Table Talks: E.M. Ricchini

Geo’s Table is committed to uplifting and supporting others as they bring to life their passions. Table Talks will be a regular feature that highlights a creative, entrepreneur or mover-and-shaker who is making an impact in the Philadelphia community (and beyond), with hopes of connecting them to others who can help push their vision forward.

ABOUT E.M. RICCHINI

Photo by Danielle Conyers

Fashion and lifestyle blogger at larkandlace.com, freelance writer and on-air personality at MyNewPhilly.com, the lovely E.M. Ricchini is a born-and-raised Philly girl who is making a quite the unique and positive impression on the community.

When I met E.M. Ricchini at a recent tasting event, I was instantly drawn to her cool and coy demeanor and impeccable sense of style. Her natural knack for giving urban street style a flawlessly modern upgrade fueled me to strike up an initial conversation, which ended in an invite out for drinks a few weeks later.

As a creative E.M. has navigated the media world with curiosity ; first attending art school, and going on to work for heavy hitters like Fox 29 and Philly Voice. Through trials and tribulations, and with an eagerness for adventure, she’s continued to land on her feet.

All of which made for a very dynamic and fulfilling conversation.

Table Topics

The Setting:  Los Cantinas  Dos Segundos, 2nd Street  | Prickly Pear Margaritas (Virgin for her)

Topic 1: Iceland - The beauty of Iceland, and her privately chic (and epic) wedding ceremony on the shores of Reynisfjara.

Topic 2: Blogging Philosophy -  Her blogging philosophy is simple she likes her writing to “come naturally and treats [her] blog as a journal…”

Topic 3: The Vegan Life - Leading a straight edge and vegan life, E.M. is able to add veganistic flare to many classic dishes. One of her favorite dishes includes a recipe for black bean brownies that she promises are to die for (and I believe her!)  

Photos by Violet Short Danielle Conyers

What’s Next?

E.M. plans to continue evolving as a writer and is open to freelance opportunities. She is also in charge of brand management and creative direction for one of Philly’s hottest new startups, GoBabl.  The imprint she's made on the Philadelphia community is apparent, and as she continues sharing her art and thoughts with the world her following will surely continue to grow.

Both being avid supporters of Philly's ever expanding blogging community, this was a meeting of the minds that ended in great success! We ended with the promise of a collaboration that will grace our blogs soon!

CONNECT WITH E.M. RICCHINI

Instagram: @emricchini  | Blog: www.larkandlace.com

Mother's Day Gift Guide 2016

Happy May!  With Spring in full force, feelings of rejuvenation are in abundance.  There is no better way to jumpstart this month by celebrating the women who gave us life or contribute have contributed to our lives in selfless ways.

Mother's Day is less than a week away (coming up this Sunday, May 8th). This day is special to me, as it's not only gives me reason to celebrate my own mother, (who continues to have a huge influence on my life) but also gives me an opportunity to honor other women who have played a significant role in molding, building and supporting my aspirations and goals. At each stage of my life, I have collected many surrogates who have shown me love, care, attention and guidance, and who continue to inspire me through their personal passions and work ethic.

Dedicated to all of the extra special women who support the man behind Geo's Table, I am happy to present you with my FIRST Mother's Day Gift Guide with special gifts (under $50) for the women in your lives!

Mother's Day Gift Guide

TOP (Left to Right)

$10 | BonBon Box | Cocoa & Co.

$15 | Elderflower Floral Cordial | Terrain

$15 | "Home is Where Mom Is..." Floral Tea | PaperSource

 

Middle Row (Left to Right)

$20 | Bonjour Glass and Stainless Steel Milk Frother | Target

$28 | Wine Pairing - Towel Set | Uncommon Goods

$30 | Cook's Herb Wreath | Williams-Sonoma

 

Bottom Row (Left to Right)

$34 | Gold Polka Dot Apron | Anthropologie

$40 | Marble and Wood Cutting Board | West Elm

$45 | Collection Les Jardins Secrets des Chefs (Dijon Mustard Trio) | Maille 

 

 

 

Home-Cooked: Sweet Potato Cornbread

Every so often I get a nagging craving for something that lingers until satisfied. This unfortunateturned blissful occurrence, presented itself just a few weeks ago. After binging on episodes "Chopped" and seeing a chef do a clever take on "cornbread," my own culinary creative juices start flowing. I decided not only was I going to get what I wanted, but I was going to add in a little "Geo" flavor and flare to modernize the classic cornbread recipe.

With a pinch of luck, (and some sweet potatoes that I needed to use quickly) - I was able to upgrade the classic "Jiffy" cornbread recipe and turn it into a skillet-baked Sweet Potato Cornbread. The end result was absolutely delicious, and I am happy to share the recipe with you!

SWEET POTATO CORNBREAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Boxes of Jiffy Cornbread Mix
  • 2/3 Cups Milk
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup of Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Teaspoon of Honey
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Ginger

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat over to 400 degrees, and place a cast iron skillet inside to heat while you make the batter.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, whisking until well mixed. 
  3. Carefully remove the cast iron skillet from the oven, and coat the bottom and sides with cooking spray.
  4. Pour in batter and spread evenly in the skillet.
  5. Place in oven and cook for 25 - 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

28 Days of Soul : 6 Wonderful Black-Owned Wine Brands

I am an avid supporter of small businesses, as it has a huge impact on the local economy and often offers me an opportunity to try rare or interesting goods that may not be offered at larger companies. It is equally as important to support black-owned and minority businesses. In many cases, the profits of these businesses can have a positive influence in our communities, as well as many other benefits.

Some time ago, I read an article that presented a short list of black-owned wineries and wine brands. As an avid wine drinker, I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued by many of the brands listed. It was enlightening to see how these often small operations have made a big impact in their communities and in tandem made history. 

Fitting perfectly into "28 Days of Soul" here are 6 wonderful black-owned wine brands (located right here on the east coast) that  cater to a  variety of pallets and each offer unique experience. 

1. Flo Brand Wines (Washington, DC)

LO Brands’ mission is to enhance customers’ lives and make each day a little better one sip and sound at a time. Everything that the company creates is about improving that segment of [their] consumer’s life, especially when products are combined like music and wine. FLO Brands’ products include FLO CD series, FLO Wine, FLO Fest and more.

GT's Pick: Flo Moscato

 

2. Wisdom Oak (North Garden, VA )

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Wisdom Oak once began as a hobby for founder/owner Jerry Bias. Formerly known as Sugarleaf Vineyards, Bias began with the planting of 375 vines in 2001. Almost fifteen years later, Wisdom Oak is still one of the only African-American owned and operated vineyards on the East Coast.

GT's Pick: Cabernet Franc Rose

 

3. Edelheiss Wine  (Washington D.C)

Chic, innovative, yet traditional European wine, which has never been packaged or branded, to the United States.  The Edelheiss Wine Team has plans for expansion to other countries after its initial launch in North America.

 

4. Mouton Noir Wines (Harlem, NY)

Founded by sommelier Andre Hueston Mack in 2007, Mouton Noir incorporates a trademark attitude and personal perspective to wine subculture. The wines are unique and distinctive garage wines, initially created for some of New York's best restaurants for whom Mack was a sommelier and now are available nationwide. - From the Mouton Noir website

GT's Pick: "O.P.P" Noir-  Other People's Pinot Noir

 

5. Serendipity Wine (Washington, DC)

Located in the Washington, DC Metro area, Serendipity Wines was founded by CEO Brenda Williams. Her vision was to create a brand built on the memories shared over glasses of wine. Serendipity offers three types of wines: Chardonnay - Tempation, Curvee Blanc (White Blend) and Carbarnet Franc - Seduction.

GT's Pick: Chardonnay - Temptation

 

6. Shoe Crazy Wines  (Chesterfield, VA)

Shoe Crazy Wines offers delectable recent vintages for your enjoyment and pleasure. The brand was birthed in 2006 when, Founder Gwen Hurt, was given a wine-making kit for christmas. After making and bottling over 120 bottles of wine, she decided to turn her passion into a career. In 2013, Shoe Crazy Wine, LLC was founded. Shoe Crazy creates signature and proprietary blends that are beautifully balanced wine.

GT's Picks: Cabernet Superior

28 Days of Soul: Curried Shrimp Cakes and Parmesan Tomato Grits

Curried Shrimp Cakes& Parmesan Tomato Grits.png

This month Geo Table's presents "28 Days of Soul" a celebration of black history and community through cuisine. Today, I am happy to present to you the first of a weekly segment  called the "Evolution of the Black Kitchen."  In this segment, I will present a modern or innovative twist on classic soul food dishes.

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This week's dish was inspired by a few recipes in The Black Family Reunion Cookbook. The Black Family Reunion Cookbook celebrates African American cuisine from across the United States and contains almost 250 recipes.

This cookbook was a staple in my grandmother's (and many of my friends' grandmothers) homes. If you are truly interested in learning about African American cuisine, it is definitely worth the buy.

If ever forced to select my FAVORITE brunch dish, then Shrimp and Grits would top the list. Although this delectable combination was rose to fame in the early 1980s, it's origins began much earlier in a part of the United States affectionately known as the  "Grit Belt" ( the Carolinas to Louisiana). The dish was commonplace among fisherman who lacked a diversity of food options, and the meal was typically eaten for breakfast due to it being hearty and filling. It was often served with scraps of bacon.

For a full history on Shrimp and Grits, this is an article worth reading. 

Today, the dish has been modernized in a number of ways and can be found on countless menus across every corner of the United States. In creating my "personal take" I decided to step out of the box to  give my dish an more worldly flare. Relying on curry powder, diced vegetables, chopped shrimp and panko to fry the shrimp in a way this is unconventional for this dish.  I then paired them with a  tomato based grit topped with parmesan cheese.  This turned out much better than expected and this version will make regular appearances at my dining room table.

The recipe can be found below:

CURRied SHRIMP CAKES AND PARMESAN TOMATO GRITS

For the Curry Shrimp Cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large raw shrimp ( peeled, deveined )
  • ·1 large egg
  •  1 small red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  •  1 tablespoon curry powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  •  1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  •  Pinch of ground black pepper
  •  2 cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)  
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) canola or vegetable oil

1.      Chop shrimp in the food processor. Place in a bowl with egg, red onion, lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, curry powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Mix well.  Add 1 cup panko and mix well. Form mixture into 10-12 (approximately 3-inch-diameter) cakes. Roll cakes in remaining 1 cup panko; transfer to waxed-paper-lined baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.  (Note: These can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours before making).

2.     Heat 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry cakes until cooked through and golden brown on both sides, adding more oil to skillet as needed, about 6 minutes

For the Grits

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup coarse grits
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Add water, milk, butter and marinara to a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Once liquid is simmering, whisk in grits in a slow stream. Whisk constantly to make sure the grits don’t clump together.
  2. Whisk mixture constantly over low heat until it thickens substantially. It should take 15 to 20 minutes to thicken. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the grated parmesan cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. 
  3. Place in bowl, and top with parmesan cheese. 

I hope you enjoy!