Monday is Q&A Day!

Do you have a question about food, wine or entertaining? If so, we would love to help you. Every Monday night here on the blog we will answer any questions we receive throughout the week from our readers, so please send us your questions!

In last week’s Q&A post, “Ready, Set…Answer!” we were asked for holiday breakfast ideas, and appetizers that can be prepared in advance. Our answers included recipes for a festive Apple Sausage Breakfast Ring, Savory Crab Cheesecake, Blackened Sirloin, and Tony’s Marinated Olives.

Thank you to the readers who have sent us questions already – there are NO bad questions!

You can submit your questions to us in the blog’s Comments section below, via email to, or by posting on our Facebook page, HERE.


Ready, Set…Answer!

Here are the questions we received from our readers this week. We hope you find our answers and suggestions helpful, and would love to hear from you if you try them. All recipes can be accessed by clicking on the highlighted link in the article, or by visiting our RECIPES page here on the blog. Thank you to all who submitted questions this week.

From Anonymous in Fargo…

Q: Do you know when Breadsmith will have fresh Panettone available?

A: Yes, Rob Roberts from Breadsmith tells us that they will be offering fresh Panettone everyday from Dec. 14 through Christmas. Their Panettone is wonderful in our recipe for Panettone Bread Pudding, which was featured in our Nov. 28, 2012 column of The Forum and can be read HERE.

From Jennie in St. Paul, MN…..

Q: “Hi Sarah and Tony! I love, love, love the blog! I was wondering if you have any suggestions for an easy, lovely and delicious breakfast dish I could make over the holidays?”

A: Hi Jennie! Thank you for your question and kind comments. We traditionally host Christmas breakfast at our home for about 12-15 family members, so we are always looking for easy, flavorful ideas.

We try to keep our menu simple: we pick up a dozen or so fresh bagels from The Green Market in downtown Fargo (available only on Saturdays, but out of this world!), and prepare a smoked fish platter, featuring homemade Gravlax (which can be prepared well in advance and refrigerated – we’ll actually be featuring this recipe in our Dec. 26 column for a New Year’s Day breakfast idea, but if you’d like the recipe in advance you can find it on the Sarello’s website here) and smoked whitefish which we buy from a supplier in the Twin Cities. We accompany that with the usual red onion, capers, lemon and cream cheese.

But in addition to that, we’ll usually prepare a large platter of scrambled eggs, and some kind of breakfast meat. We used to cook a high-end sausage link and a ton of bacon, but our griddle broke down just before Christmas a couple years ago, and we didn’t have time to get a new one before the holiday.

My mother has a great recipe for a breakfast sausage ring that saved the day on this occasion, and has since become a main feature at our Christmas breakfast. I love this recipe for Apple Sausage Breakfast Ring because we’re no longer stuck in the kitchen cooking sausage and bacon while everyone else is enjoying a hot breakfast. Also, it’s easy, delicious, and can be prepared well in advance so that you will only need to bake it that morning. Oh, and it’s beautiful.

We fill the inside of the ring with fresh raspberries, and line the outside of the ring with sliced kiwi, which creates a fun and lovely holiday presentation for your guests. To view the recipe, just click on the link in the article or on the Recipes tab at the top of the blog.

Another idea we had for an easy, yet elegant and delicious, breakfast would be an egg strata (similar to an egg-bake). Again, this dish can be assembled in advance, involves few ingredients, and is almost certain to turn out well. We don’t have a favorite recipe in our repertoire, but there are many that can be found online.

From Merri Jo in Minot, ND…

Q: “I would love a suggestion for an appetizer (or two) that doesn’t need last minute preparation. I’d like to be chatting with my guests instead of stuck in the kitchen. Thank you!”

A: This is such a good question, Merri Jo. We also appreciate recipes that give us the freedom to be with our guests as much as possible. For this purpose, we have several ideas that should work well. We hope you find one or more that will work for you and thank you so much for your question!

Savory Crab Cheesecake: We turn this favorite American dessert on its side with this deliciously decadent appetizer by adding Jumbo Lump Crabmeat, and the combination always leaves our guests wanting more. This recipe is great for entertaining: serve it as an elegant course for a sit-down dinner, or cut into bite-size bars to accent any holiday hors d’oeuvres platter. We serve our Savory Crab Cheesecake with a Roasted Red Pepper Aioli.

Blackened Sirloin with Horseradish Cream Sauce: This dish is one of our go-to recipes for hors d’ouevres or appetizers, and was featured in our Dec. 5, 2012 column in The Forum, which you can read HERE.

Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto with Crostini: You can serve the pesto in a dish and have your guests top their own crostini, or you can top the crostini with the pesto just before serving and set them out on a platter to enjoy. You can make your own crostini by cutting a loaf of crusty French bread into rounds, rubbing each slice with a clove of garlic, and baking in the oven until golden brown. Or, you can often find pre-made crostini at your local bakery or grocery store.

Antipasti Platter with Tony’s Marinated Olives: Tony’s recipe for marinated olives is easy to make and always a hit with our guests. This recipe can be made in advance and served with a platter of Italian cured meats and a variety of at least three gourmet cheeses to create the perfect Antipasti. Serve with sliced French bread or crackers.


You Ask, We’ll Answer

Every Monday we’ll post the answers to any questions we receive regarding food, wine, recipes, cooking, family, etc. So let us know what’s on your mind and be sure to check the blog every Monday for our reply. You can submit your question in the Comments section of the blog, or contact us by email at

You can subscribe to the blog via email by entering your email address in the box on the right side of your screen. You will then be notified any time we post something new here on the blog.

Here are this week’s Questions:

Q: Where can I buy Panettone?

A: In the Fargo-Moorhead area, we’ve found it at TJ Maxx, Costco, and Sam’s Club. Our local bread store, Breadsmith, makes fresh Panettone during the holiday season (it is delicious!), and we are waiting to find out when they expect to have it available. We’ll keep you posted.

Q: How do you make the whipped potatoes at Sarello’s taste so good?

A: When your potatoes have finished boiling, drain them and return them to the same pot. Turn the heat to medium-low to cook off the excess moisture before adding the cream and butter (about 2 to 3 minutes). This will ensure that the only liquid in the mix is the cream and butter, which will result in better taste and texture.

Q: Do you ever use an attachment to your electric mixer when making fresh pasta?

A: Yes, we have an attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer that works great. Tony has made  fresh pasta using a pasta maker, a mixer attachment, and the old-fashioned way of rolling it out and cutting it.