I totally love sushi! Beautiful colorful sushi rolls, the variety of fresh fish, and the artistic presentation most definitely put sushi making into the art category. Having never attempted to making sushi myself, last week I had the opportunity to take a Sushi making class- part of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Get Creative program.
My first roll ever! Ahhh!
The talented Chef Aaron Hoover led the class by demonstrating and explaining each step. I attended with my food blogger friend Tasha from The Food Tasters Pittsburgh. We started with the sushi, the rice.
So sushi rice, a Japanese rice, is cooked, then mixed with a heated vinegar- sugar -salt mixture. The mixture is added while the rice is being fanned to cool it down to create a shiny rice.
We each had our own stations set-up and prepped with cutting boards, knives, sushi must-haves (pickled ginger, soy sauce, wasabi), and mixing bowls with bright vegetables and fish to add to our sushi rolls.
We chopped a few of the vegetables with Chef Aaron’s instruction. It’s always really cool to see how a pro chef chops a bell pepper. Bonus! You don’t even need to pick out the seeds his way. Just chop the sides of the pepper on the indents leaving the top, all of the seeds, and fleshy middle in tact as the waste. Voila! Awesome!
We made various types of sushi, maki, futomaki, temaki, nigiri, and gunkan sushi. A bamboo rolling mat was provided and we got to take it home!
Inside Out Rolls look so beautiful! Especially with the addition of some black sesame seeds.
I know super fancy, right?
Cones – Temaki Sushi
We even learned how to prepare miso soup! By including stories of Japanese culture, explaining Japanese cooking ingredients, and making the sushi class fun, Chef Aaron was a great instructor. I loved this class and can’t wait to explore other new genres of cooking! Cajun, Creole, and Chinese to name a few! We ate and took home a ton of sushi, recipes, and instructions!
The best part for me…we didn’t have to clean up! HA! Just cook and take your sushi home, leaving the mess.
Other offerings include photography, art, and fashion!
Check out The Art Institute of Pittsburgh’s Get Creative program!
Does your city offer these “creative” classes? I would love to hear about it!
I was invited to attend the Art Institute’s Get Creative Sushi Class free of charge. All thoughts in this article are my own. You know me- If I don’t have anything nice to say, I don’t say anything at all.
Zillow, America’s most popular real estate site, is casting a spotlight on Pittsburgh in an upcoming city roundup!
The city roundups help Zillow readers make informed moving decisions! The city’s arts, sports, entertainment and dining options all factor into relocation decisions. Yes, the food! That’s where I come in!
Maybe one day…
Here is Zillow’s Helpful Post for us on Kitchen Organiztion Ideas!!
10 Organizational Ideas For Your Kitchen!!
By Tali Wee of Zillow
Residents and houseguests naturally gravitate toward the kitchen, making it one of the highest-traffic living spaces in homes. As the heart of the home, the kitchen needs welcoming design but also requires a significant amount of organization for functionality.
Here are 10 simple ways to declutter kitchens, free up workspace and install systematic organization for easier, more organized food preparation.
1. Containers Purchase inexpensive mason jars to store prepackaged foods, reducing bulkiness and transitioning into aesthetically-pleasing, consistently-sized containers. Mason jars are fashion-forward, timeless and seal freshness. If jars aren’t preferred, opt for containers with wide, easy-to-clean openings. Additionally, contain colorful fruits and veggies in a single basket for tidy countertop display.
2. Stackable Kitchenware Invest in a single brand of kitchenware designed to nest graduating sizes to save space. Stack mixing bowls, casserole dishes, plates, mugs and measuring cups/spoons. Always buy one brand of disposable travel containers for simple stacking and quick lid matching.
3. Kitchen Islands Splurge on a kitchen island to increase workspace and additional storage. Some islands include open shelving for fruit baskets, pots and trays. Alternatively, islands with cabinets create discrete space for lesser-used kitchen necessities such as a stand mixer, food processor and mandolin.
4. Hooks Use available vertical space by adding hooks for dish towels, aprons, gloves, cooking spoons, spatulas and tongs. Install an accessible rack with numerous S-hooks for handy utensils and reduced clutter in drawers. Screw in smaller hooks to the underside of cabinets and shelves to hag mugs, optimizing cupboard and counter space.
5. Dividers Purchase drawer dividers to keep kitchen tools separated, especially in deep drawers where untensils tangle. Dividers are ideal for orderly spices and silverware. When premade dividers don’t fit, build wood sorters into drawers. Create vertical dividers in kitchen cabinets for storing cookie sheets, griddles, cutting boards and pot lids with ease and minimal space usage.
6. Pull-Out Shelving
Deep cabinets are great for surplus storage but tough to access. Replace fixed shelves with sliding, pull-out shelves to reach the items in the back without shuffling the organization in front. Beyond shelves, squeeze pull-out cabinets into tight kitchen spaces where traditional cabinets do not fit. Narrow pull-outs are perfect for spice displays and vertical storage. Blind corner cabinets with revolving shelves or pull-outs make great use of vacant space.
7. Wall and Door Mounts Clear counters by mounting racks on walls and the backs of panty doors. Suggested racks include can shelving, snack pockets and pot lid organizers. Install magnetic strips to forgo bulky knife blocks and hanging racks for paper towels.
8. Pot Racks Hanging pot racks were popular years ago, but clutter preferably open layouts. Instead, mount a pot rack or rod on an accessible wall and hook pots with S-hooks. Pot racks on walls are less cluttered and more organized.
9. Trays Avoid disorderly counters and cabinets by sorting loose items on trays. Include countertop trays of cooking oils and common seasonings in fashionable containers. Create a tray for tea, sugar, honey and mixing spoons just inside the cabinet. Add a sturdy tray under the sink for cleansers, gloves and dishwashing liquid.
10. Digital Cookbooks Lastly, purchase electronic cookbooks and transfer favorite recipes onto tablets or mobile devices. Attach a tablet mount to the wall or inside a cabinet at eye level, keeping electronics distant from liquids but easily legible. Haul cookbooks out of the limited kitchen space and display on a book cabinet elsewhere, or store in water-safe containers in the attic or garage.
Kitchens are typically the most expensive rooms to remodel, due to costly appliances, cabinets, countertops and chic finishes. Whether making upgrades for personal use or increased resale values, focus on these 10 tips for improved kitchen functionality and greater home shopper appeal when compared to other Pittsburgh homes on the market.
I would never change my cookbook stash!!! I love a real cookbook in my hands!
Follow Zillow and watch for the Pittsburgh feature! I will share it, too!
Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (PRW) brings the ‘Burbs to the ‘Burgh! Seriously, what an amazing excuse to trek to the city for course meals at Pittsburgh’s best Restaurants priced from $20.14- $35.14? You still have Friday and Saturday, and you can still snag reservations at Altius, Bigham Tavern, and Pino’s, to name a few!
I had the opportunity to attend the Pittsburgh Food Bloggers dinner at Tamari Lawrenceville Tuesday night! Great meeting Pittsburgh’s foodies! I met the fabulous Brian McCollum, PRW’s founder and organizer. Great idea, Brian! Also a great idea? Tamari’s Jalapeno Margarita! I highly recommend trying this unique, refreshing summertime drink!
Here is the Pittsburgh Restaurant Week link:
Matteo’s Lawrenceville Wednesday night was perfect! Yes, Everything was perfect!
I do not eat Italian food out, so I figured we would have a pretty good meal, fun to be out on a Wednesday, when in Rome, right? Nope! Perfectly al dente, beautiful textures and tastes, homemade tiramisu…
Here are a few photos! (The Matteo’s experience is getting its own blog post after I visit again! Stay tuned!)
Enjoy, Pittsburgh Restaurant Week!
3615 Butler Street
3519 Butler Street
It is hard to miss the small crowd gathering on the sidewalk as the oysters are being shucked at 2106 Penn Ave in the Strip District. Open garage doors, a long fully stocked bar, undersea cartoons painted on the walls, and warm inviting smiles make Luke Wholey’s restaurant almost impossible to walk by without a little taste.
An avid adventurer and fisherman, Luke Wholey’s dreams exceeded sales and prep work at the family’s Strip District grocery store, Wholey’s. After working on a commercial salmon fishing boat in Alaska, Luke found himself behind a large grill in front of the family grocery store grilling fresh fish for Pittsburgh. As his skills as a chef outgrew the outdoor grill, Luke leased a great spot and Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grille was born.
After a short meeting with Luke, I knew his restaurant would be the perfect fish week finale! He catches and prepares the freshest seafood in very unique ways. Wild Bill from The Deadliest Catch has frequented the restaurant this summer! The best part is that Luke loves explaining what you are eating, where is comes from, and why he prepares it the way he does. Let’s face it, when it comes to fish, I need solid explanations from an expert
Luke chose one of his favorites, a yellowtail collar appetizer as the first bite. I never would have ordered this on a menu myself!
My party ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna, the Thai Chili Catfish Bites, and the Lobster Bisque French Fries to start!
The entrees we shared were the Shrimp Volcano, the Crab Stuffed Sockeye Salmon, and the always comfortable Fish ‘N Chips with added fried shrimp and scallops!
The salmon dish was a beautiful bright color. Luke explained that the bright red flesh color is indicative of the sockeye salmon variety. The adult spawner sockeyes turn a bright red color when migrating.
The Shrimp Volcano as well as the lobster bisque french fries featured the reataurant’s lobster bisque. Delicious, dark, and dippable, the soup did not disappoint!
For dessert, Luke Wholey’s Alaskan Grille serves A.Ward’s cheesecakes! A favorite of one of Pittsburgh’s favorites, Christina Aguilera! I was lucky enough to have one of A.Wards limoncello cheesecakes for my birthday this year! Also my favorite!
Visit Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille! Prepare to learn something about fish and be wowed by the food! Enjoy!
Luke Wholey’s Wild Alaskan Grille
2106 Penn Ave. in the Strip
Hola! We have just returned home from Riviera Maya, Mexico’s Ocean Coral and Turquesa H10 Resort and Spa in Puerto Morelos! Wow!
What an awesome trip! Great company, fabulous weather, and amazing authentic food!! Don’t let anyone tell you not to travel to Mexico because it is unsafe, you will get sick, or the food is bland. All not true, IF you spring for a great resort!
Kevin and I vacationed in Mexico 10 years ago and we were in the bathroom the ENTIRE trip, but we paid $600 each for the whole week all- inclusive with flights. Oops! We learned a valuable lesson on that trip and we laugh about it now!
One afternoon I had the pleasure of assisting the chefs who were making authentic Mexican guacamole! Here is the recipe!
Makes 12 servings
6 Avocados- called aguacate in Mexico
3 Lemons, limon
4 Tomatoes, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small Chile habanero- pepper
1 cup chopped Cilantro
1 cup pico de gallo
1/4 cup beer, Cervesa in Mexico
Salt and pepper- to taste
Scoop out avocado and add to a large mixing bowl by cutting in half and pitting.
(Save avocado skins and pits.)
Add chopped tomatoes, onions, and cilantro.
Add pico de gallo.
Squeeze the lemons halved into bowl.
Mix well, smashing and smushing avocado.
Add pico de gallo.
Add finely chopped chile or habanero pepper.
(Shave some lemon flesh from a squeezed lemon onto chopped pepper to mute the heat.)
Add beer and salt and pepper a few splashes/pinches at a time to taste.(The chef’s “perfect consistency” was a bit runnier than I am used to. The addition of the beer maybe?)
Mexican Guacamole Secrets Shhhhh…
1. Keep the pit and leave it in the bowl. It keeps the avocado from browning.
2. Keep the avocado shell/skins to use as cute serving pieces. They are the perfect size for guests to fill with chips or a scoop of guacamole!
3. Mexican chefs keep gum readily available to chew while chopping onions. No tears!
4. In Mexico, their limons are our lemons. Small but green and sweeter. Mexican limes are much bigger and more tart. The chefs I worked with only used the small ones for the guacamole, equivalent to American lemons.
5. Mexican chefs? sip tequila on the rocks not in drinks. (Not sure what this had to do with making guacamole, I forget.)
The number 13 is lucky in Italy! And Italians believe Friday the 13th is a great day to begin something new and try your luck! Perhaps the perfect day for gambling or even starting a new business venture!
In North America, we try to ward off the evil spirits associated with the spooky, bad luck driven day. A best bet food to eat… Rosemary! Eat foods cooked with Rosemary for good luck! The plant’s powers are even stronger if the plant is a gift!
Although Italy is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, it’s superstitions run deep and through generations! Here are a few:
Never toast with water. (duh)
Never pour wine with your left hand.
Never keep peacock feathers in your home- the devil’s watchful eye. (Evil eye superstitions are huge in Italy, called Malocchio)
Never set shoes on a bed or counter.
Good luck today! If you still aren’t buying it, cook with rosemary!
The boho chic Coachella style channels a modern Woodstock vibe with cutoff jean shorts, crop tops, floral and braided headbands. For those of you who don’t know, the Coachella Music and Art Festival is held annually in Indo, CA, and consists of two weekend-long concert line ups! Celebrities flock to the hip collision of music, art and food!!
Ok, What about the food? Well, I hope you aren’t thinking all hotdogs, hamburgers and funnel cake! Coachella food style is also chic, and like the fashion, trend-setting. “Foodie heaven” is the term used by the LA Times. The food vendors cover everything from vegan, kosher and gluten free to pop-up restaurant fare, fine dining and international staples.
The Coachella food trend we will see on hip and trendy dining menus are Arepas! Eaten daily in South American cuisine, arepas are a flat bread made with ground corn flour and are eaten as bread or stuffed with cheese, avocado, jelly or jam. The Coachella favorite? An arepa stuffed with mozzarella and grilled…a Venezuelan grilled cheese!
Arepas are already finding their place on high end restaurant menus in San Francisco, New Orleans and New York City! Bobby Flay likes his stuffed with octopus and lobster salad! Ok, let’s start simple.
Here is an arepa recipe adapted from Tyler Florence’s Food network recipe! I like this one because it is simple with only 4 ingredients and other than being lightly browned in a pan, the Arepas are baked!
Coachella Mozzarella Arepas
1-1/2 cups Arepa flour (Precooked corn flour found in Latin American grocery stores or sub white cornmeal)
1-1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. olive oil, for pan when cooking
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix flour and salt in a mixing bowl.
Slowly add water and tsp. oil and mix until dough forms.
Cover and let rest for 5 minutes.
Remove dough and knead, make sure the surface and your hands are moist with water.
The dough should be moist and easily malleable, but not sticky.
Separate dough into 4 balls.
Form flat round cakes 3-4 inches in diameter and 3/4 inch thick.
Add oil to the pan on medium heat and lightly brown both sides.
Place Arepas on a foil lined cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes or “until they make a hollow sound when tapped.”
Slice in half or cut a slit in one side and stuff with mozzarella while hot!
Meet the baker! Enrico Biscotti’s own Jonathan Polley! A 28-year-old husband and father, Jonathan stumbled upon a job that has become his true passion in life.
Not really sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but technically an Economics major, Jonathan started his career at Enrico Biscotti as a dish washer.
Under the instruction of the great Larry Lagattuta, Enrico Biscotti’s proprietor, Jonathan has developed a love for mixing dough and found his calling as a baker.
He became immersed in an apprenticeship over the past six years centering on his desire to learn, quest for perfection, and a dedication to see the company grow and flourish. I was and am so impressed by his confidence and knowledge.
Jonathan never skipped a beat while slicing fresh mozzarella and roma tomatoes as I endlessly questioned him about Erico’s history, his boss, his development as a baker, his future goals, and of course his personal life!
The story of how Enrico Biscotti came to be is no fairy tale but a twist of fate for a man who had a love for baking. Jonathan explained how Larry Lagattuta switched from the corporate world to the baking world. It is no wonder that Larry sees the potential in employees like Jonathan and a few others I met like him, Adam and Ryan for sure. Larry teaches them his art, his process. He let’s them mess up and come into their own, to become great.
The second time I caught up with Jonathan it was 5am on a Saturday morning for bread making. Jonathan was in his element, I saw something glowing in him that day.
Effortlessly, he mixed the dough, explained the humidity challenges of a baker, rolled out perfect loaves atop a cornmeal lined table, and raved about the brick exposed wood-fired oven. The bread is baked the morning after the oven was used and is still very hot!
As I opened the door to the café, where 1500lbs. of flour is mixed and transformed each week, I smelled and saw the enormous freshly baked scones! Ryan was adding a beautiful finishing drizzle. Enrico’s pastries are gorgeously presented and super huge!!!
Biscotti translated means “twice baked cookie” and it is the obvious top seller. Jonathan says the macaroons are a close second, but everything is delicious!
Enrico Biscotti offers both first and last Friday dinners and Bread making class with Larry one Sunday per month!
Using the freshest ingredients, and Larry’s grandmother’s recipe, Enrico Biscotti is built on a biscotti but held together with the love and passion of its people!
I wish Larry, Jonathan and the Enrico Biscotti family the best as the company prepares for its near future production facility expansion. I can’t wait to hear what’s next!
To schedule first/ last Friday dinners or to enroll in a bread class head to www.enricobiscotti.com
2022 Penn Ave. Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Hot right now for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between, are the quickly trending gourmet toasts! Chefs are getting extremely inventive with a new spin on what was mainly a traditional totally boring breakfast staple.
Consider it the melting pot of appetizer and small plate chic, you cannot go wrong with a meal on a piece of toast. Call it portion control! For breakfast, indulge in almond butter on top of toasted whole grain bread smothered in bananas, a drizzle of maple syrup and a sprinkle of coarse salt!
Julia Turshen, chef and coauthor of Gwyneth Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” cookbook shared her faves in People magazine’s April 28 issue!
Toast country bread
Spread blue cheese
Top with celery
Drizzle with hot sauce
Toast country bread
Rub with garlic and a halved
Add slices of Manchego cheese
Top with a slice of prosciutto
Serve toasts as an appetizer or small plates for dinner while entertaining. Have kids? There are so many endless ideas with Nutella, peanut butter, almond butter, veggies, raisins, etc. Maybe even cookie cutter the bread into cool themes or seasonal shapes!!
Pittsburgh’s own Prantl’s Bakery’s Burnt Almond Torte has been named “The Greatest Cake America Has Ever Made” today by Huffington Post! I spoke with co-owner Lara Bruhn at Prantl’s downtown store located in Market Square!! She was absolutely beaming amidst the super sweet news!
A Pittsburgh institution for over 40 years, Prantl’s flagship bakery in Shadyside has been a bakery for over 100 years!
A traditional German bakery, they can’t help but get excited about their new offerings like the most buttery, light and fluffy croissant you have ever put in your mouth!
Don’t live in Pittsburgh? No plans to visit? No problem!
Prantl’s will ship their famous Burnt Almond Torte!!