Friday, March 19, 2010


Spring is indeed the air, we've sprung forward, set the clocks ahead and watched the first of the cherry trees begin to blossom. But, to steal a quote from Barbara Fairchild, editor of Bon Appetit, in her new March issue, "there is still a lot of wonderful winter cooking to be done."
As much as I crave the taste of herbs from my garden, the cool, crisp, crunch of Kirby cukes and the ripe, red flavor of a fresh picked tomato that are right around the corner; I'm still not quite ready to give up my much-loved winter fare of dark leafy greens, braised soups and stews and the soft, full flavor of the perfect butternut squash.

To fit it all in, I have five more cooking classes coming up before the end of this month - four weekend classes at Reid's Fine Foods and one Tuesday evening class, a part of my At Home with Heidi series.
ADVANCE RESERVATIONS ARE A MUST, but the really good news is that there's still time to make your reservation, EVEN FOR TOMORROW MORNING'S CLASS AT REIDS...Here are the class descriptives and info on how to register. I'll look forward to hearing from you and seeing you in class soon .

Saturday March 20 - 11 am-2:30 pm - Ole! The food and wine of Spain - demonstration format at Reid's. Menu includes homemade sangria to start, tapas of wine and garlic braised shrimp with smoked paprika potatoes; Classic paella, grilled veggie empanadas and honey and roasted pear rice tart Cost is $45. Click Here for easy online registration.

Eating Well, Living Well - Springtime Appetizers - Sun. March 21 - 1-4pm. Demo format at Reid's. Menu includes carrot soup shooters, skewers of Greek grilled chicken with dipping sauce, tuna tartar, crunchy onion rings and vegetarain spring rolls. We'll features Suzi's Skinny Cakes made into small truffled bites for dessert. All recipes come complete with nutrition facts. Cost is $40. Click here to make your reservation.

Tuesday March 23 - 6-9pm - An Easy But Elegant Dinner for Four - At Home with Heidi. Hands-on format. The menu includes: Individual Classic cheese souffles, braised Proffitt Family Farms bone-in short ribs or shanks; potato gratin; local greens with local goat cheese croustades, oranges, candied pecans and a from-scratch vinaigrette; and for dessert, an apple and almond tart. Cost is $50. To register email Heidi at

Sat Mar 27 - 11 am -2:30 pm - The Big O - Cooking with Olives Oils From Around the World!
Demonstration format. This class is always a crowd pleaser - we'll start with a tasting of nearly two dozen different oils from around the world and then cook with four of our favorites. Cost is $45 per person.
click Here for easy online registration

Sun Mar 28 - 1-4 pm - Sushi, Sake and other favorites from Japan - In this class full of flavors from the far East, you'll learn how to roll you own sushi, and create other beautiful Japanese entrees and apps as well as a dessert. Each dish will be paired with a outstanding sake.
The sake tasting portion of this special class will be directed by our good friend Phil Murray of Tryon Disributing. Phil is a certified Sake Specialist level 1. Trained by John Gartner, the premier English Speaking sake expert in the world, Phil is one of less than 200 people in the world have this certification, and one of the two experts in the Southeast United States. Its an opportunity you won't want to miss!
Class size is limited Hands-on format. Cost is $90.
Click Here for easy online registration

Other exciting news -

The March/April issue of Charlotte Living dressed with a big, bright red gerbra daisy is out on newsstands and up online now. Check out my Very Culinary articles about The Liberty Gastropub and BLT Steakhouse as well as a primer to working with Phyllo Dough.

Looking to get away from it all? Take my travel advice in this issue and head for Westglow Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock. You can read it all online at or pick up an issue at Reid's when you come to see me at cooking class.

Tune in to your televison THIS Saturday and then again on Thursday April 1 -
This Saturday morning I'll be appearing on WBTV's Weekend Morning show with host Kristen Miranda. Tune is at 6:50 am ( oh my!) with great recipes for springtime lemon curd, lemon mousse and an easy lemon blueberry tart...yum! sEE THE POST BELOW FOR RECIPES...

Then on Thursday April 1, I'll be Cooking Up A Storm on WCNC's Charlotte Today. The shows airs from 11 am to noon with the cooking segment tucked some place inbetween. I'll let you in on further menu details when I have them, and will be watching for you to tune in!
Recipes for both appearances will be on
and on my blog at

Finally, my husband Tom Billotto's musical calendar.

This month Tom is playing at several of our favorite places and if I'm not teaching or catering I'll probably be in the audience so plan to drop by and say hello.
Here's what's happening in the next two weeks...

Saturday Mar 20, evening
Private Party
Tuesday, Mar. 23, 6-9pm
Rudy's Italian Restaurant & Bar, Piper Glen Shopping Center, Charlotte NC
Wednesday, Mar. 24, 7-9pm
With Jimmy Bookout at Pewter Rose Bistro, South Blvd, SouthEnd area, Charlotte NC
Thursday, Mar. 25, 6-9pm
Passion8 Bistro, Hwy. 51, Fort Mill, SC
Friday Mar. 26, 6-10pm
The Club At Longview
Saturday, Mar. 27, evening
With Kim Carper Marshall and Donnie Marshall at private party, Byron's SouthEnd,
Charlotte NC
Tuesday, Mar. 30, 6-9pm
Rudy's Italian Restaurant & Bar, Piper Glen Shopping Center, Charlotte NC
Wednesday, Mar. 31, 7-9pm
With Jimmy Bookout at Pewter Rose Bistro, South Blvd, SouthEnd area, Charlotte NC

You can view Tom's entire performance schedule, listen to musical samples or get information on how to book Tom for your next event online at


Recipe and variations from Charlotte Culinary Expert Heidi Billotto
As seen on WBTV, Saturday March 20, 2010
The Morning Show with Kristin Miranda

For the basic lemon curd:
¾ cup butter
½ cup sugar
Zest of two lemons ( or any other citrus)
½ cup lemon juice ( or any other citrus juice)
6 eggs (or an equivalent amount of egg substitute)

Combine the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice together in a saucepan over medium heat till warm and melted. Beat eggs until light and fluffy. Temper eggs with butter mix then return to the pan and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon until thick. Cool to make lemon curd.
Store curd in canning jars or plastic refrigerator containers. To serve, spoon into tart shells and top with a dollop of whipped cream or a fresh berry for a Spring time lemon tart; spread on slices of toasted pound cake and top with mixed Spring or Summer berries; or use as a brunchtime spread for taosted English muffins

Variations on the theme:
For lemon mousse: Whip 2 cups heavy cream until stiff. Fold whipped cream into cooled curd to make mouse. Spoon mousse into stemmed glasses and top or layer with fresh berries for an easy lemon parfait.

For lemon semifreddo: (this variation on our theme is my take on a dessert served at Aria Tuscan Grill, Uptown Charlotte’s newest Italian themed restaurant located in Founders Hall. Thanks to chef Bill Schutz for the inspiration!)
Make lemon mousse as directed above. Line a square cake pan with plastic wrap, leaving enough wrap to hand over the edges of the pan. Spread the lemon mousse in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for 4-5 hours or best overnight. The mixture will not get as hard as ice cream but will firm up in the freezer. Just before serving. Lift the semifreddo out of the pan using the plastic wrap, cut into squares and serve topped with fresh berries and a drizzle of limoncello, a sweet rich Italian lemon liqueur.

This recipe was given to me by Luisa Amadio, who along with her husband Rudy owns Dolce Italian Ristorante on East Blvd. and now Rudy’s Italian Restaurant & Bar in the Shops at Piper Glen on Rea Rd. in south Charlotte.

Zest or peeled rind of 12 lemons
½ gallon of Everclear or vodka
½ gallon of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water boiled down to form a syrup)

Place the zest in the liquor and allow to marinate for 8-10 days. Strain and dispose of zest. Blend infused liquid with the simple syrup. Adjust sugar to taste. Transfer to pretty bottles and decorate for gift giving.

My dear friends at Passion 8 Bistro in Ft. Mill - Jessica and Luca Annunziata, make a variations of limoncello with all different typs of fruit - figs for figcello, fresh Carolina peaches for peachcello - try your luck with eh bountyh of local fresh frut this Spring and Summer and do the same or just visit Dolce or Passion8 for a taste of their homemade elixirs! - Yum!!!