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Food for Thought

by Sally Bernstein (a WomensForum Food Blogger and Network Partner)

Sally Bernstein is the Editor of the acclaimed internet watering hole for women known as Sally’s Place as well as the Co-Host of Sally’s Place Internet Radio Network. Sally's blog on WomensForum is a place where fellow foodies can join Sally on her passionate journey through the world of food and wine.

Sally Bernstein
How To Make Mussels With Garlic And White Wine

We love recipes that come with personal stories and great memories attached. This one is from our contributor Sally Bernstein.

When I attended La Varenne Cooking School in Paris many years ago I was taught how to make Mussels a la Marinière, which is perfect for springtime - or anytime at all! It is versatile and can be an appetizer or main course.

I’ll never forget scrubbing dozens of mussels with a brush under cold running water, something I had never done before. This classic French dish, served at many American restaurants, is offered with a variety of cooking liquids and cooking methods. I’ve tasted Spicy Thai steamed mussels, baked mussels and roasted mussels.

Most mussels we eat today are cultivated, something like farm-raised fish. After they are removed from beds on the ocean floor, they are graded and cleaned. Mussels are grown on both the East and West coasts of the United States.

Make sure the mussels you buy are alive and fresh. The shells need to be closed and be sure to refrigerate when you get them home.

Mussels with Garlic and White Wine Recipe

(serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main course)


  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1-pound mussels
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsp. parsley (flat leaf or curly leaf), finely chopped


Melt butter in a large heavy pot and cook the shallots and garlic until light brown, just a few minutes.

Scrub the mussels thoroughly and remove any barnacles, beards (threads of brown seaweed), and cracked or broken shells. Clean the mussels just before cooking as the mussel dies shortly after its beard is removed.

In the large heavy pot add wine to the shallots and garlic, cover and simmer 2 minutes. Add the mussels, cover and cook 5-7 minutes until the mussels open, stirring once. Discard any mussels that do not open.

Sprinkle the mussels with chopped parsley, stir and taste the liquid for seasonings. Serve the mussels in a soup bowl with the cooking liquid spooned over them.

The sand and grit from inside the mussels falls to the bottom of the cooking liquid. This liquid must be spooned carefully into the bowls, leaving the grit behind, or it can be strained.

Served with toasted or grilled crusty French or sourdough bread, to soak up the liquid.

For more recipes and food tips, visit Sally's Place

Sally Bernstein
Mardi Gras: Oysters Rockefeller and Banana Foster

If you haven't made Oysters Rockefeller and Bananas Foster, now is the time - Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras are upon us! Besides, what's better than New Orleans food?

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

Mardi Gras, the colorful purple, green, and gold holiday, falls on Tuesday, March 4th. The city of New Orleans goes all out with parties, music, parades, costumes, masks, beads, picnics, and, of course, the delicious and colorful King’s Cake.

Originally, King Cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today's King Cakes are much more festive with a doll or baby inside the cake. The cake is then decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple and green in the form of colored sugar.

The two recipes below, Oysters Rockefeller and Bananas Foster, originated at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans and a version came from a 1994 cookbook, Breakfast at Brennan’s And Dinner, Too.

In the 1950’s Owen Edward Brennan, owner of Brennan’s, created Oysters 2-2-2 or the Three Deuces, which offered customers a sampling of two each of Oysters Bienville, Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Roffignac.

Oysters Rockefeller

  • 48 oysters in their shells
  • Rock salt
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 bunches scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) butter
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco
  • ½ to ¾ cup Pernod (according to taste)
  • 1-¼ cups seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Shuck the fresh oysters. Throw away the top shells and clean the bottom shells. Each serving comprises 6 oysters in these shells. Line an ovenproof tray with about one inch of rock salt. Make 8 servings.

Add celery, scallions and parsley to the butter, which has been melted. Sauté before adding the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat and add the Pernod and breadcrumbs. Cook another 5 minutes before refrigerating for about an hour until cold.

When cold, use a stand mixer to aerate. Put this mixture in a pastry bag with a large tip. Pipe about a tablespoon on top of each oyster, bake in a 400 degrees oven for about 5 minutes, until heated through.

Brennan’s chef Paul Blange created Bananas Foster in 1951. It was named after Richard Foster, a civic-minded friend of Owen Brennan. Bananas came into the port of New Orleans from South and Central America and this new recipe was an instant success. It is the most requested item on the menu.

Banana Foster

  • 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 4 bananas, cut in rounds
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup banana liqueur
  • ¼ cup white rum

Put 1 scoop of ice cream in individual bowls that can go in the freezer. This can be done well in advance.

Cut the bananas and melt the butter, adding cinnamon, brown sugar, banana liqueur and white rum. Flambé the liqueur and rum. Put the bananas in the liquid to soften and spoon in each bowl of ice cream with part of the warm sauce.

For recipes and food tips from Sally, check out Sally's Place.

Sally Bernstein
Growing Food Trends In America

 As you might imagine, food is always a hot topic at the Sustainable Foods Institute at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

At its recent gathering in Monterey, the institute discussed the latest trends popping up in the food world and what we can expect to see more of over the coming year.

With seven billion people on our planet, naturally, people eat many different kinds of food in many different ways.

Here are five of the biggest trends, according to the institute:

1. Prepared Foods

Of all the food eaten in the U.S., 77 percent involves some or all prepared foods. Most of these, 50 percent, are eaten as snacks. The other 27 percent are the boxed foods to which home cooks add a protein, vegetable or other kitchen staple to the mix. These continue to be quite popular for families with moms who work and need to get dinner on the table quickly.

2. Meal Kits

This growing trend takes the idea of boxed meals and raises the bar. Ordinary people can now feel like chefs making extravagant dishes alone or with the family, even with children old enough to participate. The boxes arrive with a recipe, but what makes this even easier for busy people is that the ingredients arrive at your house already pre-portioned. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. A few of the many companies that now ship these meal kits directly to your front door are: Blue Apron, Sun Basket, Hello Fresh, Green Chef, Home Chef, Plated, Peach Dish and Green Blender.

3. Plant Forward

The importance of taking meat away from the center of the plate is a growing trend. A global demand for a meat-based diet places higher stress on the planet’s resources. Plants can often replace our favorite animal proteins, and the choices for consumers are growing. So we are seeing more and more companies adjust their mindset on what it means to be the "spotlight" protein of a meal. The store shelves will continue to grow with options for meat alternatives like soy and pea-based protein.

4. Plastic Revolution

This trend is more food adjacent involving the bags we carry our food in. We might be looking at a forced change in how we do that in the future. The institute stresses the world's need to reduce the health and environmental impact of plastic pollution on the food we eat. A prime example of how we can help is by getting rid of plastic bags at the grocery store (take your own reusable bags with you) as there are 13 to 20 billion plastic bags used per year in the United States. Proposition 67 on the California ballot is pushing to ban these bags completely; if it passes, the idea could spread to the rest of the country. 

5. Alternative Eating Styles

Just like we see new words being added to the dictionary each year, there are increasingly new ways to describe how we eat. It is no longer just "meat-eater" or "vegetarian."

Here is a list of the labels people are now using to describe their eating habits:

Gluten-free: People who cannot or do not eat gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye.

Locavores: Those who don’t want their food to travel long distances, so they focus on buying food grown within 50 to 100 miles of where they live. 

Mediterranean: This is a diet based on habits of southern European countries, which uses a lot of olive oil in the recipes.

Paleo: People who go "paleo" eat vegetables, fish, meat and fruit, but avoid grain, dairy products or processed foods.

Pescatarian: This is basically a vegetarian who eats fish and other seafood, but no other kinds of meat.

Raw Foods: This diet consists of unprocessed and uncooked plant-based foods, usually organic.

Sustainable: This environmentally friendly diet focuses on ways of eating that have low impact on the planet, which contributes to food and nutrition security as well as a healthy life for present and future generations.

Vegetarian: This tried-and-true diet does not include any meat.

Vegan: This eating trend goes a step beyond vegetarian and does not include any animal products.

Monterey Bay Aquarium helps businesses and consumers choose seafood that’s caught or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean. Click this link Seafood Watch to learn more about their programs.

Sally Bernstein
Get Kids Involved in the Kitchen

Some of the best memories are often made in the kitchen with your kids. Summer is a great time of year to get the kids in your life cooking. With lots of free time on their hands, kids are more open to adventures in the kitchen, especially when they get to enjoy a yummy treat after all their hard work. There may be more messes in the kitchen to clean up, it may take longer to get dinner on the table, but the long-term benefits of spending time with children in the kitchen far outweigh the negatives.

Kids who create meals are learning much more than basic cooking skills. They are learning to take care of themselves, they are gaining a sense of accomplishment and they are trying new and often healthier foods. Less time and money is spent at restaurants and more time is spent building bonds and memories. Lastly, cooking and shopping for food gets kids thinking about where their food comes from.

It’s important that we all take time to think about the bigger picture of how the food on our plate and Mother Nature are interrelated. I have compiled a few websites to help you get started.

Cooking Websites That Will Inspire Your Kids to Cook

  1. "Kid-Friendly Food" blog on WomensForum.com: Stay on top of the latest recipes from blogger Cathy Jacobs who knows quite a bit about recipes that kids will enjoy. And, kids may be able to cook many of the dishes themselves.
  2. Weelicious.com: This is a fun site that is easy to navigate and full of tasty-looking recipes. The philosophy is to not just try to “hide” the vegetables. It’s about teachings kids to appreciate all the ingredients and what they can add to a dish. This website has great photography of the dishes too. The site even includes videos of the blogger, Catherine, cooking with her young kids. You can also sign up to receive free daily recipes.
  3. Spatulatta.com: Nothing brings cooking to life better for kids than watching videos of other kids providing step-by-step instructions for the recipe. You get just that and more at this site hosted by 11 and 13-year-old Belle and Liv. These young ladies even won a James Beard Award!
  4. Rachaelray.com/kids: Rachel Ray has created a great place on her site to research and find new recipes and hear from parent bloggers with unique points of view.

Are you finding that you’re just not ready to let the young sprouts in your life into your sacred cooking domain? There’s always the Easy Bake Oven... And yes, they are still around.

Sally Bernstein
Great Foodie Non-fiction Books

When you can’t be in the kitchen cooking, sometimes it’s just as fun to relax with a great book, and for those who love food why not go for a read that pairs good writing with good eating.  A great story that captures your heart as much as your stomach can be a thrilling read. There is more to learn in a foodie book than just ingredients and recipes because so much of food is about the history, culture and stories behind the creating and making of delicious dishes.

Womensforum's Great Foodie Non-fiction Books  will leave you salivating late into the night. Happy reading!

The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World’s Greatest Piece of Cheese by Michael Paterniti

The cheese mentioned in the subtitle of this book is no small character in comparison to the deep love, allegations of betrayal and the plotted revenge. It is a very special cheese produced in rural Spain by a man who was famous amongst even kings and queens. The author spent a decade writing this book and you won’t be disappointed.


Will Write for Food: A Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More by Dianne Jacob

Perhaps you’re looking to turn your love of food and/or drinks into a career? This is a great place to start. Jacob offers you the advice and tools you need to get your voice out there and heard. A good read for anyone that wants to write a cookbook, become a restaurant critic, food photographer, blogger, and more.

The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes that made the Modern Cookbook
by Anne Willan (with Mark Cherniavsky and Kyri Claflin)

When James Beard award winner Anne Willan, founder of La Varenne Cooking School, teamed up with her husband Mark Cherniavsky, antiquarian cookbook collector, they created a beautiful book charting the history of cookbooks. I have never seen a book like this before. With beautiful illustrations, you are time traveling through centuries with this couple as they reveal to us the origins of the cookbook, as we know it today. Included are 40 historical recipes and a close look at life as it revolved around the kitchen from 1474 to 1830. A fun read for the history buff in us all!

Any book written by Peter Mayle

Mayle is probably most well known for his first book, A Year in Provence, which details his adventures as a British expatriate making a new life in small town France in the 1980’s. But you won’t go wrong with any of his other books as well. They are all a delight to read. Other books include: Tourjours Provence, Acquired Tastes, The Vintage Caper, and French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew.

Julia & Julia by Julie Powell

Want a more relaxing read with many amusing tidbits? Then I suggest this fun page-turner. You may have seen the movie, which is also great. But the book includes more of the food information you just might be looking for. In this book Julie Powell cooks every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume One in one year. Her trials and tribulations, her work, her marriage and her sanity are all tested to the limit.



Sally Bernstein
Pear Cornmeal Cake with Vanilla Syrup

Did you know that there are over 3,000 varieties of pears grown worldwide? Most of the pears in the U.S. grow in the Northwest, principally Oregon and Washington. The United States is the third largest pear producing country in the world. The 7 favorite U.S. varieties are: Bosc, Red Anjou, Red Bartlett, Green Anjou, Bartlett and Comice.

A pear is ripe when the neck is soft to the touch or when the pear has turned from green to red. If you buy hard pears, leave them on your counter at room temperature for a few days to ripen. There are about 100 calories in a medium size pear and pears contain dietary fiber and potassium health benefits but no saturated fat, sodium, or cholesterol.

Although the recipe below is perfect for your Thanksgiving or other holiday table, pears are available year-round. This cake is a sweet, dense, moist cake and a real winner.

Pear Cornmeal Cake with Vanilla Syrup


  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted (for pan)
  • 1 ¼ cup flour, all-purpose
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup cornmeal, yellow
  • ¼ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar (divided)
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (for cake)
  • 2 pears, ripe and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 vanilla bean


Brush the melted butter around the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

All the ingredients can be stirred by hand. Stir the flour, salt, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and 1 cup of the sugar. Mix the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter in another bowl. Incorporate the two sets of ingredients together and put in the cut pears.

To the springform pan, add the batter. Bake 45 minutes and cake test it. Put on a wire rack so the cake can cool for 15 minutes, then remove from springform pan.

While the cake is baking cut the vanilla bean in ½. Heat the vanilla bean and its contents, ¼ cup sugar and ¼ cup water in a pan. Simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Let sit for 30 minutes after you take it off the heat or until the cake is baked. Discard the vanilla bean.

Brush the top and sides of the cake with the vanilla syrup when the cake comes out of the oven.

Serve at room temperature or warm. Serves 8!

For more cooking tips, visit Sally's Place.

Sally Bernstein
Easy-To-Make Healthy School Lunches

With the start of August comes plenty of back to school planning.

If you've got a little one who has food allergies, is a picky eater, or you just want to have healthy options for your child - check these ideas out! The start of a new school year is prime time to kickstart your child's healthy eating routine. From snacks to full lunches, the following suggestions are particularly good for younger children, as they need a good balance of foods in their diet.

Depending on the age of your children, you may need to prepare the following foods in small proportions. For example, veggies can be cut up and sandwich bread can be cut into fourths. 

Each balanced meal should have an entrée, fruit, veggie, and drink. Mix and match from this list to create a meal your child will be happy to eat, not trade away. 

*This list is particularly good for children with nut allergies. 


  • "Ants on a log" with celery, sunflower butter & raisins
  • Cream cheese on raisin bread
  • Cheese sandwich
  • Cottage cheese
  • Egg salad sandwich
  • Hummus with pretzels or crackers
  • Nut-free protein bars
  • Pasta salad
  • Quinoa and veggie salad
  • Roll-ups with sunflower butter and banana
  • Sunflower butter and banana sandwich
  • Sunflower butter and jelly sandwich
  • Turkey/chicken/roast beef roll-ups
  • Tuna salad sandwich
  • Yogurt


  • Apple
  • Applesauce
  • Apricots
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Dried fruit
  • Grapes
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Melon: watermelon/cantaloupe
  • Mixed berries
  • Mixed fruit salad
  • Oranges/tangerines
  • Peaches/nectarines
  • Pears
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Raisins
  • Strawberries


  • Bell peppers
  • Butternut squash
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Edamame
  • Jicama
  • Snap peas
  • Sweet potato
  • Zucchini strips
  • Mixed salad greens (romaine, kale, arugula, etc.)

With so many healthy food options, your child will learn to eat right in no time! And a little suggestion - lead by example! Plenty of these options are perfect for your lunch too. Enjoy!

Sally BernsteinRead More
Easy Baked Kale Chips

Kale, one of the new darlings of our health-obsessed world, is actually quite good for us.

Kale is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens and cauliflower. Kale is very high in vitamin K, beta-carotene, vitamin C, and is rich in calcium. It is known to help fight cancer and lower cholesterol. Other than it's nutritional benefits, kale can be molded into a simple, delicious snack!

Sally BernsteinRead More
What Is A Mangosteen? Try This Recipe To Find Out

If you happen upon this fruit, be sure and taste it.

Called the “Queen of Fruits,” a mangosteen is juicy, tangy and sweet. The rind is purple in color when ripe while the inside is white. The taste has been described as a combination of tart lychee, pineapple and rose. A mangosteen is a fruit from Southeast Asia (Thailand), South America, India or Puerto Rico that you might see in upscale U.S. produce markets or in Asian markets. 

Sally BernsteinRead More
A Meal the Whole Family Will Enjoy

Have some family fun while enjoying KFC chicken.

KFC has a new Family Game Night meal that’ll bring everyone together to enjoy tasty food and make long lasting memories. To ensure the whole family has a great time, pick up a KFC meal with 12 Extra Crispy Tenders and four dipping sauces, two large homestyle sides, four biscuits and a free game of I Spy printed right on the bucket with riddle cards and bonus posters. The family will love playing together, who knew sitting at the dinner table could be so much fun?

Sally BernsteinRead More
Mother's Day Recipe: Shrimp, Cauliflower And Broccoli Stir-Fry

If you are cooking for Mother’s Day this year and have never prepared Chinese food, here is a simple recipe for beginners.

Even if you are an advanced cook, you’ll appreciate how good this recipe is without spending a lot of time preparing it. My friend Dorothy Huang is the author of Chinese Cuisine, Made Simple.

Sally Bernstein
Kohlrabi Recipe: A Dieter’s Dream

Last year, brussels sprouts were added to many restaurant menus in the U.S. So many menus in fact, that people are now tired of this green. Time for a new vegetable to be the star of the show! Kohlrabi, is it? Kohlrabi (kol-ROB-ee) is a vegetable that is high in fiber, low in carbohydrates and calories and has antioxidants that help fight cancer. In other words, this vegetable is a dieter's dream.

This spring and summer vegetable comes in two varieties, pale green and purple, but the purple kohlrabi has the same pale yellow inside as the green. Related to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale and collard greens, the kohlrabi bulb and leafy greens can both be eaten. The round base looks like a root but is actually a stem. Aficionados say kohlrabi taste a lot like broccoli stems or radishes and can be substituted for any recipe calling for turnips or rutabagas.

If you cut the bulb into thin strips kohlrabi can be eaten raw in slaws and salads. Or you can cook the kohlrabi in a stir-fry dish, spring rolls or Indian dishes, to name only a few. Kohlrabi can be made into fritters, used in soups, roasted, or steamed. As you can see, kohlrabi is very versatile.

Be sure to peel the outer layer thoroughly with a vegetable peeler, and then peel the second fibrous layer, if there is one. More mature kohlrabi will likely be fibrous.

I have just started to see kohlrabi on restaurant menus. The Lark Creek Restaurant Group, based in California, is showcasing hand-picked Dungeness Crab

kohlrabi, green apple, and pickled mustard seed.

Kohlrabi Hash Browns


  • 2 heads of kohlrabi, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Use a food processor to grate the kohlrabi. Place the grated kohlrabi in paper towel to squeeze out any excess liquid.
  2. Heat a skillet and add olive oil, then the kohlrabi. Spread into the skillet just as you would hash brown potatoes.
  3. Cook for 2-3 minutes over medium heat before flipping. Cook on the second side until the kohlrabi is browned on both sides.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with yogurt and sour cream.

For more food, wine, and recipes, check out Sally's Place.

Sally Bernstein
Get Kids Involved in the Cooking Process

Ironically, it is sometimes hard to find time to spend with your kids because you are so busy with your daily family to-do lists. So why not try to combine fun time with kitchen time to accomplish two things at once.

Giving your kids “hands on” experience not only teaches them how to be able to feed themselves but can build a real enthusiasm for food.

Kids are usually curious about cooking and love learning how to do new things. First, I’ll start with special pint-sized tools and equipment that really engage kids to try their hand at creating their own meals. 

Cooking Tools and Items for Kids

  • Dress Your Little Chef Like A Pro: check CuriosChef.com for tons of adorable options
  • Little Cook Kid’s Kitchen Tool Kit by Sassafras (includes measuring spoons & cups, wooden spoon, rolling pin, spatula, melon baller, pastry scraper, herb pot & whisk)
  • Quick Pop Maker by Zoku Cheese Knives (great replacement for real knives)
  • 16-piece Cupcake and Decorating Kit by Curious Chef
  • 5-piece Pizza Kit by Curious Chef
  • A personal favorite of mine is a blast from the past: The Original Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine.

Now it’s time to talk cookbooks. You just can’t expect Julia Child or even Emeril to capture a young person’s imagination like they do for you. You’ve got to re-think cookbooks when it comes to kids. Here are few to consider for your tiniest chefs.

Cookbooks for Kids

  • Mom and Me Cookbook by Annabel Karmel
  • Dora & Diego Let’s Cook by Nickelodeon and Raina Moore
  • Strawberry Shortcake’s Berry Yummy Cookbook by Judith Bryant and Lisa Workman
  • Fancy Nancy: Tea Parties by Jane O'Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser
  • The Spatulatta Cookbook by Isabella Gerasole and Olivia Gerasole
  • Pretend Soup and Other Real Recipes: A cookbook for Pre-Schoolers and Up by Mollie Katzen and Ann L. Henderson (vegetarian)
  • C is for Cooking: Recipes from the Street by Susan McQuillan

Perhaps you have very young kids in your life and they aren’t ready for some of these. Don’t let them feel left out.

Give them the “cooking bug” too with the plethora of toys out there that can really get the creative juices flowing.

Toys That Encourage Little Ones to Cook

  • Cook’s Corner Kitchen by Melissa & Doug
  • Sweetheart Cafe (restaurant set) by Alex Toys
  • Stir Fry Slicing Set by Melissa & Doug Bake
  • Decorate Cupcake Set by Melissa & Doug
  • Cutting Fruit Crate by Melissa & Doug
  • Crepe Shop by Kukkia
  • Sushi Set by Kukkia
  • Dirty Dishes (color changing bath tub toys) by Alex Toys
Sally Bernstein
Gazpacho Soup Recipe

Nothing says summer more than a cold cup of gazpacho soup. With fresh garden tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers available during the summer months, summer is the perfect time to learn a new recipe. What's more refreshing than a cup of cold soup? All you need is a blender to get started. To make a successful gazpacho, you can use red, yellow or green tomatoes. If you want the mixture to be completely pureed, use a blender to mix the ingredients. If not, you can use a mortar and pestle to pound the ingredients.

Easy Gazpacho Soup


  • 1 pound of tomatoes, very ripe and diced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and diced
  • Toasted croutons
  • 3 oz. rustic bread, torn in small pieces
  • 1 bunch of scallions
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar salt, as needed freshly ground pepper, as needed
  • 1 cup tomato juice or water (optional)


  1. In a blender, mix all of the soup ingredients until smooth. Tomato juice or water may need to be added. Strain and chill.
  2. For the garnishes you will need: one cucumber one green pepper, one red pepper, one bunch scallions, olive oil and two cups of toasted croutons.
  3. Seed and chop the cucumber and peppers.
  4. Chop the scallions.
  5. Serve each of the five garnishes in separate bowls with the soup. Alternate garnishes are sour cream, avocado chunks or tortilla chips.
  6. Chill soup at least two hours overnight. 
  7. Serve soup cold in chilled bowls and pass olive oil to be used after the garnishes. It's best to make in advance as the flavors will blend together in the refrigerator.

This recipe feeds six people. Serve it with sparkling wine or any fruity wine to complete the dish. This is a perfect summertime recipe that will add a refreshing kick to your day.

For more recipes and food tips from Sally, check out SallyBernstein.com.

Sally Bernstein
Strawberries in Champagne

We're got a fruity drink recipe that is quick and refreshing! Summer brings an array of fresh fruits that are in season. Fruits like apples and oranges are typically seen all year round, but strawberries taste best during the hot months. Their season is generally April through June, so don't waste any  time trying this strawberries in champagne recipe!

Fun and Nutritional Facts About Strawberries

  • Strawberries are low in calories. One cup of unsweetened strawberries has 55 calories.
  • Strawberries are low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Just one serving of about eight strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange.
  • Eat your strawberries fresh for better nutritional value. Berries won't ripen after they’re picked so eat them right away. 
  • There are many varieties of strawberries, such as Douglas, Pajaro, Chandler, Selva, Fraises de Bois (very tiny, red and white) and long-stem (any variety picked with a stem). 
California is the largest strawberry-producing state with 83 percent of the crop in the U.S. Florida is the second largest producing state. Other U.S. growing areas include Oregon, Louisiana, Michigan and North Carolina.
  • Strawberries are actually a member of the rose family. They grow in the ground from cuttings and need to be protected from snails and slugs.
  • There are "Pick Your Own" Strawberry farms across the U.S. and many Strawberry Festivals throughout the country.
  • Strawberries are the first crop ready for harvest in most temperate regions, usually in May or June.

Strawberries in Champagne Ingredients

  • 2 pints strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Champagne
  • Mint sprigs


  1. Wash strawberries, drain and place in a shallow bowl
  2. Sprinkle with sugar and brandy
  3. Cover and chill several hours
  4. Spoon berries into coupe champagne glasses (shallow, stemmed glass)
  5. Fill with champagne and garnish with mint.

This specific recipe makes 4 to 6 servings. Enjoy! 

For more food, wine and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein!

Sally Bernstein
Helping Kids Read Food Labels

Labels don't lie, but they sometimes bend the facts. Each food's "nutrition facts" box should be studied before you make a purchase. And your kids should know that nutrition labels are there to inform you what's inside the food you're eating. The agency in charge of nutrition is the USDA (United States Drug Administration). They have switched from the traditional pyramid to a new symbol, a colorful plate called MyPlate. Michelle Obama is a big proponent of this change.

Reading and interpreting food labels isn’t just for grown ups. With today’s growing concerns about childhood nutrition and obesity, it’s never too soon to encourage your children to make smart decisions. Food companies are actually required by law to give you the facts about what you're about to eat. 

Reading Food Labels for Kids

You can teach your kids how to read labels by making it a game. Here's what you need to do:

  • Get green, yellow and red stickers or magic markers
  • Have individual tablets for each of the food categories you’ll be checking.
  • Start with the basics of label information such as portion size (often surprising), calories, fat, carbs, sugar and sodium.
  • Next, explain how ingredients are listed in descending proportion to the total contents. If sugar is one of the top three ingredients, you can be sure there is a lot of sugar in this product. 

Gather together three or four similar products. Teach kids to use their newfound nutrition knowledge to read the labels and rate the products. 

  • Use green for "go." Go ahead and enjoy these tasty foods that are also good for you.
  • Use yellow for "pause." Think about enjoying this food in moderation.
  • Use red for "stop." Don't select this food as an everyday choice. Include more of the green and yellow products for a healthier lifestyle.

Let your children design a healthy menu for a family dinner and take them grocery shopping with you. Older kids may want to help with the food preparation. For a little math practice, have your new nutritionist provide a total breakdown for the entire meal (calories, fat, protein, etc).

Then, the entire family can celebrate success with fresh fruit for a just dessert! For more food, wine, and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein

Sally Bernstein
Flat Onion Bread Recipe

Whether you call this part of the meal hors d'oeuvres, little bites, first course, or appetizers, these food items are served before the main course. There are a plethora of appetizer recipes you can choose from, but our flat onion bread creation deserves some attention. 

Oftentimes, we need to come up with a quick, easy and non-fattening appetizers when we're on the go and counting calories. The recipe below is just that. It makes 16 individual flatbreads and is somewhat like a pizza, but without the fattening cheese and meats.

Flat Onion Bread Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp. butter, divided
  • 1 ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 ½ - 3 cups all-purpose flour

Flat Onion Bread Directions

  1. Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a heavy 10-12 inch skillet over high heat.  Add onions, reduce heat, and cook 3-5 minutes until soft and brown. 
  2. Melt remaining 5 tbsp. butter and pour into mixing bowl. 
  3. Add water and onions, salt and 2 ½ cups flour (1/2 cup at a time) and mix well.
  4. Roll mixture into a ball, divide into 16 pieces, and roll each piece into a 2” ball.  With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll into 8” circles.Dough should not stick to fingers. Add more flour if sticky.
  5. Place a 10”–12” heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Brown each circle 3-4 minutes on each side.

This recipe makes 16 individual breads. It can be served with chutney or as an accompaniment to soups. For more food, wine and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein!

Sally Bernstein
The Mediterranean Diet & Seeds

How well do you know your seeds? Find out which are best for the Mediterranean diet and everyday eating. Seeds are a great addition to the Mediterranean diet plan. Sprinkle them on salads, eat them with fresh fruit and yogurt, toss into a stir-fry dish, blend them into smoothies, mix into flour when baking muffins, and add them to your trail mix. They are small, but they pack a powerful punch of nutrition.

Check out the different types of seeds to choose from. 

Most seeds taste better after they have been toasted. Shake seeds in an ungreased skillet over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the seeds. Watch the pan closely so that you don’t over toast and burn the seeds.

Types of Seeds

  • Black Sesame: Sesame seeds come in black, brown, a grayish-ivory and red, but the black have more antioxidants than the others; the seeds have a somewhat sweet but nutty flavor and are commonly used in pastries and Middle Eastern foods.
  • Chia: Although you might be used to seeing these seeds on little terracotta animals, chia seeds are full of omega-3 fatty acids. Sprinkle them on fruit, granola or oatmeal.
  • Flax: This mild, nutty-flavored small seed contains vitamin E, calcium, phosphorous, niacin, iron, and Omega-3 fatty acids. Flax seeds are used in baked goods as they have a gelatinous effect, similar to egg whites.
  • Hemp: Good blended into smoothies, hemp has all nine essential amino acids. Hemp seeds can be eaten raw or made into milk, tea or used in baking.
  • Pumpkin (pepitas): Easy to come by, especially in October, these seeds contain potassium and magnesium. Add them to your train mix, eat plain or roasted and salted or use in Mexican cooking.
  • Sunflower: Rich in iron and vitamin E, these seeds have a hard outer shell. These seeds can be eaten plain or roasted and salted. These seeds are especially good in salads, sandwiches, cooked dishes and snacks.

However you choose to use these seeds, you'll derive health, taste and substance from them! For more food, wine and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein!

Sally Bernstein
The Mediterranean Diet & Olive Oil

How well do you know your olive oils? Spinach, walnuts, oat products, broccoli, blueberries, dark chocolate and olive oil—what do all these foods have in common? They are all rich in antioxidants, a central theme of the Mediterranean Diet, which came about after the dietary patterns of southern Italy, Greece, Spain and Morocco were studied.

Healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are all part of the diet. Olive oil, which contains a very high level of monounsaturated fats, is the main fat promoted in this diet and it is characteristic of the Mediterranean diet.

6 Types of Olive Oil

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is the first press of the olives through the cold pressing process. The virgin designation has to do with the amount of acidity of the olive oil.
  2. Virgin Olive Oil: Olives that are riper than those used for extra virgin oil are produced in the same way as extra virgin, the acidity is a bit higher, therefore, the oil is of lesser quality.
  3. Refined Olive Oil: This oil has a diminished flavor and scent, higher acidity than the two above and it is the result of refining virgin olive oil.
  4. Pure Olive Oil: Lighter in color and milder in taste than extra virgin olive oil, this oil is a result of the second cold pressing; it is not mixed with any non-olive oils.
  5. Refined Olive-Pomace Oil: This lower quality oil is produced by the ground flesh and pits left after pressing.
  6. Light & Extra Light Olive Oil: This low-quality oil is chemically produced.

This is an easy-to-make, yet healthy vegetable side dish that uses EVOO, extra virgin olive oil, a characteristic of the Mediterranean Diet.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes or Acorn Squash For Two


  • 2 sweet potatoes, cleaned, with skins on, cut into 1” wedges or 1 2-pound acorn squash, cut into ¾ inch slices after being halved and seeded
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  • Parmesan cheese


  • Heat oven to 425 degreees
  • Toss sweet potatoes or acorn squash with 1 Tbsp. oil
  • Season with salt and peppe
  • Roast, turning once, about 25 minutes, or until tender
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve

Roasted sweet potatoes or acorn squash are great additions for any main dish. And, they're healthy! For more food, wine and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein!

Sally Bernstein
Is It Jam, Jelly, Marmalade, Preserves, Conserves, Fruit Butter, or Fruit Curd?

What is the difference between jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves, conserves, fruit butter, or fruit curd? This can be a tough question to answer. These "jams" are all similar, but each one is different from the rest. Some use an ingredient called pectin, which is a natural, gelatin-like substance that is added to fruit to help it thicken. It is available in dry and liquid form. Most of these are sweet, fruit-based offerings, but some are tart and others are savory. Most of the items below are stored in glass jars, although cans and plastic packets are also used.


A jam made of whole or large pieces of different fruits stewed in sugar or syrup. These 4 items are cooked together until thick: various fruits, sugar, nuts and sometimes raisins. This mixture can be used as an accompaniment to meats or spread on biscuits or toast.

Fruit Butter

Stew fresh fruit, sugar and spices until thick, such as apple butter, which contains fresh apples, cider, sugar and cinnamon. There is actually NO butter in Fruit Butter as this term refers to its spreadability.

Fruit Curd

This creamy spread, think lemon curd, is made with the zest of the fruit, eggs, butter, sugar and citrus fruit. Curds are usually more tart than sweet and can be made in a variety of flavors, including cranberry, blood orange, lime and strawberry.


Start with fruit purees and add sugar and pectin until thickened. This creates a smooth finished product with a semi-jellied texture. Jams are usually made from one fruit, not a combination of various fruits.


This clear liquid is made from sweetened and jelled fruit juice, to which pectin and an acid, such as lemon juice, are added. Jelly is another smooth finished product.


We usually think of orange marmalade (made from Seville oranges) but there are also many other marmalades, such as onion marmalade and beet marmalade.  In other words, marmalade includes the zest and flesh from citrus fruits or vegetables.


Similar to conserves, preserves are made from whole or large pieces of fruit. The fruit, usually cooked with sugar and pectin, can be spread on biscuits or toast.

For more food, wine and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein!