Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 Release

The leaves are on the streets and no longer on their branches. Thanksgiving plans are being discussed, recipes are being chosen and shopping lists are being drafted. It is that time of year when we are on the brink of the holiday season; and we cannot escape it. One thing that I always look forward to, which eases me into the holiday spirit, is the anxiously-awaited release of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine. The third Thursday of November marks the traditional release of this very popular young wine made from the Gamay grape of the Beaujolais region of France. This wine is released after a short fermentation period and bottled for the holiday season. This fresh red has fruity tones and a clean and dry finish. You will find this wine extremely easy to drink, especially when cooled slightly. Beaujolais Nouveau is the perfect wine to drink from Thanksgiving to New Years Day.

Beaujolais Nouveau 2011 will be released this Thursday, November 17th. There is no better way to celebrate this event than to head to Midtown Village in Center City for all things Beaujolais and all things French. From 5pm-8pm, Midtown Village bars, restaurants and retailers will be offering an array of tastings, menu specials and retail items honoring this special day. Barbuzzo will be featuring - Winemaker's Picnic charcuterie, cheese and Beaujolais. Head to El Vez for Beaujolais Sangria and Zavino for Sparkling Beaujolais Cocktails. Check out Midtown Village for more information on this exciting French evening. Be there and be sure to get a few bottles or a case (wink) of the 2011 Beaujolais Nouveau.


Meat Lovers Chili

Yesterday our lovely little block in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia had its own Chili Cook-Off. It was a lovely fall day, the perfect kind for cooking and eating chili. My husband and I both submitted chilis along with five other competitors on the block. This was my chance to recreate the chili recipe I made in 2008, when I won my mother-in-law's annual "Chili Bowl". On a regular basis, we prefer to make healthier chili recipes using ground turkey or lean beef but every now and then you have to pull out all the stops. I hold back nothing in this Meat Lovers Chili, giving you flavor sensations ranging from salty and sweet to smokey and spicy. Try this crowd-pleasing recipe for your next big gathering!

Lizzy M.'s Meat Lo
vers Chili


1/2 lb bacon, dic
ed (Dice bacon after it has been cooked and cooled.)
1/2 lb mild Italian sausage
1 lb. ground pork

1 lb. ground beef
(chuck or sirloin)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-16 oz. can crushed tomato
1 can tomato paste

1 bottle Chocolate Stout

1/8 cup m
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2-3 tbsp Adobo sauce
(Add 2 tbsp to start and add the third if you want more of a kick.)
2 chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, diced
2 yellow onions
, diced
4 cloves garlic, grated or minced

Spice Mixture

1/4 cup dark bro
wn sugar
3 tbsp cumin

3 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

*Combine these dry seasonings together to make your spice mixture. Divide into 3 portions. This will make it easy to add the spice "dumps" when it is time.


1. Saute the bacon in a large skillet on medium heat until the fat cooks out. Remove bacon onto paper towels and set aside. Keep a portion of bacon grease in the pan.

2. Remove Italian sausage from the skin and crumble into the skillet. Brown the sausage in the bacon grease and break up with a wooden spoon. Saute for about 7-10 minutes.

3. In a large chili pot over medium heat, brown the ground pork and ground beef. Salt and pepper the meat while breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Add 1/3 or the first "dump" of seasoning at this time. Saute until the spices are combined with the meat. At this time add the crushed tomatoes, chocolate stout, Adobo sauce and the chipotle peppers. Keep on medium heat covered.

4. Add cooked bacon and sausage to chili pot. In skillet saute onions in bacon and sausage drippings on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. Then add tomato paste to the skillet and saute until the paste is combined well with the onions. With a grater, grate in the garlic cloves. Stir well and saute for another 3 minutes. Finally add the vinegar. With a wooden spoon scrape up the bits and drippings on the pan and then cook for another 3 minutes.

5. Add the onion mixture into the chili pot and the second 1/3 "dump" of the spice mixture. Cook the chili on low heat covered for 3 hours stirring occasionally.

6. Remove from the heat after cooking for about 3 hours. Let the chili come to room temperature. Store chili in the fridge overnight.

7. Set the chili out to bring back to room temperature before putting over heat. Once it is at room temperature or close to it, then place on low to medium heat. At this time add the final 1/3 or third "dump" of the spice mixture and cook for at least 2 hours before serving.

Although I did not take home the bragging rights of a first place chili this time around, I came in at a close second with lots of happy tasters. Serve with tortilla chips and the toppings of your choice such as shredded cheese and sour cream. Dig in!


Philadelphia Marathon Eve Dinner Specials

As a new "runner", which I say loosely as I am nowhere near the ranks of those getting ready to run the Philadelphia Marathon next Sunday, November 20th, I am super excited that Phila Marathon has teamed up with local restaurants to offer pre-fixe dinner menus designed to get runners fueled for the big race. This is such a great concept especially knowing that so many will be traveling to our great city for the weekend.

Getting nervous for the 26.2 miles, then click on this link http://www.philadelphiamarathon.com/pasta-dinner-dine-and-explore to check out the many dining options you will have for Saturday night. Hopefully, imagining the delicious meals you could have the night before the race will help take your mind away from the enormity of it all. On this list, you have your pick of locations with some Center City, Old City and Fairmount restaurants. As a Fairmount resident, I must elaborate on the special offered at a local favorite - London Grill, located at the corner of 23rd Street and Fairmount Avenue. For $35, your "Night Before" Marathon Dinner starts with a cocktail or mocktail (your choice), Ribolita Soup, your choice of House Made Uova Raviol0, House Whole Wheat Fetticini or 'Best of Philly' Potato Pizza, and last but certainly not least, Dark Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle Cake.

The cocktail is called "Sweet Tart 'Drinking Vinegar' Soda". Vinegar has many health benefits, so why not create a healthy runner's cocktail out of it. Sounds a bit odd but I have faith in the skilled bartenders of London Grill to make a fabulous cocktail or mocktail. The appetizer of Ribolita Soup is a Tuscan bread soup packed with vegetables, beans, Tuscan kale, cabbage, tomatoes and herbs. After this vitamin-packed starter, you will be good and ready to continue loading on the carbs. It will be difficult to decide between these three entrees, each one with its own character and wow factor.

The first option, House Made Uova Raviol0, is filled with fresh ricotta cheese, Parmesan Reggiano and an egg served with brown butter and truffle. This dish will make all of that training and running worth it. House Whole Wheat Fetticini tossed with chicken, bread crumbs, goat cheese, pine nuts, herbs and extra virgin olive oil is your second entree choice, which will give you the perfect combination of carbs, protein and robust flavor. Finally, the 'Best of Philly' Potato Pizza is a thin crust pizza topped with sliced potatoes, Fontina cheese, Mozzarella, rosemary and truffle oil. With its 'Best of Philly' label, I really don't need to say much more. The only thing I will say is truffle oil. Sold!

While celebrating in the elation of courses one and two, the happiness will only continue with the finale of this marathoner's dream meal - a Dark Bittersweet Chocolate Souffle Cake. My only advice is to make reservations now and reserve for early in the evening to allow for plenty of time to digest before getting a good night's sleep. I am hoping it is not required to be a marathon registrant to get this deal because I am ready for London Grill's "Night Before" Marathon Dinner this Saturday. Or in my case, "Night Before" Sunday Dinner.


Apple-Cranberry Baked Brie

Last weekend I had the pleasure of co-hosting with my husband a Halloween Housewarming gathering. The gathering was lovely despite the rain, sleet and snow from a much too soon Nor'easter. The menu, my favorite aspect to any gathering, was in the works for quite some time. Inspiration came from an annual gift from my parents, our New Orleans Calendar. What makes this calendar so wonderful is that it not only shows a beautiful scene from my favorite city each month but it also has a recipe to along with it. September's recipe for Autumn Brie was the most intriguing yet. Ever since catching a glimpse of that recipe, I knew it would be the perfect addition for the Halloween Housewarming.

When shopping for the party, inevitably there were a few ingredients that I could not locate or did not have the time to locate. I decided I would just wing it and make my recipes work with a few substitutes and some creativity. The original recipe called for apple cider but instead I used a crisp white wine in its place. I also replaced the golden raisins with dried cranberries. To make up for the lack of sweetness, I just used more brown sugar than the recipe called for. In cooking, a hobby that I adore, there is nothing more gratifying than creating a new recipe that is a hit with your friends or family. I never tried the original recipe but I am sure it is just as good as my interpretation. I highly suggest giving this heavenly recipe for Apple-Cranberry Baked Brie a try for your next gathering. Serve this hot and bubbly with fresh baked bread such as a buttery Challah or a simple baguette. As soon as your guests taste this, thoughts of icy, frigid weather will melt away.


(1) 4" Round Wheel of Brie Cheese
1-1/2 cups dry white wine such as a Pinot Grigio
1 Red Delicious apple, sliced thin into bite size triangles
(2) 2 oz. snack size boxes of Dried Cranberries
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, divided into two
Pinch of salt


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large circular baking dish, place the Brie wheel in the center. Allow to sit at room temperature for up to one hour before cooking.

2. In a saucepan, combine white wine, apples, dried cranberries, and a 1/4 cup of the dark brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes or until apples are slightly tender.

3. Set saucepan aside to cool down for about 5 minutes. Drain off only half of the liquid from the saucepan. Then pour apple-cranberry mixture over the Brie wheel. Arrange some fruit on top of the Brie as well as around the Brie for a beautiful presentation. Sprinkle the remaining dark brown sugar and another tiny pinch of salt all over the Brie and fruit mixture. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

4. Serve with hot bread or crackers and enjoy!

My guests and I loved this recipe so much that I cannot wait to make it again. I have faith that you will feel this way and be making Apple-Cranberry Baked Brie for your friends and family again and again. The weather might be getting colder but the bright side to that news is all of the warm and delightfully scrumptious recipes that you can savor this season. Get in the kitchen with your loved ones and a glass of red wine or a cup of steamy cider and get cooking.
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