Help! How do I…???

The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, filled with cocktail parties, brunches, and festive dinners. A time to revisit fond memories of Christmases past, and create special moments this holiday that your loved ones, and you, will cherish well into the future.

But it can also be a time of challenge, one that finds us racing around to get things done before the big day. With school programs to attend, shopping to finish, cards to mail out, meals to plan, and much more jamming our already-busy schedules, it’s not uncommon to feel a little stressed out the closer we get to Christmas Day.

While we can’t fill your seat at that program, or do your shopping for you, or sign every Christmas card with a personal note on your behalf, we can answer your questions about food, wine and entertaining. Every Monday here on the blog we’ll publish a post with the answers to any questions we receive from our readers throughout the week. Wine recommendations, local sources for specialty items, cooking equipment ideas, recipes, tablescapes, whatever your question is, there is an answer for you.

Remember this: entertaining should be fun, and we believe that the host/ess of the party should also be able to enjoy the event. So, If you’re planning to entertain at all this season, please feel free to send us any questions you might have and we’ll do our best to answer it here on the blog. If your question is time-specific and requires an answer before the following Monday, just let us know and we’ll send you an email with our suggestions before we post it to the blog.

You can submit your questions to us in the Comments section of our blog, via email to, or by posting on our Facebook Page. We will include the first name and hometown of the questioner in each post, so if you wish to remain anonymous just be sure to let us know.

Have a great week and take time to enjoy the season!


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.


Home with The Lost Italian

Excerpts of this post have been published in the Wednesday, November 14, 2012 edition of The Forum, and can be found here: Home with The Lost Italian.

We were pleased to learn that our debut column in our local newspaper, The Forum, would coincide perfectly with Tony’s favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. As America’s favorite feasting tradition, the Thanksgiving holiday boasts a bounty of recipes to choose from; finding a topic for our first column would be easy.  Ha! After days of rejecting idea after idea, and more than one exasperated eye roll toward each other (more from me, I confess), we soon realized that this bountiful holiday presented more of a challenge for us than we’d anticipated.

After reviewing our previous menus for Thanksgiving-themed cooking classes, as well as countless magazines and cookbooks, the only thing we agreed on was that we would never agree on a single recipe. How do you condense this great American holiday into one recipe? The answer: we can’t. So we decided to compromise. We’d each pick one dish to showcase, with the agreement that we had to choose a dish that encompassed as many Thanksgiving flavors as possible.

Once we’d made our decisions, it was time to get to work. We sat down, turned on Vince Guaraldi’s Charlie Brown tunes to set the holiday mood, and talked for over two hours about Thanksgiving, what we love about this holiday, and why we chose our recipes.

Stuffed Turkey Breast

Stuffed Turkey Breast

As I mentioned earlier, Tony loves the Thanksgiving feast, and not just because his mother-in-law does all the cooking.

“To me, Thanksgiving represents the ultimate in tradition: nearly every family celebrates with turkey, cranberries, sweet potatoes, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy…the works. And I love that! Tradition is very important in Italian culture, as are food and family, so I embrace everything this holiday is about. And I don’t even miss the pasta!”

Tony often likes to take a familiar tradition and try to give it new life, and that’s just what he’s done with his recipe for Stuffed Turkey Breast.

“This recipe is my spin on a classic Thanksgiving dinner. I like it because it incorporates the flavors of the season, without the hassle of planning a major feast. The turkey’s there, tender and moist, stuffed with apple-soaked raisins, brown sugar, carrots, all great fall flavors. And then you add the Panko bread crumbs…” Here, Tony pauses and lets out a long sigh. It’s clear to see that he is happy with his recipe choice.  “It’s also a perfect dish for smaller groups, like newlyweds, empty-nesters, or small families.”

Before heading outside to play with our son, Giovanni, he adds this seasonal anecdote.

“The other day, as I was driving to Sarello’s, traffic actually stopped for a moment on First Avenue in Moorhead, just to let a group of wild turkeys pass. They actually stopped traffic – only in Fargo-Moorhead!”

This recipe for Stuffed Turkey Breast really has a lot going for it. Elegant in its presentation, it’s also easy to assemble, and can be prepared up to two days in advance. And while the flavors may not be Italian, Tony has managed to work his culture into the dish via the Scaloppine technique used to prepare the turkey cutlets, which ensures their tenderness and fast cooking time. To complement the turkey breast, Tony pairs the dish with a Pomegranate Butter Sauce.

Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Caramel Sauce

Sweet Potato Cheesecake

My recipe of choice, Sweet Potato Cheesecake, has been a seasonal favorite at Sarello’s for years. Our guests are always pleasantly surprised when first tasting this dessert, which has become one of our most requested recipes. We love the versatility of sweet potatoes in cooking, and this dish also puts a new spin on a classic Thanksgiving food.

Velvety smooth in texture, Sweet Potato Cheesecake is bursting with autumnal flavors of cinnamon, brown sugar, and of course, sweet potatoes. The key to this recipe is in its preparation. Roasting the sweet potatoes in the oven first helps to bring out their natural sweetness, and makes such a difference in the overall flavor.

To further enhance this dish, we prepare our own Caramel Sauce and drizzle it around the plate before placing a slice of cake on top. Add a dollop of whipped cream and some strawberry slices, and your guests will soon be asking you for the recipe.

Just as I was finishing up this column, Tony walked into the kitchen and shared this bit of humor with me.

“Every day is Thanksgiving in this house, when you’re married to a turkey.” Hmmm…who’s the turkey?

To get the recipes, visit our Recipes page to print out copies of each featured recipe. If you’d like more ideas for Thanksgiving, be sure to check out Tony’s Top Ten Turkey Tips, as well as our Thanksgiving Wine Recommendations and Turkey Thawing Guidelines.