Another IHF Cooking Class In The Books

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Once again this evening I had the opportunity to spend a few hours with some new friends from Independent Health teaching a Healthy Options Cooking Class at D’Avolio Kitchen in Williamsville. It was great fun and I’m so glad folks laughed along with me as I over toasted the bread.

A special shout out to Dan and Karen from D’Avolio who made sure everything went smoothly and to my sister who unexpectedly popped in from out of town to assist me, photograph the event and made me an original apron.

Here are the links to our evenings menu.

Balsamic Fig Bruschetta With Goat Cheese


Grilled Zucchini Caprese Sandwich


Sautéed Sea Scallops over Arugula, Baby Spinach and Parsley


Fusilli With Tuna Tomato Sauce


Sautéed Bananas With Toasted Pecans and Grilled Angel Food Cake
Camera shy!

Have a yummy day!!



I’m A Foodie With An Olive Oil Problem


From the World English Dictionary: foodie or foody (‘fu : dI) – n, pl –ies: a person having an enthusiastic interest in the preparation and consumption of good food.

It started innocently enough, substituting Folgers by the pound, Prepared at home for the buying and sipping experience of Starbucks then later Tim Horton’s and Orange Cat. Then I would drive 35 miles to the Galleria to buy Madagascar vanilla at Williams Sonoma (trust me, it really does make a difference). Later, a mini-microplane (I have a medium one, too) allowed me to grate nutmeg (you know, the actual nut) into both sweet and savory dishes.

A few years ago I arrived in Southern California on my birthday and my dear friends took me to the Napa rose at the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland in Anaheim. We all had tastes of each other’s meal and shared a dish of lobster macaroni and cheese with truffle oil. It was difficult to share because it was one of the most wonderful things I have ever eaten. So good, in fact, that at the end of my conference I went back to the restaurant all by myself, ordered a crisp California Chardonnay, put my feet up on the fire pit (it is encouraged, actually) and ate another delectable dish of the best lobster mac and cheese ever. Period.

While I was there I took pictures of my food, and Tweeted about my few moments in culinary heaven. Upon returning home I ran into a long time friend, Dan Gagliardo, at Macri’s (they are all family) and he told me he was following my truffle oil adventure. He told me about a store which was going to sell high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Good luck with that, I thought! Who is going to go to a store just to buy olive oil? Of course, when a dear friend and neighbor told me about the Food Network I wondered who on earth would watch cooking shows all day. Looking back, I think that is when the whole foodie thing began to take shape. Before that I did not know what I did not know. I bought coffee by the pound, vanilla in a small brown bottle, nutmeg in a small tin and olive oil in a huge plastic bottle at Sam’s Club.

That was then.

The first time I went into D’Avolio’s in Lewiston I thought my head would spin off … so much oil and vinegar, so little time (and money!). But, after the first taste (on little bits of DiCamillo’s bread) I was done forever. The Tuscan Herb is my go-to oil and I use it on almost anything I cook with. I have even made oatmeal with bananas that are cooked in a little of this oil.

The 18-year Balsamic Vinegar is smooth, like butter. It finishes on your tongue like savory syrup but without that heavy feeling. Pair it with the Tuscan Herb whenever oil and vinegar is called for and you can never go wrong.

Once I used those items for a while I began going back and buying one thing. Perhaps fruit flavored oil like Blood Orange or Persian Lime or white balsamic vinegar like Honey Ginger or Grapefruit. Each has a distinct flavor and can be substituted in your favorite dishes. Be bold. Try new flavor combinations. If you hate it, order out!

If you get the chance to talk to Dan about his stores you will learn about his passion for health and quality ingredients. His excitement about the health benefits of olive oil make the mission of D’Avolio easy to understand. He has a devotion to his grandmother which embodies her visceral understanding about good ingredients. Mama D’Avolio knew olive oil was good 100 years before you could read about its benefits on WebMD.

Dan carries the family devotion forward. His three daughters are involved in the business which has grown from the store in Lewiston to one in Williamsville, Buffalo and East Amherst. He has many employees who love to share their passion for fine ingredients. Joey (a favorite non Gagliardo of mine) is a wonderful guide and daughter Tiffany wraps a mean package. I so admire someone who can tie a perfect bow.

So, was Danny crazy when he told me about opening up an oil and vinegar store? Perhaps a little but the success he has had by providing me with the finest ingredients I can find to prepare food for those I love makes me happy he took this chance.

Build it and they will come? Oh … people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.



Olive Oil Ice Cream, Seriously!


Do you remember last summer when I attempted sweet corn ice cream and it was an epic fail? It failed for several reasons. I think I overcooked the custard and I made a huge error stopping the churn to add the thick batter.

When you stop a churn there is no starting it again until the chamber melts because it is literally frozen solid. Last week I was at D’Avolio stocking up on some olive oil and vinegar and store assistant Karen and I brainstormed about fun ways to use their products.

She showed me a recipe online (linked here) and I decided to redeem myself. The first thing I did was decide on which olive oil flavor to use. The possibilities are endless but I finally choose blood orange extra virgin olive oil because I hoped it would taste like gelato, the single best thing I ate in Italy (and that’s saying something).


This recipe calls for whole milk, heavy cream, extra virgin olive oil, sugar, egg yokes and a dash of sea salt. I followed it religiously but can already think of ways to change it up.

I normally like smooth ice cream but bits of orange peel folded in at the end would be great with this oil.

I am going to make lemon next and add the candied lemon peel I made from the peels I used to make lemoncino (clever, no?).

20120611-192128.jpgTo begin the process you make the custard by heating the milk and tempering the eggs. This method assures you do not have scrambled eggs rather than smooth custard.

This part requires the most concentration and you have to enter the kitchen bubble to stay focused.

There are several secrets I can share with you.

First, you know when the milk is ready to temper the eggs (when you add a little very warm milk to the egg yokes to get them used to the heat) when you stick a clean finger into the milk and it feels very warm but not hot that it hurts.

Next, when you add the tempered yoke mixture into the pan, whisk vigorously.

Last, and this is most challenging for me, use low heat. With low heat you can see the mixture thicken before it boils.

Do not boil it because you change the chemistry and the ice cream will not freeze. You end up with pudding … not the goal. This can take 20 to 25 minutes of constant stirring so patience is truly a virtue.

After the custard is prepared you pour it through a mesh sieve into a bowl that contains the heavy cream.

The custard gets mixed with the cream and the olive oil is whisked in.

That’s it.

I put it in the refrigerator to chill overnight and churned it in the morning.


The mixture was thick but realitively easy to get the batter into the vessel without stopping it.

This recipe could be doubled because my ice cream maker can make up to a half gallon and this recipe froze to one quart.

That is a lot of time for one quart but … was it ever worth it!

This is the most delicious ice cream I have ever made.
To give you an idea of how good it is, since writing this column there are four spoons in the sink from tasting.

Give this one a try and let me know how it turns out.

Have a yummy week!


Grilled Turkey Sandwiches

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An Original Recipe by Jude Russo Caserta

One loaf flat Ciabatta Bread or 4 Kaiser Rolls

D’Avolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Garlic Clove

Slice bread or rolls in half and put under broiler until lightly toasted

Brush D’Avolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil and rub garlic over bread.

Layer turkey on bread and with slotted spoon, drain salsa and put on top.  Press down.  Slice bread in quarters.  Serves 4

Variation: layer slices of fresh mozzarella cheese on salsa

Mango & Orange Pepper Salsa

An Original Recipe by Jude Russo Caserta

5-6          Green Onions chopped about halfway up green

1              Orange Pepper, diced

1              Mango, diced

1              Large Tomato, seeded and diced

¼             Cup D’Avolio Grapefruit White Balsamic Vinegar

¼             Cup D’Avolio Blood Orange Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Mix all ingredients together and let sit at least two hours, stirring occasionally, before serving.

Grilled Turkey

An Original Recipe by Jude Russo Caserta

12-15 lb                Fresh Turkey

Seasoning mix:  Corse Salt, Fresh Ground Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic & Herb Seasoning

1/4 Cup                D’Avolio Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 Cloves               Garlic, smashed

Prepare charcoal grill for indirect heat.

Mix seasoning in small bowl.

Rinse and pat dry turkey. 

With hands, sprinkle some of seasoning mix into turkey leaving half for the outside.  Smash 4 of the garlic cloves and put inside the turkey.  Pour D’Avolio oil on turkey skin and rub well with hands getting over wings and down the sides.  Sprinkle remaining seasoning on turkey and rub in well.  Roast until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Remove turkey from grill and cover with foil.  Let cool and slice.  Makes lots and lots of servings.

Honey Ginger Chicken and Broccoletti Stir Fry


An original recipe by Jude Russo Caserta

1          Tbsp D’Avolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½         Onion, diced

2          Cloves Garlic. Minced

2          Boneless Skinless Split Chicken Breasts, chopped into thumb size pieces

1          Pound Broccoletti, rinsed, chopped into two inch pieces

½         Cup Water

In heavy skillet heat oil on medium heat; sauté onion until it begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes. 

Meanwhile, in large microwavable container, cook Broccoletti and ½ cup water on high until al dente (about 7-8 minutes).  Do not drain and set aside.

In skillet, add garlic and sauté for an additional 2 minutes.  Add chicken, spreading evenly in pan and let brown on one side (about 5 minutes) before turning each piece over and browning on other side.  Add Broccoletti with water into pan and stir.  Add sauce and bring to a bubble.  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium low heat until sauce is cooked and thick.

Sauce (Amounts are approximate – don’t measure – have fun!)

½         Cup Orange Marmalade

½         Cup Garlic Ginger Stir Fry Marinade

¼         Cup D’Avolio Honey Ginger White Balsamic Vinegar

1          Tbsp Corn Starch

½ – 1    Tsp Crushed Red Pepper (smashed in your palm) (amount to taste)

In medium glass bowl add first four ingredients and stir until corn starch is blended.  Add crushed red pepper and stir.

Serve with steamed brown rice and ENJOY!

Life is TASTES good!


Twitter: MidMajorMom

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