Monthly Archives: July 2011

Chocolate-Nutella Semifreddo

The recent heat wave has made it impossible to turn on the oven, so I had to come up with alternatives for dessert.

The first semifreddo I made this summer can be found HERE.  Bon Appétit can have credit for the recipe, I’ll take credit for the daunting task of executing the final product.

This week I decided to try a Nutella-Chocolate semifreddo.  A little on the sweet side at first bite, but definitely a yummy treat!

** Chocolate Nutella Semifreddo**

4 large eggs

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 13 ounce  jar Nutella 

1 cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks

1 tablespoon liqueur (I used Frangelico)

2 oz. milk and white chocolate, shaved

1/2 cup roasted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped


Line a mold of your choice with plastic wrap, taking care to leave about a 3 inch length hanging over the edge.

Heat Nutella in the microwave for about 20-25 seconds to soften it up. Set aside.

Place eggs and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk until the eggs are warm, about 2 minutes. 

Place the bowl in mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high-speed until pale and tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.  (At this point whip the whipped cream to the soft peak stage)

Add the Nutella and the chocolate liqueur to the egg mixture and mix on low-speed until blended. 

Gently fold in the whipped cream, shaved chocolate and 1/2 cup chopped nuts. 

Scrape mixture into the mold and spread evenly. Top with more shaved chocolate. Cover top of mold with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 8 hours or overnight. 

If anyone knows where I got this recipe, please let me know so I can give you credit.  Good job by the way!

PS:  I used what I had on-hand – Amaretto, Almonds & chocolate chips.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.


Fall 2011: Ready To Wear on the Runway

Even with my prospect of no money for new clothes, every girl needs to buy a few key pieces every season.

My mom always took me school shopping for supplies and shoes and clothes.  This was my kick-off for Fall.  Even when I became a teacher, my mom took me back-to-school shopping – I really miss that now that she’s gone.

Of course I resort to shopping alone – online or in stores.  Frankly, I love the sample sales and private shopping sites like:  Gilt, Rue La La, Beyond the Rack, Ideeli, Modnique – to name a few.  I’m a member of them all!  Just comment and I’ll send you an invitation code if you’d like.

My favorite trends for Fall 2011 are:

  • Mod:  As far as I’m concerned, the sixties are always in style.
  • The rebirth of the DUSTER coat.
  • Leather.
  • Fur.
  • Black & White and red.
  • And so many more…

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© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Photos courtesy of IMAX & New York Magazine.

Rich Boys, Turkish Toilets & Mosh Pits

When I was a wild and crazy 21-year-old, living in Paris and doing whatever the hell I wanted, my days were never dull and my nights were pretty exciting as well.

I was always meeting random guys and going to random parties – which were always spectacular.  One night I was invited to party right off the Champs Élysées– I think it was on rue Victor Hugo.

It was a great soirée complete with spoiled, rich boys ready to show all a good time and spend some serious cash.  The night went great – drinking, dancing, socializing… and then I had to pee.

I sauntered into the co-ed bathrooms and discovered that I was facing my long time fear – peeing in a Turkish Toilet.  If you have never seen this particular animal, it’s a hole in the floor with a place to put your feet – but remember to jump out as you flush or your feet will get wet.

I entered the stall, ignoring the fact that a cute boy was peeing next to me, lifted my skirt, pulled down my stockings and tried to perform a super squat directing my urine into the tiny hole rather than spilling it down my legs.

Success!  All was well dans les toilettes.  My legs were dry and my clothes were pee free.  I had managed to pull it off.

Back on the dance floor a mosh pit had developed with young, drunk Parisiansslamming into each other with of course, some casualties.

After a few more cocktails and some major ass-shaking, we headed over to Les Bains Douches – the hot club du jour in Paris in 1987.  Bains Douches was an exclusive “Studio 54” type atmosphere where you waited outside until you were picked to go inside.

The rich boys that we were with were a tad inebriated and tried to push me to the front in my see-through lace top and micro mini and very big hair so that we would all get in.   That didn’t work because the door Nazi would only let me in and no one else.

Then the poor, little rich boy pulled out a wad of cash and tried to bribe the chick guarding the door…

“Ça vaut pas la peine monsieur.”

Which is French for “No fucking way!”  We left with our tails between our legs (not mine – frankly I was a little aggravated I didn’t go in – but I couldn’t ditch my new-found friends) and trudged off to another club or bar – who remembers?

What I loved about Paris then and love about it now is that there is always something to do, someone to meet and somewhere to go.  You’ll never be bored unless you choose to be.

I never saw those guys again (at least I don’t think I did – so long ago) but I’ll always remember it like it was yesterday.  Twenty two years later I can still envision my surroundings and remember what it was like to pee in a co-ed Turkish Toilet for the first time.

I’ve peed in a few since then.  Have you ever?

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010 – Re-published July 2011.

RED Hot for Fall: From the Fall 2011 Collections

RED is hot and these designers do it right for Fall.

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R – E – D   is the new way to spell HOT.

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Photos courtesy of IMAXTREE from New York Magazine online.

Pistachio, Strawberry and Vanilla Semifreddo: Courtesy of Bon Appétit

The recent heat wave in New Jersey has thwarted my baking plans.  I mean really… who wants to put on the oven in this weather, even with the AC!

So ICE CREAM I say… but my husband has yet again buried my ice cream machine in the mess of a garage that would rival any hoarder on TV (no dead animals though).  So another plan was in order.

Leafing through my June 2011 issue of Bon Appétit Magazine, I stumbled upon a section called FREEZE! Right Where You Are where frozen desserts abound:  granitas, semifreddos & ice pops.

Since I had all the ingredients for the semifreddo, I figured let’s give it a try.  Needless to say that my husband, John, attacked it even before I unmolded it… it was gone in 2 days.

Although it was a lot of work, it was definitely worth it!  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Pistachio, Strawberry and Vanilla Semifreddo Bon Appétit | June 2011

by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez

Got eggs, sugar, and cream? Then you can make a striking Italian semifreddo. It’s the lushest and creamiest of frozen desserts—no ice cream maker required.

Yield: Makes 10 servings


1 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
4 tablespoons sugar, divided, plus 1/2 cup
1 cup whole milk, divided
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
1 cup fresh strawberries (about 4 ounces), hulled, halved
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream


Line a metal loaf pan (approximately 9x5x3″) with 2 layers of plastic wrap, leaving generous overhang on all sides.

Grind pistachios and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until very finely chopped. Transfer pistachio mixture to a small saucepan. Add 1/2 cup milk; bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium bowl; strain, discarding solids. Stir in almond extract; set pistachio mixture aside.

Place remaining 1/2 cup milk in a separate small saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes. Set a strainer over another medium bowl; strain, discarding solids, and chill vanilla mixture.

Purée strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar in a food processor until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over another medium bowl; strain, pressing on solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard solids. Stir in vanilla extract and set strawberry mixture aside.

Whisk eggs, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a medium metal bowl. Set bowl over a medium saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Beat egg mixture at high-speed until it triples in volume and an instant-read thermometer inserted into mixture registers 170°F, about 3 minutes. Remove bowl from over water and continue beating until thick and cool, about 3 minutes. Add one-third of egg mixture to each of the pistachio, strawberry, and vanilla mixtures; fold each just to blend.

Beat cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add one-third of cream to each of the pistachio, strawberry, and vanilla mixtures; fold each just to blend. Cover vanilla and strawberry mixtures separately; chill. Pour pistachio mixture into pan; smooth top. Cover; freeze until firm, about 45 minutes. Gently pour strawberry mixture over pistachio layer; smooth top. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes. Gently fold vanilla mixture to blend; pour over and smooth top. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Fold plastic wrap over; seal tightly and keep frozen.

Uncover semifreddo. Using plastic wrap as an aid, lift from mold. Invert onto a chilled platter; peel off plastic. Slice crosswise.

Have you made any interesting desserts this summer?

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Pasta Caprese

It’s really hard for me to stay away from pasta completely.  I’m always looking for a light dish so I can eat my macaroni and not feel guilty.

This is my twist on a Pasta Caprese.

  • 1 pound linguine or spaghetti – 1 c pasta water reserved
  • 1 -1/2 c – 2 c tomatoes, diced – preferably heirloom of different colors and types (cherry, grape, plum, etc.)
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, cubed
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 c  fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Sea salt to taste


Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce. Mix the diced tomatoes and cubed mozzarella in a large bowl. Add the extra-virgin olive oil, oregano, basil leaves, and salt, to taste.

When the linguine is ready, reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and add it to the bowl with approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Mix well, adjust seasoning and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

This no-cook, warm weather friendly sauce makes a great salad too!

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010. Re-published 2011.

Related articles

Baths vs. Showers: The Best Way To Get Wet

When I was little I always wanted to take a big-girl shower.  My mom made me take baths for a long time but I endlessly longed for a that spray of water on top of my head while I opened my mouth to get a taste.

As a teenager, I thought baths were gross.  Sitting there in your own filthy water while an errant hair floats by – YUK!  I could not bear it and I had to have the cleanest OCD tub in NJ.

Adulthood has brought me to the realization that I love baths again.  A bubble bath, an oil bath, a foam bath or a salt bath.  I’ll take them all.  I lower the lights in my bathroom, light some scented candles, pour a glass of Old Vine Zin and try to coax my other half to join me (he never does – I think we need a bigger tub).

I dream about a giant tub for two.  A bathtub where I can stretch out, covered in water from neck to toe (with no parts sticking out).  A soaking tub – with heated jets and aromatherapy – and maybe a sauna or steam to boot.

I’m glad that I haven’t forgotten – or rather can re-appreciate a good old bath and its therapeutic qualities.

What do you prefer?  A bath or a shower?  I still can’t decide the best way to get wet…. well I can, but that has nothing to do with bathing – but that’s another blog.

Image: Filomena Scalise /

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010. Re-published 2011.

Summer Garden Tomato Salad

Yesterday I grilled a marinated pork tenderloin and needed a side dish that was light and summery.  Instead of an ordinary tomato salad with olive oil and basil and garlic I decided to try a new twist on the usual suspect.  I raided my garden for fresh ingredients and was delighted at the results.  I actually wrote it down.  I rarely write my recipes down;  1.  because I don’t measure and 2.  because it rarely crosses my mind to put it down on paper.

I must say that it was delectable!  I had a hard time not eating the entire bowl.  I begrudgingly left some for my husband’s lunch and tucked it away in the fridge so it didn’t tempt me anymore.  John called me this morning to tell me that the salad was delicious and asked if I could make it again.  Good thing I wrote it down!

Jacqui’s Summer Tomato Salad

3 – 4 tomatoes cut into chunks
a handful of cherry tomatoes from the garden
2 – 3 slices of Italian bread, toasted or grilled and rubbed with a garlic clove – cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cucumber, peeled and chunked
a hunk of fresh mozzarella, diced
fresh herbs from garden:  basil, oregano, thyme – chopped
a handful of grated romano cheese
salt & pepper to taste
a pinch of sugar

Dressing (you may have extra):
1/4 c x virgin olive oil
a splash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
fresh thyme – a pinch

Combine all salad ingredients in a bowl.  Toss.  In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine dressing ingredients and whisk well.  Pour over salad and mix together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Serves 4-6

The bread soaks up the dressing and transforms into a mouth-watering delight.  Let me know what you think.  Enjoy!

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Squeak, Tweet, Meow, Hiss

My house and my yard are NEVER without a cute (and sometimes not so cute) animal invading my space.  Ducks in the pool, squirrels on the patio, chipmunks in the bird feeder or cats sleeping between my legs. All of them – Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.

I enjoy my suburban fauna and my 3 kitty cats who always want to eat the fauna outside.  It’s a daunting task just trying to prevent their escapes.

I’ve shown you my FLORA – now I’ll show you my FAUNA.  I hope  you like my pictures.

Chipmunk in the bird feeder

Teasing my cat

Peek-A-Boo Bailey


Peaches eating decor

Praying Mantis on my front door

Bailey in the fringe

Even the ladder Bailey!

Squirrels on the hot tub

Squirrels in the snow


Ducks in my pool

Tia Maria

Dragonfly on my car

Hungry Ducks

Squirrel Peeing on my sliders


What creatures do you have creeping in and out of your home?

© 2011 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.

Shoe Shock Reaches 157

If any of you know me personally, you know that I have an obsession with shoes.  A sickness really.  I love them.

My addiction borders on fetish for anything high, sexy and hot.  I have about 400 pairs of shoes (so my husband keeps saying) which include everything from stilettos to platforms to sneakers.  Friends who embark upon my shoe closet are immediately taken back to their childhoods when they tried on mommy’s high heels.  My friends Christine said it was like shopping in the Macy’s shoe department.

I have shoes that I have never worn.  I have shoes that I’ve worn out.  I have weekend shoes and weekday shoes, though they often intersect.

So I have decided to create a shoe page in honor of my compulsion.  I will post a new pair of shoes when I can so that I might actually find out the TRUE NUMBER.  Any guesses?

153. Carlos
154. Carlos in Black
156. Coach
157. G by Guess

Check out the full post at Shoe Shock.

© 2010 J. H-M and CultureChoc2010.  Updated 2011.