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Welcome to delicious Destinations, a GourmetStation blog. Through the charater of T.Alexander and occasional real-life guests, our aim is to share with you light-hearted fun ideas about food, gift giving, entertaining and culture. At the same time we would love you hear from you. Please share your experiences from home or abroad.
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New Pasta Entrees – Flavors Of Fall
Posted: October 22, 2009
In a traditional sense pasta is usually heavily sauced and the elegance of the dish is covered up – both from a visual and taste standpoint. Our new ravioli dishes are a cut above the crowd. The fresh pasta and fillings are so elegant, they stand alone with just a touch of olive oil and cracked black pepper. We place 6 of these morsels (3 of two different varieties) on a bed of garden veggies including organic garlic. Then we drizzle the pasta with olive oil and seal both pasta and veggies tightly in heavy foil. When the dish cooks at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, a little steam is produced making the pasta very tender. The end result is a pasta dish where flavors are dominated by the ravioli filling – not a heavy sauce. Lighter, fresher, healthier eating. Enjoy!
Smoked Mozzarella/Asparagus Ravioli & Porcini Mushroom Ravioli - Three each of two ravioli made with fresh pasta, drizzled in olive oil then topped with cracked pepper.
Butternut Squash Ravioli & Eggplant Parmesan Ravioli - Three each of two ravioli made with fresh pasta, drizzled in olive oil then topped with cracked pepper.
Both are served on a bed of garden veggies with organic whole garlic.
Vegetarian Friends….Vegetarian Chefs
Posted: October 18, 2006
A business trip took me to Denver for a mini conference….afterward I had the good fortune to visit my brother’s vacation home in the mountains near Westcliffe, Colorado. With my boss Colleen in tow…we headed off through the mountain passes from Denver and then hit several large valleys with incredible vistas, before arriving in Westcliffe.
The beauty of the Westcliffe Valley is accented by the 12-13,000 foot peaks that the Valley faces. While it was late August and the height of summer when we visited, we were treated to a dusting of snow on the highest peaks one morning, after a rainfall. When the clouds lifted that morning, the upper portion of the whole range of mountains, running north and south was frosted with a decent layer of snow.
My brother, traditionally a fisherman and grilling man, who prefers rare steaks, was going to be, I feared, challenged when I told him my boss was a vegetarian. Not missing a beat though, when we arrived, dinner that first night was one of the best vegetarian meals that I had eaten.
Dinner was also accented by some great wines, primarily Shiraz and Merlot, Australian and Chilean in origin, with the Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a backdrop to the meal setting. Not bad….and not a bad way to spend a long weekend, hiking and visiting a wolf rescue facility in the area.
I highly recommend the Westcliffe area for a mountain get-away. There is a great bed and breakfast located in town and wonderful hiking and trout fishing, along with horse back riding throughout the area. White water rafting is another option as well for the more adventuresome types. Try a Google search for more information on activities and accommodations in the area.
If you can’t make it to Westcliffe, you can try this wonderful vegetarian styled Mexican lasagna to spice up your night wherever you might be eating.
No Meat-Vegetarian Style Mexican Lasagna
1 10 oz enchilada sauce
14.5 oz can cut, peeled and drained tomatoes
1 16 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
9 large lasagna noodles
2 cups low fat cottage cheese
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the enchilada sauce, tomatoes and tomato paste, and blend well, adding in the beans.
Layer 1/3 of the mixture onto the bottom of a 12 x 8 inch rectangular cooking pan/bowl,
and then cover with three of the lasagna noodles. Spread your cup of cottage cheese and sprinkle with one cup of cheddar cheese. Then spoon on half of the remaining tomato sauce mixture.
Add another layer of noodles and another cup of cheddar cheese sprinkled across the top. Then add the remaining three noodles, sauce and cheddar cheese. Cover with foil tightly and bake 45-60 minutes.
Let stand and set for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Gnocci With Asparagus
Posted: May 29, 2006
Simonetta from Casa Bellavista, an exquisite Tuscan bed & breakfast in Cortona Italy, has graciously shared another one of her family’s time-honored recipes. Now if you think you can’t make home-made gnocchi - think again. Simonetta has shared a recipe that is not only delicious but it’s simple to prepare. Blended with asparagus sauce straight from the Tuscan market, this recipe is a favorite at Casa Bellavista and will surely be a favorite with your friends & family. If you’re looking for a unique vacation this summer and want to join Simonetta and her family at Casa Bellavista, you can participate in cooking classes from her authentic Tuscan kitchen. You may email Simonetta at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at http://www.casabellavista.it/ - Enjoy and thank you Simonetta!
1000g. white potatoes
250g. white flour 0
gr. 500 fresh asparagus
grated parmesan cheese
Extra Virgin olive oil
Gnocci: Cook the potatoes in their skins in salted water. Peel and pass, add the flour, salt and knead into a dough. Divide the dough and cut into sections, then roll into long sausages. Cut into small pieces and roll each with one finger to make them curl.
Sauce: Cut tops from asparagus spears. Boil stems in salted water until tender. Drain then use the same water to lightly boil the tops. Keep the water. Finely chop the onion and brown lightly in a little oil. Add the asparagus stems and, after cooking for a few moments, put through the blender. Replace the mixture in the pan, add a little of the asparagus cooking water and the peas and cook together. When almost cooked add the asparagus tops, salt, pepper and grated lemon zest.
In the meantime cook the gnocchi in the asparagus cooking water, drain.
Add to the cooked vegetables and stir in the grated parmesan.
Olito's Sweet Olive Jam - A Gourmet Vegetarian Gift
Posted: March 22, 2006
I was recently contacted by an enthusiastic gentleman from Barcelona Spain, Jamison Miller. Jamison represents a company called Olitos. Humm, interesting name – what could all this be about?
After visiting the Olitos web site, I found something passionate and unique that definitely deserves sharing. No wonder Jamison Miller is enthusiastic about his employer. It seems that Olitos is a company “dedicated passionately to the innovation of the olive.” Legend has it, according to Jamison, that two helpless romantics set out to live in Barcelona and among the wild, rural regions of Catalunya they attached themselves to a goal - production of the world’s greatest sweet olive jam!
I was graciously provided with a sample of sweet olive jam and I must share the outcome of my tasting. In North American culture we think of jam as perhaps fruity – an apple, cherry or peach spread to marry with toast for our morning meal. In order to enjoy this new product we must broaden our mindset. Olives are actually fruit and jam is a spread – perhaps sweet, maybe not – and it can be enjoyed on just about anything at any time of day.
The primary ingredients in this Mediterranean recipe are hand picked olives, apple juice, rosemary mountain honey with herbs and spices. I sampled the jam on toasted crusty squares of traditional French bread as a dinner appetizer. I must say it was full bodied in flavor with a perfect balance between the sublime olive flavors and the sweetness of the apple juice & honey. My intention was to enjoy the sweet olive jam as just an appetizer, but I found myself hooked. My joyous sampling continued until the sampling became appetizer, entrée and dessert. I would call that success, wouldn’t you?
The Olitos web site provides recipes and serving suggestions such as placing the sweet olive jam with a cheese platter or on a salad with grilled goats cheese. It is also a nice accompaniment to roast lamb. I recommend trying this delicacy for yourself. Or if you are looking for a unique gift, perhaps a gourmet vegetarian gift, take a look at the Zen like black and tan gift packaging. Good work Jamison & Olitos team!
For other gourmet vegetarian gifts consider GourmetStation.
Eggplant De Jour
Posted: January 25, 2006
If you’re on a journey to transition to a plant rich diet and the bite & mouth feel of meat is keeping you from moving forward, consider eggplant. While slightly larger than bell peppers, eggplants share some of their characteristics. Their sturdy “meaty” fruit allows them to be stuffed, baked, fried, sautéed and still maintain plate appearance and bite without turning to mush. Below are three of my favorite recipes. Don’t forget GourmetStation’s vegetarian collection if you seek a vegetarian food gift for another or an indulgence for yourself.
It's All In The Spices
Posted: November 7, 2005
Whether you’re transitioning to vegetarianism or veganism for health, religious, or animal welfare & environmental reasons, the bridge can be shorter if you remember one thing. It’s all in the spices. Eating only plant-based food can be boring and a successful transition may be made easier by keeping plenty of spices on hand. The Indian culture has figured this out. Cumin, coriander, cardamom, mustard, mango powder, ginger, asafetida, fenugreek and chilies. Don’t forget turmeric, tamarind, saffron, curry leaf, coconut milk. If you like nuts use almonds, cashews and pistachios. That’s just the beginning.
What could be more boring than green beans & potatoes? Well this recipe puts a new exotic spin on two vegetables we used to hide from in school cafeteria. Click here for Indian Style Green & Potatoes using turmeric, coriander, paprika, mango powder, salt and canola oil. Serves six. Remember GourmetStation's vegetarian collection - especically if you are seeking a gourmet food gift for a vegetable lover.
Posted: August 28, 2005
Chefs that are skilled in preparing delicious meals without meat are true masters. Some of the most exquisite cuisine I've ever enjoyed was vegetarian and vegan. If you are inclined to learn more, I recommend you master the definitions first.
But first did you know that these famous celebs are vegan...Bryan Adams (Canadian rock star), Gillian Anderson (best known as FBI Agent Scully from the X-Files), Drew Barrymore, Linda Blair, Woody Harrelson, and kd lang. Athletes include track and field star Carl Lewis and recently Scott Jurek. Scott won the Badwater Ultramatharon, a grueling 135 miles through 115 degree desert heat from the lowest point in the US to one of the highest, Mount Whitney. Impressive. Read on.
Vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is someone who chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products. While vegetarians choose not to use flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy, fish and eggs.
Vegetarianism includes veganism and is defined as the practice of not eating meat, poultry or fish or their by-products, with or without the use of dairy productds or eggs.
Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian is the same is vegan, but these folks also eat eggs and milk products. This is the most popular form of vegetarianism.
Lacto Vegetarian is the the same as vegan, but also consumes milk products.
Veggie is a nick name for vegetarian and often includes vegan.
Strick vegetarians were originally vegans, but now can mean vegan or vegetarian.
So there you have it. If your boss comes to dinner and you're warned first that his wife is lacto vegetarian what kind of dish might you serve? A beautiful salad with simple oil & vinegar dressing is always appreciated by the vegetarian. For this guest I would recommend a pasta, perhaps cheese tortellini topped with a cream based sauce like sundried tomato alfredo sauce. GourmetStation might have the answer for you in their vegetarian gourmet food gift collection.