Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Checking Out Food At A Restaurant

I recently went to a restaurant to do some food tasting. I'm not going to reveal the name of the restaurant at this time as the menu is going to change. I met the chef and took photos of what I sampled. Esther loved the food as well.

photos of my cats

I think that my cats may be a year ago now. I got them last year around Mother's Day and they were about 8 weeks old at the time. It's so cute the way they cuddle with each other as I'm sure that they are identical twins. One of them wants to learn how to use my computer!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Recipes from Chef Michael Skibitcky

I received some recipes from Chef Michael Skibitcky who teaches at the CIA. Healthier recipes.

Blueberry Bran Muffins

Quantity 40
Portion Size
Number of Servings 40

Recipe Quantity Unit Ingredients
3.33 oz all bran
1.66 cup skim milk
4.16 cups flour
8.33 tsp baking powder
1.66 tsp salt
1.66 tsp cinnamon
6.66 tbsp vegetable oil
1.66 cup apple juice
1.66 cup applesauce
1.1 cup light molasses
1.1 cup sugar
3.33 ea egg
3.33 ea egg white
1.66 cup blueberries
0.83 cup flour


1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Line 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or spray with cooking spray.
3. In a small bowl, add skim milk to bran. Let soak 5 minutes.
4. In a large bowl mix 1 1/4 cup flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
5. In a separate bowl, blend oil, apple juice, apple sauce, molasses, sugar, and bran mixture. Mix well. Add egg and egg whites.
6. Dust blueberries with 1/4 cup flour, and fold into applesauce mixture.
7. Add applesauce mixture to flour mixture. Mix until moistened.
8, Fill muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 20 minutes.

Scones - Cream - Mfs

Quantity 11 lb
Portion Size 3 oz
Number of Servings 40

Recipe Quantity Unit Ingredients
16 cups flour all - purpose
8 Tsp. baking powder
1 cup sugar granulated
2 Tbsp salt
11 cups heavy cream

1. Sift all dry ingreds together
2. Add cream and gently bring together, do not mix
3. Cut out scones to required size and allow to rest 10 min
4. Glaze with mixture of 4 yolks, 4 Tbsp half & half, 2 tsp sugar
5. Bake at 375F. Approx 15 mins Still oven
Optional extra ingreds:
Lemon zest and thyme
Orange and dry cranberries
Oven dried blueberries and walnuts
Chocolate chip
Rum soaked raisins etc, etc.

Pumpkin Loaf-Muffins

Quantity 17.5 lb
Portion Size 3 oz
Number of Servings 93

Recipe Quantity Unit Ingredients
18 ea eggs 36 oz
5 lb sugar granulated sugar
4.5 cups oil vegetable oil
5 Tbsp vanilla ext
4 lb pumpkin filling
4 lb flour all - purpose
1.25 oz baking soda
1 Tbsp cinn. ground
1 tsp nutmeg
0.5 tsp clove ground
0.5 tsp ginger ground
1 oz salt
2 tsp baking powder

1. Using a 20 qt hobart mixer w/ paddle beat eggs.
2. Add sugar, oil, vanilla. Mix until well blended approx 2 mins on speed #1
3. Add pumpkin puree and mix one min on speed #1. Stop machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl
4. Add sifted dry ingreds to the bowl and mix on speed #1 for one min., stop machine and scrape down bowl again. Mix for an additional 2 mins.
5. Fill 3/4 filled pans that have been pre-prepped ( sprayed & floured, tapped out)
6. Bake in a 325F.convection, low speed until cooked, approx 45 minutes
7. Cool and top w/ cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting.
1 lb X Butter
3 X lb cream cheese
1.5 cups 10 X sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 Tbsp cinnamon ground

Raised Waffles

Quantity 40
Portion Size
Number of Servings 20

Recipe Quantity Unit Ingredients
2 cups warm water
2.5 ozs Yeast fresh cake
6 cups warm milk
2.5 cups melted butter
4 tsp salt
5 tsp sugar
10 cups flour
10 ea eggs
1.25 tsp baking soda
1 Btl Beer Brown Ale


1. In a large bowl dissolve yeast in hot water, let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Add milk, butter, salt, sugar and flour to yeast mixture and blend until smooth.
3. Let sit over night at room temperature.
4. In the morning add beaten eggs, beer and baking soda.
5. Pour approx. 3/4 cup of batter into waffle iron and bake till brown and crisp.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Ultimate Poor Service strikes again. I am expecting a package, namely a King Cake from Julie Anne's in Shreveport. They sent it next day service. I'm waiting for the package and around 2 p.m. call Julie Anne's to get a tracking number. I go online to find that the package is at the local UPS but due to weather conditions, there's an "exception". In the meantime, there didn't seem to be a problem with my regular mail delivery, despite the snow. It wasn't as if it were a foot of snow on the ground.

I call UPS to inquire and a women at customer service tells me that the package will be delivered by 7 p.m. having priority since it was to be an overnight service. It's getting close to 7 p.m. when I call again. There's no note that I even called, let alone their not knowing who told me that. I ask to speak to a supervisor and Tim Woody gets on the phone. After telling him that I needed this package since I would be using the contents while on my radio show he tells me that he will make a call to the local place and get back with me in ten minutes.

No phone call. I call UPS again. This time I first talk to customer service and then "William ID 2100" another supervisor. It appears that although I view a time and "Out for Delivery", it doesn't mean that it is actually out for delivery, but scanned and ready to go out for delivery. Thus, when you send a package UPS overnight it doesn't mean that they will keep their agreement, let alone lie about the situation or promise to get back to you.

It is way to late for the package to even get to me and I get a phone call from the supervisor at the local UPS, who I have dealt with before. He tells me that there is a backup starting from the last snow storm and then Valentine's Day, etc.

I don't expect the cake to be fresh, let alone that there is a cream cheese frosting going to hell. He tells me to call the company and have them make a claim. That doesn't help me, of course.

Oh, the last time, I sent out three packages. Two were going to one address in PA and one going to an address in MN. All three went to PA in spite of the fact that I hand wrote both the address and return address on each of the boxes. One of the packages was a blender. My sister thanks me for the blender. What am I supposed to say..."send me back the blender, even though you already used it" ?

So, now the guy at the local UPS says that he will put in a request to have the package sent to me by 10:30 a.m. I am starting the radio show at 5 p.m.

It is about 1 p.m. the next day and not only did I not get this package, which says, "Out For Delivery" but a one day morning overnight is hung up at the UPS in Shreveport.


Thursday, February 11, 2010


Anyone who watched season 2 of Hell's Kitchen knows that Heather West was the winner. That was in 2006. Heather is now back on Long Island as the Executive Chef for Monterey Restaurant in Long Beach. It was a recent decision to be closer to her family. I interviewed her and then we went into the kitchen where she cooked up their most popular soup of white beans and escarole. Then she prepared some fresh gnocci with a light sauce...wrong! Butter adds such a great taste. Heather has concocted some tasty flavored ice creams, as well. Heather tells me that she buys local produce, meats, etc. The restaurant itself looks pretty good!

Shreveport Saga: Superbowl

It's time for the Superbowl game and we're at the Robinson Film Center to view it live on their movie screens. We had been invited to join Mayor Cedric Glover who had a large viewing party going complete with a buffet. I was able to watch the game until about half time, when I set up my radio show in the entranceway. We had Mardi Gras folks calling in and interviewed members of the Shreveport-Bossier tourism office as well as the mayor. You can listen to the entire show on Whirl With Merle at

Shreveport Saga: Louisiana Boardwalk

With the Super Bowl game ahead, we didn't have much time to spend at the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier. You can certainly spend a day there and it's large enough to have a trolley. Shops, restaurants (riverfront dining, too), movie theatre, entertainment district. I went to a place called The Chocolate Crocodile. I got this huge apple covered with caramel and chocolate chips. They cut it up for you. Chomped on it during my radio show. There is a statue of the River Goddess. She actually looks as if she is attending a Mardi Gras Parade and waiting to catch the beads!

Shreveport Saga: Logan Mansion and Barkus & Meoux

The sign reads: Logan Mansion “Built 1897 by L. R. Logan, beer and ice manufacturer. Designed by architect Nathaniel Sykes Allen. One of the finest remaining Queen Anne Victorian houses in city.” This house is known as a haunted house. In 1908 a little girl fell from the top window of the Logan Mansion in died. There have been several sightings of her and heard about many of them on our tour.

Next stop...Krewe of Barkus & Meoux Parade. In other words...Mardi Gras Parade for dogs and cats. Mostly dogs. I think it's harder to get cats to deal with your dressing them up. Dogs will do anything to please you. Cats get embarrassed.

Shreveport Saga: Brunch

Sleeping in a bit later as the day began with brunch at Ristorante Giuseppe. Who would expect such a great Italian restaurant to locate themselves in Shreveport. The state of the art kitchen, which Executive Chef Brucia purchased in Milan and had it shipped to America, is completely open to the public and looks a bit like "Hell's Kitchen". This place is pretty big! I loved the separate small rooms for private parties. Hey, you can even get a private room for dine!

As far as the food...they make their own pasta, gelato and mozzarella. Learning of them already impressed me. It was really difficult to choose from the menu. Would it surprise you that I started my meal with Mozzarella Caprese? Slices of mozzarella, tomatoes, with basil pesto and prosciutto. Wanted to make sure I had some salad, so I ordered a small Caesar. Great dressing. Pasta...Fettucine with a lamb tomato sauce. Needless to say, I sample some of their gelato for dessert...chocolate, cherry and a blood orange sorbet.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Shreveport Saga: Crawdaddy's Kitchen

Although I wasn't hungry, I did want to taste the true local food, especially the crawfish at Crawdaddy's Kitchen. There was a sign at the entrance way, cartoon style, of how to eat the crawfish. I got a tour of the kitchen to find out the process of eating these mud bugs. A few washings, a few cookings and spices added.

I also sampled hush puppies, fried green tomatoes that come in a brine. Ummm. Cornbread with crawfish and spices in it. Fried alligator...tasted just it doesn't. Stuffed Pistolettes..stuffed with crawfish etouffee. Esther wanted a taste of the crawfish and I had to stop her from taking the baby that came along with the slice of King Cake!

Shreveport Saga: Cruise and Mardi Gras

The river banks were high as we had to board the Red River Cruise ship via a plank. Quick tour up and down the river that separates Shreveport from Bossier. After that it was Mardi Gras attending the Krewe of Centaur Parade. There was a tent for us and it was cold outside as it was the days we were here. Food...yes, more food...included. Just got a tast of the local cooking and sampled a bite of King Cake that tastes like coffee cake.

Beads, beads with medallions, plastic cups and other "soft" items were being thrown from the floats as people stretched to make the catch.

Shreveport Saga: R.W. Norton Art Gallery

Here at the R.W. Norton Art Gallery. No bags, flash photos, don't touch anything and in no way can you bring Esther into this gallery! They said that they didn't want me pointing Esther to the paintings. Were they afraid they she would spew spitum? The weird thing was that there was one room where kids were encouraged to touch and sit on the objects and another room that had a statue of Marilyn Monroe with her dress going up as well as another "adult" object. Did they encourage adults to play with or on Marilyn?

Took lots of photos and at no time did the flash flash.