Eggplant Purses

Table ready

Purses? On a food blog? Yes! Purses!

No, I’m not talking about Prada or Coach. However, these purses are handcrafted Italian perfection! With each pocket of pleasure comes a burst of flavor from the basil mozzarella combination.

I love to play with food. I think most of us do. We just don’t realize we are playing but when you are rolling sushi or stuffing peppers, don’t you feel like you’re playing? Well, I do! That’s why I like interesting food. You know, stackable food or food that you build. I use food molds all the time to create height on the plate. Molds allow you to stack your

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The Bake-A-Thon’s Denouement!

Webster sez…

There were survivors. It was questionable at first but as the torpor of the food coma began to wear off, monosyllabic grunts became audible and murmurs became phrases. From the older girls full sentences followed. The younger ones, having long since passed their bedtime, were out like lights. But at its conclusion The Kitchen Island’s 6th Annual Christmas Bake-A-Thon was adjudged a brilliant success!

The length and breadth of the production is hard to describe; the unflagging good humor of the Fair Wanda even more so. By about 3 PM, I Continue reading

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6th Annual Christmas Bake-A-Thon

The ingredients. The scene before the participants arrive…


Over the next eight hours, there will be more calories generated on The Kitchen Island than are generally permitted per month at one single address in the Old Dominion. There will also be a bunch of girls so amped up on sugar that we may be able to sell some of the excess energy to the local power company. Webster and the Wonder Dog are battening down the hatches, for the chaos is about to begin. If there are any survivors, a follow up post will appear when they recover sufficiently to report coherently.

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Valentine’s Day at The Kitchen Island: Moules á la Monsieur Arnaud

Mussels Served

Moules en Créme! Magnifique!

Webster traveled extensively during his misspent youth (a period that ended a little more than 10 years ago, when he met me), and, aside from anything else he picked up, he certainly picked up some cooking skills.

On our first Valentine’s Day together, he invited me and The Bug over for “a special dinner”. Yes, that’s right, our first Valentine’s Day included my 14 year old daughter who was not too happy with Mom’s new love interest.  After assuring her that he would not be serving salmon, she graciously agreed to attend.  Webster advised that we come “dressed”. The Bug decided her 6th grade formal gown was the appropriate attire while I settled for a simple cocktail dress. He greeted us decked out in a tux, welcomed us in French and presented us both with a lovely arrangement of flowers. (The Bug started to warm up to him at this point.) He told us the story of how he learned to make this dish and his “friend”, Pierre Arnaud, whom he’d apparently last heard from five years earlier. We were to experience mussels á la Pierre.

At this point, I must relinquish the keyboard to Webster.  For you see, he, and only he, can paint the scene of that European adventure that led to the magnificent culinary delight we enjoy every Valentine’s Day.  Take it away, Honey….

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The Down and Dirty Martini


The Real Deal!

Webster sez:

One of Wanda’s cold-weather favorites! The extra dirty martini. She uses vodka but gin is acceptable, too. (Admittedly, given my proclivity for a Tanqueray and tonic, the gin inventory here at The Kitchen Island is always in flux, so vodka may be her path of least resistance.) The raw oysters in the background represent the balance of our St. Valentine’s Day opening round. The main event is a story unto itself – and will be posted on our next

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All Hail Caesar! (The salad that is!)

Caesar Salad My first Caesar salad was almost 10 years ago, when Webster took me to meet some of his old friends in Virginia Beach, VA. We visited with this couple for a little while and then he took me to the Isle of Capri, a hotel rooftop restaurant overlooking the beach. It was Fall, the wind was quite sharp and the beach was deserted. He suggested the she-crab soup and the Caesar salad.

The salad’s creation is generally attributed to restaurateur Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant who operated restaurants in Mexico and the United States. Cardini was living

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Smoked Salmon and Drinks Appetizer

photo (1)

A typical February day at The Kitchen Island consists of a steaming mug of herbal tea and a crackling fireplace.  Not today.  It’s 61 degrees and I’m sitting on the deck with a chocolate peanut butter smoothie reminiscing of one of our perfect sails last summer on the Chesapeake Bay.   Continue reading

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Square Foot Gardening

The Beginning

The Beginning

This year we tried the “square foot gardening” method of raising veggies for The Kitchen Island. Webster was skeptical at first but he’s starting to see the benefits now! Herewith, The Kitchen Island’s kitchen garden!

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The 5th Annual Kitchen Island Bake-a-Thon!

OMG! Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark!

OMG! Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark!

OMG! Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark!

For the fifth year in a row The Kitchen Island hosted a Christmas Bake-a-Thon, a day-long sugar and caloric bacchanalia of epic proportions to which Wanda invites a slew of her many nieces – ages 5 to 16 – to The Kitchen Island for a day of baking, mentoring, crafting, present wrapping, life guidance and general frivolity. The best laid plans notwithstanding, the festivities, historically speaking, generally spin wildly out of control by about 2.30. Webster, having lived through all the previous iterations, moved quickly and decisively to contain the damage. Having fully stocked the liquor cabinet in anticipation of the event, he grabbed the gin and the remote, headed for the living room and camped out in front of the fireplace and the TV for the day’s football schedule.

But that’s another story. Today’s post is about what Webster considers the event’s piéce de résistance – salted caramel pretzel bark – and the primary reason he anticipates this annual invasion of The Kitchen Island by waves of girlie girls and the chaos it inevitably spawns. This one is among the most simple recipes in our book so, here we go…

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Crab and Corn Chowder with Mashed Potatoes

Crab and corn chowder

Crab and corn chowder over mashed potato

It’s December and it’s cold! That usually calls for a goose down parka and mittens, but for The Kitchen Island, cold weather suggests a belly-filling, hot bowl of comfort. So, grab your large enamel pot and let’s get started!

This chowder recipe was added to the regular rotation at The Kitchen Island a few months ago after enjoying a similar dish at The Eastville Inn in historic Eastville, Virginia.  Chef Brent delivered a delectable distribution of flavors that warmed my soul and left me with the desire to recreate and share this discovery with as many foodies as possible.  I mean, chowder paired with mashed potatoes?!? Really?!? Am I the only gal alive who hasn’t experienced this mind-blowing concoction? Possibly not.
So, I pulled down the cookbooks and scoured the sites of top notch magazine websites to find that perfect match.  Food and Wine won the distinct honor of becoming the Chowder Contributor and therefore, The Kitchen Island presents… Crab and Corn Chowder over mashed potatoes!

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Roasted Baby Eggplant with Goat Cheese


Our recipe posts here at The Kitchen Island are not always our own creations.  We comb through cookbooks; scan the magazines while waiting in the checkout line; and spend endless hours surfing the worldwide web.  Most of the time, we pull several recipes for one dish.  We take a little inspiration from each recipe and create a masterpiece! Very rarely do we use someone else’s exact recipe…but when we do, we definitely dish out the pun intended😜  So, our chefs hats go off to one of our favorite blogs…! This recipe was perfect…no alterations needed.

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Clam and Bacon Pizza! OMG!!


Sunday night at The Kitchen Island, after a hard day of arduously relaxing aboard Faith under sail on the Chesapeake Bay, a less formal – but no less formidable – dinner is the order of the day. Home-made pizza with bacon and fresh clams is guaranteed to fill the bill!

While the Fair Wanda assembled the ingredients and sipped a glass of Pinot Gris, I availed myself of an adult beverage – and began salivating over the growing array of delicious components being readied for the evening’s repast. But Webster’s job is to handle the photography, so I’ll let Wanda take it from here.

One recent Sunday morning, as we were flipping through the inspirational pages of the September 2013 edition of Bon Appetit, we stumbled upon this coastal delicacy. Blanched garlic, which is sweet and mild, is blended with briny clam liquor and olive oil to make a creamy white sauce for this unconventional, unbelievably delicious, gastronomic tour de force!

Before we embarked on this recipe, our biggest concern was the time and effort required to blanch the garlic. However, never ones to shy away from a culinary challenge, we reached for our chef’s knives and jumped in with both burners! As it turned out, the effort was minimal – the time required was essentially waiting for the water to boil which allowed for a few extra sips of a charming Sonoma region pinot gris. On top of that, the amount of sauce we ended up with far exceeded what we needed and we’re going to experiment by adding this flavorful elixir to future creations at The Kitchen Island. Make sure you refrigerate your remaining sauce and leave a comment here on our blog describing how you used it.

Bob Appetit states that you can find this dish on the menu at Area Four, a restaurant in Cambridge, MA. Now, we haven’t been there to confirm this claim, but Bon Appetit has never let us down before. If you don’t happen to be scheduled to appear in Cambridge, MA, any time soon, here’s how we did it.

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Soft Shell Crabs are in the House!

Grilled Soft Shells

Grilled Soft Shell Crabs

Grilled Soft Shell Crabs! (Yummm!)

At this time of year in our neck of the woods, soft shell crabs become available and, as with the short-lived white asparagus season in France, lovers of these delicious creatures begin to get the shakes as soon as the first “Soft Shells Are In!” signs sprout on the roadway, in shop windows and on restaurant “Specials” boards.

Soft-shell crab is the culinary term for crabs which have recently molted their old exoskeleton and are still soft. The soft-shell is the blue crab in its molted state. The molting process means an abundant supply of soft crabs from late spring to early fall, with May through September ranking as the most productive months.

Peeler Pounds

Crabs, in the process of shedding, are watched constantly.

The soft-shell season is traditionally marked with the first full moon in May. At that time, the blue crab begins its molting season to accommodate its summer growth. The actual shedding of the shell can take anywhere from one to three hours, after which it must be removed or the hardening process will continue, reducing the quality of the soft-shell crab.

Soft-shells are harvested in their peeler stage in peeler pounds or pots and transferred to shedding operations where they are monitored around the clock.

When purchasing soft-shells, you would be wise to understand the terminology of size. The following chart should help you out:

Medium: 2.5 or 4.0 inches

Hotel: 4. to 4.5 inches

Prime: 4.5 to 5.0 inches

Jumbo: 5.0 to 5.5 inches

Whales: over 5.5 inches

These babies are a much sought-after delicacy here at The Kitchen Island and Wanda is about to show you how to prepare them. Click on “Continue Reading” for the details… and a short video!

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Missing Soft Shells! Oh no!!!!!

Our last post – the one about grilled soft shell crabs – has suffered a technological mishap. presumably not fatal. The video wouldn’t load!

Our team of crack propeller-heads has been loosed on the problem and the post will back up as soon they finish a few more gulps of Jolt! Sorry for the inconvenience!

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The Bug’s Masterpiece!

OMG!! A 6-layer coconut cake!

Birthday cake

Happy Birthday, Honey!

This weekend was the occasion of Webster’s birthday. The Bug, inspired by countless hours of TV cooking shows and the constant activity aground The Kitchen Island, created this magnificent edifice that is sure to please Webster’s cardiologist. It was fantastic!

For more photos of the creative process and the finished product. Click on “Continue Reading” to see them.

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The Kitchen Island Hits the Road: Nu Yawk City!


The Master. Pianist Alex Tuchman

A long overdue visit to be sure, but The Kitchen Island crew arrived in Gotham a week ago for a virtuoso piano recital by the internationally renowned Alex Tuchman, pianist extraordinaire and one of Webster’s seemingly infinite supply of nieces and nephews.

Bach, Beethoven, Schumann; a brilliant display of talent, virtuosity and many years of practice. But this is a food blog, right? So, let’s at least touch on some food!

Click on “Continue Reading” for the gory details!



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Oysters with Ginger-Soy Butter



Oysters!!!! My hat comes off to the first desperate soul who cracked open that first  slimy, muddy bivalve to discover the salty, meaty delicacy we now enjoy on a regular basis.  A quick search on the worldwide web, dates the consumption of oysters to prehistoric times.  My consumption started when I was about 5 years old.  My father would place two chairs in the backyard under a shade tree. He’d plop me in one of them and position himself in the other with a basket of oysters (and sometimes clams) at his feet.  The shucking began and I waited patiently as he pried open the bivalve with a knife that looked like it was used by the prehistoric folks. Once opened, salty oyster liquor gushed from the mollusk as my father slid the knife under the meaty flesh inside the shell and released it from its cup.  As he handed me the bottom half with the oyster floating in the liquor, he tossed the top shell into a basket he reserved for the remains and proceeded to open the next one.  It took all of two seconds for me to slurp that salty piece of heaven from its shell; doing my best to savor every ounce of liquor surrounding the meat because I knew I’d need to wait at least another five seconds for my father to open and enjoy his oyster before preparing another for me.  Once we had our fill, the basket with the remains was carted off to the driveway or down to the creek where the shells were returned to their birthplace.  Such fond memories! Spending quality time with my father; learning to open an oyster; and feasting on our region’s bounty. Bless my father’s heart for introducing me to this amazing delicacy of the sea!   As my culinary skills developed, so did my love of oysters.  Finding new recipes to include the mollusk became a mission. I stumbled upon this one a while back while searching for some Asian dishes.  The addition of ginger intrigued me.  So, I gave it a try and oooooh….mmmmyyyyyy…..gooooooodness!  Unbelievably delicious! Click on “Continue reading…” for the recipe and photos. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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SALMON! Pan Seared with Brussels Sprouts and Walnuts

Finished ProductBelieve it or not, once upon a time, I would not even look at a piece of salmon.  The only fish I would consider was an occasional piece of flounder, which is very white and very mild.  Salmon, being very orange, was completely foreign to me. I had tried it a couple times at restaurants, obviously inappropriately prepared, and found it to be…well…”fishy”.  After meeting Webster, who ingested salmon five times a week (prepared the same way each time, if you can imagine), I decided that if this relationship was to progress, I needed to expand my culinary skills to include the preparation of this orange flesh of the sea and to encourage my taste buds to not only accept it, but fall head over heels for it.  So, for the past 8 years, I’ve researched the URLs of the worldwide web; I’ve combed the shelves of the cookbook isle at Barnes & Noble; and, I’ve scanned the magazine rack at the checkout counters, all to find any additional methods of cooking salmon.  You see, I need variety.  At The Kitchen Island, we usually do not experience the same meal twice in one month.  So, during my search, I held out for the unusual; the flavorful; the one-of-a-kind recipe.  Remember, I’m looking for that taste bud happy dance!  Boy, did I find it with this one.  This recipe did not originate as a salmon dish.  It’s actually the marrying of two souls…much like Webster and me. He loves salmon and I LOVE Brussels sprouts!  Hence, Pan Seared Salmon with Brussels Sprouts & Walnuts…a healthy taste bud explosion!

Just a note to all those anchovy haters out there…give the anchovies a try just this once.  They are minced (so practically invisible) and they add a depth of flavor to the dish. Combined with the mustard and capers, their original flavor disappears and a new character evolves!  A Votre Sante!

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Shrimp Nachos

Shrimp Nachos

Shrimp Nachos

Although I was born and raised in the good ole USA, my culinary preferences occasionally lean towards our southern neighbor, Mexico.  Cumin and coriander mixed with a little garlic and jalapeno, initiate a taste bud happy dance!  With Webster being a non-meat eater, I improvised with shrimp this go around.  My niece, Courtney, a non-shrimp eater, just happened to be visiting, so two saute pans were sizzling at once…one with the shrimp and one with the beef. Both pans yielded a South of the Border work of art.  Enjoy this with your favorite Margarita or try Momma’s Margarita (so named by The Bug)! Click the “More” button for the recipe… and Webster’s Two Cents!

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Whine a Little, Why Don’tcha?

Wine pour

Add a bottle of wine to your meals!

To follow up on an earlier post, this post is about another wine blog we like. Chicago-based winer Rob Frisch blogs about “odd” wines at Why odd wines? Well, it seems that he buys most of the wines that he blogs about (as opposed to blogging about wines given to him by distributors looking for a good review) and, as such, the wines he blogs about tend to be cheap. Going into a good wine shop and asking for a “cheap” wine increases the odds that it will be, well, “odd”. Duh!

On the way home tonight, buy a bottle that you’ve never tried before. Let us know what you buy, what you ate that accompanied it and how you liked it. We’ll share the (appropriate) comments on the blog.


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