People always ask me where my favorite place to visit in Italy is and it will always remain Puglia! Puglia is the heel of Italy’s boot, and more importantly remains one of the best-kept secrets in Italy. My mother was … Continue reading
As my team and I gathered around to discuss potential Mother’s Day blogs, we came to the same conclusion: We all have that 1 recipe our moms passed down to us that we just can’t get exactly right. We’ve read … Continue reading
Wow, what a weekend! After a long winter in NYC, I was really looking forward to the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival. While the weather didn’t cooperate exactly to my liking (I was hoping for that California sunshine!) it … Continue reading
This week, I’m honored to be apart of the Pizza Expo in fabulous Las Vegas! As part of my keynote speech, I compiled footage from my first ever pizza making lesson with Neapolitan pizza maker Enzo Coccia. His Neapoliton pizzeria, … Continue reading
Let me introduce myself. I’m Meredith- Donatella’s right hand woman and I have a secret. Even though I work for a top chef, I can’t cook. (That’s me on the right..)
Before approving directions on her products, Donatella has me follow them. No, not because she values my palate but because she says if I can make it, anyone can. I am truly her perfect customer because although I LOVE food, I can’t prepare it. Donatella’s products allow me to pretend that I can. Until she teaches me how to prepare her award winning meatballs, Donatella’s products let me fake it ‘til I make it.
Last week, we were traveling back from HSN and Valentine’s Day was around the corner. Donatella asked me what I had planned for my fiancé, and I had no idea! We had a strategy session, and with her help, I planned the perfect Valentine’s Day. From the meal to the makeup, here’s what I learned from the woman who best knows how to entertain:
Skip the Restaurant: I know it’s shocking, but Donatella suggests skipping the restaurant on Valentine’s Day. Forgo the crowds, travel time and expense and create the perfect Valentine’s Day at home.
Presentation is Key: Here’s the secret: disposable napkins and placemats used as runners. It’s so easy, looks expensive, and there’s little to no cleanup. It’s as simple as tearing a paper towel off a roll.
Personalize the Evening: Take the time to do something special. At Donatella’s wedding, guests received bags of homemade biscotti. I’m took a page out of her book and made biscotti
from scratch with Donatella’s biscotti mix (from her Chocolate Escape)– wrapping it in pretty cellophane and ribbon, and adding a handwritten note.
Put Together a Menu: Nothing says, “I love you” like a “home cooked” meal and luckily, Donatella did all the work for me! I almost took full credit for it…
Appetizers: Garlic knots and breadsticks made with Donatella’s pizza mix and pesto sauce for dipping. Her meatballs would have been a great appetizer too, but I had them for dinner instead!
- Dinner: meatballs with marinara sauce for me and spaghetti and meatballs with arrabbiata sauce for him. For portion control and a touch of glam, I served them in Donatella’s ramekins.
- Dessert Part I: Donatella’s bling cupcakes! I adore these cupcakes because they are delicious, all natural, incredibly moist and not too sweet. They were almost too pretty to eat. I did say almost…
- Dessert Part II: I LOVE dessert, so why not have another round? Chocolate fondue was perfect for Valentine’s Day- it’s sexy, romantic, and delicious. Like Donatella, my fiance and I love coconut, so we dipped the strawberries into shredded coconut and added chopped pistachios and almonds for crunch.
Makeup: One little secret about Donatella is that she isn’t ALWAYS glamorous. Shocking I know, but like me, she often forgoes makeup completely. Having said that, she knows when to glam it up, and she knows that a little goes a long way. Here are her makeup must-haves:
What to Wear: I borrowed this Cinderella dress that Donatella wore at Manhattan Magazine’s Chef’s Night Out. As always, Donatella suggests a little color and a touch of sparkle!
And for those of you with a few more skills in the kitchen than me, Donatella suggests her delicious chocolate soufflé dish. It’s so delicious, in fact, that it has been featured in Dessert Buzz! Get the recipe here:
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cup dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tahitian vanilla bean, split horizontally and scraped
- 2 ounces 66% chocolate, chopped fine
- 1 ounce white chocolate, chopped fine
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup granulated cane sugar
To Line the Molds:
- Coat the bottoms and sides of six 5-ounce individual soufflé molds (oven safe coffee mugs work as well) with the butter.
- Sprinkle the sugar in the molds and rotate to distribute it evenly. Refrigerate the molds while you prepare the souffles
To Make the soufflés
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, bring the sugar, water and vanilla bean to a simmer. Turn off the heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.
- Turn the heat back to medium, and gradually add in the cocoa powder- making sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding more. Continue to whisk until mixture thickens to a pudding-like consistency. Remove from the heat, pour into a bowl, and allow to cool to room temperature.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, begin to whip the egg whites and salt until they reach soft peaks. Add in half of the sugar and continue to whip until incorporated. Add remaining sugar and whip until medium-stiff glossy peaks form.
- Fold about a third of the whites into the cocoa base with a spatula. Fold in the rest of the whites just until no white streaks remain. Fold in the finely chopped chocolate.
- Distribute the mixture evenly between the soufflé molds/cups, filling them level with the top. Put the molds on a sheet pan.
- Bake the soufflés until they rise about 1” above the rim, about 18-20 minutes.
Last year, I worked feverishly to bring you an original line of packaged goods and cookware and I can’t thank you enough for the support and feedback. I’m thrilled to be back Monday, February 10th (9am & 5pm EST) and … Continue reading
This weekend marked the 11th annual Mohegan Sun Winefest, where I was invited to demo my Orecchiette and Broccoli Rabe and pass out Mama’s meatballs at the Chef Dine Around. We kicked off Friday night at Jasper White’s Summer Shack, … Continue reading
I just came back from the most amazing and exhausting weekend- the first annual food and wine festival in St. Petersburg, Florida. My team of youngins’ had no idea what they were getting into. A trip to Florida for the … Continue reading
Here are some of my favorite entries to the #dayWithDonatella Contest so far! People are emailing, tweeting and facebooking how THEY use my HSN line in their own unique ways. Keep ’em coming! I’m loving the feedback. The winner will … Continue reading
I’ve been receiving TONS of feedback from those of you who bought my HSN products: photos, videos, recipes,techniques… and I LOVE IT! I’ve decided to run a new contest because I want to see more! Share your stuff using the hashtag #daywithdonatella for a … Continue reading