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.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fettucine with Asparagus, Peas and Alaskan Smoked Salmon

Florence Fabricant
I started out with a recipe for this dish from Florence Fabricant of the New York Times.  Ms. Fabricant, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting, is a food and wine writer who contributes to the Times weekly with her columns “Front Burner” and “Off the Menu”.  She also partners with Eric Asimov on his monthly wine reviews.  And that’s where I saw her recipe.  It was first published in 1988 but was recently revived and for good reason. It is a lushly flavored combination of beautiful green vegetables and pink smoked salmon in a shallot-scented cream sauce.  And it is incredibly easy to make in all of about 20 minutes.  The cooking time is greatly helped by the use of fresh spinach fettucine noodles which cook in all of 3 minutes.  The first time I made it, I followed the ingredient list to a T.  The result was excellent. But I couldn’t help thinking how I could incorporate two elements that I believe brought the dish to another level.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Spring Chicken Pot Pie

If you think a Pot Pie is more of a winter offering, think again.  This one has Spring written all over it.  It’s filled with fresh Spring vegetables and there’s no heavy cream sauce. The recipe relies on a simple Chicken Stock sauce that is full of the flavor of all the ingredients because they are cooked in it. And if that isn’t lure enough, it uses one skillet to cook absolutely everything from start to finish. And I didn’t even have to cook the chicken since I used a Costco bird.  The pastry is store-bought puff pastry and the whole thing takes about an hour to make. With all that convenience added to the recipe, it’s hard to believe the pot pie has an ancient history.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Pork Belly Carnitas for Cinco de Mayo Or The Best Damned Pork Ever

Cinco de Mayo, that most American of all Mexican Holidays, has been the subject of an annual post since Chewing the Fat began. In fact, one of the recipes I posted for Cinco de Mayo remains one of the most popular of the entire 747 posts we’ve published. It’s been viewed by over 15,000 people  In addition to this wildly popular recipe, there’s a nice side of the history of the Cinco celebration.  This year’s brush with history takes us to Morelia, in the Mexican state of
Morelia, Michoacán
Michoacán which is where the Carnita was invented.   Carnitas literally means ‘little meats’.  Traditionally they are made by simmering meat of a long period of time in oil or, preferably, lard. After three to four hours, the meat is tender, juicy and full of the flavor of any number of herbs and spices. Salt, chili, cumin, oregano, marjoram, thyme, bay leaves and crushed garlic cloves may be added. Once the meat is tender, the heat is turned up and the pork begins to crisp. Once crisped, it’s pulled apart by hand or fork and served in tamales, tacos, tortas and burritos.  And how do these carnitas taste?  Just about out of this world.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Lamb Meatballs with Red Pepper and Chickpea Sauce from Nancy Silverton of Campanile in Los Angeles

Campanile in Chaplin's Day
I used to spend a lot of time in Los Angeles, sometimes for weeks on end. As an Advertising Agency creative, I was there making TV commercials for everything from Coca Cola to Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.  Inevitably, we had clients along for the ride.  It seemed to be their birthright to be wined and dined daily and so I spent a great deal of time in a lot of great Los Angeles restaurants.  On somebody else’s dollar.  I was fond of a lot of places. High on my list was Campanile.  The building it was in looked for all the world like it belonged somewhere in Italy, certainly not on South La Brea Avenue.  But
Campanile when Peel and Silverton took over
it was pure Hollywood.  Charlie Chaplin built the place as an office complex for himself in 1929.  He never occupied it.  Instead, one of his many wives, Lita Grey, who at aged 19 had been married to Chaplin for 3 years and produced two children, was given the property in her divorce settlement. But its real fame came far later when Chef Mark Peel and his then-wife, Nancy Silverton, opened Campanile to great acclaim in 1989.  The restaurant is credited with setting the tone for much of Los Angeles dining in the 1990s.  It used farmer’s market ingredients and produced gorgeous food.  So I when I came across today’s recipe and saw Nancy Silverton’s name attached to it, I was intrigued.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Gulf Coast Crab Cakes with Lemon Butter

Some dishes are so associated with a single ingredient in my mind that when I come across a recipe without that ingredient, it’s almost a red flag.  So it was when I happened across this recipe for Gulf Coast Crab Cakes. In this case, it was the complete absence of Old Bay Seasoning that threw me for a loop.   I cannot remember a time I made a crab cake absent this 77 year old seasoning mix of mustard, paprika, celery salt, bay leaf, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, mace, cloves, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom and ginger.   Old Bay was invented by a German immigrant named Gustav Brunn.  Before the Second World War, crabs were in such high supply that they were offered free at bars in Baltimore.  Salty seasonings like Old Bay created a thirst which built bar businesses. The Crab Cake itself is far older than Old Bay. In fact, it’s a lot older than I ever imagined.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Baked Rice with Chicken and Mushrooms from David Tanis in the New York Times

They line up down the block the Halal Guys Chicken and Rice
Chicken and Rice in one form or another may be one the world’s most ubiquitous foods.  You can find it in many guises. Claypot Chicken Rice is popular from Southern China to Singapore and Malaysia.  The latter two countries join Thailand in loving Hainanese Chicken Rice from Hainan Province in China. On to India where Chicken Biryani rules the roost. In Central Brazil, Galinhada is topped with hard-cooked eggs.  All over Latin America, Arroz con Pollo is a beloved staple.  And closer to home, The Halal Guys, which started as a food cart in midtown Manhattan, has franchises that are opening coast to coast and in Canada.  Maybe it has something to do with its nickname, “Chicken and Rice”.  We do know it has the longest food cart line is the city.  Aside from its universality, what’s the appeal of the dish?

Monday, April 17, 2017

It's National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month! Here's how to celebrate it with America's Best Goat Cheese.

Photo Credit: BiRite Catering
            If this post looks familiar to some of you, it's because it was published last Tuesday, National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, at The Daily  Since they edited it and didn't include the recipes, I thought I'd send you the complete article, along with 3 recipes for 3 great sandwiches. So here goes:

Photo Credit: Laura Chenel
Goat Cheese doesn’t naturally spring to mind when you think of that good old American Grilled Cheese Sandwich.  That’s a shame because Goat Cheese has much to recommend it.  It’s far healthier than cow’s milk cheeses because it has 30 to 40 percent fewer calories and fat. And it has considerably more vitamins and minerals -- 13 percent more calcium alone. To cap it all off, Goat Cheese has less lactose and it’s Gluten-Free. But all of this ignores how versatile and varied Goat Cheese has become. And no American producer is more responsible for that than Laura Chenel.