Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dorie Greenspan's Classic Fruit Tart

This dessert is a showboat.  It looks like it came straight from Paris’ best patisserie.  And indeed its inspiration did.  It was Dorie Greenspan’s introduction to French pastry, an all-strawberry version and the first pastry she tasted when she first set foot in France.  It certainly left some impression because Ms. Greenspan went on to create this recipe herself.   The concentric circles of luscious fresh berries conceal the silky pastry cream and the pastry crust itself is beautifully browned.  You don’t have to limit yourselves to the three berries Andrew used here.  You could make this with a single fruit or more.  In Paris, you’ll come across versions where as many as a dozen fruits are cut into pieces and used as toppings.  Ms. Greenspan shared this recipe in “Baking Chez Moi” (2014 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) where she laid down some rules. Follow on and I’ll share them with you.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Crab Louie

           While I was making this terrifically easy salad, I winced.  It was so ladies-who-lunch, I half expected to have to put on a large hat to eat it.  But it was beautiful to look at and so perfect for right now, that I realized it doesn’t have to be confined to the lunch hour.  It would be a perfect supper.  And aside from the hard-cooked eggs, it involves no cooking.  It uses great fresh produce that’s to be found everywhere at the moment.  And you could pick up everything you needed on your way home tonight.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Yotam Ottolenghi's Splendid Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake

            Baking can be a challenge in the heat. But the lure of local berries and the idea of incorporating them into a very simple cake sounds like a great idea.  Especially one like this  can be eaten virtually any time of the day. That seems reason enough to want to run out and make this recipe immediately.   And, of course, the second reason is that it's from Yotam Ottolenghi, the Israeli chef who, with his Palestinian partner, Sami Tamimi, has been shaking up London’s culinary scene since 1999.  He’s best known for his Vegetarian dishes even though he is not a vegetarian himself. I’ve used Yotam’s recipes before and they are always wildly popular.  (See what else we’ve written here about the man and his meals: I have a strong feeling that this recipe will take off too. It’s a snap to make and it couldn’t taste more seasonal. It comes together in an hour and half and most of that time the cake is the oven. It’s perfect for a late morning snack, as dessert with lunch, at tea-time or after dinner with a cup of coffee.  And, of course, there's a great story about how Yotam discovered the wonderful world of berries.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Part Two of #myvikingstory as Viking Hlin continues her Rhine River Getaway

Last Thursday's  post about the first five days of my Rhine River Getaway, brought news from many of my fellow passengers and I was so glad to hear from them.  To me travel has always been about meeting people, making fresh discoveries together, learning, absorbing and taking home more than just memories but a new way of looking at things.  So here is Part 2 where we journeyed past the Castles on the Rhine and on our way down stream to the sea. Enjoy!

Saturday, July 8, 2017

My Article on my latest Viking River Cruise has been published. This is my expanded post on #myvikingstory: 10 Days on Viking's Rhine River Getaway. Part One

          The focus of The Daily Meal, is, of course, food.  And so everything I write for them is about Food Events, Wine Touring and Culinary Travel.  I’m proud of my work and have acquired quite a portfolio of stories. (See[0]=type:story to read any or all my Daily Meal articles.) But many of my trips are about so much more than food.  And so today, I am posting an expanded view of my most recent Viking Adventure or as the hashtag says:#myvikingstory.   Interspersed is the actual article from The Daily Meal. If you’d like to read that separately, here’s the link: But if you want to go along for my whole ten day trip, this is for you.  In two parts.  Here's the first: 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Dorie Greenspan's Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake with Fresh Strawberries and Crème Fraiche

In the annals of Chewing the Fat, never has one cake come close to having a name as long as this one.  However, I could write a new adage: ‘the longer the name, the better the cake’.  Because I’d be hard-pressed to find a salute to Rhubarb and Strawberry season that tasted any more delicious.  Combining tart Rhubarb with the sweetness of Strawberries and the tang of Crème Fraiche is inspired. And the cake itself has the warmth of brown sugar in every bite.   As you can see it’s from Dorie Greenspan in her masterful book “Baking Chez Moi” (Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt 1014) . Now I don’t do the baking around here, but if I did, I’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who puts more into recipe directions than Ms. Greenspan. I concede that Baking is a science, and far more exacting than most of my cooking.  So it amused me no end when a writer with a blog called “That Skinny Chick can Bake” wrote about her ahah! moment with this cake: “French cooking does not necessarily mean complicated.  A simple layering of flavors can produce a masterpiece”.  And apparently a word count running into the thousands. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

To add to your Summer Burger Repertoire, a recipe worth fighting about...The Chopped Cheese

         Last November, in the New York Times no less, came a story about a Burger that caused, in the words of my late father, “a big stink”.  There were no complaints about the burger itself. In fact, it is lauded as being New York’s version of a Philly Cheesesteak.  The Chopped Cheese, also called Chop Cheese, is an irresistible combination of sautéed ground beef with onions, topped with a major helping of melted cheese, and served with iceberg lettuce, tomato and, per your taste, Ketchup and/or Mustard all served on a Hero roll.  This hardly sounds controversial but, in true New York fashion, it quickly became so.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

My Latest Article in The Daily Meal has just been published...Come along on my Rhone Cruise on Emerald Waterways

Emerald Waterways takes to the Rhône With a Top Chef on Board

Staff Writer

Chef Fabien Morreale has created a special meal for the passengers of these ships.

Glen and Karen Moroney
The Australian Company Scenic is no stranger to the River Cruise business.  And its founder, Glen Moroney, is no stranger to travel.  It all began in 1987 when Moroney started his tour business with bus jaunts out of Melbourne.   His company earned praise for quality and service and soon offered a dazzling array of tour packages to hundreds of destinations.   So, it was hardly a surprise when Moroney went into River cruising, launching a total of 14 “Star-Ships” since 2008. Scenic now operates deluxe river trips from the Douro in Portugal to the Irrawaddy in Myanmar and the Mekong River in Vietnam.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Coconut Shrimp Salad

Too often, I get into trouble with a recipe that’s just too much food for two people.  Try as I may, cutting back on volume isn’t always the easiest task.   Things that say they are for four people are relatively simple to divide in half.  It’s when you get to recipe for 6 or 8 servings that I start having problems.  So you can imagine my intimidation when I saw this recipe from Specialty Food Magazine.  It was for 24 (8 ounce) portions.  But two things stirred me into action. The first was that I cannot get enough coconut -- or shrimp for that matter.  The second is that summer is always in need of a great new salad recipe.  And after I put together this wonderfully aromatic salad with its sweet shrimp, intense coconut flavor and hints of pistachio and peanut, I knew this was worth the mathematical effort it required. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Cassata Siciliana or Italian Strawberry Shortcake from Julie Richardson

Julie Richardson wrote a cookbook devoted to old-fashioned cakes, the ones you may remember your grandmother cooking or at the very least, bringing home from the local bakery.   “Vintage Cakes” (Ten Speed Press 2012) is filled with gems that are not only nostalgic but are every bit as good today as you remember.   Case in point: The Cassata Siciliana or Italian Strawberry Cheesecake, sometimes called an Italian Cream Cake. 

This recipe has a quite a history.  Some food historians would like to attach it to the period when Sicily was under Arab rule in the 10th century.  They supported their point of view using the Arabic word qas’ah from which “cassata” was believed to have been derived.  It means ‘bowl’ and the logic was that the bowl was used to shape the cake.  It took an Englishman, John Dickie, to figure out that the cake’s name was a derivative of ‘Caseata’ which means “cheese concoction”.  He went on to point out that Casatta didn’t even mean it was a dessert until the late 17th century and didn’t look anything like its current incarnation until the 18th century.  Oh those pesky historians!  Then again, Julie Richardson’s Cassata is nothing like the Sicilian version because this particular recipe hails from Cleveland, Ohio, of all places.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Springtime Spaghetti Carbonara

I got into a peck of trouble for pronouncing Pasta a cold-weather food.  And I have to admit, ‘they’ were right and I was wrong.  Pasta is one of the most adaptable of all foods.  Just think what you can marry it with! Fish, shellfish, beef, veal, pork, cured meats like prosciutto, tomato sauces, cream sauces, vegetables of every description.  And pasta itself, numbering over 50 recognizably different shapes is endlessly variable.  Oh, and another thing: who doesn’t love a great bowl of pasta?  So when I saw a magnificent bowl of spaghetti topped with a sea of green vegetables, I had to make it. Especially when it has Carbonara attached to its name.  This almost instant sauce is a reminder of so many meals in so many trattorias in Rome where it was invented.
Here it is from a book with the following title; “Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet” by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond (Ten Speed Press 2009).  Nothing like setting out to save the planet with a cook book!  But saving the world aside, this combination of fresh spring vegetables, crispy pieces of bacon (the almost part) and the silky, cheese-y carbonara sauce is a complete winner.  And it takes all of about 20 minutes to make including the chopping.  


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Attention Trader Joe's Shoppers! Here's a list of My Ten Best Items in Trader Joe's Now!

I have to admit, I am enamored with Trader Joe’s even if it has its drawbacks.  Among them, those incredible lines out the door on weekends. And their cash register lines are epic.  The store also doesn’t carry everything so it inevitably means shopping two stores to complete a grocery list.  Nevertheless, my affection for the place is intact.  Where else can you find prices so consistently low?  Where do organic vegetables come close to TJ’s prices?  And though I buy as little processed food as possible, there’s a certain comfort in knowing Trader Joe’s goes out of its way to make sure those items are minimally processed. The store never fails to surprise.  Here’s a list of my 10 Best at Trader Joe’s right now.  In no particular order…

Monday, June 5, 2017

Direct from Lyon: White Asparagus with Sauce Gribiche -- Asperges Blancs avec Sauce Gribiche

Lyon, one beautiful city

Three years ago, my friend Kimberly moved to Europe from Montclair, New Jersey. Her husband had been assigned by his American company to run their European division which has its headquarters in the third largest city in France: Lyon.  Kimberly, Peter and their two sons quickly settled into the life of the Ex-pat community there.  It’s a large one because Lyon, a city of 500,000, or 1.2 million if you count the ‘metropolitan area’, is a scientific and manufacturing center, the second largest in France.  Kimberly and I share a twenty-year history.  Much of that time, we traveled together for our jobs in Advertising.   And much of that time, we consumed some very memorable meals. So when an assignment took me to Lyon, I knew Kimberly’s restaurant list would be as good as gold. And even if Kimberly was out of town for the weekend, I'd have plenty of options to choose from before she got back.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Italian Sausage with Fennel, Zucchini and Raisins adapted from Letizia Mattiaci of Alla Madonna del Piatto

Letizia Mattiaci of Alla Madonna del Piatto
Lucky me!  I’ve been traveling most of the month of May.  I’ve done two almost back-to-back river cruises, one on the Rhine from Basel, Switzerland to Amsterdam, Netherlands with stops along the way in France and Germany.  A few days home and I was off to France and the magic of the Rhone and Soane rivers from Arles to Lyon.  You’ll notice that at no point did I spend a moment in Italy.  And as much as I enjoyed every morsel consumed on these two wine and food-centric trips, I just could not wait to get home and cook some Italian food.  Fortunately, my new-found Italian friend, Letizia Mattiaci, must have read my mind. (See my previous post on Letizia here:  In my clogged e-mail box, was a letter from Letizia and a recipe that she says she’s been making a lot this spring. 
Letizia goes on to say that “It’s one of those quick mains which is perfect for a weekday and it will be especially useful later when it’s simply too hot to cook for more than 10 minutes. If you can’t find juicy fennel bulbs, substitute with diced zucchini and a handful of basil leaves instead of fennel fronds.  The vegetables serve as a bed for the braised sausages, ideal for absorbing the herbal aromatics and luscious meat juices”.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lucky Peach Lamb Burgers

I don’t know if you are aware of a quirky food magazine called “Lucky Peach”.  It’s been in existence since 2011.  It was the brainchild of two long-time writers and the Chef, David Chang, of Momofuku fame.  It never toppled the juggernaut of food magazines like Food and Wine, Bon Appetit and Saveur.  Instead it attracted a following among just 30,000 subscribers to its 22 issues.  But it was hardly on its last legs. It gained 20 percent of its print subscribers just last year and its first quarter ad revenues were up 121 percent in 2017. It’s universally believed that the end of print as we know it is nigh, and Lucky Peach could be used as proof.  Their website had 750,000 unique visits in January alone.  But that’s not what happened at Lucky Peach.

Monday, May 22, 2017

On the Amalfi Coast, A Hotel Re-Opens for the Season and its Chef celebrates with a completely new Pasta!

Jaw-dropping luxury.

Between Positano and Amalfi, perched on the edge of a cliff between sky and sea, sits the majestic Monastero Santa Rosa, a 17th century monastery transformed into one of Gulf of Salerno’s 21st century most exclusive hotels.   If you can tear yourself away from the staggering beauty of the view, you’ll find yourself in terraced gardens that culminates in an infinity-edged pool with yet another panoramic view of the sea.  With just 20 rooms, the hotel nonetheless houses a complete spa with treatment rooms, sauna, steamroom, a hydro pool and ‘experience shower as well as a tepidarium. The hotel just opened for its 5th season on April 14th and will welcome guests until November.          
Sfogliatelle Santa Rosa, invented here and still on the menu!
Monastero Santa Rosa was indeed a monastery.  Built in the late 17th century, it was brought to life by a descendent of a local noble family, Sister Rosa Pandolfi.  It was she who renovated the chapel and built the monastery as a convent which opened in 1681.  The sisters of Santa Rosa contributed much to the local community. But they are best remembered for their exquisitely baked desserts.  Their sfogliatelle became known as a “Santa Rosa”.  Sfogliatelle are a shell-shaped cream-filled pastry means ‘small, thin leaf or layer’ because the pastry’s texture looks like a stack of leaves.  Guests at the hotel’s Ristorante del Refettorio will find Sfogliatelle Santa Rosa with Almond Ricotta and Cherry Sorbet.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Latest Article in The Daily Meal: Exploring Bordeaux: An Itinerary for Wine Lovers

Exploring Bordeaux: An Itinerary for Wine Lovers
Every oenophile should visit Bordeaux at least once.
Staff Writer 

Where to go when you're in Bordeaux

Bordeaux, where the vineyards seem to go on forever
Of all the world's great winemaking regions, none surpasses Bordeaux in reputation or in history.  Bordeaux, along with the surrounding prefecture of Gironde, is one of the largest wine growing regions of France.  It's 112,600 hectares of land (over 275,000 acres) produce an average of 700,00 bottles of Bordeaux wine annually.  There are more than 8,500 chateaux producing no less than 54 appellations of Bordeaux wine every year.These wines range from sizeable quantities of everyday table wines to some of the most prestigious and most expensive vintages in the world.While most Bordeaux wines are red, the region is home to some rosé wines, dry whites, the sparkling Crémant de Bordeaux and sweet white wines like the noble Sauternes.  
La Cite de Vin, 10 stories tall and dedicated to Wine
It stands to reason that Bordeaux would hold the world's main Wine Fair, VinExpo.This year, from June 18th to 21st, a staggering 2,350 exhibitors from 42 countries will host 48,500 wine buyers from around the world.  A visit to Bordeaux should be on every oenophile's list.  And not just for  VinExpo.  Just a year ago, La Cité de Vin opened in an immense 10-story building.  The museum is dedicated to the wines of the world. Built at a cost of $91,000,000, La Cité is a Disneyland for wine lovers.  In its first seven months of operation, it welcomed 270,000 visitors. But even those without a passion for the grape will find much to love about Bordeaux.  The city itself is the fifth largest in France and its historic heart has been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as "an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble of the Eighteenth Century.
After Paris, Bordeaux has the highest number of historical buildings of an city in France. But to really get a sense of place, one must delve into the countryside and visit wines at their source. There, within easy driving distance of the city center, youwill ot only learn about wine-making and participate in tastings, you'll also be welcomed into Chateaux that are significant both architecturally and historically. And if you are hesitant to drive, Uber operates in Bordeaux.  A trip to our first destination vineyard was 50 Euros, round-trip.  We've singled out three Chateaux which welcome guests with great style, some of which offer great food to accompany their wines as well.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Orecchiete with Spring Greens in 25 Minutes Start to Finish

The way it works in our house is that I leave the recipe for whatever I am making for dinner sitting conspicuously on the kitchen counter.  It’s the first thing Andrew sees when he gets home and walks into the kitchen.  The only advance warning he ever has is on days when I know I’ll be serving Chicken. This is due to his undying loyalty to a restaurant near his office called “Chirping Chicken”.  This loyalty comes from his having lost a lot of weight by consuming nothing but Chirping Chicken Caesar Salad for lunch for weeks on end.  The weight is gone but the lure of the salad hasn’t. One night last week he did an eye roll when he spotted today’s recipe. It was only after eating this terrific-tasting dish with its Spring Greens and roasted almonds that he admitted his misgivings.  And he did so while telling me that I absolutely had to wax poetic about how good this is for people who might think ‘meh’.   I didn’t change its name. Instead I’m advertising its second virtue: The whole delicious dish takes no more than 15 minutes to make.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

From The Daily Meal..."A Legendary Roman Hotel Celebrates its Restaurant's 10th Anniversary with a Gift to its Guests". And a recipe for its Chef's Risotto with Cacio Cheese, Pepper and Sesame

The Hassler is at the Right Hand Side of the Spanish Steps
At the top of the newly refurbished Spanish Steps in Rome, sits one the Eternal City’s most extraordinary hotels. The Hassler Roma has entertained everyone from Dwight Eisenhower to Grace Kelly and, quite famously, when Audrey Hepburn used it as a home base while shooting “Roman Holiday”.  As noteworthy as the hotel’s guests have been, the Hassler is likely most famous for its rooftop restaurant, the first ever in a Roman Grand hotel.  It’s been called “Rome with a View” but for the last ten years it has been home to Imàgo, a Michelin-starrred restaurant with food as phenomenal as the views it offers of Rome.

To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, the restaurant recently underwent a re-design that updated its furnishings, lighting and added an open-style wine cellar.  The project was the work of Hotel Owner and General Manager Roberto Wirth and his wife, Astrid Schiller Wirth, a noted interior designer. Together with their Executive Chef Francesco Apreda and architect Andrea Marini, they treated the renovation with the attention to detail befitting their role as 5th generation hoteliers.  The Hassler has always been a family affair.