Thursday, October 6, 2016

Ottolenghi's Mixed Mushrooms with Cinnamon and Lemon


         My passion for mushrooms only grows stronger in the fall. And I am always on the lookout for new ways to prepare my favorite fungus.  I was very excited to see a recipe that paired mushrooms I’d never even imagined combining with mushrooms—Cinnamon and Lemon.  Those two ingredients give an intense flavor to the mushrooms.  Even more unusual, the technique for cooking them adds an actual ‘crunchy’ texture to the dish unlike anything I’ve ever had before.   It was a huge hit with my guests when I served it as a side dish.  Considering its creators, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Steak Hache, an homage to Joe Allen’s Chopped Steak

       Our favorite restaurants often share one thing in common.  We go there without ever having to look at the menu.  We know the moment we walk in the door what we are going to order.  There’s the linguine  with clam sauce at West Bank Cafe (407 W. 42nd St., New York, NY 10036 at Ninth AvenueTel: 212 695 6909).  The steak frites at Bistro Cassis (225 Columbus Ave, New York, NY, 10023 Tel: 212 579 3966).  And at Joe Allen (326 West 46th St. New York, NY Tel: 212 581 6464), we inevitably order the Chopped Steak.  This delicious charred-on-the-outside, rare-on-the-inside piece of great American beef is one of my favorite dishes on earth.  And it isn’t even on the menu.  

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lemon Lemon Loaf, a Lemon Pound Cake from “Baked” And a reminiscence about Sara Lee

        There’s something amazingly satisfying about a simple pound cake.  Especially when it’s perfectly made, as were these by Andrew.  The ‘crumb’ of the cake gives it a richness and depth of flavor that’s unlike any other cake.  Infused with lemon flavor and enriched with sour cream, this cake then is glazed with a lemon-y icing.  It’s a delight that we never grow tired of.  And it always brings back memories for me of my Advertising years because, at one time, I worked on the Sara Lee Bakery account and at one time, Sara Lee made a pretty mean pound cake.  That, unfortunately, was before the Butter Police and the accountants got in the way and Sara Lee’s cakes no longer cut it.  You only had to ask Sara Lee herself.  Yes, there was a real Sara Lee.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Tomato, Garlic and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Who can resist tomatoes that look like this?
After I made these golden-seared chicken breasts with their moist center of plump ripe tomatoes, melted cheese and pungent garlic sauce, I wondered if I could call this an original recipe.  But when, exactly, is a recipe an original?  This is a hard question to answer because there don’t seem to be any hard and fast rules. Interestingly, copyright laws don’t give a lot of help here. From what I have read, while most cookbooks are themselves copyrighted, the individual recipes can’t be. The theory is that recipes are in the “public domain”.  This relies on the idea that several people can, at any time, come up with the same thing—ingredients and cooking techniques being pretty well universal. What copywriting a cookbook does is to bar copying every recipe out of that cookbook, in the same order, and then trying to make money out of your purloined manuscript.  But how then do people win Recipe contests?  Aren’t they all variations on something else someone else has done?  That’s factually correct. People who win things like the Pillsbury Bake-Off generally do so by adapting a recipe, changing up its key flavors but keeping the cooking method pretty much one that’s tried and true.  The starting point for this recipe was one in Gourmet but the ingredients differed from the cheese to the tomatoes to the spinach I served with it.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Joanne Chang's Famous Banana Bread

         We were having a house guest we knew started each day with a banana.  So I dutifully brought a bunch of bananas home from the supermarket.  I am not one to strip corn or pull apart bunches of bananas in any grocery store and so I arrived home with 6 bananas that cost all of about 60 cents.  The houseguest stayed only one night and Andrew was quick to point we had a lot of bananas on hand. They slowly browned on the kitchen counter.  Brown bananas are an invitation to make Banana Bread.  And since they were a regular part of tea with my Canadian mother, I knew the bread couldn’t have been all that hard to make since my mother considered any time spent in the kitchen was time away from doing absolutely anything else.  You name it and she would have rather done it than step foot in her kitchen. But she was also a paragon of thrift so no ripe banana would have gone unused. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Meatless Monday Perfected: A Virgin Patty Melt

My Meaty Patty Melt, the recipe is linked here.
         From my very first taste of a Patty Melt, I was hooked.  Cheese-y, Onion-y, Buttery and of course Meaty, the earthy odor of Rye bread rises from the crisp package of ingredients that seem meant for each other. I was smitten at a Friendly’s Restaurant in Rhode Island when I went there for College.  And for years I’ve made pilgrimages to Friendly’s for just that one dish.  A couple of years ago, Friendly’s collapsed and closed all but a few of its restaurants. I almost collapsed with it.  Fortunately, I was able to find a local substitute at a restaurant called Little Estia  (1615 Sag Harbor Turnpike, Sag Harbor NY 11963 Tel:(631) 725-1045.  It’s called a Freddy Melt and while it’s light on the caramelized onions essential to a Patty Melt, it will do in pinch.  And there’s always the option of making one at home…see  My fierce devotion to the Patty Melt drew me to Sam Sifton’s recent Sunday Times Magazine article called “Patty Party”.  There, next to the left of my pride and joy sat a second sandwich, described by Sifton as ‘its modern vegetarian cousin’.  I couldn’t wait to get into the kitchen to try it.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gemelli with Broccolini, Sriracha and Sweet Sausage

         There are times when all I crave for dinner is a big bowl of pasta and the infinite possibilities it presents.  First of all there are the almost unlimited varieties of pasta spanning all shapes and sizes and textures.  From tiny orzo all the way through to sheets of lasagna, your options are wide open.   Equally limitless, there is almost nothing you cannot make into a sauce, as this recipe proves.  It combines the familiar – sweet Italian Sausage, Broccolini, Garlic and Reggiano Parmigiano—with an adventurous use of completely un-Italian Sriracha Hot Sauce and Smoked Paprika.  The result is an intensely flavorful sauce -- not overly spicy just richer and more interesting. These ingredients may be completely out of context with Italian Pasta, but they add a layer of flavor that lifts the dish from everyday to extraordinary. And pasta with Sriracha and Smoked Paprika make for a great guessing game at the dinner table. Ah, the joy of pasta!  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Thomas Keller's Vinaigrette and Two Great Ways to use it: In Mixed Vegetable Salad and a Layered Chicken Salad in a Mason Jar.

Chef Keller in the Vegetable Garden
For years I’ve relied on Julia Child’s “Screw Top Jar” method for making a basic vinaigrette which I’ve enhanced with Dijon mustard and a little Garlic.  It’s a good salad dressing and I like to keep it on hand at all times.  But herein lies the problem. Inevitably I refrigerate the dressing and when I need to serve it, I find it congealed and unusable.  I then put it in the microwave which does swift work to liquefy the dressing.  But it also serves to heat it which means it needs time to cool.  A vicious cycle if there ever was one.  So the minute I saw Thomas Keller’s recipe for his Vinaigrette in Food and Wine Magazine, I was hooked.  

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Best Cookier Ever for the Classic: Andrew bakes Dorie Greenspan's Beurre et Sel Jammers for the Hampton Classic

The Best Cookie Ever for the Classic
The Best Table from #TheBridgehamptonFlorist no matter who won.
           As long-time readers know, the Hampton Classic Horse Show is unofficially the last blast of summer, a big party under huge tents that marks the end of the social season out here.   It’s traditionally one of the biggest celebrity draws of the year.  But this year, there was an unwelcome visitor, Hurricane Hermine.  The $300,000 Grand Prix was quickly re-scheduled for an earlier start.  While the sun
shone brilliantly and the wind was more a welcome breeze, apparently a lot of people “didn’t get the memo”.  A large segment of our summer population left town imagining that if they waited any longer, they’d have a hard slog in the storm.  So Classic standbys like the inimitable Joy Marks, famous for changing outfits mid-show, were nowhere to be found.  Matt Lauer was delivering his son to Boarding School. Mayor Giuliani, who is persona-non-grata out here this season, wisely stayed away.   In fact the only truly bold-faced name we saw was Brooke Shields.  They really missed a lot. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Quick Chicken Kiev from Grace Parisi


Grace Parisi in her Brooklyn NY kitchen
The word “Quick” is a dog whistle when you write a blog like this.  Knowing how time-pressured most people are, when I see it  attached to any recipe, at the very least it requires a look.  And when I saw this recipe was from one of my favorite recipe developers, Grace Parisi, I took a closer one.  I am very glad I did and I think you will be too.  For years, Grace was the life force in the Food and Wine Magazine kitchen and she really knows how to make home cooks heroes—often in very little time.  In this Quick Chicken Kiev, a chicken breast is stuffed with herbal butter.  The breast is rolled in flour and egg and breadcrumbs and fried.   Pulled from the skillet, glorious, crispy, deep golden chicken appears.  Cut into it and a river of butter-y goodness emerges along with the scent of dill and chives.  A lemon-y arugula salad is served alongside. It takes all of 40 minutes to get chicken and salad on the table.  And it is worth every minute.  Grace’s recipe lacked for nothing.  So I had to ask myself what had she done differently from “ordinary” Chicken Kiev to make this one “Quick”?  As it turns out, Grace trimmed an hour off the original recipe and as far as I can see, made a superior Chicken Kiev.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Justin Chapple's Red Potato and Apple Galette

Galettes are a cookie in French Canada
and a Buckwheat Crêpe Breakfast in France...
          One of my favorite posts on Facebook recently was the following: “You can’t expect everyone to love you. You are not pizza”. And neither is this fantastic concoction from Food and Wine’s Justin Chapple, even though Andrew insisted on calling it pizza right up to his first bite.   Instead, its flaky, buttery crust plants it firmly in the Galette family.  The Galettes are French, of course, and they are a large and very welcoming family.   Galettes can be sweet or savory. They can appear as buckwheat crêpes in parts of France and in French Canada there are even cookies called Galettes.  But generally, the term Galette is used to describe a free-form tart made with a flaky pastry crust.  They are not made in tart pans. Instead, their fillings are placed smack in the middle of a sheet of rolled out pastry which is then folded up the keep the filling from running all over the baking sheet.  They don’t require pre-baking or pie weights and, certainly in the case of Justin’s recipe, both pastry and topping become delightfully crisp when baked. 

Friday, August 26, 2016

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Every Fall, I make a point of ‘putting up’ some farm stand produce.  “Putting up” was a phrase used by our grandmothers to describe canning enough vegetables to get their families through the winter. This was long before we were able to import fresh vegetables from anywhere in the world in any season of the year, thereby stocking our grocery stores and supermarkets with the real thing all year round.   But I still feel the urge to can, if not with the same urgency of our forbearers, in the same spirit.  This year, I was drawn to a recipe that, as canning goes, could not be easier.  You simply cut up the object to be canned, add seasoning, put the vegetable and its accompaniments into Mason jars, then pour over a brine, put the tops of the jars back on and voilà!  Into your refrigerator the jars go and 24 hours later, “Pickles”!  No steaming cauldrons of boiling water! And, in the case of this recipe, just a crisp, crunchy dill pickle that is both sweet and sour and far superior to anything supermarket dill pickle.   It is the perfect recipe to make with children because it involves no cooking.  And while you make the pickles, it’s a perfect opportunity to talk about Grandma and how she kept the family in vegetables for the winter.  And all it takes a 6 1-Pint Mason Jars and 9 Kirby Cucumbers.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Salad Days. 3 Ways to Salute Summer this Weekend: Grilled Watermelon with Feta, Balsamic and Mint, Tomato, Peach and Burrata Salad, Ina Garten's Italian Seafood Salad

        I don’t know how we got to the last week of August so quickly. But it’s been a wonderful summer here and every chance we’ve gotten, we’ve enjoyed great salads all made, with few exceptions, with ingredients found within five miles of our house.  The Watermelons have been a particular draw.  Seedless wonders, they’ve made it into salads with tomatoes before.  But for a starter that’s truly unique, we’ve served rounds of grilled watermelon topped with the tang of crumbled, salty Feta cheese and laced with sweet Balsamic vinegar reduced to its essence.  We also discovered the joyous union of field-ripened tomatoes and local peaches.  Onto this paring we’ve added luscious creamy Buratta cheese and once again a drizzle of rich balsamic reduction.  Finally, it is virtually impossible to top Ina Garten's Italian Seafood Salad.  Aside from its mingling of fresh seafood—all of which, except for the shrimp, came from our bays and ocean—this salad is an inspired choice for any host.  You make the whole thing the night or morning before you serve it.  It then chills until lunch or dinnertime.   You’ll only be absent from your party for as long as it takes to retrieve it from the fridge.  “How easy is that?” as Ms. Garten would say.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

David Lebovitz' Summer Frangipane Fruit Tart

        Picture your favorite summer stone fruit—cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines, fresh apricots, pluots*-- sumptuously emerging from a rich almond cream, their colors a promise of their juicy interiors, a perfect summer pleasure in a perfect buttery crust and there you have it: A great dessert for a dinner party.  You can make the pastry crust the day before, refrigerate it and then use it at will.  And the Frangipane can also be made ahead of time.  So with minimal effort, the day of your party you can present your guests with a freshly made tart.   That’s David Lebovitz’ Summer Frangipane Fruit Tart. 

Monday, August 15, 2016

Thomas Keller's Ratatouille

Chef Thomas Keller
         With the farm stands near us barely able to contain the bumper harvest from this glorious sunny summer in the Hamptons, it seems highly appropriate to bring you a great recipe for a vegetable feast.  And what says summer more than this Provençal classic, Ratatouille.  I first published this three years ago and it is so popular, I thought I'd share with you again. So here goes:             
          Thomas Keller, arguably the most influential chef in the country, recently wrote about Ratatouille in the Los Angeles Times.  He wasn’t talking about the 2008 movie of the same name, a fanciful food fable that won the Oscar that year for best Animated Feature.  He was referring to that summer classic that incorporates so many fresh vegetables your kitchen looks like you’ve robbed a farm stand.  What Chef Keller pointed out was how adaptable the dish is.  It starts out as a vegetable stew that’s an incomparable side dish or a vegetarian meal all by itself.
It is quite labor intensive so there’s no point in making a tiny batch of the stuff. Instead Chef Keller encourages making a recipe that yields 16 1 cup portions.  This, he points out, gives you the basis for any number of pasta sauces, a perfect soup base-- even a sandwich spread.  The one thing the dish requires, besides a cornucopia of fresh produce, is time.  The start to finish on the dish is 4 hours.  I’d say that actually errs on the short side. But a lot of that time is spent while the ratatouille sits in the oven reducing the liquid away until you’re left with beautifully tender vegetables in a thick, silken sauce.  So you can sit back and stir occasionally.  All that time is a perfect opportunity to re-view “Ratatouille”, the movie.  If you’re uninitiated to its charms, it’s the story of an ambitious young chef and, yes, a Rat who cook away in a Parisian restaurant.  And what foodie doesn’t want to revisit Paris?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Daily Meal has just published my latest article and recipe....Enjoy this trip to the South of France!

Salade Niçoise is Not What You Might Think It Is
Get your facts straight regarding salade niçoise, direct from the source
Aug 9, 2016 | 10:01 am
Monte Mathews
Staff Writer
We have the scoop on how a Salade Niçoise should really be made.

         Unless you want to get your head taken off by your server, never ask where the cooked potatoes and green beans are when you order the famed salade niçoise in its home city of Nice on France’s Cote D’Azur. Heaven forbid you miss the tuna you may have gotten used to back home too.
         It turns out the salad is a victim of its own success. It’s been amended and altered from its original recipe so that even the sunniest locals frown upon variations of the real thing. And what is the real thing? Salade niçoise doesn’t even appear in the bible of French cuisine, “Larousse Gastronomique.” Instead, it is pictured as “Mediterranean salad.”

Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Double Play from The New York Times: Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes with Red Pepper Dressing and Best Chicken Salad


         Ask me my favorite day of the week and I will say Wednesday. Saturday and Sunday have their charms.  But of weekdays, nothing compares to Wednesday and the arrival of “Food” from The New York Times.   Formerly called “Dining”, the section was renamed in 2014 “to reflect its increasingly broad focus on food and drink, restaurants and home cooking, gastronomic trends and innovation”.   The newspaper went on to say that the newspaper’s most famous food editor of all, Craig Claiborne had named his first report “Food” when he joined the paper in 1957.  Plus ça change… Every Wednesday, I eagerly await its contents, most particularly, its recipes.   What other newspaper has a “Recipe Lab” where recipes are pored over with a food historian’s eye?  Where else can you find a David Tanis, whose City Kitchen is a constant source of new ideas.  Or “In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite” which is the province of one Melissa Clark, whose recipes have made it onto Chewing the Fat an astonishing total of 33 times.   But today, Melissa is absent as her two colleagues, David Tanis and Julia Moskin take center stage.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Anna Pump's Asian-Flavored Beef, Pepper and Spinach Salad

         The Hamptons are chock-a-block full of famous chefs.  There are those who work here--or at least own restaurants here—like Jean-Georges Vongerichten who just arrived this year at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.  There are those who make this place their summer home like Bobby Flay and Marc Murphy. And there are those who have lived here year ‘round and who have spread the gospel of Hamptons food and cooking throughout the country.  Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, immediately comes to mind.  But you might be surprised to know that Ina herself owes a great debt of gratitude to someone she initially hired to work in her original Barefoot Contessa food shop. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Rao's Lemon Chicken My Way, with a hand from Cook's Illustrated

Rao's Original, the toughest table in town.
         One of New York’s most iconic restaurants is almost impossible to get into.  Unless you are a bold-faced name or a local politician or, even better, a family with “connections” to a very specific group of Italian families, your chances of scoring a table there are slim to none.   Rao’s breaks every rule from its location (East Harlem, 455 East 114th Street NYC (Tel: 212-722-6709)) to its size (tiny) to its hours (Monday to Friday only) to its steadfastly sticking to Italian American classics on its menu.   Lately, Rao’s has expanded to Las Vegas and Los Angeles where you’ll find a far bigger welcome at far bigger restaurants than the home office ever provided. 
         High on the list of Rao’s specialties is Roast Lemon Chicken, a chicken lover's dream of crisp-skinned chicken redolent in garlic and lemon and plenty of sauce to soak up in chunks of crusty Italian bread.  For its original recipe, Rao’s cuts two small chickens in half.  They’re quickly cooked under the broiler until they’re golden bronze.  Then a sauce heavy on lemon juice and with olive oil, red wine vinegar and dried oregano is added.  The birds are broiled again and served.  You can find the recipe all over the web.  But what you likely cannot do is to replicate in your home kitchen.

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?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Daniel Boulud's Crab-and-Corn Custard and Corn Salad with Yellow-Tomato Vinaigrette

Chef Daniel Boulud
Here’s to the ladies who lunch!  Between sips of Rosé, they eat delicately practicing both self and portion control.  Take this wonderful take on a late summer riff on farm-stand flavors: Sweet corn, ripe tomatoes and fresh basil are combined with fresh crab meat in a custard with just a hint of heat. To complement the richness of the custard, these same ingredients make their way into a salad. Here the corn, tomatoes and basil make a refreshing contrast.  Served side by side, they make a great entrée at brunch or lunch for our ladies. But don't rule out serving this dish as an appetizer at dinner. The recipes are the work of the great Daniel Boulud who knows a lot about the ladies and everyone else who lunches for that matter.

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?