Monday, May 23, 2016

Day Three of the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea....we finally cast off!

Our first glimpse of Viking Sea docked in Lisbon

 But first, about last night…it was our second and final night in Lisbon and my good friend Bruce highly recommended Cervejaria Ramiro (1 Avenida Almirante Reis, Lisbon, Tel: +351 218 851 024) Since Bruce seems to have taken in the entire Iberian peninsula on his trip last year, I was not about to quarrel when he raved about this place.  Turns out it is so well-known our cab driver said there
was no need to tell him the address as every cabbie in Lisbon knows it.  When we got to the restaurant there was a long line of people outside. Fortunately, Bruce had warned us of this daily occurrence and told us not to worry.  In a few minutes we were inside the densely tabled space.  And a few minutes after that we were ushered to our table on the second floor. Ramiro, as it is commonly called, is the home of the best Garlic shrimp I have ever tasted anywhere.  But we didn’t stop at the shrimp.  We dipped Portuguese rolls into the garlic butter wishing there was more.  We ate langoustes until we were stuffed.  And I think you can see why.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day Two. The Maiden Voyage continues....and we're not even at sea yet!

Sintra's Palaces, Lisbon by Beetle and us.
The Rossio Restaurant atop Altis Avenida
         Day Two dawned with a blue sky and Spring temperatures.  Breakfast at the Altis Avenida takes place in a stylish roost on the 7th floor of the hotel.   Considering that it’s all included in the rates, the buffet is substantial and includes all sorts of things that appeal to the hotel’s constituency of British and German visitors.  Cheeses and sausages, pastries and breads, eggs and juices and fruits were all there in abundance. Then we were off for a day we will long remember.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Day One: The Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea begins...


         I was thrilled to be invited to participate in the Maiden Voyage of Viking Sea, sister ship to Viking Star, Viking Cruises ocean-going liners that have set a new standard in affordable luxury since their inception last year.   I was even more delighted when I convinced Andrew to join me and started a planning a trip that included time in Portugal before we embarked and time in Paris at the end of our wonderful voyage.  Last Fall, aboard Viking Star, I labored into the night to get my trip reports to you.  This time, I waited until I got home to take you along on what turned out to be one of our life’s best trips.  So here goes…

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Braised Chicken with Asparagus, Peas and Melted Leeks

         A braise may not strike you as a Spring preparation at all.  Aren’t braises hearty affairs that build flavor by the hours they spend in the oven?  Aren’t they winter warmers and not something you’d expect to see any time after May 1st?  Well it turns out that this dish, with its medley of fresh, Spring vegetables topped with crispy-skinned, fennel scented Chicken thighs and then lapped with the lightest of lemon-y butter-y broths, proves that a braise is great way to salute Spring.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Buttery Crab Bread Pudding from The River Cottage Fish Book

A far nicer photograph from Food and Wine
@Kate Mathis
        Because we're barely off the plane from Europe, I have gone archival today to bring a wonderful recipe that I published way back in 2012.  It was such a hit with everyone who tried it that I thought I'd introduce to the whole new audience who weren't following Chewing the Fat way back when.  And for those of you who were, it's still a great idea for dinner or lunch.
  When I came across this recipe in Food and Wine, I tried to resist it.  With its glorious crabmeat peeking out from layers and layers of French bread and creamy egg-y custard, I though it would be far too rich, far too full of carbohydrates and just far too much all the way around.  But then when I pointed it out to Andrew, he too had glommed onto the allure of the dish.  So I made it.  And I am so glad I did!  It is not heavy at all. Its richness comes from the crab and not the custard.  Lemon juice lightens the whole dish and I confess to cutting back on the butter and using a delicious whole wheat baguette to cushion the carb count.  It was simply delicious served with a green  salad.  There were leftovers, which I brought to a friend and disappointed Andrew who was looking forward to another delicious go at it.  And where did this delicious concoction come from?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The All-Time Greatest Chocolate Cake: Beatty's Chocolate Cake


       As some of you know, Andrew and I have embarked on what we have named “Andrew and Monte’s 130th Birthday Trip”.  That’s our combined birthday this year and we’re celebrating with a trip to Europe.  Believe me, you will hear all about it.  But in the meantime, here’s a cake to bake anytime you want to celebrate anything— Birthdays, Anniversaries, Bon Voyages or….even this Sunday for Mother’s Day. This incredible chocolate cake takes the prize for our absolute favorite.  It’s a chocolate lover’s dream, moist and so full of chocolate you can smell it.   The icing gives you more chocolate on chocolate. There’s  a secret ingredient that reinforces the chocolate flavor: Coffee!  It also has a wonderful story attached to it.  And a not-so-wonderful story too so read along and see.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Tyler Florence-style...with his Ultimate Beef Fajitas

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Napolean III of France
      Ah Cinco de Mayo, a chance for Americans to celebrate their neighbor to the south, Mexico.  And this year, given all the campaign rhetoric, those of us who love that country, really should go out of our way to celebrate this 5th of May.  Of course, Cinco de Mayo is overwhelmingly an American celebration.  Many Americans believe the Festa is to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day.  That would be Dieciséis de Septiembre which likely would never have made onto an American calendar simply because it’s much more difficult to pronounce.             
No, Cinco de Mayo does celebrate a Mexican-only event.  Mexico had fought two wars, one against the Americans (Remember the Alamo!) and the other a civil that had almost bankrupted the country.  Its President then suspended  Mexico's foreign debt payments for two years.  France, Britain and Spain were outraged and sent naval support to Veracruz to demand payment.  The British and the Spanish negotiated a payment schedule and sailed home. The French however remained. Napoleon III imagined a Latin Empire that would favor the French.  He called it the Second Mexican Empire. Despite being overwhelmingly
The Second Battle of Puebla, May 5th 1863
outnumbered, 2000 Mexicans fought off the 6000 French troops at the Battle of Puebla, crushing the French on May 5th 1862.  There was much jubilation in Washington.  President Lincoln had feared that the French would take advantage of the Civil War to meet its goals.  So Lincoln may have celebrated the first Cinco de Mayo that very year.  Now all of this is a very long way to get to today’s Cinco de Mayo celebratory post:  Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Beef Fajitas.  I can think of no better way to celebrate than with this American classic. Yes, American.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Fresh Asparagus Salad with Buratta, Pancetta, Pine Nuts, Raisins and Bread Crumbs and Tiny Tomatoes

The creamy rich Burrata Cheese is completely hidden under the Asparagus

The Bounty of the Comfort Family Farm on
Lumber Lane in Bridgehampton starts
with their first Asparagus crop of the season.
         The first Asparagus of the season is about to make its appearance after our long, cold Spring. I was driving along past one of the farm stands we go to all summer, when I saw the first spears standing totally alone on what is usually a cart laden with produce. As you can see in this Fall picture, the Comfort Family’s farm grows all kinds of good things. But there are few things in life I look forward to more than the arrival of those first tender shoots of asparagus.  The delicious flavor of the vegetable is matched by the glorious green color it takes on when cooked.  We’ll have plenty of it for the next month. And then it will disappear until next Spring.  I’ll buy it in the off-season but those spears will pale when compared to the delicious fresh flavor of the local stuff.  Now, how to make it a whole meal?  A complete dinner for two?  It was actually very easy.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Jacques Pépin's Poulet a la Crème (Chicken in Cream Sauce)


I have expressed my affection for Jacques Pépin and his latest cookbook “Heart and Soul in the Kitchen” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015).  This book is filled with recipes that are more at home at home than they are in restaurants.  One of his dishes is such a favorite of mine that I’ve made it several times now: It’s his recipe for Chicken in Cream Sauce.  It is the best of French country food, an amazingly satisfying dish combining heavy cream and mushrooms and wine with fork-tender chicken.  It’s a triumph of simple cooking requiring nothing more than browning the chicken and making the sauce all in one pan and in all of about 30 minutes. Its genesis was in Chef Pépin’s mother’s kitchen in the town of Bourg-en-Bresse. And if you know anything about French chickens that name should ring a bell.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New York Strip Steaks with Tyler Florence's Mushroom Sauce and Ina Garten's Cornmeal-Crusted Onion Rings

Tyler Florence
        Friday night has been Steak night at our house for a long time. New York Strip is right up there with our favorites.  It’s easy to cook on the stove top and the chewier texture of the steak appeals to the meat-eater extinct.  You can be a purist and simply salt and pepper the steak vigorously, put it into a very hot pan with a tablespoon of peanut oil and one of butter and you’ve got a beautiful steak in about 8 minutes.  But occasionally we like to try it with a sauce to give it another dimension.  This mushroom sauce is both easy and delicious, a take on
Ina Garten
one we saw Tyler Florence making on Tyler’s Ultimate, his terrific show on  the Cooking Channel. And along with it, nothing goes better than Ina Garten’s Cornmeal Crusted Onion Rings and some simple sautéed spinach.  So on to the recipes.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Fresh Fettucine with Sausage, Asparagus and Mushrooms


     A great bowl of pasta is one of my favorite comfort dishes.  I must admit that this particular variation hits the mark. The fresh asparagus and mushrooms seem made for each other and for the Italian hot sausage I combined them with. There’s cheese too—two kinds that bring the zip of Parmesan together with the sweetness of Fontina.  Both cheeses melt into the pan sauce.  And the couple of tablespoons of butter stirred into the sauce added a rich smoothness that I found irresistible. But there is one other ingredient that sets this dish apart: Fresh Pasta.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Lemon-Roasted Salmon with Asparagus, Kale and Potatoes

Monday, April 11, 2016

Seared Lamb Chops with Anchovies, Capers and Sage

Melissa Clark, Creator of great, simple recipes
         For a quick dinner with a little bit of panache, a lamb chop is just the ticket.  I’m particularly fond of Costco’s loin lamb chops that have been perfectly trimmed. Two or three of these at a sitting are a fine meal and quite budget friendly.  The last time I did the math, each individual chop cost $1.75.  Not bad at all.  The only problem I have had is that try as I might, I’ve never cracked the code to make them anything but a simply grilled lamb chop.  I’ve soaked them in Worcestershire sauce but that’s about it.  So I was pleased to come across this Melissa Clark take on lamb chops.  Ms. Clark of the New York Times is a particular favorite of mine. She is a genius at uncomplicated, almost fast, food.  And this recipe comes together in about 35 minutes always a plus when you’re pressed for time.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Perfect Date Night Recipe: Seared Duck with Date Jus and Cheese Ravioli with Piave Sauce


         I realize that most people take ‘date night’ to mean an escape from cooking as well as the kids.  But once in a while, a great meal can turn any night into date night.  And this one is flawless. It combines the luxury of duck breast with the sweet and entirely unexpected flavor of a date jus. (Yes, I know, the other kind of date). On the same plate, pillows of cheese ravioli are sauced with a sublimely rich and tart cheese sauce using the Italian cheese, Piave.
Chinon from the Loire Valley
Your cooking skills can be fairly rudimentary.  As long as you’ve got a grip on how to sear meat on the stovetop, and literally, boil water for the Ravioli, you’ve got it made. I would even go so far as to say that this is the perfect dish for anyone—man or woman— to cook and gain instant cooking credibility with whomever he or she is trying to impress.  It’s also blessedly simple and its timing includes includes oven time and resting time so the required 1hr 15 minutes can be punctuated by sips of a great red wine.  Food and Wine, where this recipe was found, recommends Chinon, a ‘fresh and supple red wine’ made with a Cabernet Franc or Breton grape in the Loire Valley of France.

Monday, April 4, 2016

From The Daily Meal: In Search of Nice's Socca, the World's First Gluten-Free Pancake

Gluten-free pancakes are now widely available, but we went to France to find the original
Staff Writer
Spoiler Alert: We found the Socca.

Socca pancakes, made with chickpea flour, may have been the world’s first gluten-free pancakes. Although the recipe started out life in Genoa, Italy — and can still be found all along Italy’s Ligurian coast — the French city of Nice later pinched it, and is now famous for them… but finding the treat isn’t exactly an easy task.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Pasta alla Puttanesca with (or without) Shrimp

I am making a concerted effort to put some great vegetarian recipes together for all kinds of reasons—health, being eco-friendly and just giving us all more options for terrific meals.  And this recipe, which came out of  “Fine Cooking” magazine a couple of years ago, is a fantastic discovery.  You can satisfy your vegetarian eaters with its spicy full-on flavor and/or you can take it to another level by adding some sweet and tender shrimp in the last few minutes.  So one dish can be served two ways—at the same seating.  It’s perfect for families where increasingly there’s a vegetarian at the table. 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Where to Eat in Barcelona on a Sunday Night.

Find yourself in Barcelona on Sunday and everything’s closed? Here’s an insider tip
Staff Writer
Where to Eat in Barcelona on a Sunday Night
Monte Mathews
Just a sample of the cuisine Etapes has to offer....Lamb Parmentiere on a bed of Pommes de Terres Puree
Who knew Barcelona’s finest restaurants all shut up tight on Sunday nights? Or for that matter, Mondays too? If you’ve made plans to be in the Catalan capital and they include either of those nights, you can rule out visits to any of the four restaurants Ferran Adrià (of the late-elBulli) has opened with his brother Albert (with two more on the way). Still, you’ve saved yourselves a trip to Paral-lel, the suburb where the brothers have set up shops. Of course, you can still find endless places that trade in Tapas for tourists, but if you want to eat something more than the fantastically-fried patates bravas, or a jamon sandwich, and wish for a real dinner beautifully presented and served, your options may be limited. Within those options, however, one shines brightly in the heart of hotel country: Etapes.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A gorgeous addition to any Easter Table....Andrew decks out Ina Garten's Coconut Cupcakes and Chewing the Fat celebrates our One Millionth reader!

Coconut Cupcakes that Andrew eggified for Easter!

  In the run-up to Easter, we’ve had snow, sun and cold temperatures earlier this week that feel more like winter than spring. It's warmed up at last and here's how we celebrated. And, after Andrew added jelly beans, they clearly make for an Easter filled with color.  We're also celebrating what we consider to be quite an achievement.  Someone reading this will be the 1,500,000th reader of Chewing the Fat! That's right 1.5 Million people have read Chewing the Fat. Thank you so much and I look forward to keep entertaining you and feeding you delicious things to eat.  So let's celebrate with these coconut-lovers cupcakes. For those who observe Lent, it’s time for a little indulgence.  Andrew made this Ina Garten recipe for an Easter party last year and they were a huge hit.  But you must love coconut:  There’s coconut in the cake and coconut on top.  And I think you’ll agree, he’s really got the recipe down pat —they look just like their picture.   So without further ado, here’s the recipe:

Monday, March 21, 2016

20 Great Things to Eat and Drink in St. Barthelemy F.W.I

New this year:  Lunch on the Beach at Le Toiny.  You can now bask in the sun before, during or after lunch.

We're just back from our annual visit to St. Barthelemy or St. Barth or St. Bart's depending on who you talk to.   It was our 25 th visit to this speck of an island, a mere ten minute flight from neighboring St. Maarten.  We once made the huge mistake, when the Euro was at its height, of going to neighboring Nevis.

On Nevis, we discovered, there were no decent public beaches, no great restaurants, and worse, not even a passable grocery store.  About the only thing Nevis had going for it was that on a clear day you could see St. Barth off in the distance.  How vividly I remember quickly writing our agent, Bethany Ludwick of, begging her to find us a place on St. Barth for the following year. And this was literally on the plane used to escape Nevis, with its mediocre food and barking dogs that are used to scare off that other bane of our existence on Nevis: its marauding howler monkeys.  (It didn't come as much of a surprise to hear that this year Wimco had pulled out of Nevis altogether.) But I digress.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Where to Eat at La Boqueria Market in Barcelona

We visit three tiny eateries that made huge first impressions

Staff Writer
Where to Eat at La Boqueria Market in Barcelona
Monte Mathews
Hungry bellies enter here.

Barcelona is a very food-centric town, and one that entertains 7.5 million tourists annually, in addition to the usual population of 1.6 million residents. It makes perfect sense that smack in the middle of the Old City (Cuitat Vella) is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, more commonly known as La Boqueria. Its earliest incarnation, in the thirteenth century, was as a pig market, but it wasn’t until centuries later (in 1826, to be exact) that the market was legally recognized. From there it grew in phases. The metal roof that still shelters the structure today was installed way back in 1914.