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Flavors of Princeton – “Silver Linings” Edition

November 5, 2013

Yankee Doodle Tap Room Executive Chef Michael LaCorte at Princeton Public Library

The Princeton Public Library Flavors of Princeton series continued, collaborating with Executive Chef, Michael LaCorte of the Nassau Inn’s Yankee Doodle Tap Room. He took his cue from the Princeton Reads selection Silver Linings Playbook. LaCorte prepared the Sicilian dish chicken spiedini, shared that recipe along with braciole, crabby patties, and chicken curry, and had plenty of all dishes for the crowd to sample.

Yankee Doodle Tap Room Executive Chef Michael LaCorte Prepares Chicken Spiedini at Princeton Public Library Yankee Doodle Tap Room Executive Chef Michael LaCorte Prepares Chicken Spiedini at Princeton Public Library

Chef LaCorte was very personable, gave great tips, and shared anecdotes about his family and Sicilian heritage. He created his own version of a crab snack sited in the “Playbook”, which along with the braciole and spiedini served, make great appetizers on any game day. This is really easy to prepare and flavorful.

To make this dish, LaCorte pounded out chicken breast strips, coated them with olive oil, covered them with a mixture of bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and seasonings including a couple of pinches of cinnamon, rolled up a cube of provolone inside, skewered with bay leaves in between, and broiled on both sides until the chicken was done. The spiedini was my personal favorite. My friend enjoyed his “crabby patty” most. Below is that recipe. Enjoy!

Yankee Doodle Tap Room Executive Chef Michael LaCorte Prepares Chicken Spiedini at Princeton Public Library

Crabby Snacks (Crab Canapés)

Yield: 48 canapés, Time: 30 minute prep time, plus 30 minutes in the freezer

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
  • One 6-ounce can crabmeat, drained
  • One 5-ounce jar Kraft Old English cheese spread
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 6 English muffins, halved

Directions:

  1. Combine butter, crabmeat, cheese spread, mayonnaise, and garlic powder in medium bowl.
  2. Spread crab mixture on English muffin halves. Freeze for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat broiler. Cut each English muffin half into quarters, and transfer onto a baking sheet.
  4. Broil until brown and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

The White Snake at McCarter – Review

October 24, 2013
The White Snake at McCarter Theatre

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

The White Snake, written and directed by Mary Zimmerman, is running at McCarter Theatre until November 3rd. It is a love story against all odds based on a Chinese legend, and is very family friendly.

The White Snake at McCarter Theatre

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

The white snake from the spirit world looks down upon Earth. She falls in love with a man and decides to descend from the clouds to win his affections. In order to be convincing, she must transform herself into human form. The green snake also alters herself to blend in, and assist the white snake with her quest. Little did they know that they would have an adversary to put a wrench in her plans.

This production is refreshing for McCarter audiences, as it keeps to the genre of traditional Chinese story telling in a pure form. As the dialog in the beginning progresses, the stage builds into a visually stunning set, which enhances the love story. The snakes are Chinese rod puppets, which really add to the work’s authenticity. Silken sheets, Chinese lanterns, and bamboo walls add wonderful textures to the stage, and the ever-changing screen against the back wall is great at setting the mood. Together with the beautiful costumes and traditional music, audiences will be culturally immersed in this mesmerizing performance.

The White Snake at McCarter Theatre

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

The cast was superb. They allowed our imaginations to soar by using the slightest gestures to symbolize larger actions, i.e. they way they made us believe they boarded a boat that was not physically there, and be paddled down the river. This is also a testament to the amazing direction of Zimmerman.

While this is a perfect production for children, adults alike will be captured by the story telling, music, and visual effects. This is a must see for those of all ages!

Running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $20 – $76 and can be purchased online or by calling 609-258-2787.

National Bullying Prevention Month

October 15, 2013
2011 Documentary Bully

Courtesy of Netflix

The Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB) compliance checklist was revised in 2011, and brought even more awareness to this national issue. New Jersey has been a leader in supporting the prevention of HIB, and some Princeton schools even offer awareness and resolution training to parent volunteers.

While it’s fantastic that schools are being proactive about this growing problem, parents need to also educate themselves and their children. It’s a good time to have open discussions about harassment, intimidation, and bullying at home.

Sometimes the easiest way to start the conversation is by watching a movie on the topic. Netflix is suggesting 11 anti-HIB movies you can watch on demand by streaming on a computer, tablet, smart phone, or TV via apps, a game console, Blu Ray player, or streaming box, i.e. an Apple TV, in the comfort of your home. Younger kids might enjoy watching Hercules, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Avenger’s: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, Spy Kids: All the Time in the World, Justice League Unlimited, and Ben 10: Alien Force. Tweens and teens might find Bully, The War, Billy Elliot, The Fat Boy Chronicles, and Cyber Bully interesting.

I watched the latter with my kids. Cyber Bully is a story about a girl whose friends and classmates turned against her on a social media site. We discussed how it’s so much easier to bully someone online, and how sites like Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat can be a treacherous vehicle to spreading rumors, making fun of people, and ganging up on a victim. Especially since you can use a handle (name) and avatar (photo) that makes you anonymous. This can lead to low self-esteem, or in worst cases, suicide.

Younger kids get to see superheroes as the protector of HIB victims, and these movies might influence them to confront those who are mean to their classmates or friends. This makes them a hero!

Harassment, intimidation, and bullying includes physical, verbal or written acts that demeans or insults a child under New Jersey law. Take a stand against HIB, and start conversations  with your family the remainder of the month.

Proof Proves Itself Worthy at McCarter – Review

September 19, 2013
Proof at McCarter Theatre with Kristen Bush and Michael Siberry

Photo Credit: Richard Termine

David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Proof kicks off the McCarter 2013-14 theater season. It’s an intriguing story of the work of a prodigy, and relationships. While this is a perfect play for a college town, you don’t have to be a mathematician to appreciate this work.

The story begins with Robert, played by Michael Siberry, who was a University of Chicago professor before he died. He left behind the legacies of his two daughters, Claire, played by Jessica Dickey, and Catherine (in her mid 20s), played by Kristen Bush, plus his pioneering work accomplished when he was younger than Catherine.

“No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness.” ~ Aristotle

Robert was unfortunately struck by mental illness. One of his former students, Hal played by Michael Braun, idolized him during a year of clarity. He asked Catherine if he could review Robert’s work, hoping that his work that year had been documented in one of his notebooks.

Meanwhile, Catherine has been “seeing” her recently deceased father, and has been having conversations with him. The question is, has his madness been passed down to her, and if so, has she inherited his genius as well? After a while, Hal discovers a brilliant proof, which Catherine claimed to have written. Was it her father’s last breakthrough, which would indicate that Catherine is delusional, or is she a chip off the old block? She tries to prove the proof is hers.

Proof at McCarter Theatre with

Photo Credit: Richard Termine

The performances of this four actor play were spot on. Kristen Bush’s portrayal of Catherine was mesmerizing. Her awkwardness and introverted personality paired with nervous mannerisms, ease of discussing mathematics, and the nurturing of her father felt very natural. Michael Siberry was perfect as the “nutty professor” Robert, and showed a loving side as father to Catherine. Jessica Dickey allowed her character Claire to be somewhat disconnected from her sister’s and father’s world, yet was able to show a hint of jealousy of the relationship between Catherine and their father, as well as a bit of animosity for making sacrifices to support them. Michael Braun performance was impressive, and made Hal seem somewhat cool and extroverted for a nerd, and had amazing chemistry with Kristen Bush.

As usual, Emily Mann has brilliantly directed this play. Lighting, sound, and set are all wonderful. I especially liked the sounds of a dog barking in the distance, the architecture and props including the window air conditioner, and the writing desk on the back porch. There were many great details on the set, as well as in the performances. Proof is riveting under Mann’s direction, and I highly recommend it!

Sunday, September 29 - Proof in Conversation: Creative Genius, Extraordinary Ways of Thinking, and Ill- and Well-Being. 

Panel guests will include:

  • Silvia Nasar, journalist, Columbia University professor and best-selling author of A Beautiful Mind.
  • Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, cognitive psychologist, New York University adjunct professor, author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, and popular science writer and blogger.

The panel discussion will begin on the Berlind stage at approximately 4 PM. No RSVP or ticket is required to attend the discussion; it is free and open to the public.

Here’s a sneak peek courtesy of McCarter.

Mrs. G’s Appliance Chef Recipes – Roasted Cauliflower

August 14, 2013

Appliance Chef Mary Beth Madill Cooking Cauliflower at Mrs Gs

Mrs. G’s Appliance Chef, Mary Beth Madill, has another delicious recipe to share from the Miele kitchen vignette at Mrs. G’s. The roasted cauliflower is a tasty side dish to make on a grill pan. One of the variations below might even get kids to eat it (think cheese)! Here are her recipes for Watermelon Blueberry SalsaLemonade and Shrimp, and Beef Kebabs. Madill provides more of her recipes on her Appliance Chef blog.

She’s also offers cooking classes for kids (with a parent). So check the site for the next class so you can see her cooking techniques live!

Roasted Cauliflower

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and coarsely ground black pepper
Preparation:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Wash the cauliflower and remove the tough outer leaves and discard. Leave the core (stem) intact.
  4. Cut the base so that it can stand up without moving around.
  5. Place cauliflower, base side down, on a work surface.
  6. Using a very sharp knife, and starting at top center of cauliflower head, cut down the center of the cauliflower head to divide it in half, then carefully cut four 3/4-inch thick slices (two off each half).
  7. Set cauliflower steaks aside. You can get two (2) large cauliflower steaks and two (2) medium-size cauliflower steaks from the cauliflower head.
  8. You can cut the remaining cauliflower florets and brown them with the steaks, or save them for another use.
  9. Heat a stove top cast iron grill or in a large non-stick frying pan to medium-high heat.
  10. Brush cauliflower steaks with olive oil on both sides, season with salt and pepper, and sear 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown (this will create a nice brown sear). Only turn once as they are a bit delicate.
  11. Remove from pan and place on prepared baking sheet.
  12. Repeat with remaining cauliflower steaks.
  13. Roast cauliflower, in the oven, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  14. When the cauliflower steaks are done, remove from heat and transfer them onto individual serving plates.
  15. Makes 2 to 4 servings (depending on serving sizes).

Appliance Chef Mary Beth Madill's Cauliflower at Mrs Gs

Variation Ideas:
  • Lightly sprinkle some toasted sesame oil over top of the cauliflower steaks before roasting, and before serving, sprinkle with some sesame seeds.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon minced garlic over the top of the cauliflower steaks before roasting.
  • Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander over the top of the cauliflower steaks before roasting.
  • Delete salt and add 1/4 cup soy sauce before roasting.
  • Substitute smoked paprika for the salt and black pepper when searing.
  • Add 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese after baking. Return to oven and continue roasting until the cheese is melted and any moisture has evaporated, approximately 5 additional minutes.

 

Snugg as a Bug – Review

August 8, 2013

IMG_3588

We invest a good amount into our smart phones, so we should properly protect them. Snugg sells cases and pouches for smart phones, plus iPads and other tablets, the Kindle, the iPod Touch, MacBook Air, and they have Nano accessories. I was recently sent a case of my choice to test out.

Snugg offers their cases in many colors and materials, i.e. PC, leather, suede, silicone and bamboo. There are the most choices for the iPhone 5. I choose the bamboo wood case for my Samsung Galaxy S3 because I like the feel of a natural material, and how it looked surrounding the white front. This case is made of sustainable wood, and the cut-outs are precisely placed around the power button, volume rocker, USB port, camera lens, etc. The interior is lined with black velvet to prevent scratching. This is definitely a quality product.

It’s easy to slide into place, putting the top portion on first. The bottom section slides on and locks into place. It indeed fits snugly and will not separate no matter how hard you try to pull it apart. It feels secure in the hand, even if it’s wet.

I intentionally dropped my phone from three and five feet to test how it lands. These are about the distances where you would have it in your hand with your arm down or up near your ear when the phone might slip and fall. The case stayed intact, prevented chipping from the sides and scratches from the back, and prevented the glass from cracking.

Snugg Bamboo Wood Case for Samsung Galaxy S3 Review

Removing the case was puzzling at first. Since I had it on for a few days before removing it, I had forgotten how it snapped into place. There are no instructions, so I contacted customer service via the chat option. The rep was friendly, and told me to push down on the bottom, while pulling out. That didn’t work, but then I remembered how it connected, and inserted a credit card in the slit where it connects and pushed down on it while sliding the bottom away. Voilà!

Overall, this Snugg case offers good protection in a slim-fitting, attractive shell. I love the bamboo wood case, and don’t plan on taking it off any time soon. If you like a simpler, streamline look, and a non-slip case that doesn’t add bulk or much weight, this brand might be right for you.

Mrs. G’s Appliance Chef Recipes – Beef Kebabs

August 6, 2013

Mrs Gs Appliance Chef Mary Beth Madill Cooking Beef Kebabs

Mrs. G’s Appliance Chef, Mary Beth Madill, has another recipe to share from the Miele kitchen vignette at Mrs. G’s. The beef kababs with cherry sauce is a great entrée to make on the grill during these lazy days of summer. You’ll love the flavorful sauce combined with the smoky meat! It can also be cooked on a grill pan as she demonstrated. Madill provides more of her recipes on her Appliance Chef blog.

She’s also offers cooking classes for kids (with a parent). So check the site for the next class so you can see her cooking techniques live! Additionally, there’s a free Kosher Cooking Show at Mrs. G’s with Rabbi Goldenberg on Sunday, August 11th from 1:00 – 2:30 PM. RSVP by August 7th.   

Beef Kebabs with Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients:
Cherry Barbecue Sauce (Makes 1⅔ cup of sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • ½ cup minced shallots
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (1-inch) ginger root, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ cup tamari
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup apple juice
  • 10 ounces frozen cherries, roughly chopped
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Beef Kebabs

  • 1½ pound flank steak
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
Directions:
Cherry Sauce
The cherry barbecue sauce is a cinch to make and can be prepared ahead of time.

  1. Place olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and sauté until translucent (around 5 minutes).
  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger and tomato paste, and sauté for 30 second until fragrant.
  4. Add the tamari, vinegar, juice and cherries, and bring to a boil.
  5. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until the cherry mixture has thickened.
  6. While the sauce is simmering, stir occasionally and smash the cherries against the side of the pot.
  7. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer the sauce to a bowl or measuring cup and set aside.
Beef Kebabs
  1. A half hour before you want to grill your skewers, soak 16 bamboo skewers in water.
  2. Remove flank steak from the refrigerator and cut it into 16 pieces.
  3. First, cut the steak in half lengthwise (along the grain).
  4. Next, slice the steak in half across the grain, then in fourths, and finally in eighths.
  5. Carefully thread each slice of meat through the center with a soaked skewer.
  6. Using a meat pounder or small cast iron skillet, pound each steak skewer until it’s about ½ inch thick.
  7. Season the beef with salt and pepper and brush both sides with olive oil.
  8. On the back of your back grill, or cast iron stove top grill pan, cook beef skewers over medium – high heat for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.
  9. Baste skewers with Cherry Barbeque sauce as they are cooking.
  10. Let the meat skewers rest for 5 minutes.
  11. Just before serving, brush with Cherry Barbecue Sauce on more time.
  12. Garnish with fresh scallions and served immediately.
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