Press Release – Valentine’s Day

Cooking With Sin – Valentine’s Day Press Release

A Romantic Night In

Wine, dine and dance right at home

By Carla Johnson

What are your ingredients for the perfect romantic Valentine’s Day dinner? Dark rich chocolates? Crisp, bubbly champagne? Delicate pink flowers? Bring it home this year. Save yourself the stress and cost of eating out and don’t worry about a designated driver. Make your Valentine’s Day a romantic evening in. Leave your coat and boots at the door because the best table in town is right in your own dining room.

Ignore the chill outside and let the warm home fires burn. Your best china, nicest flatware and favourite crystal have been waiting for a night like this. Light the candles, place a bouquet of pink freesia in a vase and slip into something elegant.

Start your evening with two champagne flutes filled with Grand Pré’s “Champlain Brut.” and stir up a little passion preparing the meal together in the kitchen. Two delicious recipes with the perfect wine and enchanting music from Nine Mile will make this an unforgettable evening.

This Spaghetti Carbonara is an authentic and delicious Italian dish and pairs beautifully with Grand Pré’s L’Acadie Blanc. Then share a romantic flambé with Cherries Jubilee paired with Grand Pré’s Pomme d’Or. Finish the night curled up with your Valentine in the comfort of your own home and let the sparks fly.


Carla Johnson is an author & speaker. Her mission is to Reveal the EXTRAordinary in the Ordinary. Her latest book is “Cooking With Sin” – Great Recipes Dipped in Alcohol and Wrapped in a Wonderful Story!

All of the recipes in Cooking With Sin have alcohol in them and each recipe comes with a story from the cook. As you share the meal with your Valentine, take time to reflect on your own love story together. Each relationship has it’s own wonderful, extraordinary story.


“Roman Holiday” Italian Spaghetti Carbonara

A dry white wine added to Carbonara brought back memories of a special trip to Italy.

Reporter: Which of the cities visited did Your Highness enjoy the most?

Princess Ann: Each, in its own way, was unforgettable. It would be difficult to… Rome! By all means, Rome. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.

~ Excerpt from the movie “Roman Holiday” (1953)

Many years ago (I won’t give a number!), I used to babysit a truly adorable little girl named Sarah. Sarah was quite charming and had a special sparkle in her eye. She figured things out really quickly and would often return your knowing glance with a coy smile.

When Sarah contacted me and told me she had a recipe, I was so pleased. It was wonderful to reconnect and catch up. She is now married with three children of her own, James, Elizabeth and John. Even though her husband’s name is actually Jeremy, she sometimes just calls him “Handsome.”

When their first child James was just four months old, Sarah and Jeremy Fresz decided it was time to visit her extended family in England. Adding an extra excursion to Rome and Paris was natural for the two history buffs. As Sarah explained it, “Rome because of the history and Paris, well… who doesn’t want to go to Paris? And the price was right!”

Walking through the Coliseum and the Roman Forum were Sarah and Jeremy’s favourite moments. So much had happened there that continues to impact the world today. It was awe-inspiring and overwhelming to stand there and think about all that had happened… to imagine Caesar, and Nero, and the other emperors in their fine robes walking amongst the pillars. She also pondered the prisoners and imagined some of the well-known Christian prisoners like the apostles Peter and Paul walking through the streets in chains.

Then there was the food. Sarah and Jeremy share the Italian love of delicious food: the pastas, the meats and the breads dipped in olive oil with balsamic vinegar. They had so much fun trying out different restaurants and all different kinds of food. They especially fell in love with Spaghetti Carbonara the way the Italians make it.

As Sarah explains it, “True Carbonara has eggs in it! The American version is more saucy… almost an Alfredo sauce. That is so wrong!”

When they returned home, Sarah and Jeremy were bound and determined to recreate the spaghetti in the authentic way. They found a recipe that was close and had a lot of fun adjusting the ingredients to get it right. They added garlic and that brought it closer. But the key ingredient that it needed was white wine. “It made all the difference in the world!”

Roman Holiday” Italian Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 8

1 pound spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 pinch salt and black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook spaghetti pasta until al dente. Drain well. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and set aside.

2. Meanwhile in a large skillet, cook chopped bacon until slightly crisp; remove and drain onto paper towels. Reserve 2 tablespoons of bacon fat in the pan, add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat in reused large skillet. Add chopped onion, and cook over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add minced garlic, and cook 1 minute more, being careful not to over-cook it. Add wine; cook one more minute.

3. Return cooked bacon to pan; add cooked and drained spaghetti. Toss to coat and heat through, adding more olive oil if it seems dry or is sticking together.

4. Add beaten eggs and cook, tossing constantly with tongs or large fork until eggs are BARELY set. It may be wise to take it off the heat first so the eggs don’t fry. Quickly add 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and toss again. Add salt and pepper to taste.

5. Serve immediately with chopped parsley sprinkled on top, and extra Parmesan cheese at table.

Sarah’s Tip:

“If the eggs “scramble” when you’re cooking them, you’ve overcooked them. It’s a bit difficult to get them just right. Err on just under-cooking it as they will keep cooking in the dish as you serve it.”

“She’s a Trooper” Cherries Jubilee

A dessert with real flare

I feel the end approaching. Quick, bring me my dessert, coffee and liqueur.” ~ Pierette, great-aunt of Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Health, strength and endurance are essential to living a vibrant life and taking good care of herself is something Sally Vlaar values deeply. She starts every day with a good 1 hour walk and she’ll jump at any chance to get in a good run too. It has been that way for years and it takes more than most of us could handle to keep her from being active.

Sally passed the love of fitness on to her family and recently she participated in a 10km run with most of her children and grandchildren. They often run for charitable causes, but this one was just for fun!

Her strength and endurance have served her very well. A few years ago, Sally was doing home care work travelling from house to house attending to the needs of people confined to their homes. Sally was visiting one particular house on an icy winter day when she slipped and fell hard onto the concrete sidewalk. The pain in her foot seared through her body and she knew she was in big trouble when she reached for her ankle and found it snapped over on a disturbingly unnatural angle.

At the time, cell phones were not attached to everyone, like they are today. Sally knew she had to get herself to a phone. Not wanting to yell and disturb the bed-ridden person in the home, she pulled herself onto her knees, careful to protect her badly broken ankle, and crawled back to the house, up the front stairs and let herself in the door. Keeping her composure, and not wanting to alarm the homeowner, she called out and identified herself as she made her way to the phone.

At this point, even the strongest among us would have collapsed and called 911, but not Sally. Her son-in- law Darcy says, “She’s a trooper” and he is so right. Worried more about the people under her care than her own ankle, the first call she made was to her work, to let them know she couldn’t make the rest of her rounds. Then she called her husband to pick her up and take her to the hospital. She could have called 911, but she believed there were worse emergencies at that moment than her ankle and didn’t want to occupy an ambulance unnecessarily. So considerate. So beautiful.

A few months ago, she was hospitalized for several days with a serious health concern, yet even in her weakened state with all kinds of tubes and vials connected to her, she got out of the bed several times a day and walked the hospital halls dragging the pole with her.

Since that hospital stay, she has had to change her already very healthy diet drastically. Fats and alcohol are almost completely cut out now and one thing she misses is her Cherries Jubilee. She loves making it and she loves serving it.

Sally says to make sure you serve it in the evening in dim light so you can enjoy the blue flame. Once she served it to her family in the light of day, but no one could see the flame so she increased the amount of Kirsch. The flame was huge… and so hot it almost burnt her arm!

This recent health scare forced her to slow down – for a brief stint – but now Sally is back to walking an hour a day and getting in a good run when she can.

She’s a Trooper” Cherries Jubilee

4 – 6 servings

1 can pitted Bing Cherries (These are dark cherries, not sour cherries, nor cherry pie filling)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup Kirsch or a cherry brandy
Vanilla ice cream


1 heavy sauce pan
1 large serving bowl that can handle flames
4 – 6 small serving dishes that can handle flames
1 ladle that can handle flames and has a handle that will keep your hand away from the flames.

1. Mix a small amount of the canned cherry juice with the cornstarch. Makes sure the juice is cold and stir until the cornstarch is blended. It will make a cloudy liquid.

2. Strain the remaining canned cherry juice into a heavy sauce pan, add the sugar and heat on medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

3. Just before the juice & sugar mix comes to a boil, slowly stir in the cornstarch mix keeping the heat on medium-high. Once the cornstarch is mixed in, let it come to a boil. Keep stirring until the liquid thickens and is clear & shiny.

4. Stir in the cherries and heat until everything is heated through. The cherries can be added earlier with the cornstarch, but the cherries don’t need to be cooked.

5. Pour the mix into a nice glass or ceramic serving dish that can that can handle a bit of heat.

6. Scoop the ice cream into individual glass or ceramic bowls that can handle some heat.

7. Pour the kirsch into a heated ladle and light it. It is best to use a long stick match or a lighter with a long tip and light it just at the edge of the ladle. The flame with travel across quickly, so keep your hand back.

8. Slowly pour the flaming kirsch into the cherry bowl, stirring slowly to let it continue flaming.

9. Pour the cherry mix over the ice cream and enjoy. It’s deelish!

The key to flambéing is to shake the cherries gently so the flame continues to burn off some of the harshness of the alcohol and candies the sugars. It is very entertaining.


Click on each photo to save the large formated version of each one for printing.


Cooking With Sin – front cover

Carla with a copy of “Cooking With Sin” – photo by Steven Roorda

Spaghetti Carbonara – photo by Carla Johnson,


Cherries Jubilee – photo by Wayne Atack,


Nine Mile – CD cover – Nine Mile Presents Country Porno Electric Fireplace


L’Acadie Blanc – photo from Domaine de Grand Pré

Pomme d’Or – photo from Domaine de Grand Pré

A glass of dessert wine – photo from Domaine de Grand Pré


Carla Johnson