HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Review of Parm Restaurant on the Upper West Side and a recipe for an Italian American Classic: Sausage and Peppers



The Original Parm at 248 Mulberry St. NYC
        Italian cooking is such an ingrained part of the American diet that dishes like Pizza and Spaghetti and Meatballs are barely labelled Italian anymore.  They’re just good old American staples at this point. But as Lasagna and Eggplant Parmesan and Polenta and Baked Ziti are now about as exotic as a hot dog, some Italian dishes seem to have been left by the wayside.  In New York, three young partners, Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick, have made a career out of  “Red Sauce” Italian Restaurants.  Out of the 5 restaurants their Major Food Group has opened four are full-on Italian American where they’ve made their reputation with items like Chicken and Eggplant Parmesan.  But at their latest offering and uptown branch of their first Parm, Parm at 235 Columbus Ave. (70th -71st Street Tel: 212 776-4921), there’s one item that is conspicuously missing. That is, of course, the subject of today’s post: Sausage and Peppers. But before we get to that, a brief review of Parm on the Upper West Side.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Marcus Samuelsson 'makes' a Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwich in St. Barthelemy, French West Indies


        
Marcus's sisters, Marcus and their Mother.
Marcus Samuelson is the Ethiopian-born chef who was adopted by his Swedish parents, Lennart and Anne Marie, in 1972 at age 2. He was orphaned when his mother died in a tuberculosis epidemic, leaving Marcus and his sister, also adopted by the Samuelssons, alone in a hospital in Addis Ababa. Marcus went to live with his new parents in Göteborg (Gothenburg).  However, it was not his mother who inspired the man to become the extraordinary chef Marcus has become. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

10 Fresh St. Barth Discoveries for 2015


         We’re back!  And brimming with news about our latest foray to that Caribbean Island unlike any other…St. Barthelemy FWI.  You would imagine that this, our 25th trip to the island, would be fairly routine at this point.  And we do confess that one of the allures of going anywhere 25 times is that your vacation starts the minute you alight from that harrowing flight from St. Maarten.  You just know the place like the back of your hand.  And within 48 hours you don’t remember exactly how long you’ve been there.   But starting with that flight, we had ‘news’ every day of our trip.   And here it is, our discoveries for 2015:

     
1. We discovered a new Airline.  And what a treat that was!  For years, I’ve seen a lot of high profile people being scooped up and away from the endless Winair lines to waiting blue and yellow planes emblazoned with the words: St. Barth Commuter.  Our friends John and Mary turned us on to flying with them and we’re so glad they did.  For one thing their fares are much lower.  So much so that pretty much our entire grocery bill was covered by those savings alone.  And their planes?  If you’ve had the vague feeling that your plane is being held together with paper clips, you’ll be astonished to find leather seats and a working air conditioning system.  I also give full marks to our pilot who executed the softest landing I’ve ever experienced going into Gustav III airport. www.stbarthcommuter.com
           
2. We use a different Rental Car Company.  Ever since we discovered Oscar Car Rental, we’ve been big fans.  This year we were excited to find they now have Mini Coopers.  I should tell you that there is probably the world’s greatest concentration of Minis on St. Barth than anywhere else on earth.  They are everywhere!  So what separates Oscar’s Minis from the mob? Oscar’s come with a parking spot in downtown Gustavia.  This may not seem like a very big deal to you.  But on your fourth swing through town trying to park, you may change your tune. Or at very least your car rental company.  Oscar picks up and delivers at the airport with flawless service.  Tell Philippe, Monte and Andrew sent you. www.oscar-car-rental-stbarth.com/en

3. We finally found out the name of the place we call the Costco of St. Barth.  We’ve gone to the oddly named “Global Distribution” for years.  I love the manager, who went to Art School in Montreal, of all places.  This warehouse of a store is on the route out of L’Orient down from The Ligne St. Barth spa and the Normandie Hotel.  It is the very best place to buy bottled water in quantity, soft drinks of every persuasion and spirits. You can save a small fortune on these ‘necessities’. 

4. We discovered a great new chef.  Arnaud Davin started cooking at The Hotel Christopher last fall.  The French-born chef who trained at Michelin-starred restaurants before a flourishing career in France, arrived on the island after stints in Bora Bora, at the illustrious La Samanna Resort on St. Martin and at Fregate Island Private in the Seychelles.   The man is a genius in interpreting classic French cuisine with island flavors and favorites. The three course dinner we enjoyed at Taino, the resort’s formal restaurant was enhanced by no less than three additions. An amuse bouche of carrot soup topped with chestnut purée and hazelnuts was one of the best things I ate the whole trip.  A palate cleanser of lime sorbet was also served and finally a miniature cream puff and spoons full of creme brulée arrived with the check. 

5. We were bowled over by a complete makeover.  On the road to Salines, Le Tamerin stood for years in what looked for all the world like a Quonset Hut.   Closed for the last couple of seasons, the place gets all the island buzz because it’s back with a bang. A young couple named Julie and Paco Chanseau completely redesigned the whole place.  It is an amazing tropical garden with lily ponds all surrounding the legendary Tamarind tree.  It’s pure magic at night and a lush oasis during the day.  The place is open for lunch, dinner and snacks.  Since it’s just down the road from everybody’s favorite Salines Beach, it’s a perfect stopping off place either on the way to or coming home from the beach.  The food and service were tops in our books. 
Tel:05 90 27 72 12

6. We thought the French may have topped the Italians.  The pizza at L’Isoletta (Tel: 05 90 52 02 02) keeps getting better and better to the point where I wondered if the French had beaten the Italians at their own game.  However, the pizza makers at this restaurant on the Rue du Roi Oscar II ( the upper road out of town) are a family of Italians who also own the highly praised L’Isola at the other end of the street.  The pizzas are made fresh all day, there’s a lovely terrace surrounding the place and it’s a great place to see locals enjoying themselves.  They bring their whole families because what kid doesn’t love Pizza?
      
7. We ate in one night for the first time ever and loved it. We generally eat out every night we’re in St. Barth.  We love to try a wide range of restaurants of every price point. (We do write the Restaurant article for the www.wimco.com Vendome Guide so we consider it research.)  But one night, wanting to give our readers suggestions for their dinners in, we stayed home and stayed out of the kitchen.  That day we’d headed to the BIO Market in St. Jean where we found ‘poulet dans le parking’…that is to say barbecued chicken being grilled outside the market in one corner of the parking lot.   There was also excellent sausage, nice looking slabs of ribs and Caribbean lobster on offer.  Since the grill at Bio only operates on weekends, during the week, pick up a rotisserie chicken at Marche U.  They’re right inside the front door on the left side.  But get there soon after their 8 o’clock opening or your chicken will have flown the coop.

8. We found the simplest, most delicious chicken sandwich ever.  La Petite Colombe with its three locations-- Colombier, L’Orient and Gustavia-- sell a chicken sandwich to die for.   It’s odd too because all it is is a quarter inch thick piece of tender breast meat put inside a poppyseed baguette that’s been slathered with Dijon Mayonaisse, that particularly French take on Mayo and mustard. That’s all!  And it’s all yours for 5 Euros. 
   
9. We went back to Bonito and found it only gets better year after year.  With apologies to all the other wonderful places we ate (and we didn’t have a single bad meal-- just some that were better than others), Bonito is our hands-down favorite restaurant on the island.   It’s the one with the best view, hanging as it does over the harbor in Gustavia.  It’s the one with a menu that starts with Peruvian ‘teraditos’—sushi with a South American twist--and ends with desserts worthy of the gods.  It’s packed with pretty people and a glorious waitstaff, all of whom cannot do enough for you.  The “Directeur de Salle”, (that would be maître d’ anywhere else) Nicolas Gicquel always remembers our name.  Email for reservations at bonito@ilovebonito.com. 

10. We were delighted to see that the trend of offering more and more vegetables continues to grow.  Lord knows we love our sauccisons, our paté de campagne and our Brie (which is now less expensive than in New York (!) thanks to the plummeting Euro), but it is so great to see the volume of vegetables in the Supermarket and on the plates in restaurants.  In fact, the salads at Cote Port (Tel: 05 90 87 79 54) are so large they really should be shared.  Even the aptly named Meat and Potatoes (Tel: o5 90 51 15 98) lets you choose from among 8 vegetable offerings and has no less than 3 vegetarian plates on offer. 

That’s all for now….but we’ll be back with two great St. Barth recipe discoveries in two post to follow.  Be sure to subscribe to Chewing the Fat so you don’t miss one of them.  The Subscribe button is at the top of this post on left hand side.








Monday, March 16, 2015

Bangers, Mash and Red Onion Gravy..no better way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day

  
        
The Germans make 1200 kinds of sausages from bratwurst to weisswurst. But in New York, you’d swear that there are only two kinds of pork sausages: Hot Italian and Sweet Italian.  The only other pork sausages you can reliably find are breakfast sausages and even then, they never measure up to the flavor of the genuine Irish or English article.  These sausages are called “bangers” because in World War II their pork count went down while their water content rose so when they hit a hot pan, they exploded.  And who can ever forget Peter Sellers with his singing partner, none other than Sophia Loren, belting out “Bangers and Mash”.  She sang “No wonder you’re so bony Joe, and skinny as a rake” to which he sang back “Well then, give us a bash at the bangers and mash me mother used to make.”  You don’t remember that one?  Well neither do I.  But I do have amazing food memories of the taste of Bangers, Mash and Onion Gravy.  To rekindle those memories, I used to have to travel downtown 30 blocks to Esposito Pork Shop or even further downtown to Meyers of Keswick, the tiny British Grocery in the Village. There I can reliably find glorious pork sausages seasoned with just a little sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper. But what did I spy at Trader Joe's but these:  Irish Bangers!  They're just there for the season and quite a bargain at 4.49!  Armed with these, I’m able to bring my Bangers, Mash and Onion Gravy together and in the nick of time for St. Patrick’s Day. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ina Garten's Coquilles St. Jacques from "Make It Ahead"

        

I am a huge fan of Ina Garten or as a friend of mine once said “What’s not to like?”  Ina makes great food accessible to even the most amateur cook.  This may be because Ina herself is a completely self-taught home cook.  She knows her audience.   Her recipes are timeless and her selection of them inspired and inspiring.  Her latest cookbook “Make it Ahead” (Clarkson Potter 2014) is her ninth.  The book is exactly what the title hints at.  All of its recipes can be put together hours before dinner guests arrive to relieve the host or hostess of having to do anything more than put food in the oven and take it out.  Ina points out that there are plenty of foods that benefit from ‘aging’ in the refrigerator so that the flavors mix and meld. The recipe I want to share with you today is a prime example.   It’s Ina’s take on this classic of French cooking.  Scallops in a creamy sauce with just a hit of curry are cooked under a crust of bread crumbs and cheese.  Served in individual gratin dishes with a simple green salad and a glass of white wine make a perfect meal for company or just someone you love.   And as much as I love Ina, I love a good food story and this is one of the best.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Spicy Chicken with Cashews from Bee Yin Low's Rasa Malaysia



        
Rasa Malaysia is the website presided over by Bee Yinn Low, a highly enterprising Californian woman who has 800 Pan Asian recipes at  www.rasamalaysia.com.  She is also quite the baker so you’ll also find a surprising number of recipes for all-American baked goods like Zucchini bread.  I would be thrilled to have the kind of following she does: 2,000,000 ‘fans’ on social media alone!  I love the ease of Asian stir-fries and their flavors.  I am obviously not alone, given the growing number of  Asian ingredients in my local markets.  I don’t even have to go near Chinatown to find what I need for this recipe and you should not have trouble finding what you need.  Bee Yinn Low has Americanized her recipes so that a walk down the Asian aisle almost always yields the ingredients needed to prepare one of her dishes.  Today’s recipe is a simple Chicken stir-fry that you can get on the table in under 30 minutes…actually Bee clocks it in at 20 minutes.  I’m giving extra time for chopping, mincing and dicing.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Short Rib Pot Pie adapted from Bon Appetit


         Who doesn’t love a great pot pie?  Meat and vegetables and gravy under a blanket of pastry, these pies are American Classics.  But they go back in culinary history considerably longer. In the Roman Empire, the pastry was banquet fare.  Sometimes the crust revealed live birds, which must have been quite a shock to unsuspecting guests.   In 16th century England meat pies became all the rage.  The English ate meat pies of all sorts – pork, lamb, game and they were especially fond of using venison. And, like the Romans, English cooks loved their birds.  In Elizabethan time, pot pies were made using ‘chicken peepers’: tiny chicks were stuffed with gooseberries.  And then of course there’s the nursery rhyme:

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pistachio and White Chocolate Cheesecake from "Baked Occasions" by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito


       
Solomon and The Queen of Sheba
as painted by Piero della Francesca
Nobody seems to know why, but February 26th is World Pistachio Day.  The day even has its own website: www.worldpistachioday.com
And, as the site points out, it’s hard to believe that until 1976 pistachios weren't even grown in this country.  The nut had been imported since the 1800s. It was slow-growing in popularity until a man named James W. Parkinson of Philadelphia invented Pistachio Ice Cream at which point Pistachios took off.  Now, California alone produces 300 million pounds of Pistachios annually.  The pistachio itself is an ancient nut, one of only two nuts referenced in the bible.  The second?  The almond.   The Queen of Sheba was said to be so mad for pistachios that she ordered that her country’s entire crop be set aside just for her.   Was it greed or just good sense?  Pistachios are highly nutritious and have a very long storage life. That makes them a perfect food for travellers like the Queen who ventured from her home in what is now Yemen to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon. From the Middle East, they were introduced to Rome in the 1st Century AD.  Their popularity truly is worldwide.  China consumes almost twice as many pistachios as are eaten in the US.  But we’re hardly pikers: 45,000 tons of pistachios were eaten here last year.  So let’s celebrate this remarkable nut, whose trees can bear fruit for up to 200 years.  Let’s bake a rich, decadent cheesecake studded with pistachios over a chocolate graham crust to celebrate World Pistachio Day.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rick Bayless' Authentic Pork Tinga

Photo Courtesy of Food and Wine Magazine




Do you have recipes that sit there tempting you but that look too winter-y when you discover them on the first warm day of Spring?  That’s what happened to me with Rick Bayless’ flawless recipe for Pork Tinga.  But the other day, I was going to be farther over on the West Side than usual and decided to make a pilgrimage to Esposito Pork Shop to get what I needed to make the dish, a perfect antidote to cold weather. It is warming, rich and almost chili-like.   Tiny potatoes give the dish a lot of body.  Chorizo sausage gives an amazing depth of flavor. And of course, there are the tomatoes and chipotle peppers enlivening the sauce. Served with flour tortillas, it can be used to stuff them with tinga and cheese and avocado. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Floyd Cardoz' Indian-Spiced Tomato and Egg Casserole

         
Chef Floyd Cardoz and one of his dishes from
his latest restaurant, White Street
As many of you know,  New York's winter has been not as unforgiving as the one Boston is suffering through.  But it is incredibly cold here and not expected to get much warmer anytime soon.  Times like these, I look for comfort food that will warm the body and bring a sense of well-being with it.  My thoughts turned to Indian food recently with its rich spices all of which bring a lively heat to their dishes.  The irony of India being a source of cold-weather cooking is not lost on me.  India ranks the 8 hottest country in the world, beaten out by much of the Arabian peninsula and North Africa. (Libya comes in at #1.)  But what is also true is that eating spicy foods raises your internal temperature. Your blood circulation increases, you may start actually sweating.  The effect of this in summer is that sweat, which usually starts on your face, evaporates and in doing so, cools you down.  In winter, the idea of raising one’s internal temperature certainly has its appeal.  So I turned to Floyd Cardoz, one of New York’s most celebrated Indian chefs for a recipe that I served at brunch but would make a wonderful “Breakfast for Dinner”.  It’s meatless, gluten-free, vegetarian and stunningly warming and delicious. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

French Onion Soup in a Flash!

        
King Louis XV 
Who doesn’t love a bowl of French Onion Soup?Topped with melted Gruyère cheese over crusty bread, your spoon digs into the bowl to get to the rich beef and onion broth.  It’s a classic recipe that became wildly popular in this country in the 1960s when interest in French cooking really took off.  Its history goes back a very long time before that.  Onion soups have their roots in Roman times because onions were plentiful, easy to grow and cheap.  For those reasons, they were seen as food for the poor.  In 18th century France, the modern version came into being.  There’s a legend that the first French Onion soup was created for King Louis XV. The story goes that upon arrival at his hunting party’s lodge, all that was in the larder was butter, onions and champagne.  It seems unlikely that anyone preparing for the King’s arrival would have not stocked the pantry to the hilt but it makes a good story.  But there’s another one that’s even better. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Five Biggest Food Trends for 2015 plus Fine Cooking's Rigatoni with Roasted Cauliflower, Currants and Pine Nuts


         Food Trends are an annual pursuit for everyone from Bon Appetit to the BBC.  The list that intrigued me most, however, came from Pinterest, the on-line picture sharing site where anyone, anywhere can post any image at all that interests them.  “Food” makes up for just over 10 percent of what’s pinned lagging behind Home Décor, Arts and Crafts and Fashion and Style.  (I was surprised that Cat pictures didn’t even make the top 10.) Pinterest developed their list of food trends simply by tallying up the most popular pins on its site. This sounds like a flawless way to zero in on what people are actually eating rather than the predictions of someone who is locked in the towers of Conde Nast or Broadcast House.  Pinterest narrowed its list down to five. And here they are:
1. Ramen, long a college dorm room staple, have risen in restaurant popularity to the point that Pinterest thinks they are poised to enter the home kitchen this year.




2. Hack the Menu.  This involves discovering ‘secret’ non-menu items that can be ordered at restaurants, coffee shops and fast food restaurants thereby assuring your dinner mates that you are a master or mistress of privileged information.  California’s In-N-Out Burger alone is responsible for 17 of these.

    3.  The Paleo diet mimic foods eaten by early humans –meat, fish, vegetables and fruits.  No dairy, no grains and certainly no processed food.  But hold onto your toque, Carbs are about to enter the picture with recipes like Paleo Waffles.  Although what the early humans did for a waffle iron is not explained.
       
4.Tequila is the new Vodka.  And 80 is the new 60…just kidding.

     





5.  Cauliflower is the new Kale.  Andrew greeted this last one with great joy having somehow missed last year’s boat when Kale was the new bacon.  According to Pinterest, Cauliflower isn’t just a side dish anymore.  It’s now a center of the plate item. There’s even a recipe for pizza crust that uses cauliflower and wouldn’t you know it’s gluten-free!

So there you have them.  A long way round to bring you to today’s remarkable Cauliflower recipe.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

12 Best Meatball Recipes of All Time


    
         New York loves its meatballs.  There are now no less than 6 Meatball Shops alone and on the Upper West Side, if you can’t get into the one there, Nicky Meatball’s “Polpette” (that’s meatball in Italian) is a couple doors away.  The meatball exists in some form or other in virtually every cuisine in the world.  They’re made of every conceivable protein from chicken to buffalo and there are a sizeable number of recipes with no meat in the balls at all.  Instead they’re made of mushrooms or walnuts or even just bread.  In the last five years, meatballs have been a staple on Chewing the Fat.  I’ve made Vietnamese Meatballs, Moroccan Meatballs, Sicillian Meatballs. I’ve made them into Stroganoff and into Soup.  And their appeal has never waned.  They’re among the most popular posts on the blog. So I thought it would be fun to collect links to our 12 Best!  Which one will you try first?  In ascending order, here goes:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Anthony Bourdain's (Cream of) Mushroom Soup


 
      
         Anthony Bourdain is an astonishingly good food writer, right up there with MLK Fisher in my book.  Before he became a familiar figure on Television and the star of his former show “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and “The Layover” and his current one on CNN “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”, he authored a book called “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” (Bloomsbury Books 2000).  It’s a wonder he wasn’t completely ostracized by the culinary community because the book exposed all kinds of dirty little secrets of the restaurant trade.  The book was an outgrowth of an article he wrote in The New Yorker entitled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This”.  He’s been churning out articles, essays and books ever since. He wasn’t always a writer. He was first and foremost a cook. For years Bourdain was the Executive chef at a New York bistro called Brasserie Les Halles. In 2004, he put together “Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook” (Bloomsbury 2004).  This is a very long way around to tell you that this where I found this phenomenal recipe.  It’s for a mushroom soup that, were it not for a significant quantity of butter, be dairy-free and yet the creamiest mushroom soup I have ever eaten. As long as you’ve got a blender and about an hour to make it, you’re in for a treat.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Dorie Greenspan's Sweet and Savory Sablés: French Shortbread and Rosemary Almond Parmesan "Cocktail" Cookies




         The first time Andrew and I ever tasted a Sablé, we’d made a pilgrimage to The Essex Market where Dorie Greenspan and her son Joshua had opened “Beurre et Sel”, a tiny hole in the wall that sold nothing but these out-this-world butter-y crispy shortbread cookies. The sheer beauty of the Greenspan’s display of the cookies took us aback.  The variety was amazing too—there were sweet and savory versions. These were all tucked into tubes to take home but I couldn’t help wonder how many of them actually made it there. The cookies were that addictive and at about the size of a half dollar coin easily consumed anywhere.  They were also fairly expensive which may explain why, sadly, after 15 months in business, the tiny shop was shuttered.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Balsamic Soy-Glazed Chicken Wings and Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce


        
You may be aware that there’s a football game being played this coming weekend that is the Granddaddy of them all.  This year’s game has the Northwest facing off against the Northeast in Glendale AZ, which at this writing will still take place despite a confusing controversy over deflated balls. (Don't ask). In the history of television, the three most watched broadcasts of all time are all for this one game.  It seems quite right then that this would be called the Super Bowl.  It shuts down traffic, fills bars, taxes septic systems at the end of every quarter, and is scheduled to be watched by over 100,000,000 people.  But if you think that’s an impressive number, how about this:  On Sunday February 1st, 1.25 billion chicken wings will be consumed—that’s four for every man, woman and child in the entire country.  That’s in addition to the 8,000,000 lbs. of guacamole and the 28,000,000 lbs of potato chips.  With all that food, and with the high octane dipping sauce that goes along with it, is it too much to hope that the least we could do is to bake our wings rather than fry them? Well, if you’ve ever had a Balsamic Soy-Glazed Chicken Wing, you would gladly give up the fryer.  But since I am not all sure your penitent approach is natural, I have also included a recipe for the best Buffalo Wing Blue Cheese dipping sauce I have ever tasted.