Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

EPCOT Food And Wine Festival, 2014

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It has been an awesome week. First, my daughter Melissa came home and spending the whole day with family and friends at the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival. Let me start at the beginning,

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The first stop on our food adventure around the world was Mexico. I knew I had to have that frozen Pomegranate and lime Margarita along with their marinated rib eye tacos, Yum! Oh, and of course, this tasty treat wouldn’t be complete without the sounds of the Mariachi band playing in the background. Next up South Korea.

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Still full from Mexico, and sipping my margarita, I wanted to make sure I could show you a few of the small bites from the other countries. I had to pace myself in order to try the samples that the other countries were offering.

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Singapore, amazing!

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Africa, this is the one. Marinated beef tenderloin pieces with vegetables and mushrooms over grits. Sounds simple right, but the flavors in these dishes are out of this world. The ingredients and spices come together like it was a marriage made in heaven.

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We were all thirsty and stumbled upon a tea stand. I tried the mango ginger tea, WOW!

We learned that this year’s event they were going to have food specifically from Florida. They offered a Zellwood Sweet Corn And Bacon Hash.

Now comes my favorite thing to do, at the festival, it’s time for the food demos. Melissa and I split off from the rest of our party for some partying of our own. We head over to the Festival Center. This is the place where all the chefs do their food demos, book signings and all other kinds of cool stuff.

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So let me tell you what’s happening here. Starting at the top on the left is the entrance to the center, Then their vast wine display. Then you can see the set for the kitchen demos. There are also many unique displays. My dear friend Pamela Smith, with Spice Blends. has her display here. Pamela will be doing the moderating for the food demos all day. Here’s a picture of Pamela with a world-renowned pastry chef, discussing and teaching some pastry techniques.

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The picture on the right is a new chef on the scene in the U.S. Maria Isabel, but very well known in her home country of Puerto Rico.

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The highlight of my day was watching Chef Carla Hall do her thing at one of the demos. It’s amazing the connection she makes with her audience. She was doing a book signing after the demo. Melissa, bought me her new cookbook, Carla’s Comfort Foods. Needless to say, I hurried over to the standby line because the mainline was sold out in minutes. I was lucky enough to be the first one in standby, so I had my finger crossed.

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I felt like I was meeting royalty. She was everything I knew she’d be, real, sweet and down to earth. She never left until she talked to everyone, even those of us in the standby line.

Amazing, just awesome, and I even got a bit emotional. My daughter gave me a day I’ll never forget. Thank you so much, Melissa, I love you.

After all of this, we were hungry again. We had to meet up Christine, Steve’s daughter for dinner.

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So the girls put their hats on and took this picture for posterity. How cute are they? Now it’s time to do some walking to reach our destination.

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Beautiful scenery, as we made over to Japan. It’s Melissa’s favorite restaurant.

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I would have loved to have shown some pictures of the beautiful and colorful dishes we had but, we were so hungry and tired that I completely forgot.

Listen if you are ever in Orlando during the month of October, make this festival one of your stops while visiting. If you live here and have never been, you definitely want to put this on your list of things to do.

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Pumpkin Cheesecake Bundt Cake With A Cream Cheese Maple Drizzle

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This cake combines the taste of pumpkin cheesecake with the texture of a moist and delicious cake. My new bundt pan gives an elegant touch that will have your friends saying WOW!. This is my Pumpkin Cheesecake Bundt Cake With A Cream Cheese Maple Drizzle.

Today I’m using a box cake mix. There are a variety of really good ones available today and with a few special ingredients, you can make it your own. The French vanilla brand is my “go-to” and base flavor for all my cakes. I can take this cake mix in any direction I want.

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Prep Time: 35 to 40 minutes (time includes, prepping the cake batters)
Inactive Prep Time: 3 hours
Total Bake Time: 45 to 50 minutes, (after 35 minutes use cake tester in center of the cake (toothpick) and watch closely, may need another 10 to 12 minutes)
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Yields: 10 to 12 slices
Equipment: Bundt pan, rimmed sheet pan, 2 large mixing bowls, rubber spatula, whisk

Note: Mix each box of cake mix separately before combining the batter.

1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) of butter, unsalted and room temperature
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 (16.5-ounce) boxes of Duncan Hines French Vanilla cake mix, divided
2 pinches of Kosher salt, divided
6 large eggs, room temperature, divided
2 cups water, divided
2/3 cup vegetable oil, divided
1 cup ricotta cheese, room temperature, divided
1cup pumpkin purée, divided
2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract, divided
2 tablespoon cream cheese emulsion, divided
2 tablespoons of my homemade pumpkin spice blend, divided (substitute store-bought brand)

Ingredients For Cream Cheese Maple Drizzle
1 (8-ounce) bar cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup real maple syrup (amount may vary slightly)

Pumpkin Spice Blend:
1/3 cup of ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice

Directions For the Pumpkin Spice Blend:
In a small mixing bowl add the ingredient above, mix to combine. Transfer to an air-tight container. Store in a dry cool place.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.
Prep the bundt pan with butter and flour. Shake any excess flour from the bundt pan, set aside.

Directions For Wet Ingredients:
In a large bowl, whisk together pure pumpkin purée, ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon of a pure vanilla extract, and cream cheese emulsion (you can find this at any baking store). In another large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, water, and vegetable oil. Combine the bowl with the egg mixture together with the pumpkin ricotta mixture.  Using a spatula, mix the wet ingredients together, until combined.  Below is what the wet ingredients will look like once both mixtures have been combined.

Directions For The Dry Ingredients:
Add the dry cake mix, pinch of Kosher salt, and pumpkin spice blend into a large mixing bowl, whisk those together. Add in a 1/3 of the dry ingredients, at a time, into the wet ingredients, giving the dry ingredients time to incorporate into the wet. Do this until all the dry has been incorporated into the wet. Do not overmix.

For the second box cake mix DO NOT add the pumpkin puree or the pumpkin spice blend until the wet and dry ingredients have been combined. At this point, reserve 1/3 of the cake batter, set aside. Next, add the pumpkin puree and pumpkin spice blend to the remaining cake batter, stirring until just combined. Again DO NOT overmix.

This bundt cake will have the flavor of a cheesecake running through the center.

Note: You want to make sure that you don’t fill the pan all the way to the top, giving the batter a chance to rise.

Fill 1/3 of the bottom of the prepared bundt pan with the pumpkin batter. Next, pour the reserved cheesecake flavored batter (that batter without the pumpkin flavoring), evenly around, on top, of the pumpkin batter. Finally, pour the remaining pumpkin batter evenly around, filling the bundt pan 2 inches from the top. Place bundt pan on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Place into the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes.

Important Note:
According to the box, the baking time is 30 to 35 minutes. The baking time will vary because of the amount of batter (you may end up with extra cake batter) used to fill the bundt pan. Keep checking the cake regularly after the box says it should be done. Use a cake tester or a long wooden skewer. When the cake tester comes out clean it’s done. This may take an extra 10 to 12 minutes. Allow for extra baking time, around 10 to 12 minutes. Total bake time may reach 45 to 50 minutes.

Keep checking the cake regularly after the box says it should be done. Use a cake tester or a long wooden skewer. When the cake tester comes out clean it’s done.

Carefully remove the cake from the oven. Place a large round plate over the top and invert the cake. You want that plate to be the one the cake will remain on. Set the cake aside to cool completely in this position, at least 3 hours. This will make the later release of the bundt pan much easier. Next, move on to the cream cheese maple drizzle.

Directions For The Cream Cheese Maple Drizzle:
In a mixing bowl, add softened cream cheese and powdered sugar. Stir together until combined. Slowly drizzle real maple syrup into the cream cheese mixture until it has the consistency of a glaze (a little more than a 1/4 cup may be needed). The glaze should fall off the end of the spoon easily when you tilt the spoon.

After the cake has completely cooled, carefully lift off the bundt pan. Using a spoon, drizzle as little or as much of the maple glaze letting it drip down all around the sides of the cake.

There you have it, my Pumpkin Cheesecake Bundt Cake With A Cream Cheese Maple Drizzle.

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Homestyle Goulash

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I can remember having this dish growing up. I’m not sure if HomeStyle Goulash is what my mom called it but, it was an easy dish for her to pull together after putting in a full day’s work. Being a single parent who worked full-time, making a good home cooked meal was very important to her. I’ve updated her version by making a few significant changes. This is my version of a Hungarian Home-Style Goulash.

Olive Oil

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Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Flat Leaf Italian Parsley


Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Cook Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
Equipment: 1 (6-quart) Dutch oven, 1 (6-quart) stockpot, colander, chef’s knife

2 pounds of (90% lean) ground sirloin
1 pound (16-ounce) box of Barilla Cavatappi
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Poblano peppers, seeded and diced
1-pint Cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus 1 teaspoon
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1/4 cup of beef broth, unsalted
1 (10.5-ounce) can beef consommé
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 (14.5-ounce) can of fire-roasted tomatoes with juice
1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
2 tablespoons of Italian flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

In a Dutch oven on medium-high heat add olive oil, ground cinnamon, Hungarian paprika, tomato paste, and dried oregano. Let the spices *bloom and release their oils and flavors.

Next, add diced onion, minced garlic, diced poblano peppers, and crimini mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes allowing the vegetables to soften and release their water. Once the mushrooms have browned add the Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, stir to combine. Add the beef consommé and beef stock, using a wooden spoon, scrape the bits of the bottom of the pot, that’s flavor!

Continue cooking allowing the beef consomme and stock to reduce by half, 7 to 10 minutes, then add the ground sirloin breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon.

Once the ground sirloin is broken up add garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and 1/2 a teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper. Continue cooking, allowing the meat to release its liquid and start to brown, for another 15 minutes.

Moving forward add a can of diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and brown sugar. Turn the heat down to medium and stir to combine. Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens.

In a large stockpot of boiling salted water add the Cavatappi (a short cork-screw shaped pasta). Cook pasta for 10 to 12 minutes until al dente, drain well.  Add the pasta to the meat sauce, stir to combine. Turn the heat to off.

The last step is to add the cheese. Add the Mozzarella cheese, again, stir to combine. Garnish with chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley and you have a delicious Home-Style Goulash. Serve hot.

*Bloom: To become more apparent, as in flavor or aroma. Good oil is a base from which delectable flavors bloom.

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