17 Aug 2017

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12 Crowd-Pleasing Recipes with Cheese

This post is brought to you in partnership with Frigo® Cheese.

Friends, let us never underestimate the transformative power of cheese.

Even just a sprinkle of Parmesan or a crumble of feta can transform an otherwise simple dinner into something truly special.

Continue reading "12 Crowd-Pleasing Recipes with Cheese" »

17 Aug 2017 4:29pm GMT

16 Aug 2017

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Quick Green Curry Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

Quick Green Curry Chicken with Zucchini Noodles

This green curry chicken dish is one of my favorite things to cook on a weeknight. It comes together so fast and it is packed with vegetables!

Continue reading "Quick Green Curry Chicken with Zucchini Noodles" »

16 Aug 2017 4:30pm GMT

15 Aug 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Peach Nectarine Butter Recipe

I can't help it. I love to experiment with recipes. But when it comes to canning, experimentation is not always a good idea. For safety sake, my canning recipes are usually just very minimal tweaks to recipes that I trust. When my second batch of fruit from Washington State Stone Fruit arrived last week I made low sugar nectarine preserves from one of my pal Sean Timberlake's recipes. Sean is the brains behind the do-it-yourself site Punk Domestics and a canning expert. I also made a combination peach and nectarine butter from another recipe I'd used in the past.

I'm always eager for opportunities to adapt recipes and put my own spin on them and when it came to these recipes I was inspired to use some samples of bitters and an amaro from Greenbar Distillery. While it's typical to use them in cocktails, I asked Sean about the safety of using these ingredients as well as a bit of spice in canning. Here's what he said, "Adding a small amount of alcohol or spices should not significantly impact the total acidity in a preserve of high-pH fruit (such as peaches and cherries). If desired, add a little ReaLemon (5% acidity citric solution) to offset it."

With Sean's reassurance, I used a tablespoon of Grand Poppy amaro in the nectarine preserves, and just a teaspoon of saffron bitters in the fruit butter. You don't really taste it in either, but it adds lovely aromatic properties. With the preserves recipe I didn't use any liquid with the nectarines because some of the fruit was very juicy. If you're wondering about Grand Poppy, it's an amaro that's bittersweet and includes California poppy, orange, lemon, grapefruit, bearberry, California bay leaf, pink peppercorn, dandelion, blessed thistle, burdock, rue, artichoke, gentian, geranium, cherry bark and a bit of cane sugar.

Peach Nectarine Butter, adapted from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving
Makes 6 1/2 pint jars

Ingredients

10 cups of coarsely chopped and pitted peaches and nectarines, no need to peel
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups sugar
1-2 teaspoons Greenbar saffron bitters

Instructions

Place the peaches and nectarines in a large pot with the water, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cook it over medium heat until the fruit is very tender. Use a stick blender to puree the mixture. Add the sugar and simmer for 30 minutes or until thick enough to cling onto a spoon. Add the bitters and stir.

Lade into hot prepared jars (washed with hot soapy water). Leave 1/4 inch head space, wipe the rim of the jar if necessary. Apply the lid and twist on the band. Gently place in your canner or a large pot of water with a rack in it. The water should be 2 inches above the jars. Cover and boil for 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove let cool.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My thanks to Washington State Stone Fruit for the fruit and to Greener Distillery for the bitters and amaro. For more preserving recipes, check out Sweet Preservation.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

15 Aug 2017 8:44pm GMT

14 Aug 2017

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Turkey Taco Salad

Turkey Taco Salad

For a quick supper, especially in warm weather, you can't beat a big taco salad like this one.

Make the bean and turkey topping in a big skillet, and serve it warm over lightly dressed crisp romaine. Or make it ahead and serve it cold. It's up to you.

Continue reading "Turkey Taco Salad" »

14 Aug 2017 4:30pm GMT

13 Aug 2017

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Cold Pea Salad

Cold Pea Salad

Long warm summer days are perfect for chilled pea salad!

This recipe uses frozen peas, which you don't even have to defrost, green onions, water chestnuts, and smoked almonds. The peas do thaw a bit, but they're wonderful crunchy and cold too.

I first encountered this delightful salad at a friend's potluck. It was one of the dishes that everyone went back for for seconds.

I'm not sure of the original source of the recipe, but since the recipes calls for Smokehouse Almonds, perhaps the almond company? It could easily be made with tamari almonds as well. You just want salty, crunchy, roasted almonds for this salad.

Do you have a favorite pea salad? Please let us know about it in the comments.

Photos and recipe updated, first published 2007

Continue reading "Cold Pea Salad" »

13 Aug 2017 1:38pm GMT

12 Aug 2017

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Blender Piña Colada

Pina Colada

You may associate piña coladas with laid-back poolside vacations, but this mix of rum, coconut, and pineapple is actually a pillar of the tiki drink canon.

Quite a few bartenders and bars have claimed to have created the now famous piña colada over the years, but the drink's true origins are a bit murky. There's even evidence that traders in the 19th century mixed rum with coconut water and mashed pineapple for what would have been a sort of proto-piña!

In the end, though, I guess it doesn't really matter. Because piña coladas are amazing.

If you're looking for a refreshing, sultry cocktail to highlight your next summer party this is it.

Continue reading "Blender Piña Colada" »

12 Aug 2017 4:30pm GMT

11 Aug 2017

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No Fail, Sour Cream Pie Crust

No Fail Sour Cream Pie Crust

Move aside food processor! Be gone tough pie crusts! I hath found the holy grail of pastry doughs.

It is flaky, it is buttery, it is un-fussy, and it needs no difficult-to-clean equipment, just your clean hands and a large bowl. The secret?

Continue reading "No Fail, Sour Cream Pie Crust" »

11 Aug 2017 2:06pm GMT

09 Aug 2017

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Ceviche with Avocado and Grilled Corn

Ceviche with Avocado and Grilled Corn

Have you heard of ceviche? It's a popular dish in many Latin American countries that uses lemon or lime juice is used to "cook" raw fish.

Done well, ceviche means fish with a perfectly firm but tender texture, a bright citrus taste, and a pure fish flavor that you might associate with the freshest sashimi.

Continue reading "Ceviche with Avocado and Grilled Corn" »

09 Aug 2017 4:30pm GMT

08 Aug 2017

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Baked Cherry French Toast Casserole

Baked Cherry French Toast

This post is brought to you in partnership with Northwest Cherry Growers.

Don't you wish you could eat cherries all year round?

Unfortunately, the season for juicy, sweet Northwest cherries is a short one, lasting only from June until August. But fortunately, cherries freeze exceptionally well.

Continue reading "Baked Cherry French Toast Casserole" »

08 Aug 2017 4:29pm GMT

07 Aug 2017

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Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo

My mother loved to mix canned salmon with a few seasonings and shape it into cakes headed for a hot skillet. This meal thrilled us as kids and it was an easy cooking night for her.

Now I make salmon cakes with fresh cooked salmon, which only adds a few minutes to the prep time and makes incredibly moist cakes. This is also a great way to use up leftover salmon from another meal!

Continue reading "Fresh Salmon Cakes with Spicy Mayo" »

07 Aug 2017 4:30pm GMT

05 Aug 2017

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Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken with Orange and Ginger

Ginger-Orange Spatchcocked Chicken

This chicken with a funny name ("spatchcocked"?!) is a boon for grillers.

Spatchcocked chickens say moist when grilled over low heat - no fear of dry, tasteless grilled chicken with this recipe!

Combine this with a tasty ginger-orange marinade, and you've got one fantastic summer meal.

Continue reading "Spatchcocked Grilled Chicken with Orange and Ginger" »

05 Aug 2017 4:30pm GMT

27 Jul 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Deiss Pro Julienne & Vegetable Peeler Review

Is a spiralizer necessary? I got one to review, but truth be told I'm unconvinced. It turns out there are lots of ways to get strands and ribbons from vegetables and fruit. The most common kitchen tools, a grater and a vegetable peeler work remarkably well. I'm also a fan of the mandolin which can be used to make many more types of cuts. But if you really enjoy creating these textures and want a single gadget, the Deiss Pro Julienne & Vegetable Peeler is really a three in one. It's great for peeling potatoes and carrots, but it's also good for creating those slithery ribbons and shredds for salads. It also has a nifty feature on the side that allows you to remove the "eyes" from potatoes without resorting to a paring knife or use it to create a peel strip from citrus fruit.


I've been using this gadget on zucchini. I use the larger ribbons with chunkier pasta and the shreds with skinny noodles. I blanch the zucchini for a minute or two with the pasta, to get rid of the rawness and cook it just enough so it blends nicely with the pasta. It helps me to lower the carbs and bulk up a pasta meal with healthy vegetables.

It's also good for creating ribbons of cucumber for salads.

Another way I am using it is to make vegetable slaws. The latest one I made with raw carrots, beets and celeraic. I tosssed it with a creamy sesame dressing for a deliciously crunch salad.

This is a small gadget, and I like that it both peels and shreds, the only negative to it is cleaning it. Because it creates such fine strands, it can be a pain to remove them all, the best bet is to use a bamboo skewer if any tiny bits get stuck in the teeth. At just under $10 I think it's a good buy especially if you are in the market for a new peeler as eventually they do become dull.

Do you have a spiralizer? Or do you use something else? If you have any favorite recipes let me know in the comments.

Disclaimer: I was provided with the Deiss Pro Julienne & Vegetable Peeler for review purposes. This post includes an affiliate link. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

27 Jul 2017 1:06pm GMT

25 Jul 2017

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Discovering Crémant d’Alsace Rosé

When I think of the wines of the Alsace I think white wine. After all 90% of the wines produced in the Alsace are white. But there's growing interest in one particular red wine, Pinot Noir. This is a recent development, in part due to changing climate conditions. The Alsace already has a staggering 15 different soil types and now it has a longer growing season. Limestone and clay ensure that Pinot Noir will develop the right acidity and tannins. Good Pinot Noir never happens by mistake! I recently enjoyed a wine dinner with a number of different bottles of Pinot Noir from the Alsace. They had all the characteristics I expect from Pinot Noir-notes of strawberry or raspberry, smoke, leather, sometimes spice, fresh acidity. Some were fresh and vibrant, others more complex and earthy. But the wine I enjoyed the most? Allimant Laugner Crémant d'Alsace Rosé. It's bright with strawberry and lemon, and deliciously fizzy and can be found for under $20.

I love sparking wines and Brut Rosé in particular. Crémant is the French name for sparkling wines outside of the Champagne region. Made exactly the same way as Champagne, it's the second fermentation that gives the wine bubbles. Crémant is made from several different grapes in the Alsace, but Crémant d'Alsace Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir. Right now I'm drinking a lovely bottle of Crémant d'Alsace Rosé from Pierre Sparr. It spends a year aging on the lees, is lively, fresh and has a smooth finish.

There's something extremely special about all Brut Rosé that every sommelier knows. It's perhaps the easiest wine in the world to pair with food. Really. It goes with just about everything from light seafood to rich barbecue. It's my go to wine when I don't want to do a full wine pairing with a tasting menu. I know that a bottle of Brut Rosé will handle whatever courses I'm served. Of course, I might switch to a bigger bold red for a steak course, but otherwise, I trust that Brut Rosé will work. But by all means enjoy it as an aperitif as well. It's an easy going wine that is good with or without food and the ones from the Alsace are particularly good and generally very reasonably priced. What more could you ask for?

Disclaimer: My thanks to the Wine of the Alsace for inviting me to the dinner and Thierry Fritsch, Head Oeneologist and Educator for the Conseil Interproffesionel des Vins d'Alsace for educating me about these wines. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

25 Jul 2017 2:28pm GMT

19 Jul 2017

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Cherry Jamming in the Miele Kitchen

Chef Rachelle Boucher shows off our cherry jam
If you've been to the store or maybe the farmers market recently you might have seen cherries. The sweetness of bing cherries is both intense and fleeting. Cherries don't last long after being picked, unlike apples or oranges. That's why I'm glad to be a part of the Canbassador program.

The past few years I've received a crate of fresh sweet cherries from Northwest Cherry Growers. Every year I experiment preserving something different. I've prepared cherry barbecue sauce, canned cherries for pie, put up bourbon cherries, made cherry vanilla shrub and even dried and frozen cherries. This year I decided to make cherry jam. It turned out to be a very special cooking experience for me because I wasn't in my kitchen, but over at the Miele showroom in San Francisco, with my pal Chef Rachelle Boucher. She kindly invited me over to do a little cooking. To be honest, working with Miele appliances will spoil you. Here's how it went and the key ways it differed from what I do at home:

Step 1 - Sterlized the jars in Miele's super duper professional dishwasher. No messy hot water bath!
Step 2 - Cooked the jam using a super duper Miele Induction Range. I would take induction over gas anyday. Why? The minute you turn it off, there's no heat at all. Which means while I probably should have used a larger pot, there was no risk of it boiling over since any adjustment to the heat was instantaneous. When you turn of the heat on a gas or electric range, the grate stays hot. The smooth surface also makes moving pots around easy.
Step 3 - Sterilized more jars then processed the jam in a super duper Miele Combi-Steam Oven. Again, no messy and potentially dangerous hot water bath! Because the oven uses steam, you don't need a large capacity, and it heats instantly, no "preheating." What else can you do in it? Well steam obviously but also roast, make yogurt, proof dough, bake bread with perfect crusts.

You really don't know what appliances are like until you use them. You can read all the reviews you want, but nothing takes the place of actually trying before you buy. The touchscreens, the smooth surfaces and the incredible number of settings all make this line of appliances positively dreamy. So you don't think I turned into the perfect cook, I will now share with you the things I did wrong. These are the three mistakes I made that I will not make again:

1. I mostly mashed the cherries instead of chopping them thoroughly. If you don't chop the cherries finely enough, cherry jam doesn't thicken up as much as it should. Oops! The good news is I have syrupy cherry topping which is fabulous on Greek yogurt or ice cream and not bad on toast. I may also use some to make cherry soda or cherry cocktails, so not a complete disaster.

2. The recipe I found online called for a teaspoon of almond extract to 4 cups of cherries. This is way too much. Better to use about a quarter or half that amount. Live and learn! Seriously though, make sure you're confident in your recipe source. I recommend using the recipes at Sweet Preservation on the Northwest Cherries site.

3. I doubled my recipe. While preserving is great for large quantities, when trying a new recipe, it's best to do a small or single batch in case something goes wrong (see #1 and #2).

Disclaimer: My thanks for Northwest Stone Fruit for providing me with the cherries and to Rachelle Boucher for inviting me to cook in the Miele kitchen. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any another post on Cooking with Amy.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

19 Jul 2017 3:58pm GMT

22 Jun 2017

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Easy Shrimp Curry Recipe

Here's one of my strategies for dinner in a hurry--tweak a classic dish by loading it up with vegetables and creating a one pot meal. Recently I worked on a shrimp and feta recipe, it started out very much the same as many other recipes, but I added lots of fresh fennel. Basically this shrimp curry recipe started with a simple coconut curry recipe to which I added sugar snap peas, bell peppers and cherry tomatoes. I happened to have some sugar snap peas from Mann's produce (another great time saver because they are stringless and don't need any prep), but I could have added broccoli or sweet potatoes or some other study vegetables. Just add rice or noodles and dinner is done!

This recipe comes courtesy of American Shrimp Company, they kindly sent me some more of their fresh wild gulf shrimp. The shrimp are bursting with flavor and can be used in so many dishes. They arrive clean, deveined, peeled, fresh, not frozen, perfect for when you don't have much time for meal prep since they really don't need marinating and cook in just minutes. I don't use all the shrimp at once so some of them go in the freezer to use at a later date.

The benefit of making a one pot meal is that you don't have to bother cooking multiple side dishes and in this case, the vegetables swim along with the shrimp in a delicious curry sauce. I'm going to continue to experiment with more dishes like this. What classic shrimp dishes would you add vegetables to in order to make it a meal? Shrimp and grits? Scampi? Shrimp gumbo? The possibilities are endless.

Easy Shrimp Curry
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
1/2 orange bell pepper, sliced
3/4 pound raw peeled and deveined shrimp
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Pinch cayenne pepper, optional
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro, optional

Instructions

Heat a large deep skillet or wok over medium high heat and add the coconut oil. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds then add the onion and peppers. Stiry fry until the vegetables have slightly softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the curry powder and the snap peas and stir for a minute then add the coconut milk and soy sauce. Increase heat and bring the mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook just until they shrimp are cooked through, about 2-3 minutes. Taste for seasoning. You can add more soy sauce or a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like. Serve with rice (or rice noodles) and garnish with cilantro.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My thanks to The American Shrimp Company and Mann's for providing me with shrimp and sugar snap peas. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

22 Jun 2017 3:10pm GMT

20 Jun 2017

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Pecorino Toscano & Pecorino Sardo

Yesterday I wrote about Pecorino Romano, today Pecorino Toscano and Pecorino Sardo, two other kinds of Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Pecorino you are likely to find in the US.

Pecorino Toscano
I ate the fresh version of Pecorino Toscano practically daily when I lived in Tuscany. In Florence, fresh Pecorino Toscano was like the Italian version of Monterey Jack, the cheese I grew up eating in California.It's mild, slightly herbal, sweet, approachable, easy to love. It's really great in a sandwich--either cold or grilled.

Pecorino Toscano is made from milk produced in Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria. As with all cheeses, it gets harder and drier as it ages. In the US it used to be much easier to the find the aged versions than the really fresh soft ones. The fresher version is particularly mild and creamy. The aged version is buttery, sometimes nutty with a peppery finish It's just a great table cheese, perfect for an antipasto platter. Even aged it tends to be much milder than the Pecorinos from Lazio and Sardinia.
Pecorino Sardo Maturo & Pecorino Fiore Sardo
Pecorino Sardo
This is the Pecorino I know the least about, so I turned to cheesemonger and author Gordon Edgar to help me get a better understanding of it. Here's what he had to say:

"The tricky thing about Pecorino Sardo is the variation contained within the name. Whereas Pecorino Romano means hard, aged, grating cheese and "Fresco" means semi-soft and young, Pecorino Sardo just means sheep cheese from Sardinia which is where a lot of Italian sheep cheese comes from, labeled as Sardo or not.

There is a name-controlled version "Fiore Sardo DOP" which is raw milk and slightly smoked and one of the most amazingly complex sheep cheeses available anywhere. Rich, milky, nutty, mutli-layered, briney, and, yes, a touch smokey in a complimentary way, not the way smoke is often used to cover defects in cheese. Personally I mostly use this as a table cheese to eat with cold cuts or other cheeses. If you dislike "pecorino," this cheese may well change your mind. Make sure it says DOP though, because some importers and retailers can be a little loose with the American naming of their Italian cheese

Most Sardo sold in the US fits the middle-ground, age-wise between fresco (from whatever region) and the hard, crumbly Romano. If not name-controlled, the Sardo Maturo is my favorite one to buy. It can work as a less intense and salty alternative to grating than a Romano, but also works as a table cheese, often lending a grassy, potato-y flavor absent from many pecorinos. The aging (maturo) lets flavor develop and my favorite brand is Central Formaggi (though this is often not labeled at point of sale). You can kind of tell how strong Sardo will be based on the texture, so -- if you can -- try and squeeze it a little before purchase."

Curious about Pecorino Romano? Read about in yesterday's post.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

20 Jun 2017 2:10pm GMT

19 Jun 2017

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Pecorino Romano

Pecorino Romano and Pecorino Gran Cacio Etrusco
Knowing Italian is sometimes a help in the culinary realm. But not always. Pecora means sheep in Italian providing the clue that Pecorino refers to sheep's milk cheese. But after that it gets complicated. There are 6 kinds of Pecorino with Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) in Italy but only a few you are likely to find in the US. First up is the most commonly found Pecorino cheese, Pecorino Romano and tomorrow, Pecorino Toscano and Pecorino Sardo.

Pecorino Romano is the easiest to find Pecorino cheese in the US. The name is a bit confusing however. It's not just a cheese from Rome or even Lazio as you might assume, but is also produced in the province of Grosseto in Tuscany and in Cagliari, Nuoro, Oristano and Sassari on the island of Sardinia. In fact, Sardinia is the biggest producer of Pecorino Romano, go figure. It's an ancient cheese and it was mentioned by Pliny the Elder almost 2,000 years ago. It was such an important cheese, that it was part of the Roman legion's rations-hence "Romano" in the name. It's salty and dry, and has a wonderful sharp flavor that sets it apart from other dry cheeses. A good one will also have a bit of sweetness to it. You may recognize it from the black wax coating on the cheese. Fresher versions are aged for 5 months and the harder cheese used for grating is aged at least 8 months.

The more aged version is most often used in recipes, but the fresher version can be eaten on a cheese plate. It's traditional to eat Pecorino with fresh fava beans in Spring. Pecorino Romano's sharp bite makes it the ideal cheese with rich pasta dishes like bucatini all'amatriciana and spaghetti alla carbonara. It is also the cheese you must use for the pasta dish cacio e pepe. Cacio literally means Pecorino in the Roman dialect, so please, do not substitute Parmigiano Reggiano for Pecorino Romano in the recipe. The classic recipe calls for only spaghetti, freshly ground black pepper and Pecorino Romano, though I won't quibble if you want to add a bit of butter or olive oil. When the cheese combines with water it melts into a sauce, rather than gooey strings.

The brand of Pecorino Romano I'm most familar with is Fulvi made by I Buona Tavola. They make the only Pecorino Romano made in Lazio that's imported to the US. It's aged 10 months to a year and made from full fat sheep's milk, which means the cheese is not quite as hard as most Sardinian Pecorino. It's salty but not too salty with a pungency but also a sweet finish. In addition to Pecorino Romano you may find another cheese from Fulvi called Pecorino Romano Gran Cacio Etrusco. It's salted with Sicilian salt and rubbed with olive oil for several months. It's a bit softer in texture and sweeter, definitely more nuanced and in my opinion, worth the slightly higher price. You can read a post about a visit to the caseficio where they produce Fulvi Pecorino Romano cheeses on cheesemonger Gordon Edgar's blog, Gordonzola.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

19 Jun 2017 3:51pm GMT

14 Jun 2017

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Lillet

Lovely Lillet always reminds me of Summer. I first drank it in France one magical Summer when I spent a week with friends at their country house in the Loire Valley. Afternoons melted into evenings over an aperitif or two. Sitting by the pool I sipped on my Lillet and felt very chic. While there's a red and rose version of Lillet, You can use any of the versions of Lillet in cocktails or to make creative versions of sangria (combine it with Sauvignon Blanc and grapefruit or orange juice and maybe some fresh berries or stone fruit like peaches or nectarines). I'm still most fond of the blanc version, either over ice or in a spritz with equal parts Lillet and tonic or sparkling water, garnished simply with either a slice of lemon of lime.
Lillet blanc is made from 85% Semillon from Bordeaux, and 15% citrus liqueur with both sweet and bitter oranges. It was created in 1872 and originally had a more bitter flavor profile thanks to the addition of quinine which is no longer part of the recipe. Today it's floral, sweet and a bit herbal. In the 1960's a red version was introduced using Merlot and in 2011 a rose version with same Semillon base. All are 17% alcohol so about the same as vermouth.

It's hard not to be enchanted by this classic drink which was served on cruise ships and popular in high society at the turn of century, popularized in part thanks to those snazzy French posters. In the 1930's there were 22 Lillet cocktials in the Savoy Cocktail Book and in 1953 James Bond ordered the Vesper cocktail (another Ian Fleming creation) in Casino Royale. Supposedly Jackie Kennedy was a fan of Lillet as was the Duchess of Windsor. While I may not share their luxurious lifestyle, I certainly share their taste in fine liqueur. No matter the era, Lillet remains pure glamour in a glass.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

14 Jun 2017 2:26pm GMT

12 Jun 2017

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Fish with Olives and Leeks Recipe

Recently I got a delivery of Pacific Grenadier from Real Good Fish. Grenadier has the unfortunate reputation as a "junk fish" because it's by catch--caught unintentionally by fisherman going after black cod. It's a deep water fish, with a long body and a very thin tail. Pacific Grenadier has a delicate texture similar to cod, snapper and orange roughy, and a very mild flavor. The thin fillets cook very quickly and need to be handled gently. Because it's not a large commercial fishery you may have trouble finding specific recipes for it, but you can use pretty much any recipe that calls for snapper or orange roughy.

This is yet another recipe inspired by what was in my refrigerator. It's a little fussier than I would like because you have to cook the leeks and onions in a skillet before transferring them to a baking sheet to form a bed for the fish. But I like the combination of a savory olives, sweet onions and leeks and juicy tomatoes. Lately I've been finding one pot or one pan recipes to be particularly appealing. Less clean up is definitely a factor!

When preparing leeks I slice them lengthwise and rinse them thoroughly. I often chop them and soak them in a bowl of cold water since the soil can really get stuck between the layers. The water clinging to the leeks is just enough to cook them so there's no need to any extra liquid to the recipe. I like the combination of leeks and onions, but you could certainly skip the onions if you don't want to bother with them. You could also add a clove or two of garlic if you're using an olive paste or tapenade with no garlic. I found the saltiness of the olives was enough seasoning for the fish, but add salt to taste if you find it needs it.

Fish with Olives, Leeks and Tomatoes
Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound grenadier fillets
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved, optional
2 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green) about 2
1/2 cup chopped onion

Olive pesto
1/2 cup green or black olives, pitted preferably oil cured (or a combination)
3-4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

To make the olive pesto combine the olives with the olive oil in a food processor and blend until creamy but not completely smooth, you will need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. You can use prepared olive tapenade, paste or pesto if you have it on hand.

Heat oven to 400° F. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the leeks and onions, and cook for 5 minutes over medium high heat.

Transfer the leek mixture onto a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet top with the fish fillets. Spread with about 1/4 cup of olive pesto. Scatter the tomatoes on the sheet, if desired; bake until the fish is opaque, about 10 minutes. Transfer fish and vegetables to plates.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My thanks to Real Good Fish for supplying me with the fish. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. If you live in the Bay Area, visit their website to learn more about their subscription program.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

12 Jun 2017 3:42pm GMT

09 Jun 2017

feedCooking with Amy: A Food Blog

Choosing a Mandoline

I recently wrote a story about mandolines on Tasting Table. I've had a lot of experience with mandolines and yes, some of it involves band-aids. Here's the thing, a mandoline is a serious tool. I was once sent one that had so many blades and was so big and heavy it scared me. I've used a low end model for years, but frankly the blades are getting dull and there isn't an easy way to sharpen them.


BEST FOR VOLUME AND PRECISE CUTS IN A VARITY OF THICKNESSES

OXO has been making and perfecting their high end model for years. The OXO Good Grips Chef's Mandoline Slicer 2.0 has lots of features that make it really worth considering. It sells for $79

Here are what I consider the highlights:
1. The hand guard is really well designed and stores conveniently under the slicer. It is spring loaded so it grips the food firmly. Still, you might want to consider using a cut resistant glove.

2. The dial on the side allows you choose the thickness of your slices, allowing up to 21 different cuts.

3. Only one removable blade! And it stores inside the mandolin.

And the drawbacks:

1. It's large and bulky and really can only be used safely for larger items that you can use with the guard.

2. The thinner slices and waffle cuts can be a bit tricky to master and to get as uniform as other cuts such as julienne and matchsticks.

3. It really is a chef's tool, it might be overkill for many home cooks.




BEST FOR EVERYDAY SLICING & SHREDDING

If, like me, you like the uniformity you get from using a mandoline but don't need to make 21 different cuts, you might be satisfied with the OXO Good Grips Complete Grate & Slice Set. You could argue that it isn't really a mandoline, but it functions very much the same way. It sells for about $29


It's also very well-designed, the slicing blades all fit in a container which doubles as the base when you are using the blades. It's easy to use (no instruction guide necessary), takes up very little space, stores easily.

On the downside the hand guard is extremely flimsy and each blade only slices or shreds to one thickness. But to be honest, I don't find that to be much of an issue. If I need thicker or thinner slices I can use a knife or food processor instead.


BEST FOR SALADS

Last but not least, I've written about this tiny mandoline slicer before, but I'll mention it again because it's so great for slicing small items that can't be sliced on a mandoline such as radishes, carrots and cucumbers. It's perfect for slicing vegetables for salads. I got mine at a Japanese housewares store for about $2

Disclaimer: My thanks to OXO for providing products for me to review. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. This post includes affiliate links.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

09 Jun 2017 9:13pm GMT

07 Jun 2017

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Lugana Wines

Lugana is a small Italian wine region that you've probably never heard of before. It straddles Veneto and Lombardy, right around the Southern shore of the the stunning Lake Garda. It's neighbors are Soave and Valpolicella and there are just a little over 100 producers. Lugana wines are made from an indigenous varietal called Trebbiano di Lugana or most accurately Turbiana which is related to Verdicchio. The clay soil adds a touch of salinity and savory quality and the wines are zesty and bright with lemon, grapefruit and tangerine and sometimes sweeter notes of peach, almond and even mint. I visited Lake Garda and Lugana in the Fall of 2015 and Cantina Castelnuovo winery. I was struck by how much more delicious and compelling the wines were than the more common and often insipid Pinot Grigio. The most challenging thing about Lugana white wines is finding them in the US.



The un-oaked Lugana DOC wines are fun and fresh and represent about 90% of the wines that are produced. The Superiore wines are aged for one year and Riserva wines are aged 2 years, they have an added layer of salinity and minerality in addition to a rounder character but still have great acidity and freshness. I think of these wines as an analog to the Margarita. Youthful, juicy, refreshing with great acidity the wines are easy to enjoy (with salt of without!). They go great with spicy food but also seafood and even blue cheese. I opened a bottle of Lugana and served it chilled with a Cobb salad. It was perfect. But honestly, it's a wine that drinks well as an aperitif too. Not surprisingly these wines are popular with Germans who are accustomed to drinking wines like Riesling.

Recently I was at a tasting and particularly enjoyed trying wines from producers including Borgo La Caccia, Selva Capuzza, Ca Dei Frati and Bulgarini. Unfortunately these were not the wines I was able to locate in stores here in the Bay Area. However I did find a bottle or two of Lugana at Biondivino, Enoteca Vino Nostro and K&L Wine Merchants. But the best selection was from The Wine House. They import directly from Ca' Lojera and had seven different bottles of varying vintages, including the Riserva and Superiore. The prices for the wines generally range from the mid teens to the high thirties. Personally I'll be heading back to The Wine House to buy more of the 2014 Ca' Lojera Bianco, on sale for just $9.99, it's a riduclous bargain and is destined to be my house wine this Summer.

Disclaimer: I was a guest at a Lugana tasting and dinner, however I purchased the full bottle of wine.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

07 Jun 2017 2:44pm GMT

30 May 2017

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Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

When I see a recipe repeatedly I sometimes feel compelled to give it a try. Salted Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies from Danielle Oron's Modern Israeli Cooking is one of those recipes. It was published in the New York Times a little over a year ago, then Food52 got in on the act and reprinted it as well.


Just recently David Lebovitz published his version of the recipe, which he had adapted and then raved that they were "some of the best chocolate chip cookies to ever come out of my oven." His goal was to make the cookies a bit more chewy and to increase the chocolate. Those are goals I thoroughly support. While I pretty much used his recipe, I took it a bit further. Instead of using one half cup of light brown sugar in place of one half cup of white sugar as he did, I used one half cup dark brown sugar. I also increased the chocolate. While Lebovitz uses chocolate chunks, I used chocolate chips and the whole bag, why not? It's 12 ounces and 340 grams of semisweet chocolate chips. Next time I might try 3/4 of a cup dark brown sugar and just one quarter cup white sugar for even chewier cookies.

So the name really gives it away-the key to what makes these cookies so irresistable is the dusting of salt on the top and the tahini in the cookies which adds a particular richness. The cookies are chewiest on day one, but still delicious on day two. If you have any left. Speaking of which, I recommend portioning some of the dough into a zip top bag and freezing it so you can bake fresh "cookies on demand." Simply heat the oven and put the frozen blobs of dough directly on a parchment lined baking sheet and minutes later you have fresh cookies.

Note: If you have a scale, I implore you to use it instead of measuring cups especially for the sugar and flour. It makes a big difference.

Salty Tahini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from David Lebovitz and Danielle Oron

Ingredients

8 Tablespoons (115g, 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (120ml) tahini, stirred
1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (90g) packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150g) flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 package 12 ounces (340g) semisweet chocolate chips
Flaky salt

Instructions

Beat the butter, tahini, granulated sugar and brown sugar with an eletric mixer, until fluffy. Add the egg, the yolk, and vanilla, and continue to mix just until the eggs are incorporated. Add the dry ingredients until just combined, then stir in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix. Cover the dough and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the oven to 325ºF. Form the cookies using a scoop or spoon about 2 tablespoons in size (a #30 disher is perfect). Place them evenly spaced on a parchment lined baking sheets about 3-inches apart. Bake the cookies, turning the baking sheet in the oven midway during baking, until the cookies are golden brown around the edges but still pale in the center, about 13 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle cookies with flaky sea salt, and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet. Store in a tin or air tight container.

Enjoy!
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

30 May 2017 2:54pm GMT

24 May 2017

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Shrimp & Feta Recipe

I have made many versions of shrimp and feta over the years and maybe you have too. Sweet shrimp and salty feta is such a great combination and while you really don't need a recipe to make it, this one is a particular favorite. I've simplified the steps-no need to saute and bake as many recipes require. The recipe also uses mostly pantry staples. Keep some good quality shrimp in the freezer and with just two purchases-feta and a fennel bulb, you can make this dish in no time flat.

Speaking of shrimp, the gorgeous shrimp I used for this dish came from the American Shrimp Company an online retailer of wild caught American shrimp. They are mostly sourced out of the Gulf and Southern Atlantic. If you purchase them online, they arrive in perfect condition, fresh and ready to use. I used half the shrimp I received right away and the other half I froze to use later. I am a strong believer in using the best quality ingredients you can afford, especially when it comes to seafood. American gulf shrimp are not only more sustainable but much more delicious than ones imported from farms in Asia. Just 4 large shrimp per person makes for a very satisfying meal in a dish like this one.

The reason I like this recipe so much is that it includes lots of fresh vegetables making it a one pot dish when served with orzo or cooked grains. I'm particularly fond of the fennel in this dish. If you like it too, you could also add a splash of ouzo or Pernod to the vegetables before adding the tomatoes.

Shrimp & Feta

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced fennel bulb

2 cloves garlic, minced

14 oz can crushed roasted tomatoes

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail on or off

1 cup crumbled feta cheese
Fresh herbs-chopped dill or fennel tops

Instructions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel and cook, stirring, until soft about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds then add the tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 2-3 minutes.

Sprinkle the feta over the top, then add the shrimp in one layer. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat just until the shrimp are cooked through and the cheese begins to soften, about 3 minutes.

Serve hot over orzo and garnish with fresh herbs.

Enjoy!

Disclaimer: My thanks to the American Shrimp Company for providing me with the shrimp for this recipe. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post on Cooking with Amy.

©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

24 May 2017 3:16pm GMT

22 May 2017

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Chang Sensory Trails & Learning About Thai Food

If you're looking for something fun to do this upcoming holiday weekend, I have a suggestion. Chang beer, one of the leading beers in Thailand is sponsoring Chang Sensory Trails, a free un-ticketed festival in San Francisco that focuses on Thai food, art, music and of course, plenty of beer.

The festival has taken place in Los Angeles, London and Singapore and is coming to San Francisco for the first time this year. It's taking place on Saturday May 27th 2017 from noon until 10 pm at Fort Mason Center's Festival Pavilion.

But even if you won't be able to make it to the festival, I think you will find it interesting to learn a little bit more about Thai food from Chef Duangporn Songvisava, or 'Bo' as she's more commonly known. She was chosen Asia's Best Female Chef 2013 and runs the Bangkok restaurant Bo.Lan with her husband Chef Dylan Jones (it's ranked 19 on the list of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants 2017). Chef Bo along with Chef Dylan helped to curate the food for the festival from local Thai restaurants.

How do you see Thai food evolving in Bangkok and outside of Thailand?
In a promising way, there are more and more restaurant outside Thailand that try to cook Thai properly. This brings more awareness to the cuisine of Thailand.

What are your recommendations for diners looking to discover the real flavors of Thailand?
Be brave and take on spiciness. If you can eat spicy, then your real Thai flavors will just shine.

What do you want people to know about Thai cuisine that they probably don't know?
That it is not cheap, sweet or full of peanuts. Don't use chopsticks when eating Pad Thai; instead, use a fork and spoon.

What's your goal of the Chang Sensory Trails festival?
To share our passion of Thai food and showcase dishes that are less known.

What are the main reasons people should attend?
There will be lots of Thai food to taste, try and eat and plenty of Chang Beer for people to cool off from the heat and Thai spices.

What dishes do Thai restaurants get right and which do they get wrong, outside of Thailand?
I think it is not about the dishes but it is about the ingredients; like fresh coconut cream is the better option over processed coconut cream. Homemade curry paste is always better than a highly-processed curry paste. (Note from Amy: If you want to try curries made from curry pastes made from scratch, I highly recommend you visit Kin Khao, San Francisco's only Michelin star Thai restaurant)

Thanks Chef Bo! Curious about the dishes you'll get a chance to try? Here's the list:

Baan Thai House & Wine Bar: Steam Dumplings
Tamarind Hall: Classic Pad Thai Shrimp
Saap Ver: Som Tum
Ben Thai Café: Khao Soi
Tycoon Thai Restaurant: Sai Ua
Lao Table: Larb Duck Pakxe
Lers Ros: Beef Noodle Soup
House Of Thai: Kao Mun Gai

To learn more about the festival head to Chang Sensory Trails. See you there!

©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

22 May 2017 6:04pm GMT

16 May 2017

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The Basque Culinary World Prize



Do you know a chef who is making a difference? The Basque Culinary World Prize is a competition not based on the typical achievements of the kitchen and dining room, but on a 'transformative project' in gastronomy that has had a positive impact on society. This could be through culinary innovation, a commitment to social responsibility, sustainability or the economic development of their community. Nominees for the prize must have a background as a professional chef though they don't currently need to be a chef and they can be from anywhere in the world.


The winner will receive €100,000 to devote to a social project of their choice that demonstrates the wider role of the chef in society.
Credit: Cassie Borreson
Back in March I attended an event with Dominique Crenn and Joxe Mari Aizega, the Head of the Basque Culinary Center, the host of the competition, to kick off the nominations in the US. They both emphasized the importance of setting a positive example and how crucial it is for chefs to have a public voice. This is the second year of the competition and they are looking for as many nominations as possible.

Do you know a chef who is making a difference? Please take a moment to nominate them. Nominations are being accepted though May 19th and then between June 12-14 the Prize Committee will decide which nominations meet the judging criteria and finalize a list of the 10 strongest candidates to forward to the Prize Jury.


Credit: Cassie Borreson


























The Prize Jury will be chaired by Joan Roca of Spain and will include some of the most well-known chefs in the world -- Ferran Adrià of Spain, Michel Bras of France, Massimo Bottura of Italy, Dominique Crenn of the US, Yoshihiro Narisawa of Japan and Enrique Olvera of Mexio. Leaders from related disciplines will join the prize jury as well including celebrated Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel (author of Like Water for Chocolate); Kirmen Uribe, renowned Basque novelist, poet and playwright; and Cristina Francini, an expert on International Law and Human Rights.

Learn about the incredible work of the past winner, Maria Fernanda Di Giacobbe.
©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

16 May 2017 7:54pm GMT

15 May 2017

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Japanese Restaurants in Honolulu Spring 2017

It's not uncommon for restaurants and or chefs to come to Honolulu from Japan and set up shop. This phenomenon leads to a particularly exciting Japanese food scene. Here are my top picks of recently opened Japanese restaurants in Honolulu, direct from Japan, from my most recent visit.
Located on Kapahulu and tucked away on the second floor of an office complex this hidden treasure is insanely popular after being open just a few months. And for good reason. Tamafuji Tonkatsu is an import from Sapporo and everyone is talking about it. A local friend told me I must order the shrimp, the oysters and the pork. All are prepared in the tonkatsu style, meaning breaded and fried until shatteringly crisp on the outside yet gushing with juiciness on the inside. It's a simple formula. You pick one of three different kinds of rice, grind some sesame seeds in your bowl and add sauce to taste. There is unlimited shredded cabbage and some jars with Japanese pickles on the table. But oh, the tonkatsu! It's definitely as good as the tonkatsu I stood in for in Tokyo. Take my friend's advice. Go with some friends and order a bit of each. No reservations, prepare to wait in line.

Tonkatsu Tamafuji
449 Kapahulu Avenue
Hee Hing Plaza, second floor
808-922-1212
Denizens of Los Angeles know Tsujita, a branch of a Tokyo noodle shop that opened over 5 years ago. Lots of ramen shops thrive in Honolulu and each has their own specialty and Tsujita is no exception. At Tsujita Hawaii the must order dish is tsukemen, also known as dipping noodles. Stretchy ramen noodles are served in a bowl with a ridiculously thick syrup like soup on the side. It's all so that your noodles stay chewy and don't soften in the soup. The effect of perfectly cooked noodles and a rich thick soup to dip them in is pure genius. A little comic strip explains how to eat tsukemen. You can add a squeeze of lime to cut through the richness and once your bowl begins to empty you can request some broth to be added. You can also add kuro-shichimi seasoning to you noodles if you want some heat.Tsujita is located downstairs in Yokocho Gourmet Alley in Waikiki.

Tsujita Hawaii
2250 Kalakaua Ave
(808) 777-3546
Yakitori Hachibei is located in Chinatown in a lovely exposed brick building. The best seats are at the counter where you can watch the yakitori chef grilling away. It's a restaurant that originated as a butcher shop in Fukuoka Prefecture. They now have locations in Tokyo and Taiwan and at each location they pride themselves on using high quality local produce. In addition to classic styles of grilled skewers and grilled pieces of chicken, they also offer innovative and unique creations such as sukiyaki on a stick, a kalbi skewer with vegetables, bacon and grilled egg maki and grilled mozzarella maki. I also thoroughly enjoyed the salad which was overflowing with fresh vegetables in addition to greens. It's difficult to get a reservation so be sure to call as far in advance as you can!

Yakitori Hachibei
20 North Hotel Street
808-369-088

Good sushi is not hard to find in Hawaii. Maru Sushi another Sapporo import, from a Michelin-starred sushi bar no less takes it to another level. The vast majority of the fish they serve comes from Hokkaido. Located in a strip mall location right around the corner from the Hawaii Convention Center, it can be a bit tricky to find since there is no obvious sign. The sushi bar has just 8 seats and the cost for the omakase only menu is around $200 per person. But the experience is exquisite. Some standouts included squid "somen" filely sliced into delicate slivers topped with yuzukosho, crispy white shrimp and sayori cured in kombu also known as Japanese half beak or needlefish.

Maru Sushi
1731 Kalakaua Ave
808-951-4445

MORE

I use this Honolulu Dining Guide Google map to keep track of all my favorite restaurants in Honolulu. But I recently got another beautiful Honolulu map, the one at the top of this post, to keep stay focused on my home away from home. It's from Modern Map Art and is available as a poster in various sizes. Head over to find the city of your dreams!

Disclaimer: I paid for all meals myself, however I was given the lovely map as a gift. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post.

©2017 Cooking with Amy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

15 May 2017 10:51pm GMT