Inn at Pound Ridge

The Inn at Pound Ridge is one of the area’s hot spots, known for its wonderful ambiance and great food.

The Inn at Pound Ridge is one of the area’s hot spots, known for its wonderful ambiance and great food.  The elegant but down to earth fare by Chef Jean-George is the main attraction, but the decor is what I find so memorable.  The curve of the banquets, the use of leather, and a neutral palette add up to an interior that makes you want to stay for hours and hours.

Inn at Pound Ridge 8

Inn at Pound Ridge 9

Named for the building’s history as an inn, the Inn at Pound Ridge is a refined, yet rustic, restaurant in picturesque Pound Ridge, New York.  Built in 1833 as a residence before later serving as an inn, the building has been restored and carefully renovated.  Many of the original materials have been preserved, resulting in a modern sensibility that stays true to the building’s historic past.  A mixture of reclaimed wood, zinc, and marble throughout the interior meld with artful lighting to create a truly warm atmosphere.

Inn at Pound Ridge 7

Inn at Pound Ridge 2

Inn at Pound Ridge 6

In fact, the interior of the Inn and Pound Ridge was so well done by designer Thomas Juul-Hansen that it has become the inspiration for a home I am currently designing in Montana.  I love how the Danish furniture, the stone, and the wood elements at the Inn became a point of reference for a home in an entirely different state.

Inn at Pound Ridge 5

Inn at Pound Ridge 3

Inn at Pound Ridge 4

To learn more about Inn at Pound Ridge or plan a visit, see their website.  You can also find them on Facebook.

Pollo alla Cacciatora: Hunter’s Chicken

Now that fall is officially here with cooler days and nights, we tend to start cooking heartier meals.

Now that fall is officially here with cooler days and nights, we tend to start cooking heartier meals.   One that comes to mind is Chicken Cacciatora, or Hunter’s Chicken.  Cacciatora means hunter in Italian.  In cuisine, alla cacciatora refers to a meal prepared hunter-style with tomatoes, onions, herbs, often bell pepper, and sometimes wine.

CacciatoraWhat’s great about this dish is that it can be cooked in one pot. There are many different versions of this dish, but the one I go to is from one of my favorite cookbooks:  Elodia Rigante’s Italian Immigrant Cooking.  It is filled with many wonderful recipes that were passed down in her family for generations, recipes that originated in the Apulia region in southern Italy where her parents were from.

Italian Immigrant CookingTo quote Elodia, “The best cacciatora is cooked slowly for a long time, so that the flavors in the sauce are subtle and perfectly blended, and the chicken is tender as butter.  Therefore, even though I say to let this dish simmer for an hour, if you have time simmer it for two hours on very low heat.”

The recipe calls for a whole chicken cut up, but I prefer to use chicken legs and bone in breasts.  I also like to cook with cremini mushrooms, but it is one’s preference. The original recipe adds cheese to the dish before serving, but this is optional.  I am not one to measure, so always check your ingredients.  You may have to adjust them.

mushrooms and carrots


1 chicken (5 pounds) cut in pieces, or 6 chicken legs and 4 whole chicken breasts with bones, split in half with skin removed

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1 cup flour

1 cup chopped onion

1 cup sliced cremini mushrooms

1 cup julienned carrot

1 cup julienned green pepper

minced garlic (optional)

1 35 oz can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand

1 6 oz can of tomato paste

3⁄4 cup red or Marsala wine

1⁄2 cup of chopped fresh basil and parsley

1 tsp chopped fresh oregano

2 whole bay leaves

crushed black pepper to taste

salt to taste

grated Romano cheese (optional)

loaf of Italian bread

Serves 4

Wash and dry the chicken pieces.  Heat the oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven.  Roll and coat each chicken piece in the flour, and brown each piece on all sides to a golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a paper towel to drain.

Sauté the onion, mushrooms, carrot, green pepper, crushed black pepper, and garlic, if you are using it, in the same skillet for 10 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes.  Stir in the tomato paste to thicken (you may not use the whole can), then add wine, herbs and salt, and cook over medium heat for another 5 minutes.

Add all the chicken pieces and mix well.  Turn down the heat very low, and simmer, covered, for 1 hour or longer if you have the time to do so.  Adjust the salt and pepper to your taste.  Remove the bay leaves before serving.

Serve with freshly grated cheese (optional), a nice warm loaf of Italian bread, and your favorite salad.  Enjoy!

Italian Bread

Fish Restaurant + Bar

We recently went to F.I.S.H. Restaurant + Bar on Bedford Rd. in Stamford and had such a memorable meal!

My husband and I enjoy trying various local restaurants.  One place we love is F.I.S.H. Restaurant + Bar on Bedford Rd. in Stamford.  The owners have two other restaurants (Quattro Pazzi and Osianna), and their experience in providing good food and good service is clearly evident.   F.I.S.H. Restaurant + Bar has an interior that makes an immediate impression when you step inside — such a cool, edgy environment.  The restaurant is small, but stylish, and has a little bit of a rustic attitude with a modern nod.  It’s very appealing.

FISH Stamford

FISH Stamford 1

The food, of course, is what makes F.I.S.H. so memorable.  The menu features a raw bar, several salads, a range of appetizers, main courses with things like chicken and pasta, and, my favorite, the Naked Fish selections.  With the Naked Fish dinners, you choose your fish, the cooking method you prefer, and one of six incredible sauces.  The fish also comes with your choice of a side.

FISH Stamford 2

FISH Stamford 4

FISH Stamford 3

My husband had the grilled octopus, which was so delicious.  The mussels are a must have! My fish was really fresh, and I loved having the different options for preparing it.    F.I.S.H. is open for lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on Sunday.

To see the full menu, visit the F.I.S.H. website.  You can also find them on Facebook.





Spaghetti with Clams

When I want to cook a light meal or a side dish to go with a fish such as grey sole, I will make this dish.

This dish is one of my favorites!  It reminds me of enjoying meals in trattorias while traveling in Italy, restaurants in New York City’s Little Italy, and on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. They were good times spent with my family while enjoying great food.

When I want to cook a light meal or a side dish to go with a fish such as grey sole, I will make this dish.  The recipe is from one of my favorite chefs, Giada DeLaurentiis.  You can find this recipe and many others in her book Everyday Italian.

Everyday Italian
Everyday Italian

As Giada says in her book, “Spaghetti with clams is very different from spaghetti with clam sauce, they are not the same dish.  The first is a dish with a light, fragrant dressing tossed with whole clams and in my opinion the only way to make this dish.”

Spaghetti with Clams
Spaghetti with Clams

To make this dish you will use Manila Clams.  They are a smaller clam and are sold by the pound.  You can also use Cockles or, if you prefer a larger clam, you can use small Little Necks, which are sold by the dozen.  I use linguini instead of spaghetti, which is flat pasta.  If I can, I will buy the pasta fresh. When using fresh pasta, you may want to increase the amount used by a ¼ of a pound.

Manila Clams
Manila Clams.  Image via Pangea Shellfish.
Fresh Pasta
Fresh Pasta.  Photo from Huffington Post.

Spaghetti with Clams



1 lb dried spaghetti or linguini , or 1 ¼ lb fresh pasta

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 to 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 ½ to 3 pounds Manila clams, scrubbed clean

½ to 1 cup dry white wine

½ cup chopped fresh parsley

½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves

½ teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon course black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)

Grated Reggio Parmesan cheese

Serves 4

In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over a medium high flame.  When almost smoking, add the shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is golden brown and the shallots are translucent, about 3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the black pepper and let it absorb for a minute.

Add the cleaned clams, wine, sea salt, chopped parsley and basil. Cover and simmer until clams have opened; discard any that do not open. Whisk in the butter to thicken the sauce slightly.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the spaghetti and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.

Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.  Do not rinse the spaghetti with water; you want to retain the natural starches that help the sauce adhere to the spaghetti.  Toss the spaghetti with the clam mixture in the pan to coat.  Add enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten.

Transfer the pasta to a large serving bowl.  Garnish with chopped parsley.  Ladle into individual bowls and top with the Reggio Parmesan cheese.

Serve with your favorite salad and crusty Italian bread.  Enjoy!

A good bread is a must.
A good bread is a must.  Image from Mad Foods.

Blackstones Steakhouse, Greenwich

I really enjoy a great steak, especially from Blackstones Steakhouse in Greenwich.

When I go out to eat, I am not one to nibble on a salad.  I really enjoy a great steak, especially from Blackstones Steakhouse in Greenwich.  Blackstones has the perfect combination of excellent food and beautiful decor.  They are known as one of the best steakhouses in town and for good reason.

The ambiance at Blackstones is quite elegant.  The decor has a masculine vibe that is still sophisticated and in line with the quality of the food and the attentive service.  With a black, grey, and white palette, the interior is saved from an overly industrial feel by the softening texture on the walls and the interesting artwork.  The bright shelving behind the bar gives the space added light.  Blackstones achieves a New York City chic that is definitely welcome in the suburbs.

Blackstone Greenwich 5Blackstone GreenwichBlackstone Greenwich 4Blackstone Greenwich 3In addition to steak, the menu boasts an impressive selection of appetizers, salads, and sides for both lunch and dinner.  The bar menu features several signature cocktails as well.  As you’d expect, however, the steak is the star of the show at Blackstones.  The quality of the meat shows in the exceptional flavor and tenderness of the steaks while the extensive wine list ensures the perfect compliment to every memorable meal.  I loved that my dinner was served on a piping hot plate, something you don’t often experience anymore.

Greenwich, Connecticut interior designer Amy Aidinis Hirsch enjoys dining at Blackstones Steakhouse.Blackstone Greenwich 6Blackstone Greenwich Menu 2Blackstone Greenwich 7Blackstone Greenwich Menu 3Blackstone Greenwich 2To see the full menu, visit the Blackstones website.  You can also find them on Facebook.



Golden View Firenze

I recently visited a new restaurant in Greenwich called Golden View Firenze and was really impressed with everything from the food to the decor.

I recently visited a new restaurant in Greenwich called Golden View Firenze and was really impressed with everything from the food to the decor.  From the start of my visit to Golden View Firenze, I loved the fresh, exciting atmosphere of this very chic restaurant.

Golden View Firenze Greenwich CT
Golden View Firenze

Owner Tommaso Grasso also has a restaurant in Florence, Italy.  He decided to open a second restaurant in Connecticut after a visit to the area.  Tommaso brought chef Francesco Casu with him from Florence, ensuring the food at Golden View Firenze would be a true representation of authentic Tuscan cuisine.

The decor at Golden View Firenze is intimate and based in a clean white palette.  The view to the kitchen is open, letting diners watch the chefs prepare fresh dishes, including hand-made pastas.  Shelves of wine are a prominent feature of the restaurant’s interior, but it isn’t all for show.  The staff are very knowledgeable about the wine and well prepared to offer suggestions.

Golden View Firenze Greenwich
View into the kitchen.
Golden View Firenze
Simple, elegant decor.
Golden View Firenze Connecticut
The impressive wine display.

Just like in any really good restaurant, the food must be the star of the show.  Everything we tasted was excellent!  I started with a wine mojito, which was delicious.  We had a cheese plate and I tried the veal dish as well as an incredible four cheese pasta.  My husband had the filet with an amazing dipping sauce.  Even the bread was perfect.  It really was like eating in Italy.  The menu is very well done and I look forward to going back soon!

Golden View Firenze CT
Hand-made pasta.
Golden View Restaurant CT
Seafood pasta. Image courtesy of Connecticut Mag.
Golden View Firenze Restaurant CT
Fresh fish with roasted tomatoes. Image via Connecticut Mag.

A review on by Mary Kate Hogan mirrors the fantastic experience we had at Gold View Firenze and describes some of the other perfect dishes.  You can learn more about Golden View Firenze by finding them on Facebook.


Giambotte: Sausage, Chicken, Peppers, and Potatoes

This is a great dish to make on a cold night!

I found this recipe in a cookbook my mom gave me years ago.  The cookbook is Elodia Rigante’s Italian Immigrant Cookbook and it is filled with many wonderful recipes.  She also shares stories and pictures of her family throughout the book.  Many of the dishes are from her mother, whom she calls Mammanon.  She says Giambotte is from Bari, her father’s hometown in southern Italy.

Italian Immigrant CookingThe word Giambotte means mixture and is a peasant dish.  The original recipe calls for boneless chicken breasts, but I like to use bone-in pieces as they tend to stay moist when cooking.  I also add chicken stock to the recipe, which creates a delicious sauce.  If you use sweet sausage, you may want to add hot red pepper flakes to make a spicy Gambotte.  If you use hot sausage, the dish will be spicy enough.  Either way, it is a great dish to make on a cold night!



1 lb sweet sausage

1 lb hot sausage


2 lbs of either hot or sweet sausage

4 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced in 2 inch pieces


2 whole chicken breasts, bone in, skin removed, cut in half, then each half cut again

4 to 6 drumsticks

¼ cup olive oil

1 bag small yellow creamer potatoes, halved

1 red pepper, sliced

2 Italian green peppers, sliced

1 large onion, sliced

chicken stock (optional)

1 teaspoon oregano

½ cup each chopped fresh basil and parsley

2 whole bay leaves

salt and pepper to taste

hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Serves 4 to 6

In a large skillet, add some of the olive oil.  Add the sausage and sauté over medium heat until browned.  Remove the sausage and set aside in bowl.

Sauté the chicken pieces in the oils from the sausage in the skillet.  Season with black pepper and cook until brown. Reduce the heat to low; add the sausage back to the skillet and simmer.

In a separate skillet, heat up some olive oil and add the peppers, onions and potatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, brown the vegetables and cook until tender.  Transfer the vegetables to the skillet with the sausage and chicken.  If using the chicken stock, add to the mixture.  Add the chopped parsley and basil, the whole bay leaves, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until all flavors are mixed together.  For additional spiciness, add ¼ tsp of hot red pepper flakes; adjust accordingly.  Remove whole bay leaves before serving.

Serve the Giambotte with warm, crusty Italian bread and your favorite salad!


Cover images courtesy of Burpee



Primary Food and Drink, Greenwich

I recently had the pleasure of trying a new restaurant in Greenwich: Primary Food and Drink.

I recently had the pleasure of trying a new restaurant in Greenwich:  Primary Food and Drink.  Located at 409 Greenwich Avenue, Primary is the newest restaurant from celebrity chef Graham Eliot Bowles.  In addition to being a critically acclaimed chef with two Michelin starred restaurants and the more casual Graham Eliot Bistro, he is one of the stars of the reality television shows Master Chef and Master Chef Junior.  The Chicago native opened Primary with longtime culinary and business partner Merlin Verrier, who will act as Primary’s Executive Chef and Managing Partner.

Graham Eliot and Merlin Verrier
Graham Eliot and Merlin Verrier

The experience and talent behind Primary is quickly evident when you visit this unique restaurant.  The menu offers modern, gourmet takes on classic dishes such as Caesar Salad, Beef Stroganoff, and Gnocchi.  The menu is not extensive but focuses on high quality, fresh ingredients prepared artfully and with the utmost attention to flavor.  At Primary, the food really is art.  Each bite is so delicious; you can easily tell how thoughtfully the various flavors are paired together.   The Lobster Schnitzel, for example, is such a different way to serve this classic New England seafood.

Deconstructed Caesar
Deconstructed Caesar
Beef Stroganoff, made with braised short rib.
Beef Stroganoff, made with braised short rib. Image via Connecticut Lifestyles Magazine.
Food as art.
Food as art.
Each dish shows attention to detail.
Each dish shows attention to detail.

The interior of Primary is a great reflection of the menu.  It is simple and open, with some seating that allows for a view into the open kitchen.  Wood tables, leather seating, and wall decorations consisting of mirrors and understated lighting are playfully balanced by a tile mosaic floor.  The bar area also features a clean, simple look that works well with the restaurant’s modern vibe.  The waitstaff’s uniform of checkered shirts and jeans reflect Primary’s casual mood and allow the food to be the main attraction.

Dining Room
Dining Room
The tile floor mosaic with the Primary logo.
The tile floor mosaic with the Primary logo.

I really enjoyed visiting Primary and am already looking forward to going back.  You can see their full menu and make reservations at Primary’s website.  They are also on Facebook and Twitter.








With the holidays here, I decided to bake a dessert that I have not made in quite a while.

With the holidays here, I decided to bake a dessert that I have not made in quite a while.  Going through my old recipes, I came across this delicious cheesecake.  This year I made it for Thanksgiving and it was a big hit.  My mother got this recipe from a friend of hers years ago and handed it down to me.  This is a great recipe that can be made in a variety of ways.  I have added crushed pineapples to the cake before baking it, which is always a favorite in our house.  Or, you can serve it topped with cherries, blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries.

Photo by Lina Widjaja of Crustables.
Photo by Lina Widjaja of Crustables.
Photo by Lina Widjaja of Crustables.
Photo by Lina Widjaja of Crustables.


Graham Cracker Nut Crust

1 ¾ cup fine graham cracker crumbs

¼ cup  finely chopped walnuts

½ tsp cinnamon

¼ cup melted margarine or butter

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork until moistened.  Reserve 3 Tbsp. of mixture.  Press remaining mixture in the bottom and 2 ½ inches up sides of a greased 10”spring form pan.

Mixing the crust.  Photo by Kona Gallagher
Mixing the crust. Photo by Kona Gallagher


3     eggs

2    8 oz packages of cream cheese softened

1 cup  sugar

¼ tsp  salt

2 tsp  vanilla

1 tsp  almond extract

3 cups  sour cream

1  capful of rum or brandy (optional)

1  can of cherries or blueberries in syrup (optional)

1    can crushed pineapples, drained (optional, see note)

Combine sugar and cream cheese; beat until smooth.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the rest of the ingredients and beat well until smooth.  Blend in sour cream.  Add the capful of rum or brandy if using.  Pour mixture into prepared graham cracker crust and top with reserved crumbs if desired.  

Note: Pineapples can be spread over the graham cracker crust before pouring in the cheesecake mixture.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the cheesecake into the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until set.  Oven temperatures will vary, so your cake may take longer to bake.  To test for doneness, stick a toothpick in the middle.  It will come out clean when cake is done.  The cake should still have a little wiggle in it; do not overbake.  Once the cheesecake is done, let it sit for a few hours.  Run a knife around the rim of the pan to loosen it, then undo spring form and remove.  Cool the cake in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours, or overnight, before serving.

A finished cheesecake. Photo via Wikimedia
A finished cheesecake. Photo via Wikimedia

You can serve the cheesecake as-is or top it with cherries or berries in their syrup.

Topped with cherries. Image via Ken's Oven
Topped with cherries. Image via Ken’s Oven

I hope you enjoy this most delicious dessert!

Cover image via Better Homes and Gardens

Granny’s Meatballs

Of all of my childhood memories, one of the most vivid was being at my great grandmother’s house on a Sunday and eating her delicious meatballs.

Of all of my childhood memories, one of the most vivid was being at my great grandmother’s house on a Sunday and eating her delicious meatballs.  They would be piled high in a bowl and she would have them in the oven to stay warm.  I think every one of us will tell you Granny’s meatballs were the best!

meatballs 3

Her recipe has been handed down through the generations, and while I know the recipe has changed over time, what is most important is that it represents a tradition that has remained in my family to this day.

As a child, every Wednesday we had macaroni and meatballs, which I continued when I had my own family. To this day, I will keep a dish of meatballs in the oven after I cook them.  It is the first place everyone looks when it is pasta night at our house!

pasta with sauce

I learned how to cook these morsels at a very young age and I have never measured any of the ingredients!  I have done my best to give you estimates in measuring the ingredients.

I have also included my recipe for a marinara sauce that I use for pasta.  I start my sauce with sausage, which gives it a great flavor.  Whenever possible, use fresh ingredients.

Ingredients for Sauce:

1lb of Hot Italian sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces

1lb of Sweet Italian sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 35 oz can of crushed tomatoes

2 6 oz cans of tomato paste

Salt to taste

Pepper to taste

1 cup fresh basil, chopped

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

¼ cup fresh oregano, chopped

½ cup of water

Olive oil

1lb of dried pasta

In a large, heavy sauce pan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil.  Place sausage in pan and brown on all sides.  Add chopped onion and garlic and cook for a few minutes till translucent.  Add water to pan with tomatoes and tomato paste.  Fill one of the small and the large can with water, scraping any tomatoes from the can and add to pot, less water will give you a thicker sauce.  Add the salt, pepper, basil, parsley and oregano. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Ingredients for Meatballs:

1 ½ lb of ground beef, veal, and pork (ground beef can be used alone if preferred)

2 eggs

½ cup grated Locatelli Romano cheese (adjust if needed)

4 to 5 slices white bread or Italian bread, ground in a food processor  (do not pulse into crumbs I like to keep them a little coarse)

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

1 clove of garlic, or to taste

1 cup fresh parsley

½ cup fresh basil

¼ cup of water (or less)

Crisco oil

Place the ground meat mixture and eggs in a bowl.  Chop the parsley, basil, and garlic in a food processor and add to mixture.  Grind the bread in food processor and place in bowl.  Add the Romano cheese and season mixture with salt and pepper. Add some of the water and mix together; if needed, you can add more bread.  You do not want the mixture to get too soft or it will be hard to roll into meatballs.

In a large frying pan, add enough Crisco oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  If you like, you can use olive oil, though I feel olive oil makes the meatballs get too soggy.  Make sure the oil is hot as this will make a difference in how they cook.  Roll the meatballs with your hands, and place into hot oil.  Cook the meatballs until they are crusty, then turn.  If you do not want them to be crusty on the outside, you can turn them earlier.  Cook the meatballs until they browned all over and cooked through.

With a slotted spoon remove the meatballs from the frying pan.  If you want to, place a few meatballs in a bowl to keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.  Place the remaining meatballs in the marinara sauce until ready to serve.

Just before serving, cook your favorite pasta as directed and drain.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage and meatballs from the sauce and place in a separate bowl to serve.  Ladle some of the marinara sauce into the bottom of a large pasta bowl, add the pasta and additional marinara sauce, and toss the pasta to coat.  Serve with the meatballs, sausage, grated Locatelli Romano cheese, crusty Italian bread, and a salad.

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we have throughout the years!