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BUT T E R B I TS Holiday 2012

Volume 2 Issue 4

Butter Bits

The Foods...Kitchens...Cooking....Entertaining Journal

Vol3 Issue 3

Notes from the Chef’s Desk

Holiday 2012

In This Issue

Season of Merriment


nother holiday season is upon us; or should I say pushed uponus. Nevertheless, it is a time for merriment and good eating. In my youth, the holiday season was a private feast, beginning with Halloween and lasting through New Year’s Day. At times, my Halloween candy lasted through the Christmas holidays. Brown paper bags held the blended aromas of candy kernel corn, Sloe-pokes, Bazooka bubble gum, Hershey’s Kisses, waxed lips, Poly pop, jaw breakers, peanut butter candies in orange and black wrappings, and my favorite peanut butter logs. I shared and traded candy at times through New Year’s Day. I can’t forget the various flavors of Christmas candies and nuts that helped to bring in the Yuletide: the flavored candy canes with traditional peppermint, lemon and orange flavors; cinnamon drop candies, and caramel chews. Often we would receive these treats as a present in wax bags tied with a decorative ribbon along with pecans, walnuts, an orange and an apple. There was always a candy and nuts bowl for guests to avail themselves when visiting. So, with the excess candy from Halloween, and the candy received at Christmas time, that time of year was a true epicurean delight for me, my brothers and sister; and friends.

Happy Holidays

Chef Gary B. Wilkins

Notes From the Chef’s Desk


Planning For Dining Disasters


Food Talk


Cooking on the Run


Back to basics


If You Didn’t Know


10 Steps to Better Stew Cranberries



Hey Sommilier Best Wines for $10 and Under

Creole Sampler


The Southern Bon Vivant


Bread Pudding

The Cook Book Gallery


Recipe Index


4 Must Have Cook Books Perfect cooking, good food, and pleasures of the table depend on imponderables, individual taste, and no small amount of luck. The success of a dish or bake item lies not merely in the ingredients used nor in the manner of cooking in general, as much as the care and attention to details given by the cook-as all professional chefs will tell you.”

Master Chef Louis P. De Gout The Gold Book

Butter Bits Editor/Publisher: Gary B. Wilkins Contributing Writer: D. Ramsey Torrington Illustration : Deanna Trudeau

Cover Art: Arielle B. Wilkins

Butter Bits Houston,Texas 77045 is published by Bread & Butter Epicurean’s Cinnamon Press Readers Queries or Comments May Be Directed To: gimagineparties @

Butter Bits Holiday 2012©

phone : 832-881-1225

Party Disaster Planning

Imagine this Senario: In half an hour,100 guests will show be showing up for a wedding reception in your backyard that you have been planning for months,and the wedding cake has topple to ground from the heat.


r this: You walk into the kitchen just in time to see your dog polishing off an expensive sirloin roast Or: Your cocktail party is in full swing when the power goes out. These things do happen. What makes the difference between a catastrophe and a mishap you’ll laugh about later is one simple thing: disaster planning.The best way to resolve a problem is to anticipate and avoid it. Picture your party at every step. Imagine the worst that could possibly happen—within reason— then decide in advance how to cope. For example, what if guests should arrive early while you’re still making the salad or set¬ting the table? Be ready by finishing the last detail a half hour before you expect the first arrival. If that’s impossible, designate a friend, your spouse, or another relative to serve as official greeter. While you’re busy, the designated greeter can take coats, offer drinks and hors d’oeuvres to your guests, and make them feel welcome. BEING PREPARED Confirm delivery times, pickups, and other services at least a day in advance. And cul¬tivate backup resources. That way, if your caterer vanishes, you can call a restaurant or take-out shop—and know they’ll show up. Get to know neighborhood teenagers so if the babysitter doesn’t show, you’ll have an alternate.Turn a bedroom into a playground. Keep lots of toys and games on hand for children of all ages. Keep a small first-aid kit handy. Post emergency numbers next to the phone so if there’s a medical crisis, anyone can come to the rescue. A stash of candles, oil lamps, and flashlights can turn a power outage into a romantic adventure. Nothing can do that for a plumbing emergency, but a nearby plunger can avert disaster. And always, always have a rainy-day alternative for any outdoor event. If your souffle falls, your barbecued chicken turns to charcoal, or your soup never thickens, stay calm. Keep a straight face. Pretend that’s the way you intended it and no one will be the wiser. People will be more likely to believe you if you say it with enough conviction. To maintain good relations with your neighbors, invite t

hem to the party even if you know they won’t come. And whether they join you or not, be considerate: One person’s music is another’s noise. Turn music down or off late at night. Ask your local law enforcement agency about noise ordinances and parking regulations. UNFORESEEN EVENTS A party isn’t a party unless something gets broke you don’t want to sacrifice a cherished item to Bacchus, the party god, keep it away from the action. But if the caterer smashes your favorite Waterford bowl or a guest spills glogg on your white sofa, stay calm. Clean up the mess and get on with the party. Objects can be replaced; friends can’t. Your cool will be admired. What about the guest who winds up with fettuccine Alfredo all over his shirt? Take him aside, give him a roll of paper towels, and show him to the bathroom. Most party givers face one hurdle that could result in true disaster: how to handle the guest who’s drunk too much. One way to avoid the situation is to set a cutoff time for the bar; after that, pour only non¬alcoholic drinks. Otherwise, if someone has overindulged, put the guest up in your spare room, call a cab, or ask a guest you trust to drive the person home. Small setbacks occur, but the biggest disasters rarely hap-

pen. If you are ready for small mishaps you will be all the more re¬lieved when they don’t happen. And if worse comes to worst, keep your sense of humor. Even the most trying moments are brighter if you can laugh them off. Butter Bits


Food Talk Dear Chef, I recently spent some time in both Savannah and Charleston and tried to sample the best of all the regional specialty dishes. I fell in love with a dish called Shrimp and Grits and found that different celebrated chefs had slight variations on the dish. What is your favorite preparation of this Southeastern classic?? And what wine would you pair with it? It seems it would be a wonderful dish for entertaining if it could be prepared in advance. Can that be successfully done? A Conroe reader A. Hmmm...being of Creole roots here’s my version of this low country favorite. This recipe is easy to prepare. The sauce can be prepared in advance and reheated with the addition of the shrimp; served over the freshly prepared grits mixture. I would pair this dish with a spicy full bodied Chardonnay or Alsace Riesling. Creole Shrimp and Grits 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk (do not use fat-free)

2 cups sliced mushrooms (4 to 5 ounces) 1 cup chopped onion ¾ cup chopped green bell pepper 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced ¾ cup plum tomatoes 1 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce (optional) 1. Bring water and milk to boil in large saucepan. Gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until grits are thick, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Mix in cheese and chives; season with salt and pepper

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2. In a large skillet, sauté bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper towels. Add mushrooms, onion, bell pepper; and garlic to bacon drippings. Sauté over medium-high heat until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add shrimp, cayenne, and tomatoes to skillet. Sauté until shrimp are just opaque in center, about 4 minutes. Add Tabasco sauce if desired.

5 bacon slices, chopped

Spoon hot grits onto plates; top with shrimp, sauce and bacon.

1 ½ cups quick-cooking grits 1 ½ cups (packed) coarsely grated sharp white cheddar cheese ¼ cup snipped chives

Cooking On The Run Quick Chicken Kiev 4 servings ½ cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature 2 green onions, chopped 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1½ teaspoons grated lemon peel 1 garlic clove, minced 4 boneless chicken breast halves,skinned 1 egg, beaten to blend 1 cup dry breadcrumbs ¼ cup vegetable oil Freshly cooked rice 1. Combine first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Divide into fourths. Form each into log. Wrap herb butter tightly and freeze until firm. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead.) Place chicken between sheets of waxed paper.

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Holiday 2012

2. Flatten chicken to thickness of ¼ inch, using meat mallet or rolling pin. Place one herb butter log in center of each breast half. Wrap chicken around butter. Secure with toothpicks. 3. Dip chicken in egg; dredge in breadcrumbs. Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden brown, turning occasionally, 12 minutes. Serve hot with rice.

Back to Basics

10 STEPS TO BETTER STEW 1.CUT YOUR OWN MEAT Packaged stew meat is often made up of egularly shaped scraps that cook at varying :es. Cut your own stew m eat to guarantee Tie-sized chunks that share the same flavor d cooking time. Use fatty, flavorful cuts im the shoulder, or chuck, that will stay jist with extended cooking. 2.SKIP THE FLOUR BEFORE BROWNING Contrary to popular belief, dusting meat th flour before searing it doesn't help it own better. In fact, we have found just s opposite. The flour itself darkens a lit-!, but the meat remains pale and doesn't velop the intense flavor compounds that e the goal of browning. Instead of f lour-l pat stew meat dry and season it with It and pepper before browning. 3. BROWN MEAT PROPERLY Crowding the pan with too much meat or using inadequate heat can cause meat i steam (rather than brown) and ultimately lose flavor. To avoid this problem, Id the meat only after the oil begins to smoke and leave plenty of space (about i inch) between pieces (this means no more than I pound of meat per batch), jrn only when the first side is well seared. 4. IF FOND BURNS, REMOVE IT Browning meat in more than two batches can lead to a pan covered by burnt •ather than browned) fond that can impart a bitter flavor to the stew. If the fond blackening, add a little water to the empty pot and scrape the fond to loosen it. liscard burnt bits and water and wipe the pot clean. Add fresh oil and proceed iith the next batch of meat. 5. SAUTE AROMATICS TO ENHANCE FLAVOR Recipes that call for dumping spices and romatics, such as garlic and onion, into ie pot at the same time as the liquid ill to maximize their flavor. So hold the quid and saute these flavor-enhancing ingredients first.

6 FLOUR AROMATICS TO THICKEN STEW 1any recipes call for thickening a stew at he end of cooking by leaving the lid off, wtthis method risks overcooking. Thicken itew at the beginning of the cooking pro:ess by sprinkling flour over the sauteed iromatics. Cook the flour for a minute or MVO to remove any raw flour taste. 7. STAGGER ADDITION OF VEGETABLES

When vegetables are dumped indiscriminately into the pot at the outset of cooking they not only lose flavor and turn mushy,but also water down stew. Take into account cooking timee of individual vegetables and add them at the appropriate time. 8. SIMMER STEW IN OVEN To ensure a steady, gentle simmer that allows the internal tempera¬ture of the meat to rise slowly and eliminates the risk of scorching the pot bottom, cook the stew in a covered Dutch oven at 300 degrees. This will keep the temper¬ature of the stewing liquid below the boiling point (212 degrees) and ensure meat that is tender, not tough. 9. COOK MEAT UNTIL FALL- APART TENDER When meat is undercooked, its fat and connective tissue have not had the chance to break down sufficiently, and it will taste rubbery andtough. Cook meat to the point where collagen has melted down into gelatin. This yields tender meat that separates easily when pulled apart with two forks. 10. DEFAT BEFORE SERVING Pour stew liquid into a narrow container before defatting. This will create a thicker layer of fat.

Butter Bits


If You Didn’t Know Cranberry Gorgonzola Tart



he cranberry is one of only a handful of fruits native to North America - the Concord grape and blueberry being the others. As documented by the Pilgrims, cranberries were found in abundance in Massachusetts in 1620 and rumor has it that they may have been served at the first Thanksgiving. Cranberries soon cemented their place in New England life by serving as a vital source of vitamin C. While the Pilgrims may have been the first westerners to use the berry it was Dutch and German settlers who gave it its name, calling the tart fruit “crane berries” because of the resemblance of the blooming cranberry flowers to the head and bill of a crane. Contrary to popular belief, cranberries do not grow in water, but in sandy bogs or marshes.. About 10 percent of the cranberries grown in Massachusetts are dry harvested and sold as fresh fruit.

How to Buy Cranberries are usually sold in see-through 12-ounce plastic bags, so you can’t pick through them. Look for berries that are a bright, intense color from (light to dark). Store cranberries in an airtight plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least a month. They can be frozen for up to a year.


Butter Bits Holiday 2012

1 refrigerated pie crust (from 15-ounce package), room temperature 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened 1/2 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese, room temperature 2 tablespoons milk 1 large egg, lightly beaten 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped 2 tablespoons chopped green onions 2 tablespoons chopped pecans Heat oven to 450°F. Prepare pie crust as directed on package for one-crust baked shell using a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim excess pie crust even with top of pan. Bake 9 to 11 minutes or until light brown. Cool 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Combine cream cheese and gorgonzola cheese in a medium mixing bowl; beat with electric mixer on medium speed until blended. Beat in milk and egg until well mixed. Gently stir in cranberries and green onions. Spread mixture in baked tart shell; sprinkle with pecans.Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until filling is set. Let stand 30 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges. If desired, garnish with additional green onions. Store covered in refrigerator. Makes 12 serving

How to Use Cook whole berries until they pop-longer than that and they’ll turn to mush and get bitter. When making a whole-cranberry sauce, it is a good idea to add the sugar after the cranberries have been cooked, letting it dissolve in the juice. Adding the juice earlier tends to toughen the skins.Cranberry sauce (not the jellied type) makes a great topping for waffles and pancakes.

Make cranberry syrup by combining cranberry sauce with a little light corn syrup, stirring over low heat until warmed through. To re-hydrate dried cranberries, cover with water, liqueur or other soaking liquid in a medium bowl. Cover and micro¬wave on HIGH (100%) power for 30 to 60 seconds; let stand for 5 minutes before using, or pour a very hot liquid over the berries, cover and let stand for at least 20 minutes.

The Southern Bon Vivant from the desk of D. Ramsey Torrington


found myself without much to do on a previous Christmas Eve when the doorbell sounded. Opening the door I found my friend Netá standing there dressed to kill in a brilliant red outfit. “Hi Baby, Trudy’s giving a holiday dinner party. Do want to go with me?” Quickly giving an affirmative response, I got dressed, and we were on our way to Trudy’s home.

The spirit of Christmas was in the air as we drove over to Trudy’s place. An unexpected drop in temperature gave the otherwise humid Houston air a pleasant holiday feel. Trudy had the place well decorated for the holiday celebration. A beautiful buffet table caught my eye as I made my way through the gathering.. The scarlet linen tablecloth that covered the table was matched with scarlet napkins. Trudy, a fantastic hostess, prepared a great repast for us. I found the cornbread and sausage dressing-stuffed mushrooms and pan-roasted pork tenderloin very flavorful, but a punch made with Southern Comfort was the unanimous hit of the evening. As usual, I managed to get the recipes for these wonderful dishes for my friends. I hope they make your holiday gathering a party to remember.

Happy Holidays The Southern Von Vivant Roast Pork with Provencal Breadcrumb Crust A French-inspired crusting gives this roast an incredible aroma in the oven. Ask your butcher to french the roast for you. If you do it yourself, be sure to cut all the fat from the rib bones MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS fresh breadcrumbs ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 6 Tbsp. finely chopped pitted kalamata olives 3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh thyme 4 garlic cloves, pressed 6 Tbsp. olive oil, divided 2 (3-rib) (1¼- to 1½-lb.) pork loin roast, frenched Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; stir in 2 Tbsp. oil. 2. Place pork roast, bone side down, in a small greased roasting pan. Rub remaining 1 Tbsp. oil over meaty top side of roast; sprinkle with desired amount of salt and pepper, and pat breadcrumb mixture over oil to adhere. 3.Bake at 350° for 45 to 55 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 155°. Let stand 15 minutes or until thermometer registers 160°. Carve roast between bones into 6 chops.

Southern Comfort Punch A delicious alcoholic beverage that’s not too strong. A combination of Southern Comfort and citrus juices. Makes 30 servings 1 (750 mi) bottle Southern Comfort 3/4 cup lemon juice 1 (6 oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed 1(6 oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate 3 liters lemon-lime soda 2 drops red food coloring 1 orange, sliced into rounds 1 lemon, sliced into rounds In a large punch bowl, combine Southern Comfort, lemon juice, lemonade concentrate and orange juice concentrate. Stir in lemon-lime soda, and add a few drops red food coloring. Float orange and lemon slices for garnish. Butter Bits


The Creole Sampler Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce When most bread goes stale it gets tossed in the trash or fed to the birds. But for some lucky loaves, going stale is just the beginning of a transformation into bread pudding - the ambrosial dessert that is a mainstay finale at Creole restaurants across New Orleans. Bread Pudding: 1 loaf French bread, cut into -inch squares (about 6-7 cups)) 1qt milk 3 eggs,lightly beaten 2 cups sugar 2 Tbsp vanilla 1 cup raisins ¼ cup bourbon) ¼ teaspoon allspice ¼ to ½ teaspoon cinnamon 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Bourbon Sauce: 1 stick butter 1 cup sugar 1 egg, beaten 1/4 cup bourbon In a saucepan, melt butter; add sugar and egg, whisking to blend well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. (Do not allow to simmer, or it may curdle.) Whisk in bourbon to taste. Remove from heat. Whisk before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth.

1 Preheat oven to 350°F. 2 Soak the bread in milk in a large mixing bow Pres with hands until well mixed and all the milk is absorbed. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices together. Gently stir into the bread mixture. Gently stir the raisins into the mixture. 3 Pour butter into the bottom of a 9 x13 inch pant. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the buter. Pour in the bread mix and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until set. The pudding is done when the edges start getting a bit brown and pull away from edge of the pan. Can also make in individual ramekins. Serve with bourbon whiskey sauce on the side; pour on to taste. Best fresh and eaten the day it is made. Yield: Makes 8-10 servings.

City-Country Fruit Jams “Made In The City With A Country Taste”

Strawberry Peach Plum Blackberry 9 ounces

For Order Contact gimagine

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Holiday 2012


Drinks Blood Orange Martinis Serve this stunning sippere in miniature,sugar-rimmed martini glasses

4 cups blood orange juice

2 cups of orange flavored vodka

1 cup orange liqueur

Simple syrup

Garnish: blood oeangw slicws Combine first ingredients in a large pitcher. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Garnish,if desired. Servei n sugar-rimmed glasses,if desired. Simple Syrup

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

Bring and water to a boil in saucepan. Boil,stirring often, 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves and syrup is reduced to ⅔ cup. Removr from heat;cool competely. Store in refrigerator.

Note: For sugared rims,dip glasses into a thin coating of light corn syrup or water, and then soin rims ina plateful of coarse sugar.

Best Wines for $10.00 and Under Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling (WA) $9 As one of America’s most popular Rieslings in the value-wine market, this off-dry Riesling brings plenty of sweet peach and lemon-lime nuances to the glass. Apothic Red Wine (CA) $10 Apothic Red brings a tasty blend of Zinfandel, Syrah and Merlot with ample fruit and plenty of food-pairing versatility. This is an easy wine perfect for everything from pizza to pasta Smoking LoonSyra (CA) $10 Don & Sons The Smoking Loon Syrah is a dynamite deal. The nose gives you hints of chocolate dipped strawberries aThis Syrah has an intensity that can stand up to a variety of flavorful and well-seasoned red meat dishes.

Folie a Deux Menage a Trois

Red (CA) $10 Everyone likes this wine, it’s got ripe jam-driven red fruit, soft, silky tannins and it’s a palate pleaser through and through. This is not a big, bad, complicated red to over analyze, just fruit-forward and fun from start to finish.

Hey Sommilier What are the four major types of Champagne? Brut, Extra Dry: Indicates level of sweetness. In order to control the amount of sugar in a finished wine, it is usually topped off with a mixture of wine, sugar and sometimes brandy. Brut is the drier of the two. Nonvintage (NV): The cuvee, or “house blend,” which is the secret patent and signature wine of each Champagne house. It remains standard year after year and .is usually released to the market for sale when very young. Vintage: Wine that is considered too fine to be blended with the nonvintage cuvee. As a result, it is aged longer to produce a fuller-bodied wine. Cremant: Only half as bubbly as nor-mal; often preferred with food. Cuvee de Prestige: The best that a Champagne house has to offer; also, usually their most costly wine. Also called tete de cuvee.

Famous Champagne Quotes ”I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad.Somtimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise I never touch it--unless I’m thirsty.” Madame Lilly Bollinger I drink Champagne when I win, to celebrate…and I drink Champagne when I lose, to console myself. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Butter Bits


Cook Book Gallery Top 4 Must Have Cook Books New York Times CookBook- Craig Claiborne Since it was first published in 1961, The New York Times Cook Book, a standard work for gourmet home cooks, has sold nearly three million copies in all editions and continues to sell strongly each year. The Joy of Cooking- Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker Joy is the all-purpose cookbook. There are other basic cookbooks on the market, and there are fine specialty cookbooks, but no other cookbook includes such a complete range of recipes in every category: everyday, classic, foreign and de luxe. Joy is the one indispensable cookbook, a boon to the beginner, treasure for the experienced cook, the foundation of many a happy kitchen and many a happy home

Mastering the Art of French Cooking- Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck Mastering the Art of French Cooking is for both seasoned cooks and beginners who love good food and long to reproduce at home the savory delights of the classic cuisine, from the historic Gallic masterpieces to the seemingly artless perfection of a dish of spring-green peas. The techniques learned in this beautiful book, with more than one hundred instructive illustrations, can be applied to recipes in all other French cookbooks, making them infinitely usable Fannie Farmers Baking BookMarion Cunningham A superb collection of more than 800 recipes drawn from both America’s rich past and new culinary discoveries. It’s the Bible of baking, considered by many as the most thorough baking book on the market.

Recipe Index Appetizer Cranberry Gorganzola Tart page 6 Entrees Roast Pork with Provencal Bread Crumbs Crust page 7 Creole Shrimp and Grits page 4 Quick Chicken Kiev page 4 Beverages Blood Orange Martinis page 9 Southern Comfort Punch page 7 Desserts Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce page 8

Dear Santa Baby, I have been a tiny bit more naughty than nice this year. With that being said, canyou see about giving me a set of Lennox dinnerware for Christmas. your girl Retà “Yesterday I waited 45 minutes for a 3 minute egg, I’m wondering how long will a 4 minute one will take?”

Ingredients, wines and spirits listed in recipes and articles may be found at the following markets Spec’s Wines,Spirits and Finer Foods; Randalls...Pyburns Food Market...Krogers...Rice Epicurean

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Holiday 2012

“small parties and intimate affairs”

Romantic Breakfasts Dinner Parties Cocktail Parties Intimate Dinner

Ladies’ Night Out Birthday Parties Engagement Parties Spa Parties

Bread & Butter Epicurean is a social and corporate foodservice company specializing in small parties and intimate affairs planning, preparation, décor and entertainment. Bread & Butter Epicurean will plan and prepare a menu within your budget, while giving your dining experience that personalize touch.

Bread & Butter Epicurean

“Knowledge of Foods...Pleasures In Dining

Call 832-881-1225 or email

Butter Bits Holiday 21012  
Butter Bits Holiday 21012  

Magazine with topics on cooking, entertaining, and foods.