Thursday, July 28, 2016

Watermelon and Tomato Salad

        Last summer, we served a version of Watermelon and Tomato salad so often, we were convinced everyone we knew had tasted it.  And this year, we’ve seen so many recipes for it, that we’re sure our readers have been inundated with variations on the dish.  However, most versions we’ve seen include feta cheese, which is a complete no-no in our house.  It’s just not on our list.  This salad however most certainly is.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Steamed Bok Choy with Mapo-Style Pork from Justin Chapple in Food and Wine Magazine


Food and Wine's Justin Chapple
I’ve bought the Bok Choy Trader Joe’s sells quite a few times.  I like the crisp crunch and slightly bitter flavor of the vegetable.  But I have to admit, my Bok Choy hasn’t risen to any great culinary heights.  Recently, as I read through Food and Wine, I came across a recipe that featured an Asian-inspired recipe that looked promising.  And it was!  A raft of Asian flavors made the pork ‘sauce’ a worthy topping for the Bok Choy.  Sweet and spicy, it’s the easiest of dishes to make taking all of 3 steps and 30 minutes from stovetop to table.  It’s from Food and Wine’s Justin Chapple, a young man whose inventiveness can be seen on many of the magazine’s videos.   My discovery of the recipe coincided with the arrival of ground pork to the meat case at Trader Joe’s. Instead of trekking a few blocks more every time I need that particular ingredient, Trader Joe’s became one-stop shopping for this meal. The original recipe was part of a series called “How not to eat a lot of meat”.  However, I had no clue what I would do with the leftover ½ lb of pork so I chose to double the recipe, most of which topped the Bok Choy.  The rest I refrigerated and later used in some Asian-inflected tacos.  But what exactly is Mapo-Style?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Indian-Spiced Chicken with Tomato and Cream


I love Indian food.  Its intriguing blend of exotic spices and flavors are so distinctive and so transforming that it really does represent a cuisine far from our own American classics.  Take this dish from Bon Appetit.  It transforms the simple and inexpensive Chicken leg and thigh into a feast for all the senses:  The scent for the nose.  The color for the eyes. The taste for the palate.  And talk about one pot cooking!  It even includes potatoes so aside from the Indian bread of choice, Naan and some yogurt, dinner comes together effortlessly in a large Dutch Oven.  If Indian food seems counter-intuitive in the heat of summer until you remember that the sub-continent itself is one of the warmest places on earth.   Only in the Himalayas does the temperature average 68 degrees.  The rest of the country hovers in the 70s and 80s in winter and soars into the 90s and even 100s in the heat of summer. So why does this hot country share a passion for spicy, hot food? 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chop Chop Salad with Gingered Shrimp and with thanks to Daniel Boulud

The man himself, Daniel Boulud
        Who doesn’t love Daniel Boulud?  His restaurants are on everyone’s New York Top 10 list from Daniel to DBGB on the Bowery, of all places.  I have a particular soft spot for his Bar Boulud, across from Lincoln Center and very close to home. It was there that my daughter-in-law, Kym, told us I was going to be a grandfather for the first time. And the food is pretty good as well!  I’m told Daniel is a very fine fellow and wonderful to work with.  I follow him religiously in Elle Décor Magazine where for some years he’s been the lead food writer. I am never disappointed in what he publishes there. That’s where this recipe appeared.  It’s a homage to DBGB’s close proximity to Chinatown with a wonderful Asian influence dressing and an Asian marinade for the shrimp.  With summer meals upon us, this will be a fantastic addition to any lunch or dinner.  As if it didn’t have so much going for it already—crisp vegetables, cool watermelon, tender sweet shrimp, a tangy-creamy dressing—it’s also a perfect Meatless Monday meal, that is if you get an early start because there is some marinating time involved…otherwise print this and save it for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cream Scones with Clotted Cream from "Hand Made Baking" by Kamran Siddiqi

Ah the scone!  Properly made, they’re a thing of great joy at tea time or coffee hour.   But the greater likelihood is that the scone most people encounter comes off as heavy as a hockey puck and just about as appetizing. No matter how much clotted cream is laid on top, an awful lot of scones are dry and tasteless. That had been Andrew’s experience until we encountered the perfect scone. We were aboard Viking Sea where the old adage about salt air making one ravenously hungry was proven true.  Completely out of character, we decided to participate in afternoon tea.  Not that Andrew actually drank tea—he chose a cup of coffee instead. But there we were presented with a triple-decker tray piled with cookies, finger sandwiches, macarons and topping it off, buttery, moist and tender scones. Ever since we got home, Andrew has been making variations on the scone to great success and accolades from every single scone doubter.  His scones are a masterpiece and the source of his recipe is just as fascinating.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Salt and Pepper Chicken Wings with Parmesan Dipping Sauce


In the pantheon of things we love to eat, the Chicken Wing is high on our list.  Crispy, crunchy and easy as all get out to make, I could likely put these on our dinner menu once a week.  As wing lovers, I’ve tried all kinds of recipes for these delicious little finger-licking goodies and almost without fail, we love the results.   But in terms of simplicity, nothing comes close to this take on wings: 10 minutes tops in prep and 45 minutes undisturbed in a hot oven and that’s it. The recipe was brought to my attention by Tyler Florence in his “Tyler Florence Family Meal” (Rodale 2010).  Tyler subheads this book “Bringing People Together Never Tasted Better”.  And I couldn’t agree more. Tyler attributes the recipe to The Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco (558 Sacramento St. Tel: 415 772 9060).  And like every chicken wing recipe in America, it owes at least something to the ubiquitous Buffalo Wing.  In fact, every recipe for Chicken Wings pays some homage to the original because if it hadn’t been for Buffalo, we might never have tasted wings at all.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Andrew's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

         One of the great joys of summer is that Andrew is back at the beach and back into baking.   It’s not that we don’t have temporary bursts of wonderful cakes, pies and cookies at other times of the year, but in Summer he settles in a routine which revolves around at least a dessert a weekend.  These are either served to our guests or taken to our hosts at the dinner parties that are as much a part of our summer as sunshine.  His selections often follow what is freshest and at its flavor peak as the season progresses.  
         These few past few weeks that’s meant Rhubarb, tart and tangy and grown just over the hill from our house.  And then there are the strawberries from the same farm. Once you have even looked at these two things there is no question that they are not from the supermarket.   And then there’s the taste: Sublime strawberry sweetness and juiciness unlike anything we taste in berries shipped 2500 miles (at least) to get here.  Rhubarb is an even more seasonal treat: it simply isn’t sold except for these few fleeting weeks early in the growing season. Combined, these two fruits were baked into a Demerara sugar encrusted lattice work pie, melding sweet and tart and tangy all together.  The only thing missing was the essential scoop of Vanilla ice cream that seems to exist only to make Strawberry Rhubarb pie irresistible.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Salt and Pepper Salmon with Smashed Potatoes, Peas, Lemon, Pearl Onions and Mint

I’d go back to Ireland in a New York minute, but it wouldn’t be for the food. We never got anywhere near Darina Allen's Culinary Course and aside from a wonderful Thanksgiving feast that we prepared ourselves, a dinner at Fallon and Byrne in Dublin and an Irish Breakfast at Merv Griffin’s St. Cleran’s Hotel, we basically had dreadful food.  So imagine my surprise at discovering that when Tyler Florence  was working on a recipe for Salt and Pepper Salmon, his reference point was “Colcannon”.  According to LaRousse, “Colcannon” is “a very popular Irish dish made from mashed potatoes and green cabbage, mixed with butter or milk and strongly flavored with chives, parsley and pepper”.  Since there is virtually nothing easier to cook than a salmon filet, it is a perfect dish to serve now while the heat is rising and you want to get in and out of the kitchen fast. I strayed a bit, both from Colcannon and Tyler.  But the result was spectacular: Crispy seared salmon liberally seasoned with salt and pepper on a bed of new potatoes, sweet peans and crunchy pearl onions topped with fresh mint, all of which was on the table in about 30 minutes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Pollo Tonnato, a Hamptons Italian Dish straight from Ireland.


There’s a very famous Take-Out store in the Hamptons called “Loaves and Fishes” that turns out superb food for the rich.  I say this because, first, the place is in a village out here with the highest median house price in the entire country: Sagaponack NY comes in at a staggering $8,500,000.   And second, I once saw a woman there pay $108.00 for 8 servings of Pollo Tonnato.  Lord knows what she would have paid for the far more expensive Vitello Tonnato, the Piedmontese dish of cold, sliced veal in a creamy, mayonnaise-y sauce flavored with tuna.  As odd as the combination may be, it’s a wonderful combination of flavors which brings a salty tang to the otherwise bland taste of the veal.   Invented in the late 19th century, Tonnato sauce was created at a time when Piedmonte was closely aligned to Liguria. The tuna was fished for in Liguria, the lemons and capers were grown there too.   Pollo Tonnato is its very worthy and far less expensive cousin. It uses boneless chicken breasts covered with the Tonnato sauce, a rich and flavorful concoction of capers, lemon, anchovies and tuna, preferably the Italian variety in glass jars. The Italian tuna will not only up the price of the dish a bit, it will improve its flavor immeasurably.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Joanne Chang's Balsamic Strawberry Shortcakes from Boston's Flour Bakery

It’s strawberry season in the Hamptons and they’re truly flawless this year.  Nothing could be more welcome after our rainy, cold spring than these beautiful, bountiful berries.   And nothing says June like their arrival.  But time isn’t on our side.  The season is fleeting and the chance to put fresh local strawberries on the table is right now.  Out here, there are any number of road side strawberry fields where you can pick your own, a fun way to spend an afternoon with the children in your life.  We opted to go the lazy man’s route and bought our strawberries at our local farm stand down the road. We brought the brilliant red berries home and out came Joanne Chang’s “Flour” Cookbook, one of Andrew’s go-to sources for truly unbeatable baking recipes.  Use the search function on the left side of this page and you’ll come up with no less than 6 recipes from Ms. Chang, every single one of them a winner in our kitchen and with our friends.  This is no exception.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

From The Daily Meal: Culinary Travel: Paris. This Restaurant went straight to the top...with a two item menu. Plus our recipe for one of their specialties...

         Granted, “Canard et Champagne”  (Duck and Champagne) are arguably two of France’s greatest gifts to cuisine but it took some nerve to open a restaurant which sells nothing else.   But that is precisely what Jean-Francois Montfort and partners Jean Valfort and Pierre Dutaret did when they moved into a former chocolatier’s space a 57 Passages des Panoramas (Paris 75002 Reservations: 09 81 83 95 69 Open Tuesday to Saturday 12 Noon till Midnight).  The moderately priced restaurant immediately shot to the top of Trip Advisor’s Paris listings coming in at number 1 in a matter of weeks. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Ruth Reichl's "Favorite" Recipe from "My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life"


A short time ago, we went to the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan (344 Amsterdam Ave, NY NY 10023 Tel: (646) 505-4444). Judging from the smell of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, the place has a robust culinary arts program in addition to all its other offerings in Health and Wellness, Arts and Ideas and myriad others. We were there to hear Ruth Reichl talk about her latest book.  We are no strangers to this particular tome as it was the subject of earlier posts and recipes.  See and  Ms. Reichl simply brought to life much of the misery she suffered when Gourmet abruptly closed its doors leaving Ms Reichl, its editor literally out in the cold.  To our friends, Jill and Steve who went with us, much of this was news.  To me, it was just a sad reminder of what happened when we were robbed of both Gourmet and Ruth.   So when the question and answer session began, I asked the ultimate stupid question: What is your favorite recipe in the book?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Day Seven of the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea...Cherbourg and Normandy

Port Recine in Cap de La Hague, Normandy

For all the time we have spent in France, inexplicably we have never been to the northwest corner of the country and their provinces of Brittany and Normandy. While we didn’t get to Brittany, Cherbourg, was our first port of call in France   This is the heart of French dairy country. It is the home of ( from left to right:) Neufchatel, Camembert, Pont-L’Évêque and Liverot, all cow’s milk cheeses and all are considered among the world’s best.  Unfortunately, and very unlike Viking, our “Taste of Normandy” tour didn’t include so much as a morceau of cheese.  (Instead we had a Crepe and a glass of Cider, both specialités and both somewhat underwhelming.) 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Day Six: Ten Great Things to do on a Sea Day aboard a Viking Ocean cruise

Rise and Shine! It's At Sea Day on Viking Sea's Maiden Voyage
Viking at Sea
         On Viking Star there was only one.  On the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea, there would be three of them but for us, just one.  Sea Days. These port-less hours are prized by cruisers for their happy exploration of whatever ship they’re sailing on.  And they are especially prized on Viking. If there is one thing that’s missing on Viking’s port-intensive itineraries, it’s an abundance of time to enjoy every wonderful amenity on this amenity-loaded ship. I confess to afternoons spent aboard ship simply for that purpose.  But if you adhere to Viking’s port calls, here are ten things not to be missed on your Sea Day.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Daily Meal has just published my story: Are these the best alternative restaurants afloat? Plus a recipe for a Pistachio Torta from Viking Ocean Cruises.

Are these the best alternative restaurants afloat? We went aboard Viking Star and Sea to find out
Jun 1, 2016 | 3:59 pm
Staff Writer

Manfredi's was magnificent, but was it our favorite on the ship?  Photo Credit: Viking Ocean Cruises
Every cruise ship has one of these, if not two or three. They go by various names depending on what cruise line you’re sailing. But what they have in common is an elevated “gourmet” experience that lures passengers from their assigned seat in the dining room to an extra-charge restaurant where, for $30 and up, they can dine in a more refined setting with higher quality food. Only on the most expensive cruises does the food come free in these alternative venues. Even premium lines like Celebrity and Holland America charge their paying guests a premium. Not so on the recently launched Viking Ocean Cruise Ships, Viking Star and Viking Sea.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Day Five: The Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea Maiden Call at La Coruña, España

Las Galleries La Coruna line the Avenue Marina.   The one building without a Galleria is called the "Missing Tooth"
        Some places are total surprises.  I would have to say that the entire country of Portugal was one.  But second to that was the arrival this morning at La Coruña in Galicia in the Northwest corner of Spain.   The surprise here was the size and modernity of this beautiful city. We awoke to one of its signature sites.  The Galleries La Coruna are balconies closed with carpentry of wood painted white and with a large area of glass that function as a kind of enclosed balcony.  Our stateroom’s balcony overlooked the most famous of these on the Avenue Marina. The galleries are actually the rear facades of houses. The purpose was to allow the sunlight to enter inside the houses.  The houses themselves faced away from the port largely to avoid the smell of fish which arose from the port.   Now, of course, their views over the yacht basin are highly prized. Surrounded by water, La Coruna is a prosperous place.  This may be the achievement of one man.  If the name Amancio Ortega doesn’t ring a bell, the 80 year old will likely be delighted that you don’t.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Daily Meal just published Day 4 of Viking Sea's Maiden Voyage and here it is! Plus an authentic recipe for the National Dish of both Portugal and Brazil!

Chef Anthony Mauboussin in action aboard the Viking Sea.

By Land and by Sea: Viking’s New ‘Kitchen Table’ Culinary Arts Program

Staff Writer
We set the scene for Viking Cruise’s new ‘Kitchen Table’ chef experience

Since last year’s launch of its first ocean cruise liner, “Viking Star,” Viking Cruise Line has stunned passengers and cruise critics alike with its gleaming ship and emphasis on learning and discovery through travel. In its first year, itineraries included ports from Istanbul to Stockholm. Aboard the 930-passenger ship, Viking’s Chairman Torstein Hagen broke all the rules: The Norwegian Spa is open to everyone, every cabin has a balcony, at every port there’s an included shore excursion, there are no children under 18 allowed, and not one extra penny is involved with eating at any of the ship’s specialty restaurants, where complimentary wine and beer accompany every course.
         And how is the food? Simply spectacular. It is a mix of specialties from each country visited, and an array of classics so that the overwhelmingly American passenger list feels right at home.  But for those passengers with a taste for culinary adventure and learning, Viking Cruises has a program that tops anything we’ve ever seen at sea.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Day Three of the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea....we finally cast off!

Our first glimpse of Viking Sea docked in Lisbon

 But first, about last night…it was our second and final night in Lisbon and my good friend Bruce highly recommended Cervejaria Ramiro (1 Avenida Almirante Reis, Lisbon, Tel: +351 218 851 024) Since Bruce seems to have taken in the entire Iberian peninsula on his trip last year, I was not about to quarrel when he raved about this place.  Turns out it is so well-known our cab driver said there
was no need to tell him the address as every cabbie in Lisbon knows it.  When we got to the restaurant there was a long line of people outside. Fortunately, Bruce had warned us of this daily occurrence and told us not to worry.  In a few minutes we were inside the densely tabled space.  And a few minutes after that we were ushered to our table on the second floor. Ramiro, as it is commonly called, is the home of the best Garlic shrimp I have ever tasted anywhere.  But we didn’t stop at the shrimp.  We dipped Portuguese rolls into the garlic butter wishing there was more.  We ate langoustes until we were stuffed.  And I think you can see why.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day Two. The Maiden Voyage continues....and we're not even at sea yet!

Sintra's Palaces, Lisbon by Beetle and us.

The Rossio Restaurant atop Altis Avenida
         Day Two dawned with a blue sky and Spring temperatures.  Breakfast at the Altis Avenida takes place in a stylish roost on the 7th floor of the hotel.   Considering that it’s all included in the rates, the buffet is substantial and includes all sorts of things that appeal to the hotel’s constituency of British and German visitors.  Cheeses and sausages, pastries and breads, eggs and juices and fruits were all there in abundance. Then we were off for a day we will long remember.