"One of the delights of life is eating with friends, second to that is talking about eating. And, for an unsurpassed double whammy, there is talking about eating while you are eating with friends."
~Laurie Colwin'Home Cooking'
Don't you love it when You are thrown into a new situation, either by choice or by accident and you end up coming out of it with these wonderful new friends? New girlfriends are kind of hard to come by once you are an adult. It is easy to remain in the comforts of long-time relationships, and oh so difficult to come across those wonderful new ladies that could bring joy to your life in a whole new way. Some time ago, my sister asked me if I would like to join a bookclub that her friend was starting up. She told me that they were all lovely ladies and that I would be sure to fit right in with them. I took the leap and went along- who doesn't love a nice girls night out, and one to discuss books over (lots) of wine?! And my sister was 100% right! These ladies are fantastic! Thanks to the bookclub, Book Lover's Uncorked, us girls have had so many wonderful adventures. We've enjoyed wine tastings, dinners out, quiet evenings in, and even an amazing trip to New York City where we got to be in the audience of the Martha Stewart show- front and center (more about this trip in its own post soon!)
One of my lovely new friends I met from Book Lover's is the star of today's Friday's, Feasting with Friends, Amanda Preputnik. She is bubbly, incredibly sweet and full of awesome stories. I could listen to her adventures for hours. And let me tell you- she is a riot! She has such a great way with words. In December Amanda and her boyfriend Chris welcomed to the world their handsome son, Evan- indeed the love of their life. What a joy babies bring! I am having so much fun getting to know her now as a mommy and sharing the type of bonding that comes from the experiences that only being a mom can bring. Amanda, you are a natural.
What is your favorite thing to cook?
I love to bake bread and make sweets. They fill the kitchen with such wonderful and satisfying aromas.
How about your least favorite thing to cook?
Hmmn. That's a tough one, I would have to say fish. And bacon.(I always burn it).
What is your favorite local restaurant and what is one you are dying to try out?
It really depends on my mood. For a sandwich and a pint we are off to The Melt. A unique grilled cheese experience. But if I really want to pamper myself I go to Players on Madison. They serve up an ahi-tuna appetizer and duck entree that will knock your socks off! There is a German restaurant a short way into Cleveland that when I am feeling strong of stomach I want to try .
Music and food go together so beautifully. You are hosting a dinner party, what would be on your playlist?
O... probably a little Azure Ray, Ben Folds, Iron and Wine and Zero 7.
What would you choose to be your last meal on earth?
Sushi app, Lamb Korma, Keeman Nan, and a nice Petite Syrah. With white chocolate mousse with raspberry puree and a chocolate shard!
What are you currently reading?
The Skinny Bitch
What is your favorite Kitchen Gadget?
Wine opener.. hehe. My Huntington milkshake maker.
Do you have a signature go-to dish?
I make a mean Chicken Divan.
What is your favorite thing about the Cleveland area?
I love the fact that living in Lakewood puts me about 20 min from anything entertaining. Museum, Parks, Downtown etc.
Do you have a favorite meal from your childhood and do you cook it today?
Spaghetti. I could always eat it. Breakfast, lunch or dinner. I still make it today just with Bolognese twist.
Top 3 Movies of all time?
Gone With The Wind, Follow the Fleet, Pan's Labyrinth.
What was your happiest moment in life?
The birth of my son Evan this past Dec. I got to help pull him from me and lay him on my belly. Time has never stood as still for me as when we locked eyes for the first time. Truly a humbling experience.
Where do you do your grocery shopping?
Heinen's, Giant Eagle or my fav The West Side Market.
What is your favorite guilty pleasure when it comes to food?
Rich and creamy dishes. They are hell on my hips but Oh! heaven on my lips!
Can you tell me about what you are most proud of?
My family and friends. It takes a long time to find what one needs in life. A true friend, loving family. Simple pleasure have a way of being truly gratifying if you just let them..
Do you have Culinary Resolutions that you would like to accomplish this year?
Well I saw Julie and Julia recently and it was inspiring. I think I would like to go through some of my more daring cookbooks and try something I would usually shy away from.
One word that best describes you is: Bright!
Dulce De Leche
1 quart whole milk12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in a large, 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. At this point add the baking soda. (very important) Do not skip the baking soda it adds to the caramel color and helps with the acids from the milk. Reduce the heat to low and cook uncovered at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally.(2+ hrs) Foam will form at the top.
All the recipes I found say not to re-ncorporate it back into the mix. I found this true only in the last hour. Remove the vanilla bean after 1 hour and continue to cook until the mixture is a dark caramel color and has reduced to about 1 cup. If you leave the vanilla bean in for more that 1 hr it will change the flavor of the dulce de leche.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
Store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to a month. This takes approximately 2 to 3 hours on a gas stove and 3 to 5 hrs on a electric range. Good on ice cream, pancakes, fruit or a spoon!
Mandy, thank you so much for doing this interview for me- I know how busy it is with a new baby in the house! And also thank you for sending those great pictures along with your Dulce de Leche recipe. They are great! Oh man, I so could go for some of that right now! I have made it the old boiling-the-can-of-evaporated-milk way, but never like this. I can't wait to give it a try. It looks definitely worth the time involved. Delicious!!!