I was telling a friend about a new restaurant in Winter Park called Limoncello and I commented that the only thing that disappointed me about the place was that it didn’t serve limoncello.

“A lot of places don’t serve lemon Jell-O,” my friend replied.

No, no, I explained, not lemon Jell-O, limoncello. It’s an Italian liqueur, usually served at the end of a meal as a digestive. It’s a wonderful blend of the bitter and the sweet with a powerful alcoholic kick.

Thumbprint Cookies with Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol

When I tell people that my favorite version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, aside from the book itself, is a magoo's christmas carolcartoon version starring the myopic Mr. Magoo, they think I’m kidding. But I’m really quite serious.

Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol was first broadcast on network television in 1962, and of all the versions of  classic story that exist, this one, I believe, is the best. It features the bumbling character performing in a musical version of  A Christmas Carol in front of a cartoon-cutout audience, which is odd only if you think too much about it.

Although the animation is primitive, even by 1962 standards, the talent involved in the production is impressive. The original musical numbers feature music by Jule Styne (Funny Girl) and lyrics by Bob Merrill (Carnival) – “Winter Was Warm” is a hauntingly beautiful song – and besides the great Jim Backus, voices include Morey Amsterdam and Jack Cassidy. My VHS copy is wearing out, but luckily the 52-minute show was released on DVD a couple of years ago.

As I did with It’s a Wonderful Loaf, I’ve combined the holiday tradition of watching Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol with the annual baking of my favorite Christmas cookie -- thumbprints. These are seriously good cookies, and, for me, it just wouldn’t be Christmas without them. Although, to be honest, it’s a little less like Christmas without my mom to bake them for me. A sigh for Christmases past.

It's a Wonderful Loaf -- Two Holiday Traditions Combined

Scott's note: I first wrote this article when I was the food editor for New Times in Phoenix in 1987. (Notice reference to dragging a tv into the kitchen -- not so common to have a television among the appliances back then!) Since then it has been reprinted numerous times in publications around the country. The recipe is real -- this was a favorite bread my mother used to bake -- and it really is possible to time the recipe to the movie. However, you'll notice I also give actual times for those who wish to try it without the Capra corn.

It's a Wonderful Loaf

'Tis the season for spending lots of time in the kitchen baking holiday goodies. 'Tis also the season for watching old movies that show up on TV only at this time of year.
its a wonderful life
The point 'tis that you can combine these two great holiday pastimes and do your holiday baking while watching your favorite Christmas movie. My favorite is the 1946 Frank Capra classic, It's a Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. It's one of the best Christmas movies of all time. although the only thing that makes it a Yuletime flick is that the end of the movie takes place on Christmas Eve. If Capra had set the whole thing on Arbor Day, we'd only get to see it in the spring. But never mind about that.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, It's a Wonderful Life is the story of a small-town man, George Bailey (played by Stewart), who is disillusioned with his life and plagued by shattered dreams. Bailey has always wanted to get out of the small town of Bedford Falls and see the world. Throughout his life he is presented with opportunities to leave the sticks, but circumstances always force him to choose between chasing his dream and doing the honorable thing and helping out his family and friends.

George sacrifices and sacrifices, and he finally loses it when his alcoholic uncle, Billy, misplaces the bank deposits for the family business, a building-and-loan operation. George takes the rap for the old sot, and the bank examiner threatens to throw George in jail. George ends up yelling at his four kids and lovely wife, Mary (Donna Reed), before running out of the house, heading for the bridge over a swirling river and throwing himself in. Sounds like great holiday fare, doesn't it?

But wait. Things turn around when Heaven sends down a bungling-but-lovable angel named Clarence, who . . . But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Everglades' Gator Chowder

Here's a recipe for those of you who find a little extra gator meat on your hands. If you don't have any lying around -- maybe underneath the car (always look) -- you should be able to find gator meat at Lombardi's Market in Winter Park.

This soup from the upscale Everglades restaurant at the Omni Rosen follows the theme with the 'Glades most famous resident as its main ingredient.

1 1/4 pounds gator meat, finely chopped
1/2 pound bacon, finely chopped
1 1/4 ounce chopped garlic Mirepoix (1/4 pound each, medium diced onions, carrots and celery)
1/4 pound medium diced green peppers
1 pound washed and diced potatoes (skin on)
6 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
1-46 ounce can clam juice
1 gallon water (or fish stock)
1/2 pound butter
1 1/4 pound flour
1 bay leaf
3 ounces tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large stock pot over medium heat, render the bacon until crisp. Add mirepoix, garlic and green peppers. Cook until tender. Add butter and melt. Whisk in flour to make a roux. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure all bacon fat and butter is absorbed by the flour (adjust flour if necessary). Add clam juice, water and diced tomatoes. Simmer and add potatoes, gator meat and bay leaf. Simmer until potatoes are tender. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Yields 5 quarts.

Lobster and Scallop Fisherman's Pie from Epcot International Food and Wine Festival

FLOG EXCLUSIVE -- Here's the recipe for the popular Lobster and Scallop Fisherman's Pie from the Ireland kiosk at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

Fisherman's PieThe clear hit of this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is the Lobster and Scallop Fisherman's Pie being served at the Ireland kiosk. It stands a chance of overtaking the cheddar cheese soup at Canada as the biggest seller among the kiosk foods. (Last year, Canada sold over 36,000 little containers of the cheesey soup.)

Because the Fisherman's Pie is new to this year's lineup, its recipe wasn't included in the recipe book of festival foods. (You may recall that several years ago recipe cards for favorite food items at the festival were free for the asking. I don't know who came up with the idea to put them into a book and sell them, but I hope he or she got a raise because from a marketing standpoint it was brilliant.)

But while the recipe is not available in the book, it is available here via the generosity of Epcot's executive chef Jens Dahlmann following a request by a flog reader.Ireland kiosk

The recipe is fairly intricate -- it isn't something you'd want to tackle after a day at work. But if you like spending all day in a kitchen -- maybe a whole weekend -- to create something wonderful, give this a go. Be sure to come back here and leave a comment about how your recipe turned out.

A couple of notes from the chef: Look for lobsters that are about 1-1/2 to 2 pounds to yield the pound of meat for the recipe. "Sweating" the vegetables usually takes 3-5 minutes on medium heat; you want to cook them until they're transluscent.

And for burning the alcohol for the brandy, Dahlmann and your local fire department don't recommed flaming the liquid until the fire goes out. "You can get similar results by deglazing (the pan) with the brandy, and then reduce it down until it's pretty much gone," he says.

The recipe follows; good luck! And click here to read about other new foods at the festival or here to see a video of Party for the Senses.

Peri Peri Prawns from Journeys at Alaqua

Peri Peri Prawns
Serves  4


24 large shrimp
3 cups white wine
4 table spoons Butter
Vegetable oil
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 large carrot
kosher salt
Peri Peri  or subistute Siricha hot sauce
1  finely diced Shallot
1 cup Basmati Rice


Place 1 tea spoon of butter in a pot. Add the shallot and sweat. Add the rice and 2 cups of water. Cook rice to the package instructions.


Cut ends off all vegetables and discard. Using a peeler clean the carrot. Either use a mandolin or carefully julienne all of the vegetables. Take a sauté pan and get hot, add 1 table spoon of veg oil. Toss the vegetables in the pan and add one pinch of salt and white pepper. Toss for 1 minute and remove from heat.


Place all the shrimp on a sheet pan or clean cutting board. Sprinkle with salt, white pepper and Peri Prei on both sides (the more Peri Peri you add the hotter it will be) if using Siricha add with the wine.
Use a large sauté pan or 2 smaller ones to cook the shrimp, do not overcrowd. Get your pan hot and add 1 table spoon veg oil. Slide the shrimp into the hot pan and let seer on the first side. Turn the shrimp and seer second side. Add the wine and cook for three minutes. Take off the heat until ready. Add the butter and heat up again. Stir until the butter and wine are emulsified. Take off the heat and serve.

To plate

Take 4 round plates. Use a ramekin to mold the rice and place in the middle of the plates. Lean 6 shrimp up against the rice tower. Pour the pan sauce round the rice to create a mote. Take your vegetables and place on top of the rice and top with potato crisp straws to garnish.