National Fudge Day, June 16, 2011

Fudge has been around since late 1800, but is still a challenging recipe to follow, requiring constant attention, exact measurements and cooking time.  It is no surprise that the first batch of fudge was an accident of a botched bath of caramels.  Alterations to the original recipe have made it easier, but defined steps are still necessary.

My Grandma Edna made the best fudge in our town and below is her two favorite recipes. The first one has that old time graininess, and is full of chocolate flavor. The second recipe, Grandma Edna claims, was from first lady Mamie Eisenhower.  There are lots of things my grandmother told me that turned out not to be the exact truth, so not sure of the origin, but the recipe is outstanding.

Celebrate National Fudge Day by preparing both, and see which recipe your family prefers.

Grandma Edna’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge

1 ½ cups milk

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

4 cups sugar

3 tablespoons corn syrup

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

In a heavy saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate and milk

Add in sugar, corn syrup and salt.

Stir continuously until mixture is boiling

Reduce heat and continue to cook until mixture reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit on candy thermometer.

Remove from heat as soon as mixture reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add vanilla extract and butter.  Now for her secret, do not stir until temperature drops to 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Beat mixture approximately 15 minutes, with a large spoon until it begins to lose the gloss and start to thicken.

Pour into a well greased 8 x 8 pan.

Allow to cool and turn onto a cutting board.
Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge

4-1/2 cups of sugar

2 tablespoons of butter

1 pinch of salt

1 tall can of evaporated milk

24 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate morsels

1 pint of marshmallow cream

2 cups of chopped nuts

Heat the sugar, butter, salt and evaporated milk over low heat, stirring until the chocolate dissolves. Bring to a boil, and boil for six minutes or until it reaches 234 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the chocolate morsels, marshmallow cream and nuts into a heat resistant bowl. Pour the mixture you’ve been boiling over the ingredients you’ve just placed in the bowl. Beat until the chocolate has melted, and then pour it all into a pan. Let it stand for a few hours before cutting.

Cafe Lola

Hidden on North Roan Street, Johnson City, Tennessee,  Café Lola shines  in the way a true bistro should. The red and gold décor towering over the small, cozy room will allow you to step into a perfect meeting of French cuisine with American. A friendly atmosphere with servers that actually know what they are doing will make for a meal to remember. A very impressive wine list will pair well with any of the entrees such as the chicken breast stuffed with golden raisin herbed goat cheese in cranberry-walnut crust or a miso-glazed Chilean sea bass topped with Japanese miso and baked to perfection.  If only interested in lunch or brunch you will not be disappointed with any of the pressed Panini sandwiches that include selections such as a pressed ciabatta bread sandwich with smoked honey ham, muenster cheese, Dijon-mayonnaise, tomato, red onion and lettuce. You will find it difficult to resist the seductive crème brulee with Grand Mariner or the profiterole, a warm puff pastry filled with vanilla bean ice cream topped with warm chocolate sauce.  Prices are reasonable and an outstanding value for the quality of food you will enjoy. You will not find it difficult to forget you are in Johnson City, Tennessee.  Bon Appetit!

Faced with the most difficult decision of the day, red or white, we chose a flyte of both.

Red and White Wine Flyte

Our choices from left to right: Lurton Malbec, St. Suplic Bordeauz, Albera Barbera, Oyster Bay Savignon Blanc, Valckenberg, Gweurztraminer, and Lous Jadot Macon Villages.


Croque Monsieur  (Sourdough Bread Sandwich filled with Gruyere Cheese, ham and mornay sauce topped with Gruyere custard.) Best wine pairing: Albera Barbera

Croque Monsieur

Pressed Panini Sandwich with Smoke Turkey Breast (Smoked Turkey Breast, Swiss cheese, tomatoes, homemade pesto and cranberry chutney.) Best wine pairing: Valckenberg, Bwertraminer

Pressed Panini with Smoked Turkey Breast

Club Med Wine and Food Festival 2010

Chef Erik Peters (right) introducing Chef Sue Torres (left)

“I thought I’d seen you before.” When Club Med Corporate Chef Erik Peters, overseer of Club Med chefs and their kitchens at all Club Med resorts throughout the Americas and Caribbean, recognizes you, you might travel too much. Or, more accurately, you’ve made too many trips to the buffet at the Club Med Wine and Food Festival.

The first American to become a Club Med Executive Chef, Chef Erik likely has always been a keen observer and student. He started his career by knocking on the door at Club Med Copper Mountain in Colorado, USA and presenting the shortest winning resumé of al time: “I like to cook, and I like to ski.” He got the job.

Chef Erik worked hard, trained under master pastry chefs and master bakers, studied at two of France’s most prestigious culinary schools, Bocuse and Lenôtre, traveled sixteen years worldwide and earned the right to have the kitchen staff at all eighty Club Med resorts in thirty countries throughout the world call him Chef.

Chef Erik graciously introduced not only the celebrity chefs, but his own Club Med chefs that made the Wine and Food Festival possible. Even though he deserves great credit for producing such a demanding event, Chef Erik happily deferred to the presenters and his Punta Cana kitchen chefs and staff.

Chef Erik’s best non-food moment- announcing the next Club Med Wine and Food festival for June 2011 in Punta Cana. He’ll see me once again.

-Jef Coale

Next: Chef Leonardo Diaz makes sixteen cuts.

Club Med Wine and Food Festival 2010

Chef Leonardo Diaz, Chef Bernard Guillas, Chef Alex

We’re in a shady spot on a warm, sunny tropical day, local rum in hand. Boats bob at their moorings on the placid sea. Palms sway. The ocean breeze cools my face and fills my nose with the aroma of caramelized onions, carrots, leeks, thyme, saffron and shrimp being prepared by two world class celebrity chefs. Wait, what?

It’s the 2010 Club Med Wine and Food Festival in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. On the oceanside deck, Chef Leonardo Diaz, with sorcerer in charge Chef Bernard Guillas, labors over a portable outdoor kitchen to make shrimp in saffron sauce, cashew crusted red snapper and yucca fritters, paired with Estancia Pinot Noir. Yes, red with seafood is permitted- we’ll explain later. Right now, it’s international fine dining and it’s all free, wine included.

This trip went on our calendar last October at the conclusion of the 2009 Wine and Food Festival. Chef Bernard, who acts as presenter, moderator, translator and master of ceremonies, announced that Club Med Corporate Chef Erik Peters would be putting the 2010 edition together in at Club Med Punta Cana in June. Club Med’s Wine and Food Festival is in its third year, and for this current edition over two dozen celebrity chefs, world class sommeliers, rum experts and chocolatiers enticed about 600 guests to convene in the Dominican Republic. The best part? World class eating and mingling. The shocking part? No extra charge. All is included with the usual Club Med package.Check out our gallery of Club Med Punta Cana photos here.

Beach at Club Med, Punta Cana

If you dare attend it all, you get a special cocktail at 11:15, celebrity chef demonstration dish, with paired wine, at 11:30, beach barbecue at 12:30, another chef demo at 3:00, wine or cheese or rum or cigar (¡Hola, Pepino!) tasting seminar at 6:00, evening cocktail at 7:00, chef demo dish and matched wine at 7:30. Then, suck it in and get dressed for dinner, because now you may attend a Signature Wine Pairing Dinner, that is, an amuse bouche and four courses, each with a special wine pairing, prepared by two renowned chefs. Plus, Club Med’s usual all inclusive food and drink throughout the day and into the wee hours of the morning.

Decadent doesn’t even begin to describe it. In fact, decadent is probably a bit misleading, because what you really get is luxury at an incredible discount. It would take months of your life, and jet set quantities of cash, to go to each city and experience each chef, cuisine and restaurant represented the the Club Med Wine and Food Festival. It is an incredible value, wine included.

-Jef Coale

Next: Club Med Corporate Chef Erik Peters explains himself.

Gallery: Club Med Punta Cana overview.

Homemade Marshmallows!

Yes, you can make these!

Homemade Marshmallow Recipe

Springy, Fluffy Marshmallows (from
Adapted from Gourmet, December 1998

Makes about 96 1-inch cubed marshmallows

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 1/2 envelopes (2 tablespoons plus 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water, divided
2 cups granulated sugar (cane sugar worked just fine)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large egg whites or reconstituted powdered egg whites
1 tablespoon vanilla (alternately: 1/2 of a scraped vanilla bean, 2 teaspoons almond or mint extract or maybe even some food coloring for tinting)

Oil bottom and sides of a 13- by 9- by 2-inch rectangular metal baking pan and dust bottom and sides with some confectioners’ sugar.

In bowl of a standing electric mixer or in a large bowl sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water, and let stand to soften.

In a 3-quart heavy saucepan cook granulated sugar, corn syrup, second 1/2 cup of cold water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a candy or digital thermometer registers 240°F, about 12 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.

With standing or a hand-held electric mixer beat mixture on high speed until white, thick, and nearly tripled in volume, about six minutes if using standing mixer or about 10 minutes if using hand-held mixer.

In separate medium bowl with cleaned beaters beat egg whites (or reconstituted powdered whites) until they just hold stiff peaks. Beat whites and vanilla (or your choice of flavoring) into sugar mixture until just combined. Pour mixture into baking pan and don’t fret if you don’t get it all out. Sift 1/4 cup confectioner sugar evenly over top. Chill marshmallow, uncovered, until firm, at least three hours, and up to one day.

Run a thin knife around edges of pan and invert pan onto a large cutting board. Lifting up one corner of inverted pan, with fingers loosen marshmallow and ease onto cutting board. With a large knife trim edges of marshmallow and cut marshmallow into roughly one-inch cubes. (An oiled pizza cutter works well here too.) Sift remaining confectioners’ sugar back into your now-empty baking pan, and roll the marshmallows through it, on all six sides, before shaking off the excess and packing them away.

Do ahead: Marshmallows keep in an airtight container at cool room temperature 1 week.

Sake and Sushi

Sake – Hot or Cold?

When you are at your favorite sushi restaurant and the question is asked Sake? Hot or Cold? Do you know how to answer?  I didn’t.  However I have discovered more information on Sake than you may ever need, but next time you are in your favorite sushi restaurant ( local reviews coming!) you will know how to answer!

The taste of Japanese “sake”  made warm or hot,  will become deeper, and the taste differs from that of  “sake” consumed at room temperature. Also, as the temperature  increases, the effect of the alcohol also increases, and the taste becomes drier. Warm or hot “sake” is ideal for food flavored with soy sauce such as “sushi”.  As a generality warm “sake” is suited to cold and plain foods, and hot “sake” is suited to dishes and foods made with a lot of oil and fat.

For a quick “Sake” and “Sushi” dinner at home,  pick up your favorite take out “Sushi” and pick up a bottle of my favorite “sake” Hakutsuru Sake. Warm the “sake” in hot water. The time standard for the best warm or hot “sake” is made with boiled water of about 98 degrees C (208 degrees F). Leave the “sake” in the bottle in the hot water for about 2 to 2.5 minutes, then serve!

MoJoe’s Trailside Coffeehouse

MoJoe’s Trailside Coffeehouse

An interesting coffee house, upscale for Damascus, Virginia and surprisingly busy. If you want a really good Latte  then this is the place to go.  MoJoes’s Mochas are better than Starbucks. You may also enjoy the Iced Coffee or Tea and the Fruit Smoothies are fresh.   The food can be hit or miss, but the Gypsy Toast is always delicious.

Mojoe’s Trailside Coffeehouse
331 Douglas Drive
Damascus, VA 24236
(276) 475-5505

Kentucky Derby

Derby Pie

Kentucky Derby Weekend!  A must have – Derby Pie!

Simple to make!


1 pie crust (homemake or from store)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), melted
1/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup light corn syrup
4 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1 1/4 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, shelled and chopped in half if desired


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Roll crust out.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, on medium speed with whisk attachment, whip butter, sugars, corn syrup, eggs, vanilla and bourbon together until frothy.
  4. Remove bowl from mixer, and fold in chocolate chips and pecans or walnuts. Blend well.
  5. Pour into prepared pie crust and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes or until set.
  6. Serve warm or cool completely before serving with whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Rural Retreat Windery and Dye’s vineyard

Rural Retreat Winery and Dye’s Vineyards

Hot Turkey SandwichIf you are looking for a gratifying deli sandwich and a local glass of wine, I found it! I know this does not sound like much of a challenge, but I have been disappointed many times. Rural Retreat Winery and Dye’s Vinyards, Rural Retreat, Va, located off I-81, exit 60 has a selection that will be worth your stop.  I recommend the Hot Blue Ribbon Turkey and Cranberry Chutney with lettuce and tomato served on grilled sourdough bread. The deli has a mix matched collection of items that range from gift baskets to local wood working. You can also enjoy a wine tasting of their local wines for a very reasonable price of $4.50. The wine selection includes full body reds from locally grown Cabernet Francs, Steubens and DeChaunacs and whites from Muscats, Vidal Blancs, Taminettes and Chardonnays. If you are a wine snob, (like me) these wines do not, nor should they have the full body and flavor you will find in a French wine. Just enjoy the experience of a delectable sandwich and a local wine!

Rating 3 out of 5.

Whistle Pig Bistro

A new find in Damascus, Virginia, the Whistle Pig Bistro is a new and unique restaurant that you do not want to miss.  Located near the Creeper Trail, next door to JC’s Outdoor Bike Shop you will find items such as fried pickles and hummus tortilla chips at reasonable prices.  The decor

could use some improvement, but the restaurant is clean with fast service and a sunny patio on the back with outdoor dining near the water.

My recommendation is the homemade hummus sandwich with cucumber, spouts and avocado and a side of sweet potato fries served with curry ketchup. This combination is excellent with the Woodchuck Draft Cider. My husband, Jeff was even happy, as they also serve Guinness Beer. I know what you are thinking, humus? spouts? You will have to trust me on this one.  Your palate will thank you.   While you are there, take a bike ride on the Creeper trial and work up your appetite.

Rating 4 out of 5


1.One day before: Call JC’s Outdoor Bike rental,,  and arrange a 10:30 am Bike Rental for next day.

2.Arrive early, choose your bike and gear and prepare for ride up to White Top, Virginia.

3.Enjoy a fantastic easy downhill (17 miles) ride back to Damascus, Virginia.

4.Visit Whistle Pig located next door for a tasty affordable meal!