Monday, January 16, 2017

Fit for a Palace: Green Goddess Dressing

How’s this for a request:  A reader who lives in North Dakota enjoyed our post about Thousand Island Dressing and its origins on the US/Canadian border (See  Anonymously, said reader commented that a restaurant in Mandan, North Dakota had closed, forever locking the secret to their ‘absolutely divine’ version of Green Goddess dressing behind their closed doors. The Captain’s Table version, “W” wrote, was a mayonnaise and sour cream-based concoction. The comment finished “If you could find the original Green Goddess recipe I’d be one happy partially frozen No-Daker." This is the kind of challenge I love to take on.  Although I had to ask myself if, in addition to the lack of Green Goddess Dressing, there was also no Google in North Dakota.  Nevertheless, I learned a lot about Green Goddess’ origins and like so many food stories this one is fascinating.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Ina Garten's Smoked Salmon Pizzas from "Cooking for Jeffrey"


Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, is out with a new cookbook: “Cooking for Jeffrey” (A barefoot contessa cookbook, Clarkson Potter 2016).  It is her tenth cookbook and it’s about as personal as any one she has ever written. After all, the “Jeffrey” in the title is Ina’s husband of 48 years and counting. They married when she was 20 and he was 22.  This book is as much a story of their relationship as anything else.  And of course, it’s a repository of Ina’s distinct style of cooking: simple, straightforward and easy for the most amateur among us to pull off.   There’s an expanded number of cocktails and accompaniments in this volume and an entire 28 pages devoted to bread and cheese and 47 pages of desserts.  And just in case, you think the couple does nothing but nosh, there’s a list of 12 of Jeffrey’s ‘all-time' favorite dinners that cross-references recipes from all nine previous volumes.  Since I like to start at the beginning, the first recipe I tried was nestled into the Cocktail section.  It was for a Smoked Salmon Pizza and Ina didn’t actually invent the recipe herself.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Come along for a Cooking Class at Sea and take home recipes for Lobster Cakes and Coconut Profiteroles! My latest article for The Daily Meal has arrived!


Learn to Cook Like Viking Ocean Cruises’ Chef While on Board
Jan 6, 2017 | 4:54 pm
Staff Writer
Viking Ocean Cruises’ hands-on cooking classes beat the competition, hands down.

A Hands-on Approach is key to Viking Ocean's Cooking Classes. Photo by Monte Mathews

Cruise ships have jumped on the culinary bandwagon in a major way. There’s virtually no  major cruise line that doesn’t offer cooking demonstrations, wine and chocolate tastings, even celebrity chef appearances. But for those of us who want to get our hands dirty, the selection becomes far more limited. The “Big Three” — Carnival, Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean — confine their culinary arts offerings to shore excursions only. Then there are the ships where you can look, but not touch, at demonstration kitchens where cooking “classes” consist solely of watching the pros and, with any luck, sampling their dishes.

On Holland America, Food and Wine Magazine partnered with the cruise line in its Culinary Arts Center. Celebrity cruises paired up with Bravo TV to present “Top Chef at Sea” events on many sailings. Disney, Princess, Seabourn, and Crystal all offer cooking demonstrations among their enrichment activities. Princess, for example, offers “Chef’s Table” at sea as part of the ScholarShip@Sea program. Passengers are invited into the ship’s galley where chefs reveal their favorite recipes. But what none of these lines offer are hands-on opportunities to touch, feel, and work with the ingredients — to actually cook something.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

American Chili Con Carne and Cast Iron Skillet Corn Bread

When our grandson was coming to visit, I decided to make “a big pot of Chili”.  I am waiting for someone to ever say they’re making “a small pot of chili” but never mind.  Now there are a couple of chili recipes on Chewing the Fat that are awfully good.  There’s Monte’s Bourbon Chili… It has a lot of fans. But Bourbon and little boys don’t strike me as a perfect match.  Then there’s Texas Beef Brisket Chili which actually comes with song lyrics begging you not to use beans when you attempt a real Texas chili…  But here again, the last time Mason and I had a conversation about food, I remembered his saying “Me no like spicy”.  He is now 8 and no longer speaks like that but the memory lingered on.  So I thought I’d dig deeper and see what I could dig up.  Almost immediately, I came upon a recipe for “American” Chili Con Carne.  It was from the UK which led me to believe it had likely nowhere near the heat content thought desirable in this country.   And I was certainly right about that.  I was hard-pressed to see how they called it “Chili”.  The Con Carne part tasted as bland as unseasoned chopped meat. I did quite a bit of doctoring to the original recipe.  In my chili, for some variety in texture and deeper beef flavor, I added flank steak cut into strips. I also like big chunks of sweet red pepper in my chili.  It adds another dimension in texture.  I was judicious in using any heat-inducing additions and ended up with a terrific bowl of chili. Mason pronounced it “Not spicy at all, just really good tasting”.  Need I say I was so pleased I thought I’d send it out to you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Chicken Marsala

When I served Chicken Marsala one recent weeknight, Andrew asked if I was working on Italian restaurant classics.  As part of its 150th issue, Saveur magazine had published a collection of 150 Classic Recipes which ran the gamut from Buffalo wings to Middle Eastern Kibbeh, from main courses to sweets and even classic cocktails.   And there in their midst was the recipe for Chicken Marsala, made with delicate chicken cutlets, button mushrooms, shallots, garlic and, arguably, Italy’s most famous fortified wine, Marsala. There’s little question that Andrew and my introduction to the dish was in Italian-American restaurants where, as young boys, we thought ourselves very sophisticated when ordering it.  The truth is, the dish may have given its budding gourmets that impression but it is one of the easiest things you can imagine putting together for dinner.  And it does impress with its pan sauce rich in the flavor of sweet Marsala wine. And while your favorite foodies eat it, you can regale them with the story surrounding the dish.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yankee Pot Roast

As we head into winter, what could be better than a Yankee Pot Roast for dinner one of these weekends.  Slow-cooked over a period of hours, the relatively inexpensive cut of meat used in the dish becomes meltingly tender. The sauce created lends itself to making a great beef-rich gravy.  Add to that an array vegetables--carrots, onions, celery and tomatoes—and you have a deeply satisfying stew that perfumes your house while you cook it.  In other words, an ideal dinner to weather whatever winter hands us in terms of snow and ice.  And as you sit down to a plate of tender meat and silken sauce, you’re paying homage to one of America’s first recipes.  The earliest example of the recipe for the dish appeared in Amelia Simmons “The First American Cookbook which was published in 1796.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Easiest-Ever Sausage and Potato Pan Roast

Who really wants to cook up a storm this week?  This is a week when we’d prefer to take a breather before heading into the weekend’s New Year’s celebration. Sign up for this particular recipe and you’ll be rewarded—not just with time saved—but with a particularly flavorful weeknight dinner with virtually no prep time and all of 30 to 40 minutes in the oven.  It’s also adaptable.  I have made the dish with both sweet and hot Italian sausage. I’ve also experimented with the greens that go with it.  It’s equally good whether you like pepper-y arugula or tender baby spinach.  And I had reasons for this experimentation.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Melissa Clark's Buttery Breakfast Casserole


The Breakfast Casserole is a particularly welcome dish over the holidays. With school out and plenty of days off, breakfast becomes a much bigger deal.  In truth, Melissa Clark’s most recent contribution to this genre is a prefect brunch dish as well.  It gets its name not from its butter content but from the buttery base of golden brown Croissants that are the foundation of this luscious dish.  Almost all breakfast casseroles feature bread of some kind, generally the staler the better.  Stale bread eagerly sops up the egg, milk and cream mixture.  Here, Melissa used fresh Croissants. The croissants are toasted in the oven which achieves the same result as stale bread.   The Gruyère cheese and sausage are a classic pairing and they make for a wonderful surprise in the layers of egg-y, custard-y goodness. This dish would be a stand-out even if it didn’t offer one of its greatest assets: it’s easy to assemble the night before and then it’s popped in the oven an hour before you want to serve it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Pasta with Mushroom Bolognese Sauce

Bucatini works beautifully in this recipe
“I would be hard pressed to tell you whether or not there was meat in this sauce”. That was Andrew’s take once I served him this completely Vegetarian version of Italy’s renowned Bolognese sauce.   I am not sure that’s the response Vegetarians would be thrilled to hear.   But for those of us who like variety in our diet to include meat-free meals, Andrew’s remarks were as good as they get.  This wonderfully flavorful sauce, full of tomatoey goodness, hints of parmesan and baby eggplant is a pasta lovers dream.  For pasta,  I like to use Bucatini, sometimes called Perciatelli, which takes me right back to Rome with every bite.  Bucatini, the spaghetti-like pasta with a tunnel running through it, is particularly popular there.  Once the sauce has been incorporated into the pasta, a cloud of luscious Burata cheese tops the dish adding a creamy-rich dimension.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Best Christmas Cookie Ever! Dorie Greenspan's Beurre et Sel Jammers and a review of "Dorie's Cookies"

Not too long ago, I suggested that if you made only one baked good this season, it should be the over-the-top delicious Apple Pie Bar found at  “Not so fast,” the Baker in our house protested. “If ever there was a cookie to be baked this season, Dorie Greenspan’s Beurre et Sel Jammers should be the one.”  I am not one to argue.  I’d given Andrew Ms. Greenspan’s latest cookbook “Dorie’s Cookies” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016) for his birthday.   But he’d already made her remarkable Beurre et Sel Jammers which we published in our story about this year’s Hampton Classic Horse Show.  We both decided that this was well worth repeating and also a great opportunity to tell you about Dorie’s latest book.

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Daily Meal has just published my latest Viking Ocean Cruises article! And here it is!


On Viking Ocean Cruises, Mamsen’s Deli Serves Mum's Recipes on Mum's China

Staff Writer
For Viking CEO Torstein Hagen, perfection is in the details

Torstein Hagen, chairman and CEO of Viking River Cruises, with 61 vessels and counting, is building on its success with the introduction of Viking Ocean Cruises A fleet that will soon consist of six identical ships, the first two, Viking Star and Viking Sea, have already garnered awards that put them at the top of the premium cruise segment. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

If you bake nothing else this season, bake these: Apple Pie Bars

As you may imagine, Andrew goes all out every Holiday season with baked goods that are not only extraordinarily good, they cover all kinds of desserts. For Thanksgiving just past, he made Apple Pie Bars, two pies, Blueberry and Chocolate Cream, and a Ginger Spice Cake. (He also whipped up about 48 gougères on Thanksgiving morning.) But it was the Apple Pie Bars that got everyone’s attention.  Here is something as American as...Apple Pie.  There’s a walnut studded oatmeal streusel-like topping that covers a Granny Smith filling atop a crisp buttery shortbread crust.  It’s an American Classic made into individual squares of apple goodness that just beg for a scoop of ice cream…although I caught our children and grandchild unable to resist this treat long enough to get out the ice cream scoop.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Ultimate Inexpensive Dinner Party Dish: Sheet Pan Lemon Chicken with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Martha Stewart: Sheet Pan Expert
For some time I’ve been intrigued by the concept of the Sheet Pan dinner. Basically all the ingredients—protein, vegetables, herbs and spices--are cooked on one large sheet pan.  Martha Stewart seems to be an expert in this regard.  She frequently posts all kinds of options. There seems to be no end to what ingredients she’s managed to load onto one of these workhorse’s of the kitchen.  From Fish to Pork to Rib Eye, there’s no stopping Martha.   So I decided to cook one myself.  I adapted a recipe of mine for Lemon Chicken.  I added fingerling potatoes to the mix so in the end all I had to add to dinner were some sautéed green beans.   What I discovered was one of the best and most economical ways to entertain ever.  I honestly don’t think this dinner cost more $30.  And we fed 14 people with it and there were leftovers!  This is ideal for people on a budget, for recent grads who are neophytes in the kitchen and for people who just want to have a lot or people over without breaking the bank this holiday season. It all comes together in an hour and fifteen minutes.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Fennel-Crusted Pork Chops with Shallots and Fingerling Potatoes


The One-Skillet Dinner is a favorite of whoever draws kitchen clean-up.  And whoever is doing the cooking isn’t unhappy about it either.  Every ingredient that goes into the one pot flavors all the others.  Here we have a simple bone-in Pork Chop, a blank canvas of ‘the other white meat’.   Anise-flavored fennel, some smoky Spanish paprika and garlic come together in a quick 30-minute marinade for the pork.  As it cooks, the pork releases some of its juices and, along with the fennel crust, gives great flavor to both the Shallots and Fingerling Potatoes that are added to the pot .  When you serve the dish, all the flavors meld together and your simple pork chop has become a taste that was altogether new to us.   It’s a perfect thing to serve in the run-up to Christmas when time is at a minimum.  And one of its featured elements, fennel, is one of the most nutritious things you can eat.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Cornbread and Sausage Dressing

A. O Scott
In this month's Food and Wine, A.O. Scott, who normally writes movie reviews for The New York Times, took it upon himself to cast a critical eye at Thanksgiving.  The man's premise is that the Thanksgiving table is a breeding ground for good manners, "also known as lying".  Specifically, in his family the lies revolved around his Grandfather's Oyster Stuffing.  Apparently this particular stuffing set the standard for particularly dreadful. "A quivering pale mass on the edge of my plate", is how he describes it.  Then one Thanksgiving, his grandfather, who was actually quite a good home cook, showed up with homemade Cornbread Stuffing made to include his own homemade sausages.   Needless to say, it was greeted with great whoops of pleasure, quickly stifled because to love Grandpa's Cornbread Stuffing was to not love his Oyster version. Mr. Scott's story had a certain resonance in our house.   Many years ago, Andrew had brought to the table his Mother's recipe for Cornbread Dressing.  His mother’s Cornbread recipe was the standard that all others had to live up to. And it was delicious, an old southern family favorite from her native Alabama. However when I came on the scene, I insisted on the addition of sausage because that was always in our family version. So we ended up with a blended version. But it still lacked something.  Color for instance.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Steak Tostadas with Cashew Salsa and Red Cabbage Slaw


Taco Tuesday could easily be replaced by these Tostadas, which still keep a South of the Border flavor but add a crunch and cashews to the mix.  It’s from Bon Appetit and it makes a great weeknight change-up.  The tostada is a great discovery.  Easy to make, they take a corn tortilla and a little vegetable oil and crisp up in about a minute. The end result is a perfect ‘plate’ to load with flavor. A red cabbage slaw with scallions tops the tostada and then comes slices of steak.  I’ve used Hanger steak and New York strip both of which came through with great beef flavor.  More slaw is added then more steak and finally the whole thing is drizzled with the Cashew Salsa.  Bon Appetit labelled the Salsa ‘Cashew’ however considerably more red Fresno chiles go into the garlic and cider vinegar base.  Perhaps Fresnos, being one of the hotter of peppers, would scare people off but the cook is in control here.  You can make this as spicy or not as you wish.  This is a perfect way to take off for Mexico any night of the week.  And you may find that once you cook tostados, there’s no end to what you can top them with. First, what exactly is a tostada?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Parmesan Crusted Rack of Lamb

Of all the things that you can rely on when you want to make dinner special, the rack of Lamb should be high on your list.  It’s astonishingly easy to cook and requires very little effort.  That’s especially true with this method of cooking from the New York Times Cookbook.  Basically, you sear the lamb in a cast iron skillet, slather the rack with mustard and top it with an aromatic and flavorful herb and parmesan breadcrumb mixture.  Into the oven it goes where it cooks for about 20 to 25 minutes and emerges as a perfect dinner party dish even if that dinner party is only for two.