Thursday, August 27, 2015

Peach Cherry Slab Pie adapted from Martha Stewart

I must confess that I am more than a little put off by the name of this remarkable pie.  I mean really?  “Slab” as in cold, stone slab or “slab of meat” both of which are less than appetizing and have little or nothing to do with the flaky pastry that surrounds the ripe, rich stone fruits that make up the filling in this crowd-pleasing dessert.  And unlike a traditional 9 inch pie, this one does feed a crowd. This recipe will give you 16 servings of pie when cut into squares that are particularly appealing topped with iced or whipped cream.  Darned if I could find the origins of this particular pie incarnation, although our friends at Food 52 tell us Martha Stewart has made so many variations of the pie that she ‘might have originated the whole genre’.  
I somehow doubt that because in researching slab pies, the writer of a blog named “Dueling Margaritas” wrote that her grandfather, a baker and father of 11, made slab pies in the 1940s long before Martha was old enough to hold a rolling pin. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An authenthic Gazpacho recipe from David Rosengarten

         Whatever happened to David Rosengarten?  You may remember the marvelously low-key television chef who preceded the food network rampage that made stars out of everyone from Bobby Flay to Giada di Laurentis.  David’s show “Taste” was a wonderful learning experience as David deep-dived into his subject matter with such thoroughness and thoughtfulness that you came away feeling you had some expertise in whatever food David was extolling on that particular day. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Watermelon Salsa served 2 ways: In Fish Tacos and a Blackened Swordfish Salad

         For the last few summers, one of our salads of choice has been the Watermelon and Tomato rendition first published here in July 2010:  Nothing says 'cool off' like watermelon and this salad combines the sweetness of the fruit with the tang of ripe tomatoes, a jolt of red onion and a splash of red wine vinegar.  It’s a perfect accompaniment to almost anything grilled, truly a dish that has summer written all over it.  So when I spotted a recipe for Fish Tacos with Watermelon Salsa, I couldn’t wait to try it.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chili-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato and Avocado

       This post was first published 5 years ago this week.   Since the temperature in the East won't go under 90 for the next four days, it seemed a perfectly appropriate time to re-publish it.  It requires no cooking at all, takes under 30 minutes to get on the table and the taste?  Lime makes this the most refreshing of dishes.  You can serve this tonight which is likely to be one of those nights when the heat practically begs you to eat light. There was one comment made about this recipe which was that Scott Conant, a judge on Chopped on the Food Network, is adamant that red onion must be cooked before it is ever used.  You can get around this rule by soaking the diced onion in cold water for 15 minutes. This will greatly reduce any harsh onion flavor.  Even if it won't pass Chef Conant's sniff test.  So here it is, Chili-Lime Crab Salad with Tomato and Avocado.

       When I was in Paris on a business trip and we had a little time off, I wentto the Atelier des Chefs cooking school for a lesson.  There are actually six locations around the city where you can take a class that lasts anywhere from an hour to 3 hours.  I chose to go the school itself on Rue Penthievre which is right behind the Place de la Madelaine.  It was a great class, all in French, and all female with one glaring exception…L’homme Americain.  I  had the good fortune to have been born in Montreal where you learn French from a very early age and it's stood me in good stead all these years.  So I was very at home at the school.  Included among the students was a beautiful young girl and her equally elegant “Grandmere”.   Apparently it was the “Grandmere” who had received the classes as a Christmas gift and not, as I’d imagined, the pretty young bride!  I guess you really are never too old to learn.  

I was told they had sessions in English and in fact, I was asked by my instructor if I’d help her with some phrases for a class she was giving that night.  But on their website, , I can’t find any reference to them. But if you are familiar with what used to be called “Montreal Kitchen French”, you’ll get along just fine.  It’s all about watching and mimicking which doesn’t exactly require a LaRousse to do.   This is all a very roundabout way of getting to my purchase from their kitchen shop.   There was sale on stainless steel rings, the ones that make perfect rounds on the plate and make everything look remarkably professional.  Needless to say, I had to immediately buy 6 of them.  When I got home to Bridgehampton, they went into a drawer and hadn’t emerged ever until I found the perfect way to use them…in this wonderful salad!  And if you happen to be without your Matfer Bourgeat rings, you can still make it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Summer Steak and Grilled Vegetable Salad from Pat LaFrieda

Pat LaFrieda, New York's Butcher
Quick!  Name a famous butcher!  Well, if you’re from New York, the first name you would likely come up with would be that of Pat LaFrieda, a third generation butcher whose LaFrieda Meats supplies, among other places, the enormously popular Shake Shack with their particular blend of hamburger meat.  (It’s a top-secret formula so you won’t find it here or anywhere else).   Recently, Pat LaFrieda wrote a complete article about Skirt Steak on the grill for Fine Cooking Magazine.  Skirt steak, Mr. LaFrieda said, has been his favorite cut of beef for as long as he can remember.  Since he started working with his father when he was ten and took over the business entirely twenty-one years ago, he’s had plenty of chances to change his mind. But no, he believes that skirt steak packs the most flavor and tells us he grills it about every week in the summer.  And with it, he serves as much great seasonal produce as he can find.  Hence, this recipe for a steak salad extraordinaire, and one that I wanted to pass on to you before another day in summer passes.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sesame Chicken Salad with Spinach, Cucumber and Cilantro from Tyler Florence

We were having friends for lunch over the weekend and I wanted to make Chicken Salad.  For the recipe I took out three contenders. Patricia Well’s “The Paris Cookbook” (Harper Collins 2001) had one that would have put us right in the heart of St. Germain de Pres with a recipe from Le Bonaparte restaurant there.   Wolfgang Puck would have sent us to Santa Monica and the famous Chinois Chicken Salad but we’ve already visited there (See and though we loved the salad, Andrew wanted to try something new.  And once again, Tyler Florence and his “Tyler’s Ultimate”  (Clarkson Potter 2006) won out.  This is an Asian inspired recipe that hits all the Asian flavor parameters—spicy, salty, sour and sweet.   It looks lovely too and terribly healthy if you ignore  the fact that you basically fry the panko sesame seed crusted chicken, which I am perfectly capable of doing.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Blueberry Crostata with Lemon Ice Cream

Photo Courtesy of Fine Cooking Magazine. All rights reserved.


Once again, I am sharing one of Andrew’s great summer desserts.   Surely one of summer’s great pleasures are its fruits and berries, especially when they are local.   And what can compare to any fruit dessert coupled with ice cream, especially when it is homemade.  I like to think that Andrew ought to be getting a cut out of the sales of Cuisinart Ice Cream Makers he has recommended to friends.  At $60, you can’t imagine how much pleasure you’ll bring to summer when you buy one.  It’s the best possible rainy-day activity for young children.  It’s not a bad one for grown-ups either.  And the creamy perfection of pure, simple homemade ice cream makes anything else taste somehow not as good, and truly store-bought.  

Monday, August 3, 2015

Well over 1 Million Visitors and what's our most popular post of all time? Our 600th Post ! Thomas Keller’s recipe for Santa Maria-style Tri-Tip Roast Beef

Chef Thomas Keller 
Today marks a milestone in the history of Chewing the Fat.  Since we started this blog almost 6 years ago on the 30th of October, we've seen our readership grow from a few faithful friends to over 37,000 page views last month alone.  And today marks our 600th post! What better way to celebrate than to revisit our most popular recipe ever.  It's from Thomas Keller and it tops the best-read list with 17,514 page views.  In many ways, it  epitomizes what I try to do here every week: Tell a story, share a food discovery and along the way entertain our readers.  That's why I think this post bears repeating today.  So here's to Chewing the Fat and here's to you my dear readers.  
         When Trader Joe’s came to our neighborhood, it brought plenty of California with it.  Among the items was something called a Tri-Tip Roast of beef.  I’d never heard of the cut at all but TJ’s meat case is full of the stuff.   Trader Joe’s brands practically everything in the store with its own label.  So you’ll find several pre-marinated versions of the Tri-Tip all attributed to the retailer.  I know I should appreciate the time-saving this gives the harried cook who rushes into the store at the end of the day and has to get dinner on the table the moment he or she gets home. But if, like me, you want to control sodium intake and everything else that goes into processed foods, Trader Joe’s offers a virgin version of the beef.  However I still had no idea what the cut was or, for that matter, how to cook it.  Then I ran across a recipe for Tri-Tip from none other than the great Thomas Keller.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Pluot Upside-Down Cake adapted from Fine Cooking


What is a “pluot”?, you may well ask. It’s the Labradoodle of fruits.  Actually it’s more like a Cockapoo or even a Maltipoo in size. The Pluot is a plum and apricot hybrid bred first in California in the 1800s.   Initially it was called a Plumcot, which is the way most 50/50 hybrids get their names.  However the original fruit was hard to grow.  Then in the 1920s, another California nursery discovered that if you heavied up on the plum side of the equation, you got a more reliable fruit.   They experimented for years finally trademarking the name Pluout in the 1990s.  There are pluots of various sizes and colors.  They’re no longer rare and the proof of that is that I got Andrew his pluots at Costco.   According to Fine Cooking, originator of this recipe,  you should look for pluots with a little ‘give’ and avoid any that are rock hard because they simply will not ripen.  You may still want to ripen the fruit further by putting them in a paper bag and keeping them at room temperature for a day or two.  Then you can make this wonderful upside down cake that pairs the fruit with almond flavor. Served with fresh whipped cream, the sweet juicy fruit is the star of the show and the cake a great supporting player.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

My complete review of Viking River Cruises Romantic Danube has just been published by The Daily Meal!

On the Danube River with Viking River Cruises

On this cruise, your next meal is right around the bend in the river

Monte Mathews
This cruise is one of the best ways to experience Europe.
There are two universal truths about Viking River Cruises. One: literally everyone you talk to wants to take one. And two: everyone who wants to should. These are some of life’s most fascinating journeys, a way to experience the heart of a country in pure comfort and style. Whatever voyage you choose — from the Douro River in Portugal to the Mekong River in Vietnam, and points between including France, Germany, Egypt, Burma, and China, or, the most popular of all, the Danube — you’ll sail on a cruise for people who swear they’d never take a cruise.
Viking River Cruises is the brainchild of a man named Torstein Hagen, whose passion for cruise ships goes back to his leadership of the late, lamented Royal Viking Cruise Line. In the 1980s, Royal Viking became the first cruise ships with all of nine balcony staterooms, and set the standards for high-end cruising. Viking is Hagen’s similar deluxe gift to River Cruising. In an unprecedented shipbuilding project, Viking River set a Guinness World Record this year when it launched 10 of its so-called longships in a single day, bringing its fleet to a total of 60 vessels. The name “longship” pays homage to the long, narrow warships powered by oar and sail that the Vikings used for trade, commerce, and exploration. The modern longships carry just 180 passengers in luxury the original Norseman could never have imagined. When Hagen took to the rivers he brought along his passions for comfort, superb Scandinavian design, and culinary excellence. And that is just aboard his ships.
On land, at every stop, local guides shepherd small tour groups through the historic towns and cities that line the shores of the rivers. On their Danube itinerary, opportunities abound for tasting the local wines and beers, the paprikash of Hungary, the sachertortes of Vienna, the wursts of Germany, and wines and beers of every description. In a move unheard of in the cruise industry, passengers are encouraged to bring local wines aboard to sample with no corkage fee and no restrictions. Or you can choose to stick with Viking’s superior reds and whites, poured with great gusto at every lunch and dinner. There’s even sparkling wine on the breakfast buffet for those who can’t start the day without a mimosa.These voyages are not for casino goers, tuxedo wearers, or children under 18. They are for lifetime learners — people who want to experience a culture with like-minded adults.
As you float along the Danube, your meals offer a taste of the countries you are passing through. Every day features small samples of local specialties. Many of these are served at breakfast. The maître d’ circulates among the tables in the dining room with tapas-sized portions of specialties like Viennese gabelbison, a potato salad topped with egg or pickled herring, and quark mit Fruchte, or curd cheese with fruit. Viking River believes in big breakfasts with a lavish array of every imaginable breakfast food. The omelette station is a popular destination. Eggs with yolks the color of Tropicana are also cooked à la minuit. Can’t drag yourself to the buffet station? Your charming waiter or waitress will do the heavy lifting for you with offers of eggs Benedictpain perdu, or pancakes.
Don’t expect ethnic food to dominate the menus. While there are familiar Hungarian, Austrian, and German specialties like goulash, wiener schnitzel, and a complete “Salute to Germany” dinner, Viking River plays to its overwhelmingly American passenger list with food that’s beautifully prepared and presented, but most of all, familiar.
Your breakfast prepares you for the tours included in your fare. On spanking new Mercedes coaches, the 180 passengers are divided into smaller groups of 25 to 30 people. In addition to giving passengers a thorough introduction to every port, all include at least an hour’s time to indulge in personal pursuits. For food enthusiasts, that could mean the 100,000-square-foot Central Market in Budapest, the Viennese coffee and pastry palaces of Vienna, biergartens that pop up, oddly enough, in front of major cathedrals and monasteries, and of course, the best of the wurst along the river in Germany.
Back aboard the ship, you retreat to snug staterooms that are the epitome of Scandinavian design genius: a place for everything, your own mini-fridge, and cabin service that surprises with its gnome-like ability to service your room while you’re at breakfast. If you can, spring for a balcony, which allows you a breath fresh air anytime you wish. But even the minimum grade will give you first-class comfort, if not the striking views you’ll see from the upper two decks.
And oh, the people you’ll meet! These voyages are not for casino goers, tuxedo wearers, or children under 18. They are for lifetime learners — people who want to experience a culture with like-minded adults. The passenger list is filled with successful, accomplished people. And your greatest surprise may be how much fun people have. Unassigned tables for six, eight, or 10 find people mixing and mingling as the decibel level rises by the day. Toward the end of the voyage, the whole ship seems to know and adore each other. That likely explains why a passenger-organized talent show was the hit of the trip. And why, on the last night, there was actually a group of people dancing on the tables. And nobody asked them to stop.


Monday, July 27, 2015

My story on the Oldest Restaurant in Germany has just been published by The Daily Meal.

The Restaurant in Regensburg, Germany, You Must Travel For

Don’t miss the bratwurst in this city by the Danube River
Monte Matthews
This wurst is the best.
There are plenty of reasons to visit Regensburg, the second-largest city in Bavaria. You could go there to pick up your new BMW, for instance — since their Regensburg factory opened in 1986, five million cars have rolled off the production lines there. Or you could travel there to satisfy a passion for medieval architecture, which the town’s 1,300 buildings from that era would quench. But for the culinary adventurer, the call to Regensburg is the call to Germany’s oldest restaurant: the 800-year-old Alte Wurstkuchl, or “the Old Sausage Kitchen.”
Germany creates 1,200 different kinds of wursts, and every region has one to call its own. In Regensburg, the wurst of choice is the bratwurst. Brat is the German word for “finely chopped meat,” but most contemporary Germans associate bratwith the word braten, which means pan-fried or roasted. In the case of Alte Wurstkuchle, that meat is pure pork, and they’re neither pan-fried nor roasted but cooked over charcoal on an ancient stove, visible through a window in the restaurant’s wall.Germany creates 1,200 different kinds of wursts, and every region has one to call its own.
While the place has a minimal number of other dishes — a potato soup and three local specialties: roast pork, marinated beef and a stuffed cabbage called krautwickel — the name of the game here is sausages. Choose six, eight, 10, or 12. They’ll arrive at the table on a bed of sauerkraut that the Kuchl ferments in their cellar. They’re almost addictive, especially when slathered with Wurstkuchl mustard, which they proudly attribute to the “original, historical” recipe of one Elsa Schricker. A blend of honey, mustard, and a soupçon of horseradish, Frau Schricker’s mustard would likely make cardboard taste great. It’s sold at the restaurant. But if you make the mistake of not buying any, you can find it on Amazon straight from the Wurstkuchl.
The Wurstkuchl is a pleasant stop on the side of the Danube, right next to the Old Stone Bridge and down the way from where the Viking River Cruise ships dock. There are 28 seats in the Tavern, 100 on the outdoor terrace, and 65 in the “Strudel Room.” The Wurstkuchl is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
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Watermelon Gazpacho from Tyler Florence

Several years ago we discovered the joy of watermelon and tomatoes combined in a salad that takes advantage of these summer favorites.  We enjoyed it again and again and if you haven’t tried it, you should too.  Here is the recipe that brought the salad into our repertoire:
Knowing what a winning combination the sweetness of the fruit and the tang of the tomatoes bring to the pairing, we were intrigued by this Tyler Florence recipe. Here was a cold soup containing not just melon and tomatoes but also the cool delight of English cucumber spiked with chiles, dill and red onion and then topped with even more cubes of watermelon and the tang of Feta Cheese.  Not only is the dish incredibly easy to make, it’s one of those summer coolers that you can make a big batch of and then ladle away.  I served it as a starter one night and then two days later as part of a poolside lunch.  Andrew, who is not a big fan of cold soups, pronounced this one a winner.  And as long as you have a blender, you’re home free.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Salmon Niçoise adapted from Martha Stewart Living

Month after month, Martha Stewart Living takes us into the spectacularly photogenic homes of equally photogenic families. They share Martha’s passion for the domestic arts in their wonderfully curated and art directed living spaces.   And there is always a prominently featured menu item that is just as beautiful as its creators and their settings.   So it was with this dish: a riff on the French classic Salade Niçoise, a spectacle of tuna, haricots verts, tiny potatoes and hard cooked eggs.   Here, in her Shelter Island kitchen, a woman named Harriet Maxwell Macdonald Corrie came up with what was described as ‘a reliable crowd pleaser’.  It certainly pleased us, even if the crowd was all of four people enjoying a Sunday lunch together.  I didn’t follow Ms. Corrie’s recipe to the absolute letter but in spirit this is her wonderful salad.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Potato Salad with Garlic Scapes, Snap Peas and Scallions

Garlic Scapes make
their appearance once
a year. 
There are cooks who wait all year to work with Garlic Scapes, the flower bud of the garlic plant.  The bud is removed about this time every year to encourage the underground bulb to thicken up.  They taste like garlic and can be used in any recipe calling for the ‘stinking rose’.  That is what garlic has been called since Greek and Roman times.  The reason for the ‘stinking’ part is all too obvious.  But why the rose?  The plant is actually an allium which is part of the Liliaceae or lily family.  So where does the name come from?  One possibility is that if you look at garlic from underneath, the bulb does have a slight resemblance to a white rose with the large ends of the cloves forming its petals.   It seems to me that that’s a bit of stretch, but it doesn’t take away garlic’s unique contribution to cooking.  And this potato salad is a tribute to the relatively mild garlic flavor of the scapes and how they enhance the sweetness of the other key ingredients: potatoes and snow peas.