You don’t need to go to a culinary school to step up cooking at home. By changing or adding a couple simple things in the way you prepare food, you can elevate the results from ho-hum to spectacular. There is no magic wand to wave or nose to twitch that guarantees creations like a celebrity chef, but then again we’re talking about feeding your family. That simply translates to taste-testing as you cook. I remember watching my grandma do exactly that. She’d say, “Trust your instincts,” as she’d sip the tomato sauce off the end of a wooden spoon. If you are aware your partner gags at the thought of mushrooms in a sauce, then forget the idea and tweak the recipe to make it work for you. Just remember to balance out the five basic flavors: sweet, salty, spicy, savory, and acidity. That’s half the battle. And speaking of the pros…Some of my posts have been favored by the “Food Network” on Twitter (Snapshotsincursive @DornaGail) as well as Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa, on Instagram (gail _dorna). You can even find me on Pinterest at Gail Dorna. I’d love to connect with you there as well. I also met Chef Michelle Tribble of Hell’s Kitchen reality cooking show. Fun times. Experience different flavors and textures as you eat with your eyes. Catch a glimpse of “Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Elevated Edibles!” This remarkable journey of the palate is unique because it gives me a few moments with you. Thanks very much to all of my guests and followers on http://snapshotsincursive.com for the uplifting support, award nominations, and moving words of encouragement.
Dining Outside the Home: Carlo’s Bakery in New York, New York! He’s the Boss, that’s for sure. Luscious cakes, cream-filled cannolis, chewy cookies, and countless culinary creations will have your head swimming from refrigerated display case to bakery case. Customers in line murmur, “I want this. I’ve had that” as their fingers point to the delicious pastries behind the lighted glass. In no time at all, by the time you snake your way up to the energetic staff, you’ll easily walk away clutching fifty dollars worthy of dreamy confections.
Dining Outside the Home: Sift Bake Shop in Mystic, Connecticut. How lucky to discover a celebrity pastry chef, who won the Food Network’s “Best Baker in America” award, owning a bakery in Mystic, Connecticut. Talk about a hidden gem. Adam Young’s French inspired bakery will lure you down to Water Street with its fresh-out-of-the-oven aromas. Follow your nose to be pleasantly surprised by artisanal breads, sold by the whole or half loaf. Croissants might be stuffed with meats, veggies, nuts, or chocolate. Choose wisely. Exquisite cakes and delectable cookies satisfy the sweet tooth cravings now and later in the day. Better get extra. By dilly-dallying around you could find yourself yearning for something another customer already placed in her French market basket.
On a recent trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, I knew there was one place that was definitely on my Bucket List: Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace along the Las Vegas Strip. If you’re familiar with the reality cooking series, Hell’s Kitchen, I don’t need to tell you Michelle Tribble was the winner of Season 17. She was awarded the position of head chef for this Vegas hotspot by owner, Gordon Ramsey. And this is the second time I’ve met her. No matter how busy the kitchen staff is, on a full-scale stage for all to see, excited patrons as well as Instagram enthusiasts stop by to pose for selfies. Chef Michelle, keeping one eye on the crew as she circles the dining area checking out the food, continuously greets curiosity seekers for feedback and photo ops. She really is down-to-earth, very personable, and pays great attention to detail. No wonder it was a privilege to meet her.
Dining Outside the Home: Hell’s Kitchen in Las Vegas, Nevada When it’s hot outside in Vegas, crank up the heat even more at Hell’s Kitchen with smoky cocktails and iced shrimp cocktail. The world-renowned celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay, recreated the infamous studio set from the television show. Prepare to be amazed. The sleek contemporary restaurant also landed a view overlooking the Las Vegas Strip. But forget all that. Come to Hell’s Kitchen for the outstanding food, extraordinary cocktails, and the dining ambiance. Take your time. The Beef Wellington is unsurpassed, which is the reason for the HK Signature Prix Fixe Menu. The final culmination of a fabulous meal would be the Sticky Toffee Pudding. Don’t forget the coffee.
Dining Outside the Home: Sardi’s Restaurant in Manhattan’s Theatre District, New York City, New York! Step inside the doors and be surrounded by hundreds of celebrity caricatures adorning the walls from top to bottom dating back to the 1940s. Be amazed as you sit in the company of greatness. Some you will recognize, others you’ll find simply intriguing. And because Sardi’s is a great place for pre-and post-theatre activity, you never know who you’ll find dining at the table next to you. Don’t forget to eat. For openers, try the Sardi’s Special Appetizer plate: Bruschetta; Prosciutto and Melon; Asparagus rolled in Smoked Salmon; Roasted Bell Peppers; Mozzarella and Capers; Truffled Chicken Liver Pâté; and Grilled Shrimp with Green Olive Tapenade. I know, right! Is it any wonder celebs are drawn to this legendary Times Square restaurant?
“You can take Elvis.
You can take Marilyn Monroe.
Success and fame will not be the answer
if something inside of you
is bothering you,
if things in your mind
aren’t going right.”
~ Linda Evans
Dining Outside the Home: Abby Lane in Boston, Massachusetts! Located in the heart of the Theater District of Downtown Boston, this neighborhood restaurant opens its wall of sliding windows to make the open-air dining room an inviting experience. Each unique crafted cocktail delights the palate with signature favorites like The Abby: a blend of fresh lemon, elderflower liqueur, and grey goose la poire topped with a splash of dry sparkling bubbly. Yes, please. Every seat offers a perfect vantage point of the chef’s kitchen where top-notch skills make cooking look effortless. It’s easy to turn off the cell phones and mingle with others. You never know when a celebrity may pop in. At the table next to ours Julian Edelman, of the New England Patriots, dropped by for an appetizer sampler. Memories are made of this! For an atmosphere of warmth and cheer, take a walk to Abby Lane.
Dining Outside the Home: Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, Nevada Bobby Flay, celebrity chef of the Food Network, is a pretty popular guy in Las Vegas. It might be because he takes grilled meats and fresh vegetables and then pairs them with the spicy seasonings and peppery sass of Mexican food to create his own signature dishes. If you’re looking for ordinary, pass him by. Mesa Grill electrifies the palate! The Goat Cheese “Queso Fundido” is a blistering appetizer of poblano peppers in a creamy dip for blue corn tortilla chips. Get the picture? It may take a few minutes to study the menu, but then again, from time to time everyone needs to take a break from the intoxication of Vegas!