Sunday, March 17, 2019

Best Ever Corned Beef Brisket, Carrots and Potatoes

St. Patrick's Day calls for corned beef and cabbage.  Since my son Steve's birthday is also St. Patrick's Day, I often cooked the meal for his party. However, Steve is now the head of his own household, so I haven't fixed the dinner in a few years.

It's time to return to tradition.  I found a new recipe that calls for oven-roasting for about four hours and then topping the brisket with a mustard and brown sugas glaze under the broiler.  The result- a truly succulent and extremely tender slice of meat.

Tradtional food for St. Patricks Day includes corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes.

I share the recipe now:


1 package center cut corned beef brisket

1 lemon

1 medium onion, peeled

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon allspice

6-8 whole cloves

1/4 cup Dijon mustard

1/4 cup brown sugar

Optional: Baby carrots and small round potatoes


1.  Trim and discard most of the fat from the top of the corned beef brisket. Rinse meat under cool running water, rubbing gently to release its corning salt.

2.  Lay meat, fattiest side up, in a large oblong roasting pan. Thinly slice a lemon, discard seeds, and onion and lay slices over the meat. Sprinkle with spices.

3.  Pour boiling water around the brisket (4 or more cups), seal the pan with foil. Place pan on the middle rack in a 325-degree oven and roast.  After about two to two and a half hours, I added baby carrots and small potatoes. Continue cooking for a total of about four hours.

4. Remove and uncover. Spoon out the potatoes and carrots with a slotted spoon. Pour off the liquid and lemon and onion slices.

5.  In a small bowl, mix together the mustard and brown sugar. Spread evenly over the meat. Place pan with meat under the broiler (about 8 inces away) until the mixture begins to brown or boil.

6.  Transfer the roast to a platter and serve warm or cold.  Cut meat on at about a 45-degree angle. 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lively Luna Fresada Cocktail at El Conquistador Resort

I recently flew into San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico. “Our country is shaped like a pig,” said my guide as she handed me a map. 

“I see a turtle, not a pig,” I responded. 

“No, no.  Definitely a piggy,” the guide insisted.  Pig or no pig, the airport bestowed a vibrant tropical feel, and that made me happy.

I hopped aboard a shuttle bus for a 45-minute ride to the El Conquistador Resort, a member of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts, in Fajardo.  My purpose was to review the resort and its convention area for meeting planners.

Looking up at the El Conquistador Resort from the water

The sprawling hotel contains five villages and the grounds include an 18-hole golf course and water park. I’d have no problem adding steps to my fitness tracker walking around the property.  Most of the guest rooms overlook an endless stretch of shimmering turquoise water below a 300- foot cliff. The view is one of those "Pinch me, am I really here?" moments. 

An old-school funicular transports guests down to the Marina Village, the hub of a 35-slip private marina offering deep-sea fishing charters, sailboats, catamarans, and yachts. Here, I boarded the El Conquistador’s boat for private Palomino Island, a spot that I consider the best feature of the resort.  Palomino indulges guests with a full array of beach and watersport activities. Once ashore, I soon slipped into my bathing suit and did what a Caribbean vacation calls for: I lazed in a lounge chair under an umbrella sipping a frosty rum punch. The picture-perfect little island offered the ideal location for scenes in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. In fact, Johnny Depp stayed in the El Conquistador's luxury hideaway, Las Casitas Village, during the filming. 

Private Palomino Island

Food, beverage, and dining have become essential elements of travel. Like any discerning foodie, I feel tasting local fare is a must. Thankfully, the talented chefs at the El Conquistador create enticing meals by mixing the island’s heritage with current food trends. Culinary treats I devoured ran from island-grown coffee to piña coladas or DonQ rum punch in a coconut, and tostones (twice-fried garlicky green plantains).

I also tasted a ruby red Luna Fresada cocktail inspired by the colorful surroundings. Heidi Orndoff, a bartender at Chops Steakhouse, the resort’s signature restaurant, created the drink. Her tropical mixture contained Pitorro, a distilled spirit from Puerto Rico, referred to as “moonshine rum.” Pitorro is traditionally cured and aged by adding fruits like coconut, pineapple, tamarind and strawberries.  Heidi uses strawberry flavored rum.

Luna Fresada Cocktail

I adored the drink’s delicious and refreshing flavor so much, that I asked for the recipe. I now share the island memory with you:

Luna Fresada Cocktail Recipe

6 mint leaves chopped
2 strawberries chopped
4oz of lemonade
2.5oz of Pitorro Frutas Rum (strawberry flavor)

Directions: In the bottom of a glass, muddle chopped strawberries and mint leaves together. Stir in the lemonade and rum. Fill the glass with ice. Garnish with mint sprigs or strawberry slices as desired.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The French Fry Museum in Belgium

I visited the Belgium Friet or French Fry Museum in Bruges and wrote the story for Real Food Traveler.  Please click on the link below.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Finding the World's Largest Baklava

While on a trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia I ran into a group of women trying to set the Guinness World Record for the largest baklava.

You can read my story about this delightful experience on

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Slovenia's Lake Bled and their famous Cream Cake

I loved scenic Lake Bled in Slovenia and wrote a story about their famous cream cake for

The tiny island on Lake Bled in Slovenia.
Photo @Debi Lander

Please use this link to read my story on Real Food Traveler:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Pumpkin in Turkey

Guest post from Judy Shulman

No, I am not going to talk about stuffing a turkey with pumpkin. I’m writing about a restaurant in Göreme, Turkey called Pumpkin Göreme Restaurant and Art Gallery. Dinner in this cave-strewn landscape in Cappadocia became a delightful treat.

Pumpkin Göreme Restaurant and Art Gallery
Hot Air Balloon ide are very popular in Cappadochia.

From the minute you walk into Pumpkin, you are warmly greeted and seated. Small niches filled with classic Cappadocian handicrafts such as miniature cave houses and pierced dimly illuminated gourds create a glowing ambience. An evil eye “tree” hangs above the blazing fireplace, much appreciated during our late March visit to the area.

Oguz Kaya or simply Ozie owns Pumpkin.  He previously worked as a chef with the Continental Hotels in Istanbul and Berlin. His wife hails from Göreme. Lately, Ozie says he kisses his wife ten times a day to thank her for his release from the fast-paced frenzy of hotel restaurants. In Göreme, he can take his time to create simple, fresh fare in a relaxed setting. We watched him in action, cooking and schmoozing, tending the fireplace, and moving heavy tables in and out of the small restaurant.

Oguz Kaya

A fixed-priced menu is featured, costing less than $25 per person, and includes five colorful and flavorful courses.  Local fresh bread comes first, brought to the table along with a dish of olive oil decoratively sprinkled with Turkish spices.  A comforting vegetable soup (nothing like the standard American vegetable soup) followed.  

Classic Turkish meze included tightly rolled and stuffed vine leaves, a slab of salty feta, bright red tomatoes and sweet green cucumbers along with Ozie’s version of koftas or vegetarian meatballs. Chef Ozie uses a mixture of bulgur, tomato paste and vegetables. He told us he attributes his good health and youthful looks to vegetarianism.
Meze is beautifully arranged.

Although the meze was primarily non-meat, the menu offered a choice of grilled chicken or the classic Anatolyan beef and vegetable stew. We chose different main courses in order to share the flavors. Both entrees were both visually appealing and mouth-wateringly tender.
Chicken Plate

Beef Stew

Dinner is capped off with a small plate of fruit, stiff but creamy Turkish ice cream and a tiny square of the yummiest baklava, plus tea or coffee.
The Dessert Plate

The restaurant seats about twenty, in addition to a small outdoor area for overflow during high season.  Reservations are necessary as we watched three different groups turned away. You can’t just “pop in” for dinner.  The pace is slow, and we appreciated the encouragement to relish the taste and enjoy the atmosphere.

Pumpkin Göreme Restaurant and Art Gallery
Igeridere Mah.
7/A Göreme/Nevsehir

To follow more adventures in Europe please visit

Monday, March 21, 2016

Fried Sage Leaves in Italy

Like Bubba Gump and his endless variety of shrimp, Southern cooks like to fry just about everything.  I’ve sampled more than my share of fried pickles, fried okra, fried green tomatoes, fried oysters, fried catfish, fried turkey, fried peanuts, fried apples, fried cheese, corn dogs, fried hand-pies, fried onion rings, fried Oreo cookies, fried sweet potatoes and, of course, fried chicken.

Kentucky Fried Chicken

On my travels, I don't turn down regional favorites and other ethnic dishes such as cactus fries, Blooming onions, fried banana chips, fried veal cutlet or Weiner Schnitzel, calamari, chimichanga, croquettes, egg rolls, falafel, pommes soufflés, tortillas and even fried ice cream.

But, I’d never tasted fried sage leaves before a recent trip to Italy.  The sage leaves were on the menu at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort
, so I ordered them.  One bite and I knew I’d found a new love.  They were so scrumptious; each leaf was delicately coated in a thin batter and sprinkled with sea salt.  I would compare the preparation and taste to tempura.

Fried Sage Leaves at Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort

I searched for recipes online, but they called for deep-frying in oil. Since I don’t own a deep fryer, I keep looking.  Finally, I found this recipe on the blog: Eat Outside the Bag. It’s owned by Susy Morris, a thirty something girl who loves all things gardening, cooking and organic. She fries fresh sage leaves in butter and then uses the leftover sage butter on pasta or in soups.

Better yet, travel to Italy to taste some.


From: Eat Outside the Bag

1 large nob of unsalted butter* (preferably organic pastured butter) butter)
Gather a handful of fresh sage leaves; any size works; the small ones are less intense than the big ones.

A sprinkling of freshly ground sea salt

Melt butter in cast iron skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted, throw in the sage leaves, cook, stirring occasionally until they stop sizzling. Remove from pan and cool on a plate.

You’ll be left with sage brown butter in your skillet, which is quite a treat itself. It’s wonderful drizzled on top of soup or pasta and is at it’s best when enjoyed over pumpkin or butternut squash ravioli.

*About a quarter to a third cup or so, depends on the size of your skillet, I use an 8 inch skillet and you want between 1/8 to 1/4 inch of butter in your skillet.


Fried chicken photo:

Calamari: By alantankenghoe - Flickr: Seafood, CC BY 2.0,