A Tasty Trip

Published on Wednesday, 7 August 2013 16:50 - Written by



When you think about summer vacation seaside resorts or road trips with the family might come to mind. But many experience limited time off and even more limited budgets that keep dream vacations out of reach. They sit in the back of our mind as just that – a dream that someday might come true.

When remembering vacations of the past some of the first things that come to mind are the food we tried and the wonderful flavors associated with that region.

As summer winds down and vacation season comes to an end, there is still an opportunity to give yourself a break with a mini ‘stay-cation’ you create in your own kitchen. Enjoy favorite recipes from far away places and transport yourself to your favorite scenic locale with iconic foods from across the U.S. and around the world.

Travel the world in one weekend by recreating some of your favorite vacation foods in your own backyard. Whether it’s wine and cheese in a park near the Eiffel Tower or dinner overlooking a vineyard in Napa, your imagination is the scenery and the food your inspiration.

Wine Trail Dinner in Napa Valley

This recipe was inspired by the menu at Gott Roadside in Napa Valley, and wine-inspired recipes from Cakebread Cellars. Created by winemaker Joel Gott, Gott Roadside is a favorite Napa Valley roadside eatery that features casual Napa Valley fare such as gourmet burgers, crispy Ahi tuna tacos and delicious garlic fries.

Just a few miles down the road you’ll find Cakebread Cellars where a culinary team has created amazing recipes that perfectly complement the award-winning Cakebread wines. Go to gotts.com and www.cakebread.com/recipes for more information and additional recipes.

Grilled Lamb Chops with a Cherry-Cabernet Balsamic Reduction & Garlic-Rosemary Fries


3 lamb chops per person

steak seasoning

1/4 pound cherries, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

2 large russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into thick fries

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

1/2 teaspoon each of sea salt & cracked black pepper

oil, for frying


Rub the lamb chops with steak seasoning and set aside to marinate. Combine the cherries, wine and vinegar in a pan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let reduce by half and thicken. Should take about 20 minutes. Strain the mixture and discard the cherry pieces. (Press as much liquid as possible out of the cherry pieces while straining.) Place the rosemary leaves, garlic, salt and pepper on a cutting board. Chop together into fine pieces until the mixture is a crumbly consistency. Set aside. Heat grill to high and grill the lamb chops about 4 minutes per side to medium rare. Remove from the grill and cover with foil to keep warm and let rest. Heat oil in a stockpot to 300 degrees and fry potatoes until crisp. Remove the fries from the fryer into a large bowl with the rosemary mixture. While they are still hot, toss the fries with the rosemary mixture. Place the fries on the plate and top with the lamb chops. Drizzle the sauce around the chops and potatoes and serve.

Paella Party in Spain

Often made outdoors on an open fire, hot rocks or charcoal grill, paella is the most traditional dish of Spain. However, depending where you are in the country the opinions about what goes into paella vary widely.

The only true traditional ingredients are Spanish olive oil, saffron and rice. All other ingredients depend on what is readily available in your area and the vegetables, meat and seafood that are in season.

Typical ingredients include shrimp, clams, mussels, bone-in chicken pieces, chorizo, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and peas.

Another Spanish technique used in this recipe is sofrito. Meaning lightly fried, sofrito is a basic preparation widely used in Spanish cooking. Every sofrito is made with onions, garlic or both; many also include tomatoes, red or green bell peppers, parsley and chopped ham or sausage. Some varieties are thickened with ground almonds, chopped, hard-boiled egg yolks or breadcrumbs. The ingredients are chopped fine and sautéed in olive oil.

Enjoy your paella with some Spanish wine such as Tempranillo, Garnacha or the native drink of the southern Spanish province of Andalusia – Sangria. Authentic recipes for sangria contain lemon, orange and apple slices, sugar, red wine, brandy and soda water.



1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Spanish chorizo sausages, sliced & quartered

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 bell pepper, diced

1 bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish

1 large tomato, seeded and chopped

4 cups long grain rice

6 cups water, warm

Generous pinch saffron threads

1 dozen clams or mussels, scrubbed

1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1/2 cup peas, thawed

Lemon wedges, for serving


Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from pan and reserve. In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, bell pepper and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains. Pour in water and simmer Add saffron, chicken and chorizo and let simmer for about 20 minutes, covered with foil. Check water level occasionally. Add the clams or mussels, tucking them into the rice. Let simmer until the rice is al dente, adding more water if necessary, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add peas and parsley and let rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges.

A Romantic Evening in Capri, Italy

Take the short boat ride from Sorrento or Naples to the island of Capri. Where the water is crystal clear and as blue as the sky. No matter the time of year, the scent of flowers and lemons waft through the air. The cuisine is inspired by whatever is fresh in the market and the wine comes from either Sicily or vineyards near Mt. Vesuvius in the Campania region of Italy.

The wine featured in the photo is from Sicily and is made from the Grillo grape. It’s a variety that was once widely grown on bush-vines and used in the production of Marsala, the island’s famous fortified wine. The variety is still extensively grown on Sicily, despite the decreased demand for Marsala. It is now more common to find Grillo produced as a varietal wine. At its best, Grillo shows a range of citrus flavors, usually led by lemon. Poggio Anima Uriel Grillo 2011 is available at FRESH by Brookshire’s.

Spaghetti al Limone Caprese-Style


½ pound fettucini

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 shallot, minced

1/4 cup pinenuts

1/4 cup white wine

2 lemons, juiced & zested

2 tablespoons cream

1/4 cup parmesan, grated

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/4 cup mozzarella, cubed

8 to 10 torn basil leaves

lemon slices, for garnish


Boil water for pasta. While pasta is cooking heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Add the olive oil, shallot and pinenuts and sauté until shallots are soft and pinenuts begin to toast. Add the wine and lemon juice to deglaze the pan. Add the zest and cream and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat. Using tongs add the fettucini to the sauté pan. Add the parmesan and toss the pasta in the pan to coat completely with the sauce and cheese. Add the tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. Serve immediately with lemon slices and more parmesan for garnish.

Dockside Dinner in New England

This recipe comes from my mother’s side of the family from cousins who lived in Maryland and on Long Island in New York. All of the wonderful seafood that we ate when visiting up North was a fond childhood memory.

Because this recipe is big on crab and light on breading it is best to bake the cakes and not risk trying to flip them in a pan. Use only enough breadcrumbs to hold the cake together.

Crab Cakes


1 egg

¼ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dry mustard

½ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon old bay seasoning

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

Panko bread crumbs, just enough to hold cakes together

8 ounces of lump crabmeat


Whisk together all ingredients, except crabmeat and panko in a large bowl. Gently fold in crabmeat and a small amount of breadcrumbs. Combine gently so that you do not break up the crabmeat. Continue to add more bread crumbs until you can form the mixture into loose patties. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes or until tops are golden.

Lunch in the Tropics: Pineapple Shrimp Salad with Pineapple-Kiwi Vinaigrette


For the Shrimp Salad:

1 pound large shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined

1 cup orange juice

1/2 cup lime juice

2 cups water

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 pineapple

1 mango, diced

1 avocado, diced

1 tomato, seeded and diced

1 kiwi, 1/2 diced, ½ reserved for dressing

1 fresno or red jalepeno pepper

2 tablespoons minced cilantro

1/4 cup lime juice

salt and black pepper

4 romaine leaves, shredded

For the Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup pineapple juice

1/2 kiwi

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce

1 teaspoon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 cup canola oil

salt and pepper, to taste


Place the shrimp, orange juice, lime juice, water, chili powder, salt and pepper in a saucepot. Bring to a simmer and cook shrimp until they are pink and curled. Remove the shrimp and refrigerate to cool completely. Carefully cut the pineapple in half from top to bottom. Using a small pairing knife or a grapefruit knife cut around the inside of the pineapple to extract the core and the fruit. Discard the core and dice remaining fruit into small pieces. Place the pineapple shells in the refrigerator until ready to use. Place the diced pineapple in a bowl and add the diced mango, avocado, tomato, kiwi, fresno pepper, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow flavors to combine. Make the dressing. Add the shredded romaine leaves to each pineapple shell. Top the lettuce a large spoonful of the pineapple-mango salsa and then top with the shrimp. To make the vinaigrette, Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until combined. Drizzle over the top of the shrimp salad and serve.

Sweet Treat while Shopping in New York City

Located near Bloomindale’s in New York City, Serendipity 3 opened in 1954 and for 50 years the recipe for their frozen hot chocolate was closely guarded. In 2004, in honor of their 50th year, the owner, Stephen Bruce released the recipe. He had this to say about the famous drink.

“It was such a closely kept secret that not even the White House could gain access to it. Jackie Kennedy once requested the recipe so that it could be served at a gala evening at the While House. I offered to travel to Washington to make it myself, but when my security clearance didn't come through in time, I refused to hand over the secret formula — not even to the First Lady herself!

When customers asked how it was made, we would respond that we had a Rube Goldberg machine churning it out in the back — a hodgepodge of arms, wheels, gears, handles, paddles, and even canaries in cages working in concert to concoct the magic elixir. We would never let on that it was as simple as a blender and some magnificent chocolate.

And now, to thank our customers for fifty great years, we've finally decided to share the secret recipe with the world. For truly authentic Serendipity taste, throw a sprinkle of magic in the mix. For this and all the frozen drinks that follow, the recipe yields one gigantic Serendipity-sized serving, which is perfect for sharing.”

Note: Serendipity Hot Chocolate Mix can be found at Sweet Gourmet in the Tyler French Quarter shopping center. 4554 South Broadway, 903-534-0840.

Serendipity Frozen Hot Chocolate


6 half-ounce pieces of a variety of your favorite chocolates

2 teaspoons store bought hot chocolate mix

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 cups milk

3 cups ice

Whipped cream

Chocolate shavings


Chop the chocolate into small pieces and place it in the top of a double boiler over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted. Add the cocoa and sugar, stirring constantly until thoroughly blended. Remove from heat and slowly add 1/2 cup of the milk and stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature. In a blender place the remaining cup of milk, the room temperature chocolate mixture, and the ice. Blend on high speed until smooth and the consistency of a frozen daiquiri. Pour into a giant goblet and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. Enjoy with a spoon or a straw. . . .or both!

Recipe from Serendipity 3, New York City

Picnic in Paris

A picnic spread in the park with a view of the Eiffel Tower is an iconic Parisian scene. Of course a French baguette, Brie and pate need to be present. Add a bottle of wine, fresh fruit or other French classics like mesclun or endive salad, vinaigrette, cornichons and Roquefort, the French version of blue cheese, and you can almost hear La Vie en Rose playing in the background as you lie on a blanket and stare at the wide blue sky.

Salad of Endive, Bacon and Roquefort


1 cup chopped raw bacon

4 ounces of curly endive, washed dried & torn into bite size pieces

1 cup Roquefort cheese, crumbled

Several tablespoons classic vinaigrette

Sea salt, to taste

Fresh ground black pepper


Place the bacon in a skillet and cook, stirring frequently, over medium high heat just until it begins to give off its fat and start to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large salad bowl, combine the curly endive and cheese. Set aside. When the bacon is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pan. Scatter the bacon over the salad, and toss to mix well. Add enough vinaigrette to evenly coat the ingredients. Toss again, season with sea salt and black pepper to taste, and serve. 2 main course servings or 4 first course servings.

Recipe from Patricia Wells, “The Paris Cookbook”

Classic French Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Fine sea salt to taste

1/2 to 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


Combine vinegars in a jar along with the salt. Cover and shake to dissolve the salt. Add the oil and shake again. More or less oil can be used depending on how prominent you would like the vinegar flavor to be. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Recipe adapted from Patricia Wells, “The Paris Cookbook”