Catchin' Up

I have not blogged for several months...three to be exact.  We have been super busy at La Dolce Vita. January brought chicken pot pies.  That is always a crazy job.  We again roasted over 120 lbs of chicken, peeled and parboiled 100 lbs of potatoes and 50 lbs of carrots, and made I donotknowhowmuch crust.  I am not sure if I have eaten chicken since! The very week after that was completed, we made 5,000 cookies for a hotel in Indianapolis.  I have a sneaking suspicion that it had something to do with the Super Bowl that our fine state of Indiana hosted.  Now that is a LOT of cookies!  We got them all done in one week, if you can believe it.  We borrowed a huge mixer from the very generous Tony Ficcaro of Splendid Fare and I used all my employees, some very sweet girlfriends and my son AND his roommate.  Joseph Dequis across the street graciously let us store most of them in one of their AWESOME walk in coolers (I now have refrigeration envy) because my little freezer could barely hold a fifth of that!

February slowed down a bit and Bill and I took a great trip and ate, slept, and read all week.   But in March, I began Dinner With Friends.  This is to be a monthly dinner on the first Friday of every month.  I was so nervous.  Would it work?  Would people come?

Anytime I begin something new, there is so much anxiety involved.  But it was time to try this dream I have had for a year or so which was suggested to me by at least two people.  That night I served a pretty uncomplicated meal of penne in a red sauce with veggies, chicken and sausage, Caesar salad, garlic bread, and home made gelato and sorbetto.  I wanted to keep it under control and make only things I felt well versed in.  (For those who do not know me well, I love to try new menus on people and will even try them without a dry run.  So far it has worked out well, but I know it is risky.)  Well, the night was a huge success!  It was so fun and people came in all kinds of attire, which is what I had hoped for.  They ate everything.  They had second helpings.  They bought the sauce to take home at half the price I would normally sell it.  They laughed and signed up for the next one.  I was on such a "chef's high" that I could not go to sleep that night!  I could not have done it without my crack pot staff. I have the very best staff in the world!

I am not telling you anything cool, but now I will.  Here is one great, not well known culinary tip.   This week Time magazine had a full page article on using cast iron skillets.  The author sings the praises of this old fashioned pan and I am right there with him.  The sale of cast iron skillets has risen quite a bit in the past few years.  So why is cast iron suddenly cool again?  (or hot... tee hee).  Cast iron is a fabulous conductor of heat and stays hot a long time.  It is practically indestructible.  It is heavy so things do not tend to burn.  It can be used as a weapon.  But one thing this author left out, which I could not believe that yours truly knows and this fancy New York reporter does not, is that using a cast iron skillet will raise the iron content of the food cooked in it by as much as 15%.  And that is good for you.  We all need iron.   Iron supplements, if you take them, certainly have their unpleasant side effects, but now you can up yours simply with a $40.00 pan that your mother probably used all the time.  Perhaps we should all make our stir fry okra and our scrambled eggs in the skillet that has traveled the world and has been around way before they came up with stainless steel.