Thursday, May 21, 2015

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork and the Best Coleslaw Recipe Ever!


Our New York City kitchen is only slightly larger than a bread box but certainly not large enough to store a slow cooker.  So I keep ours in Bridgehampton. Not that I am a particular fan of the slow cooker.  The idea of having to brown meat in one pan and make sauce in another seems to defeat the purpose of the slow cooker.  Surely its charm is in the one pot approach to cooking.  That one pot, sitting all day, cooking away, waiting for you to come home to a fully cooked dinner, has its allure.  Dirtying pots and pans and browning meat before heading out for the day, does not.   But on a weekend, you can load the slow cooker anytime and await the results. 
With summer barbecue season about to begin, here's a recipe that's a great addition to any summer gathering.  You can make it up in advance and you don't even have to fire up the grill.  Just power up the slow cooker.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Lamb Burgers with the taste of a Gyro

Gyros, ubiquitous in NYC
A Gyro is a Greek dish of meat that’s been roasted on a vertical spit, folded into pita bread and then served with tomato, onion and tzatsiki sauce.  Gyros, pronounced "Heros", are everywhere in New York City.  The website Yelp has a list of New York’s Gyro places that goes on for 100 pages.  There is a certain ‘mystery meat’ quality to a Gyro that can be a little off-putting but they are usually very inexpensive and if that doesn’t win you over, the intense flavor will win over your taste buds.  So when a recipe for Lamb Burgers, in a recent Saveur Magazine, promised the flavor of a Gyro in a Burger where you put the meat together yourself, it was a no-brainer.  And if you are a burger fan like me, you should add this one to your repertoire of summer grilling.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Steakhouse Salad with Red Chili Dressing and Peanuts adapted from Claire Saffitz in Bon Appetit Magazine

Claire Saffitz
The bones of this great recipe are from a Bon Appetit writer named Claire Saffitz.  Ms Saffitz has an intriguing background.  She is a graduate of both Harvard and McGill Universities.  At both places she studied History but by the time she got to McGill, she focused on European food history and gastronomy.  She also took time between McGill and Harvard (the McGill of The South as any good Montrealer knows) to study at Ecole Gregoire Ferandi in Paris where she obtained a Certificate in Classic French Cuisine.  And she certainly knows her way around the kitchen as this recipe proves.  Here you have a man’s meal that anyone can feel pious about eating because it’s as much about Spring vegetables as it is about the steak.   It’s beautiful to look at and I can’t help but think that it would make a spectacular outdoor lunch the first chance you get.  But before you proceed, I have a confession to make: this isn’t the original recipe.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Florence Fabricant's Fettucine with Asparagus and Smoked Salmon

Florence Fabricant
Is the asparagus better than ever this year?  Or is it just more welcome than ever?  How did it manage to poke its heads through ground that remained frozen far later this year than last?  And, once thawed, how did those same shoots survive when they were immediately covered with six inches of snow?  Perhaps it’s not just more welcome, it’s to be applauded for getting here at all.  I cannot use enough asparagus now. And when I saw Florence Fabricant’s recipe, it went to the top the what-to-cook-now list.   Ms. Fabricant is the longtime food critic for the New York Times.  She’s also the author of no less than eleven cookbooks.  Her beat at the Times includes gathering information on everything from Restaurant Openings to Chefs on the move to the latest in food trends and products. ( I am proud to say that Monte’s Ham was one of those when we first came to market. ) In addition to all her writing, she is an inspired cook and her recipes produce wonderful results.  This one is an excellent example of that.  In addition to supplying us with ample reason to eat more asparagus, Ms. Fabricant adds the sumptuous flavor of smoked salmon to a shallot cream sauce.  Then the sauce is poured over fresh green fettuccine noodles and sprinkled with dill. And all this happens in just over 30 minutes.  But first, a little about that smoked salmon. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Melissa Clark’s Mother’s recipe for Thyme-Roasted Chicken with Mustard Croutons and Melissa’s recipe for Brussels Sprouts Salad

Melissa Clark, Author of 29 Cookbooks

Mother's Day is upon us.  It's this Sunday, May 10th. It's time for good children (and their fathers) to treat Mom to a day completely devoid of cooking.  Although you can go the restaurant route and take Mom out to dinner, I can't help but think of my own Mother.  If I cooked for her at home, she would have applauded my thrift as much as any restaurant meal.  And what would I have made?  I immediately thought of this menu.  It is so simple that even most amateur of cooks can produce it easily. And it is simply delicious.  Besides, in a salute to Mother's Day, another mother came up with this recipe.  And she created it from one given to her by her famous food-writer daughter, The New York Times own Melissa Clark.    

Monday, May 4, 2015

It's Cinco de Mayo! Time to break out the Arrachera al Carbon! (That's Mexican for Beef Fajitas)

Get your party clothes on! It's Cinco de Mayo!
I’ve written at length previously about Cinco de Mayo, the May 5th salute to Mexico that’s more American than it is Mexican.  There it is celebrated in the province of Puebla and almost nowhere else.  So this year, I thought I’d introduce you to the history of one of my favorite make-at-home Mexican dishes, the fajita.  And like Cinco de Mayo, it’s not really Mexican either. It hails from the state that’s created Mexican cuisine all its own. That of course is Texas where Tex-Mex cooking began. In sharing the history of the fajita I leaned heavily on a ten year old article by Virginia B. Wood, who wrote it for the Austin Chronicle.  Thank you Virginia!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Strawberry Cheesecake

Marcus Porcius Cato
234-149 BC

If New York has a cake, it is most certainly our richly indulgent and sumptuously creamy cheesecake.  There is a lot of culinary history to support this claim.  And then there’s Junior’s, a Brooklyn Temple to Cheesecake which made history last year when its owner, Alan Rosen, rejected a $45 million offer to buy its downtown Brooklyn location.  Rosen simply didn’t have the heart to see the landmark torn down to be replaced by a condo tower.  That gives you some idea of how passionately New Yorker’s in general and Mr. Rosen in particular, feel about cheese cake.   Cheesecake itself goes back to the 1st Century AD.  According to an article written by Linda Stradley for the website,  Marcus Porcius Cato, a Roman politician and writer gave his recipe for “Libum”, a small cake used as a temple offering.  He wrote:  “Libum
Libum, the world's first
to be made as follows: 2 pounds cheese well crushed in a mortar; when it is well crushed, add in 1 pound bread-wheat flour” and then offered the first recorded piece of dietary advice about cheesecake, Cato adds: “Or, if you want it to be lighter, just 1/2 a pound, to be mixed with the cheese. Add one egg and mix all together well. Make a loaf of this, with the leaves under it, and cook slowly in a hot fire under a brick.” 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Springtime in a Bowl: Orecchiette with Sausage, Peas, Mint and Burrata

Last week, I went all the way back into the archives for Chewing the Fat.  I was astonished to see that an Orecchiette recipe that I posted very early on in the life of the blog has had precisely 40 visits. That is about 1/10th of what an average post should be.  The exact dish was a favorite of mine at a restaurant we still go to often.  It was so good that for a very long time, I never ordered anything else when we went there.   Sadly, there was a change of chef and the Orecchiette suffered immeasurably under his replacement.  It’s still on the menu but it is no longer the sumptuous sausage-rich version with its green broccoli rabe accents.  Now it’s too liquid-y and the sauce barely clings to the Orecchiette as it once did.  So I gave up on it at the restaurant.  But today, I started thinking about dinner and the fresh peas and sausage I had on hand and I decided to re-invent the dish as a celebration of Spring flavors.  The results were delightful.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Merguez Lamb Patties and Gold Raisin Couscous

Kibbi at Open Sesame 
in Long Beach, CA
I was quite surprised to read that lamb consumption is this country hit a new low last year. It's a decline that's been a long time coming.  The number of sheep raised in America is half what it was 20 years ago and one tenth of what the country raised in the late 1940s.  And it's not just lamb meat that's trending down. Wool has been replaced by synthetics that are less expensive. Fewer sheep, less lamb.  In fact, Americans now eat less than a pound of lamb a year.  As recently as the 1960s that figure was 4-1/2 lbs.  But for someone who grew up looking forward to lunch at his grandmother's because it almost inevitably meant a lamb chop, it's hard to understand why. Especially when you can make something as wonderful as these Merguez Lamb Patties.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Review of Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer #7: The Good. The Bad. The Meh. In the Flyer and On the Shelves

No Joke. These people are waiting
to get in to my Trader Joe's.
Trader Joe’s, the California-based food market, just cleaned the clocks of virtually all its competitors according to Consumer Reports Magazine. It scored an 87 out of 100.  While some local supermarkets beat it by a point (Wegmans in the East, Publix in the South and Sprouts in the West) the only national competitor, Costco, came in second with 84 points. 27,000 consumers gave Trader Joe’s high marks for service, perishables and very clean stores.  They also hit it out of the ballpark for their extraordinary (low) prices.  Since I live very close to a Trader Joe’s, which regularly has to “crowd control” on weekends, I would have to concur.  Trader Joe’s is a phenomenon.
I use the store on an almost daily basis.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Ina Garten's Roasted Shrimp with Feta

Shrimp is far and away the popular seafood in the country and has been for at least the last 10 years.  Nothing comes remotely close to per capita shrimp consumption which hit 3.6 lbs. last year.  Just for comparison, salmon catapulted to the second position beating canned tuna for the first time ever in 2013.  But it’s an also-ran with Americans eating fully a pound less of salmon than they do of shrimp.  Needless to say, I am a shrimp aficionado.  It is so easy to keep a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer.  They defrost in no time and like almost all seafood, they cook in record time.  So when I came across this Ina Garten recipe from her 2010 cookbook “How Easy is That?” (Clarkson Potter), I had to try it. The results were nothing short of remarkable.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Melissa Clark's Salmon with Anchovy-Garlic Butter

Melissa Clark
Before you turn the page on this wonderful dish, let me assure that those dried-out and dreadful anchovies that someone left atop your last Caesar Salad are not at work here.  Instead, these flavor makers are worth a great deal more than their weight in making this fast and easy dinner worthy of any Meatless Monday. The New York Times featured Melissa Clark's recipe last week and then added it to its "Food" Email blast this week.  And for good reason. It's a winner. I love Melissa whose recipes pepper this blog because they are always easy for a home cook to achieve using combinations of ingredients most of us haven’t thought of combining before. Certainly anchovies and salmon qualify there.  But the salty little fish really provide a wonderful contrast to the silky richness of the salmon.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A Tale of Two Chickens: Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk and Richard Olney's Chicken Gratin

Jamie Oliver's Chicken in Milk 
Richard Olney's Chicken Gratin 
Jamie Oliver
 I am a sucker for a good chicken recipe.  So the minute I saw that Food 52, one of my favorite food sites, had named Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk a “Community Favorite”, I rushed right out and bought a whole chicken and everything else needed to make it.  There were 85 reader comments about Jamie’s recipe, most of them in the ‘off the charts’ category of sheer love for this recipe.  And as I am a true fan of Mr. Oliver, I felt sure that I had found chicken nirvana. All the photos I take of what I’ve cooked are in files generally labeled with the exact recipe name.  Not so my Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk. Instead its file is entitled “Hideous Chicken”.   What went so radically wrong?  As readers know, I am pretty strict about following a recipe to a tee. I did in this case too. But I think I should have had fair warning when I read the following: “A one-pot technique for the most tender roast chicken, with the most strangely appealing sauce.”  The italics are mine.  The description went further, describing the strange thing that happens to the sauce.  It curdles.  There was an antidote to this curdling but Food52 brushed it away claiming that the curds are the best part and “the split sauce is actually the point”.  Well one man’s split sauce is another man’s idea of how to ruin a chicken. The bird itself was amazingly moist from the lactic acid in the milk I will give you that. But pouring the curdled, overly lemon sauce gave the chicken a terrible bitter taste and ruined it for me.  So you’d think I’d be put off Food52 for a while at least.  But last week, they published yet another chicken recipe. And it was not all that different from my "Hideous Chicken".  But this time, they had me at Gratin.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review of NYC's Tavern on the Green "Mad Men Menu" and their Chef, Jeremiah Tower's, 3 Recipes for cooking Chicken


         Long before food took over my life, I was a fairly normal individual who enjoyed dinner out as much as the next guy but who hardly would sit down and write about it.  I was also extremely fortunate in that I had a job which required a massive amount of travel and therefore a massive number of dinners out.  On one of those trips, I found myself in San Francisco or more precisely at Stars, Chef Jeremiah Tower’s wildly successful restaurant, which he had opened in 1984.  Chef Tower had an Architectural degree from Harvard but literally, on a stopover in San Francisco, his Architectural career took a back seat to his love of cooking.  He was an alumnus of Alice Water’s Chez Panisse, arguably the restaurant that single-handedly changed the way America cooked and what it ate. Stars was his brilliant second act.  How brilliant was it?  Well, I still remember what I ate there…a pork chop.  How it was cooked and what made it so exceptional is completely lost on me now, but I still remember it as one of the best things I ever ate anywhere on earth, thirty years later.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

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 this week that feel more like March.  That’s why these cupcakes jumped off the page—and, after Andrew added jelly beans, they clearly look like an Easter filled with color.  We're also celebrating what we consider to be quite an achievement.  Someone reading this will be the 1,000,000th reader of Chewing the Fat! That's right 1 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:

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:

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bangers, Mash and Red Onion 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  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:
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.