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Wine Loves Chocolate, Chocolate Loves Wine

Thursday, January 5, 2012
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Taste of WGBH: Wines of Italy

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
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Jan. 20, 2012


WGBH celebrates the regions of Tuscany, Lombardy, and Puglia with an opportunity to meet winemakers and sample their wines! (Floris M. Oosterveld/Flickr)

Thanks to all our members and guests who braved the cold to join us for a taste of Italy's bounty!

Of course, Italy is a source of inspiration at WGBH for its beautiful art, its rich musical heritage and the delicious culinary traditions as well. Explore to learn more about Italy's incredible culture. Here are a few pages to get you started.

From the archives of The French Chef


Foccacia for Dessert? Executive chef Craig Kominiak at Ecce Panis Bakery in New York City visits Julia Child in her kitchen. Kominiak bakes focaccia, testing the elasticity of the dough by stretching it to see the "window." He creates a sandwich with the baked focaccia. Baked with fruit and topped with sugar, focaccia can be also used as a dessert or a breakfast item.

Chocolate Napoleon & Fettucini Ice Cream Sandwich Pastry chef Gale Gand of Brasserie T in Northfield, Ill. creates a towering chocolate napoleon and a fettuccine ice cream sandwich. Gand demonstrates how to make chocolate filo dough, poached pears, cranberry compote, whipped cream with ginger, and the mocha granache for the napoleon. He creates a filo dough "fettuccine" for the ice cream sandwich with raspberries and a fresh fruit kabob.

If the wines and recipes inspire you, be sure you have music to cook Italian by! Trio Settecento offers up pieces by Corelli and Veracini, among other early classics. If the kids are helping in the kitchen, let violinist Gil Shaham talk in detail about Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

We hope you enjoyed the event. Be sure to consult the list below if you can't recall the name of the region or the wine you enjoyed most. If you have some feedback for the organizers of Taste of WGBH, please leave us a comment!

“ I am certain that the good Lord never intended grapes to be made into grape jelly.”
—Fiorello La Guardia



This event sold out! Be sure to get your tickets now for Wine & Chocolate in February!

Wegmans Enters Mass. Market With A Splash

By Gary Mott   |   Monday, October 17, 2011
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Oct. 17, 2011 


The new Wegmans in Northborough, Mass. is the largest supermarket in New England. (Gary Mott/WGBH)


BOSTON — There’s a new entry in the hyper-competitive world of food shopping in Massachusetts. Wegmans, a supermarket chain based in Rochester, N.Y., opened its first Bay State store in Northborough on Oct. 16. The massive 138,000-square-foot structure is now the largest grocery store in New England. The family-owned chain enjoys fierce brand loyalty among its customer base and equally from its employees. WGBH Radio’s Gary Mott went to the grand opening to find out what the buzz is about.  

It’s 7:00 A.M., and employees at the first Wegmans supermarket in Massachusetts are joining in “The Wegmans Cheer,” which signals a new store is open for business. Only the background of fife and drums tells you they're in a brand-new region for the company.
Up to 20,000 people are about to come through the doors in Northborough, 33 miles west of Boston.
Wegmans philosophy is that those customers’ needs will be best met if the employees’ needs are met first. The company has made “Fortune” magazine’s list of Top 100 places to work every year since 1998.
Seafood Manager Jamie Pinto moved from Rochester to work in Northborough, and says other employees have, too.
“Out of the 600 or so employees we’re going to have at this store, 75 of us relocated to Massachusetts,” she said. “There’s a lot of opportunity, there’s a lot of growth with all the potential stores we’re going to put in the area, so there’s a lot of appeal to moving to a new state for the company.”
As for the customers . . . well, Framingham resident Mark Fogleman calls himself a “Wegmaniac.”
Fogleman spent the night in a tent in the parking lot, so he could be the first in line to enter the store.
It sounds extreme for a supermarket. But Fogleman said Wegmans is more than just a store: “It’s an experience. It’s the best grocery store you could possibly go to — that I’ve ever seen.”
The “experience” includes a soup station, a 300-seat restaurant, a juice bar and a sushi counter.
Plans for more stores in Burlington and Westwood, Mass. are already in the works.
But it is a competitive and crowded marketplace, says one industry analyst. Mike Berger is the editor of the "Griffin Report of Food Marketing," a trade publication that analyzes trends in the food industry. He points to the experience of Krispy Kreme, a popular North Carolina–based donut chain that tried to transplant its success to the Northeast. 

When its first store opened in Dedham, Mass., Berger says, “There were lines out the door. Well, where is Krispy Kreme now?" Krispy Kreme no longer has any stores in Mass.

"The question is what happens 3 months from now. You know, there’s so much variety for shoppers to look at,” Berger says.
But if competition can raise the bar, the real winner in the supermarket wars should be the consumer.

'Miss Conduct' Addresses All Sides Of Wedding Gift Anxiety

By Robin Abrahams   |   Tuesday, June 14, 2011
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June 14, 2011

(Photo: coolnumber9/Flickr)

BOSTON -- Wedding season is upon us, and we all know that planning a wedding, or even attending one, can be nerve-racking. Thankfully, WGBH's resident etiquette guru Robin Abrahams stopped by The Emily Rooney Show to take calls and help alleviate some of the anxiety. She came with tips for how to navigate the tricky world of wedding gifts -- how to properly ask for, give and receive them.

All involved have doubts on the subject, as demonstrated by an open thread on Abrahams' 'Miss Conduct' blog for the Boston Globe. Commenters vented their confusions and curiosities: is it okay to ask for cash gifts? Is it really true that giving knives can cut friendships? -- though that part may just be superstition.

The following are some of Abrahams' best tips, and some of the callers' notable questions and experiences.

Abrahams' "1st Commandment" -- The rule of thumb for how much to spend on a gift comes with a formula: (Your closeness to the couple + their level of need) / your income. "Weddings are not fundraisers," she said.

A caller asked about how to respond to requests for $85 towels (or "Turkish bath sheets"), or a $60 asparagus steamer. Abrahams said it's okay to follow your spendthrift instincts. "That towel better soak up depression and ennui as well as spills," she said.

Asking for cash gifts -- It is acceptable and increasingly common, and is traditional among certain cultures. And yet: "I am generally opposed to straight-out, coming out and saying that," Abrahams said.

Cash gifts can be good for an older couple, who may be looking to save up for a house or other expenses. "Get the word out through your bridesmaids or groomsmen," she said. "That's one that you're supposed to sort of spread about through gossip -- not straight-up say, 'Hey, fork over the Benjamins.'"

A caller said she and her husband -- an older couple at the time -- didn't register, assuming people would either give what they could manage or give cash. Abrahams said this is appropriate, and suggested that guests look to give consumable gifts, like passes to the MFA, theater tickets or a Netflix subscription. "If you're over the age of 25, chances are you have enough stuff," she said.

2nd Commandment -- You can go off the script. Registries were originally about helping young couples set up their homes. "Some people feel like that's not creative enough," Abrahams said. It is fine to take a different route if you either feel closer to the couple and want to give something personal, or if the registry is beyond your budget. Which leads us to the...

3rd Commandment -- "Creativity and personal meaning can trump and make up for lack of money spent."

Disguising a gift in a new box -- "Re-boxing is fine," Abrahams said, "but not with deceitful intents." One commenter received a set of goblets in a Tiffany's box. The recipient didn't feel they were her style, yet when she tried to return them, they were apparently not from Tiffany's at all but rather from a (much more modestly priced) big-box store.

Beyond your budget -- What if the items on the registry offend one's spend-thrift sensibilities, a caller asked? What about $85 towels ("a Turkish bath-sheet"), or a $60 asparagus-steamer? Abrahams says you have to just buy what you can afford. "That towel better soak up depression and ennui as well as spills."

Do your research -- One caller received an ugly vase from Nieman-Marcus, and tried to return it but the store couldn't find the item in the catalog. As it turns out, it was a special-edition item that was worth a good deal more than the small compensation the store could offer. People have to put the proper research into what they're buying, Abrahams said, and to be ready with that information if necessary.

Going the distance -- Another caller wondered if, when a couple asks guests to fly long-distance or even internationally, one's presence might be gift enough. Abrahams said this is fine, though she added that the problem may be avoidable, since a gift doesn't have to be expensive. 

"Your presence is enough at any wedding, but wouldn't you always want there to be a little bit more to remember that presence by?" she said. "I mean, come on, you're blowing all that money for a trip to China, and you're not gonna pop out like an extra 20 bucks?" And the 5th Commandment, in this case, just to be safe: send presents in advance!

Dad's Chicken And Rice
By Annie Copps

Monday, January 24, 2011
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chicken and rice

In addition to being a bona fide rocket scientist, my dad is a great cook (and a great dad). He's tackled everything from baklava to tempura to grilled oysters to making waffles with his grandchildren. This is my favorite from his considerable repertoire. I never wanted to learn how to make it myself, because it was always his dish. Now I make it when I miss him or if I have to feed a crowd.

Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Start to Finish Time: 105 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

1 cup olive oil (approximately), divided
2 small onions, diced
¾ cup flour
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 jalapeno peppers, minced
2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth
1 green pepper
3-1/2 cups rice (approximately)
3 small tomatoes, cut into 8 wedges each

In a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot (cast iron works well) over medium heat, add 1/4 cup olive oil and cook onions until softened. Remove onions from pan and reserve.

Place flour and chicken in a large paper bag and shake gently to coat chicken with flour. Raise heat to medium-high. Shake excess flour from chicken, and cook in pot in batches, adding more oil as needed (it may get quite dark, and that's okay), until well browned on all sides. Then remove chicken to a plate. Stir in jalapenos and cook 1 minute.

Add reserved cooked onions and chicken back to pot. Add chicken broth, saving one empty can. Add 2 cans worth of water. Bring to a boil; then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook 25 minutes.

Slice top and bottom off green pepper. Carefully run a knife in a circular motion around the inside to remove white membrane and seeds (be careful not to puncture the pepper). Slice into thin rounds.

Add rice to pot, stirring well.

Cover and cook 10 minutes. Layer pepper slices in a decorative pattern over mixture in pot, and top with tomatoes. Cover and cook 10 minutes more.

Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

(Courtesy: Yankee Magazine)


annie coppsAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

Rice & Lentils by Lidia Bastianich

Tuesday, December 7, 2010
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rice and lentils
Riso e Lenticchie

Serves 8 or more as a first course or soup

2 ounces pancetta or bacon, cut in pieces
1 cup onion cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup carrot cut in 1-inch chunks
1 cup celery cut in 1-inch chunks
6 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup dry white wine
8 to 10 cups hot water
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 ½ cups Italian short-grain rice, such as Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone Nano
1 cup chopped scallions
½ cup grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for passing

Drop the pancetta or bacon pieces into the food-processor bowl, and pulse several times, to chop the meat into small bits. Scrape all the chopped pancetta right into the heavy saucepan. Put the onion, carrot, and celery chunks and the sage leaves into the empty food-processor bowl, and mince together into a fine-textured pestata.

Put the butter and olive oil into the saucepan with the minced pancetta, and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, as the butter melts and the fat starts to render. When the pancetta is sizzling, scrape in the vegetable pestata, and stir it around the pan until it has dried and begins to stick, 4 minutes or so. Clear a space on the pan bottom, and drop in the tomato paste, toast it in the hot spot for a minute, then stir together with the pestata.

Raise the heat, pour in the white wine, and cook, stirring, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Pour in 8 cups of hot water and the tablespoon salt, stir well, and heat to the boil. (Add all 10 cups of hot water if you want to serve the rice and lentils as a thick soup rather than a denser riso.)

Cover the pan, and reduce the heat slightly, to keep the water at a moderate boil, and let it bubble for 20 minutes or so, to develop the flavors.

Stir in the lentils, return to a gentle boil, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils just start to soften, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the rice, return to a bubbling simmer, and cook, cover ajar, until the rice is al dente, 13 minutes or so. If the dish is thickening more than you like, lower the heat and cover the pan completely. If it seems too thin and wet, remove the cover and cook at a faster boil. When the rice and lentils are fully cooked, turn off the heat. Stir in the scallions and grated cheese.

Serve in warm bowls, passing more cheese at the table.

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