Soup, Stew and a Snow Storm at Sue’s

This storm was so big, it had a name:  Jonas.  With nearly record-breaking snowfall what’s an apartment bound New Yorker to do?  Cook and eat of course!!!!  We love sitting around and sharing a cheese and meat plate before dinner.  This soup is real comfort food and perfect for the first night of a blizzard.  Get the recipe here.  Comfort Soup

Dinner that night was my grandmother’s Irish stew.  A real stick to your ribs meal. THAT's comfort food... stew with dumplings

…now THAT’s comfort food… stew with dumplings.

If you simply follow the steps in my handwritten recipe, you’ll create a great stew.  The dumplings are right here:  Dumplings!

final_300dpiThe Divas dish on Sue’s dish.     Sue:  I’ll mention a couple of things about the stew and dumplings.  You can use chuck cut into 2 inch pieces for the stew.  Be very patient browning it.  If you crowd too much in the pot at once the meat steams rather than browns.  Use 2 tbsp of butter to brown the meat.  Add more butter if you need to — it’s just stew not some secret formula.  When making the dumplings don’t over mix them.  The batter  will be very lumpy.  When you drop them into the stew it thickens the broth.  Mimi:  It absolutely tickles me to go through Sue’s ancient recipes and discover these handwritten, well-worn pieces of paper.  That’s how you know it’s good food … they’ve stood the test of time.  I’m  not a big root vegetable or leek fan so I’ll pass on the soup.  But, that stew with dumplings …oh boy… get in my belly now!  My first attempt at making dumplings was a real mess so, I definitely should give it another shot.



Sue Celebrates the Holidays (21 Guests)


Our Celebration Started…

the weekend before Christmas in beautiful Buck Hill Falls as we prepared for 21 family members to arrive for the holidays.  Saturday, we unpacked the holiday glassware and the giant shiny red ice bucket ringed with jingle bells.  On Sunday we put the finishing touches on decorating the house — lots of Christmas lights for the grandchildren!  Monday morning, I started cooking.  You know by now that my preference is to avoid slaving over a hot stove during a celebration and to spend as much time with our guests as possible.  I believe in balancing “store-bought” with “do it yourself”.  My menu is a combination of years of tradition and family members’ special requests.


Shrimp Cocktail

Lobster Salad

Halibut Salad

Calamari Salad


English Farmhouse Cheddar

Goat Cheese

Truffled Mousse Pate

Italian Olives


Toasted Sesame Seed Crackers

Table Water Crackers

Toasted Raisin Pecan Crisps


Beef Stew in Red Wine

Mashed Potatoes

Buttermilk Scones

Roasted String Beans


Irresistible Tiramisu

Chocolate Chip Cookies


I have shopped at the same fish market for 30 years in our old neighborhood, Forest Hills, NY.  In some ways it’s a “typical” fish market:  all white tile, drain in the middle of the floor and clean and fresh as a whistle.  In other ways there is nothing typical about it. Their shrimp (I buy large, not jumbo) have that perfect balance of the sea and sweetness.  Our entire family is crazy about the salads.  Had I left out any of the three salads, people would have commented that something was missing.

Everyone has their favorites.  The grandchildren gobble up the goat cheese and grapes.  And according to my son Tommy, a cheese board without English farmhouse cheddar simply isn’t complete.  My favorite are the toasted raisin pecan crisps.  I buy them at Eli Zabars.  For years I made chocolate chip cookies from scratch.  One day the grandchildren told me:  “Grandma, we like Tate’s chocolate chip cookies”.  So now, I save myself the work and buy them Tate’s.

I buy the buttermilk scones at Alice’s Tea Cup.   The recipe is on-line if you are a “DIY” –  type.  The tiramisu recipe came from the owner of our favorite local Italian restaurant / pizzeria in our old neighborhood.  I told him that his tiramisu was the finest I ever had and he generously shared his secret recipe. Thanks Joey!


For all of the details on celebrating the holidays with my family, just follow the diva to our website.