   Drizzle with melted butter and olive oil.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and all spices except salt.  Stir to blend well.  Bake 10 minutes and stir, being sure to scrape any caramelized bits from bottom of pan.  Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more, remove and stir well.  At this point the nuts are done – or you can return to oven for 5 minutes at a time until desired color is achieved.  When you are done baking, carefully finish with sea salt until it is as salty as you like them.  Serve warm or cool.  Store in airtight container once completely cooled.

RECIPE TIP:  You can purchase mixed nuts salted, unsalted or lightly salted - adjust your final sea salt at the end of the recipe to fit whichever kind you purchased.

RECIPE TIP:  I love the mixed nuts with this - however, they can get a little pricey.  This recipe is equally delicious with simple peanuts.  When I make it with just peanuts, I try to purchase either raw peanuts or unsalted  (not dry roasted) - either one is good and you can even use salted peanuts, just adjust the sea salt at the end to fit your tastes!

These are definitely worth a try - let me know what you think!  I just love the little bit of sweet and salty flavor that you get with each bite.  Take it from a pro - they are delicious with a beer watching March Madness.....with a martini at the bar.....or winding down with a glass of wine.  Just a little something special from my kitchen to yours!

I am teaching this class in Brighton, Pinckney, Novi and at Howell's MainStreet Winery - click on the links below for details - I am teaching this the week of the 19th at the schools, and on Thursday, March 29 at the winery - I would love to see you there!  Other recipes in the collection will include.....Spicy Salted Lemon Cheese Crostini, Asian Pork Tenderloin over Gingered Greens, Hungarian Mushroom Tapenade, Prosciutto Asiago Breadsticks, Drunken Goat Flatbread, Red Blue and Beef  Flatbread, Southwest Shrimp Shooters, Toffee Almond Truffle Cups, White Chocolate Cherry Macaroons.....come hungry my friends!


Friday, March 2, 2012


I sure had a busy but wonderful week!  Lots of Foodini fun going around here - yesterday was the Lunch and Learn at the Opera House in Howell - and what a success that was!   For those who are not familiar with what is happening in downtown Howell - we have this amazing historical gem in the middle of downtown Howell, called The Opera House.  It was used as a performance venue and opera house back in the late 1800's up until the early/mid 1900's when it was closed and over time, the second story which housed the main theatre became simply storage.  The ground level had been used for retail and was vacant for a time.  In 2000 the Livingston Arts Council purchased the building and through historical and preservation grants, donations and fundraising, has remodeled the first floor and is working on the rest of the building to ...Restore the Glory!  Two benefactors have stepped forward - our own local gem, 1st National Bank in Howell, and a group called Music Doing Good, a Houston based organization are matching any donations through the end of March, essentially tripling the donation dollar!

So - being the thinker that I am....I wondered how I could turn my simple $100 donation into more and with the help of Sharon Fisher at the Opera House, we did just that!  I made four homemade soups, homemade breads, cookies and more - and shared one of my Lunch and Learn classes - Smart Choices for Real People and we invited the community to come have lunch with us for a $10 donation.  We served over 30 people and with the generous matching donations of 1st National Bank in Howell and Music Doing Good, we raised over $1,000 for the Restore the Glory project at the Opera House!

I'd like to thank a few people who helped me - Dave Turk of Turk Farms donated the chickens for the Chicken Pot Pie Soup - delicious Dave!!!  Sandy and John Vyletel of Howell's MainStreet Winery allowed me to use their kitchen facilities to prepare for the lunch service.  My son, Eddie Chodkowski for coming up and helping to serve - he has been helping me do good work in the kitchen since he was about 5 - pretty soon he's going to be telling me what to do!!  Big thanks to Sharon of the Opera House staff, Blythe Patterson, and Sharon's daughter, Katie for helping too.  Many hands make light work!!!

I was so busy I forgot to take pictures - but the Opera House historian, my friend Lindsay Root, was filming and I'll be sure to share his good work here too!!

The best!

I received a call and an email this week letting me know that The Great Foodini cooking classes at Howell's MainStreet Winery were listed in a recent press release by Michigan's top notch travel and tourism partner, Pure Michigan, as one of the top 50 things to do in Michigan in 2012!!!!  How cool is that????  Sandy, John and I are so excited to be a part of all of the good things happening and getting noticed in Michigan and looking forward to bringing more people to Howell and Livingston County!  We are excited to share what we do best - bringing people to Livingston County and Howell one bite and one sip at a time!!!  Yay!!!

I was so crazy excited about this lovely recognition that for today's Foodini Friday show on WHMI, I created a new recipe using two of my favorite Michigan products - cherries and apples!  The new recipe can either be a breakfast casserole - kind of like a baked French Toast.....if served with maple syrup...or...Mr. W's favorite, as a bread pudding.  I stayed up way tooooooo late last night developing a new sauce for the bread pudding version but, from what I've heard so far, it was worth every lost snooze!!!

I haven't officially named this recipe yet - Mike Marino had a good suggestion Michigan Chapple.....if you have any more ideas do post or email me!  I am open!!!  The original version of this recipe was called Cheery Cherry Apple Strata - I've redone it a little and it needs a new name.....what about...

Bread, caramelized cinnamon apples and cherries -
oh, and a little Cherry Vanilla Butter Sauce - yes please!

12 cups cubed bread, day old is best
8 eggs, slightly beaten
3 cups milk or half and half
3/4 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 Michigan apples, peeled and sliced
1 cup Michigan dried cherries
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease 9 x 13 baking pan and sprinkle with dried cherries.  Cover with cubed bread.  In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, milk, 1/4 cup of sugar and vanilla until well blended.  Let rest.  Layer peeled and sliced apples evenly over bread.  Stir egg mixture, and pour over apples.  Mix remaining 1/2 cup of sugar with cinnamon and sprinkle over apples.  NOTE:  Mixture can be covered and refrigerated overnight at this point.

Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until egg and bread mixture is baked through at center.  Remove and serve with warmed maple syrup for breakfast, or, as a dessert bread pudding with Cherry Vanilla Butter Sauce.

RECIPE TIP:  One of my favorite apples to use are Ida Red - they are a sweet-tart variety and hold up well in baking.

An occasional pit?  Highly worth the risk!!!

2 cups heavy cream, divided
2" vanilla bean
2/3 cup Michigan dried cherries
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons butter
pinch salt

In medium saucepan, combine 1 cup heavy cream, 2" vanilla bean and 2/3 cup cherries.  Heat to just boiling and turn burner off.  Let stand at least an hour, stirring occasionally.  Remove vanilla bean and open to scrape seeds into mixture.   In separate bowl, combine flour with remaining 1 cup of heavy cream, stir to blend.  Return pan to medium heat and stir in flour mixture and sugar.   Cook over medium low heat until mixture is thickened and blended.  Stir in butter and salt, whisking and heating to combine.   Serve immediately or store in refrigerator, rewarm before serving.

RECIPE TIP:  If you don't have a vanilla bean, you can substitute 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

RECIPE TIP:  Simply snip a vanilla bean (usually 5 to 8 inches long) to get the 2" piece.

I hope you get a chance to enjoy this recipe!  Getting good reviews so far!!!  Just a little teaser - I am working on a new class for spring, Making Magic with Michigan foods and welcome your suggestions as to either locally grown produce to use, or locally manufactured products to use in recipes.  I have some fun ideas to share down the road.

Have a great weekend and once again - thanks to everybody who helped me make a little Foodini Magic this week!