Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

December 30, 2010

Squid Ink Risotto

When I saw a packet of squid ink at the checkout counter of Agata & Valentina, I couldn’t resist. Once home, I didn’t know what to do with it. Meanwhile I was busy with Christmas happenings. The squid ink, however, gave me no peace. I studied several recipes before embarking on a composite. Just in case the risotto wouldn’t come out, I included my tried and true Shrimp with Garlic and Parsley dish.

I didn’t have to worry. “Excellent,” said George. I agreed. The shrimps played second fiddle.

Squid Ink Risotto
Shrimps with Garlic and Parsley
Mixed Salad
Wine: Urbano Torrontès
Dessert: Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Recipe: Squid Ink Risotto
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup of arborio or carnaroli rice
1 tablespoon white wine
2 ¼ cups chicken stock, heated
1 packet squid ink
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent. Add the rice and stir for a few minutes, coating the grains with the oil. Add the wine and enough chicken stock to cover the rice. Stir until the rice absorbs the liquid. Repeat, add a ladle of stock at a time, allow it to be absorbed until all stock is used. Cooking time will be about 18-20 minutes. Once the risotto is cooked add the squid ink, stir well, then add the Parmesan and season with salt.

To add a splash of color to the nearly black risotto, I topped the individual portions with red piquillo pepper strips. Not very Italian, but attractive. The Argentinean white wine is a recent discovery. Young and lively, it is very food friendly.

December 26, 2010

Perfect Weather for Duck

I thought hard about our Christmas dinnerand considered ham, rabbit and venison and--for one brief moment—goose before I hit on duck. Question was roast duck or duck breast? The fact that I don’t have the proper tool to carve a bird took care of that.

The next question was the wine. We had a bottle of Château de Beaucastel sitting in our closet. (Not the best storage place). The Wine spectator awarded 96 point to the 2005 vintage with the caveat: “Best from 2011 through 2030.” Since 2011 is just around the corner, I decided “now.” I opened the bottle three hours before serving and hoped for the best.


Duck Breast
Red Cabbage
Caramelized Apple
Wine: Château de Beaucastel 2005 Chateauneuf-du-Pape
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt; Chocolate Lebkuchen

Because cooked cabbage improves with age I prepared it a day in advance which was a blessing since it enabled me to concentrate on the duck. Ironically, the recipe calls for duck fat which I only produced once the duck was fully cooked. Luckily I had my tried-and-true goose fat in the refrigerator.

Recipe Red Cabbage

2 tablespoons rendered goose or duck fat
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 small red cabbage, shredded
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
Bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, four cloves, coriander and pepper seeds
tied in cheesecloth)
Salt and pepper
Water as needed
Opt. 1 tablespoon Madeira

Heat the fat in a large skillet, add the onion and cook till soft. Add the cabbage. Cook for about 15 minutes to soften somewhat, then add the apple, salt and pepper and the Bouquet garni. Mix well. Cook, covered, over low flame for about 45 minutes, adding some water if needed. When ready to serve, reheat, adjust seasoning and add the Madeira.

Recipe Duck Breast

1 Duck breast, boneless, cut in half
Salt and Pepper

With a sharp knife, score the skin sides of the breast in a diamond pattern. (This helps to render the duck fat and produces a crisp skin.) Pat dry and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the duck breasts, skin side down, in a Teflon coated pan over medium heat. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until all the fat has been rendered, removing the fat as you go. (Save the fat)
Turn the breasts over and sauté for another 10 to 15 minutes. The duck will be medium rare. The skin side will be fairly crisp. If not, sauté over high heat for another few minutes.
Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Arrange fan-like on individual plates.

P.S. The Château de Beaucastel was a winner. Can’t even imagine how much better it would be 10 or 15 years hence.

December 19, 2010

Gilding the Lily; Formidable Brussels Sprouts & Eating Memory

In some way or other, left over food items inspire the best of meals. Here I was with a package of frozen Porcini Tortellini, a pair of sweet Italian sausage, two slices of thickly cut bacon, and a recently arrived package from Germany with Nürnberger Lebkuchen.*

Any one who follows my blog knows that I don’t like sweets. So why am I suddenly salivating over chocolate covered gingerbread cookies? It's a case of eating memory. The Lebkuchen recall going shopping with Father at the Christmas market in Osterburg, Germany, buying Nürnberger Lebkuchen, the traditional Christmas cookies, baked in Nürenberg for hundred of years. Around Christmas a friend sends me a package with Nürnberger Lebkuchen: Chocolate Lebkuchen (gingerbread), Almond Lebkuchen, Lebkuchen-Sterne (stars), Chocolate Lebkuchen-Herzen (hearts), Honigplätzchen, and Spekukulatius. I select one after dinner, relishing every bite.


Porcini Tortellini with Sweet Peas and Italian Sausage
Bacon-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Wine: Cantina Zaccagnini 2006
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
Dessert: Chocolate Lebkuchen

The Tortellini dish all but cooked itself. I cooked the pasta as directed, sautéed the sausages, cut them into small pieces, and tossed them into the cooked pasta. To add color, I added precooked, small peas.

For years I ignored Brussels sprouts, thinking it a boring vegetable. Of course, it wasn’t the vegetable that was boring, but that I didn’t know what to do with them. I have since cooked Brussels sprouts in various ways. Preparing them with bacon is the best. (With an apology to my Kosher daughter-in-law.)

Recipe: Brussels sprouts

½ pound small, fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 slices thick bacon, cut into thin strips
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
¼ cup chicken stock

Parboil the Brussels sprouts in boiling water for 5 minutes, plunge them into cold water, drain and set aside. Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the bacon until crisp. Toss in the garlic and sauté until golden. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the stock and raise the heat. Let simmer until it reduces just enough to coat the Brussels sprouts.


December 16, 2010

The Perfect Winter Dish: Boeuf Bourguignon

With temperatures in the 20’s it was bound to happen: I cooked Boeuf Bourguignon. Not Julia Child’s full-fledged version, but a satisfying imitation stimulated by Ginette Mathiot’s “I Know How To Cook.” Cooking  stew is all about mis en place, which means having all the ingredients lined up and using them as directed.  After the initial chopping, sautéing and browning, you are home free. All you have to do is check the pot once in a while and let the stew to do its thing.


Boeuf Bourguinon
Wine: Delas Côtes du Ventoux 2008
Dessert: Grapes

Since stew tastes even better the second or third day, I cooked enough for two meals.

Recipe: Boeuf Bourguignon
1 tablespoon oil
3 shallots, chopped
4 slices of thick-cut bacon, diced
1½ pounds boneless flanken, cut into small cubes
Up to ¼ cup flour
1 1/4 cup chicken stock, more if needed
1 1/4 cup red wine, more if needed
1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 sprigs parsley,
small bark of cinnamon tied in cheesecloth)
1 orange peel
salt and pepper
½ package frozen white pearl onion
½ pound small porcini mushrooms
Chopped parsley for garnish

Day 1

1. In a heavy pan, heat oil. Add shallots and bacon and cook until browned. Remove and set aside, leaving the fat in the pan.
2. Add the meat and brown on all sides (work in batches as needed)
Sprinkled browned meat with flour, stir well.
3. Add the stock and mix well; then add the reserved bacon and onion, the wine, bouquet garni and orange peel. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cover and let simmer for 2 hours
5. Let cool. Remove the bouquet garni and orange peel and refrigerate

Day 2

1. Skim the fat from the stew and bring to a simmer
2. Sauté the mushrooms in oil to brown and mix into the stew.
3. Cook to pearl onions in the microwave for 4 minutes; sauté to lightly brown and incorporate into the stew.
4. Continue to cook for 30 minutes. (Add more stock and wine as needed.)
5. Season to taste.
6. Garnish with parsley

Tastes even better on Day 3—an ample reward for a labor of love.

December 14, 2010

Baked Salmon Vinaigrette with Home-Style Roasted Potatoes

I was intrigued by Teresa Barrenechea’s recipe that called for salmon vinaigrette. Since George loves salmon in any shape or form, I went for it. I had previously made the home-style roasted potatoes (see the blog of October 22nd) and liked the result. Since the salmon dish only requires 7 minutes and the potatoes need 30 minutes, I roasted the potatoes first and kept them covered to stay warm.


Baked Salmon with Vinaigrette
Home-style Roasted Potatoes
Green Salad
Wine: Domaine Faillenc Sainte Marie Corbières Blanc 2009
Dessert: Lindt 80% chocolate

Potato Recipe:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees

1 Yukon Potato, peeled and cut into medium-thick slices
1 red onion, cut into thin strips
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper
Opt. chopped parsley for garnish

Cover bottom of baking pan with some of the olive oil. Place potatoes, onions, olive oil, salt and pepper into a baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Mix before serving and garnish with chopped parsley.

Recipe Salmon

½ pound salmon fillet
1 small tomato, diced
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoons sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Sprinkle salmon with salt. Place on the baking sheet. Combine the tomatoes, scallions, oil, and vinegar. Spoon the mixture over the salmon and bake for 5 -7 minutes (for rare); 10 minutes for medium rare.

The roasted potatoes stole the show. George called the dish “exceptional,” and I agreed. Perhaps the extra resting time intensified their flavor.

Of late I’ve asked Will Helburn of Rosenthal Wine* for wine recommendations. Will suggested a white Corbières. On the first sip, the wine seemed much too buttery. As it turned out, it was the perfect match for the fatty salmon.

*Will Helburn/Rosenthal Wine Merchant
318 East 84 Street (212) 249-6650

December 11, 2010

The Inspirations of my Favorite Cookbooks

The New York Time’s recent list of newly published noteworthy cookbooks, made me recall the cookbooks that influenced me in the past, the ones I continue to enjoy, and those that are new discoveries.

The first book I read about food was M.F.K Fischer’s The Art of Eating. Fischer’s writing style bewitched me; her down-to-earth observations enchanted me; her love for food and wine and people kindled a like-wise desire. Recently married with a young child, staying at home no longer seemed boring. I started to cook.

My muse, of course, was Julia Child. Her television show became as important as going to the movies or to the opera. Her “Chicken Broiled with Mustard, Herbs, and Bread Crumbs” was my first triumph. It launched me on an upward spiral gastronomic adventure that endured for years. I could produce a salmon soufflé at the drop of a hat and thought nothing of preparing "Breast of Chicken in Chaud-froid". Gourmet Magazine became my Bible.

After a trip to Morocco, Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco taught me how to make tagines and preserved lemon. Cooking lessons with Giuliano Bugialli let to The Fine Art of Italian Cooking

Among the 600 odd cookbooks I have in my library, the ones I cherish now include Patricia Wells’
Simply French in which she presents the cuisine of Joël Robuchon. I particularly appreciate her trucs
such as:
                   “Unsalted water will come to a boil father than salted water,
                     so when cooking pasta in boiling water, it is most practical
                     to salt just before adding the ingredient. Make his a habit
                     and you’ll avoid the common problem of trying to remember
                     whether or not you salted in the beginning.”

Jane Grigson’s straightforward Fish Cookery continues to be an important source. Ed Giobbi’s Italian Family Cooking remains a favorite especially for his vegetable recipes. Louis Szathmáry’s The Chef’s
Secret Cook Book, gives valuable tips.

Teresa Barrenechea’s The Basque Table offers such a wealth of good recipes, it will take some time to incorporate them into my repertoire. The success I had with “Lightly Puffed Pan-fried Hake” and “Home-Style Roasted Potatoes” alone endear the book to me. Madhur Jaffrey’s At Home with Madhur Jaffrey helped me to overcome my fear of Indian spices. “Spicy Shrimp Stir-Fry”, the first recipe I followed,
proved successful. I’m moving on.

Since I usually prepare small quantities, I don’t bother with the oven and bake or broil in the toaster oven.
I don’t follow recipes slavishly, and seldom measure. I welcome recipes that stimulate me to prepare dishes
I didn’t know before. They add zest to our dinners.

December 4, 2010

Lamb Burger with a Twist

After all those fish and fowl dinners, I longed for unadulterated red meat. Medium-rare lamb burger was the perfect choice. I always buy freshly ground meat in the late afternoon. This way, the meat retains its moisture and red color. Instead of serving the burgers on a bun, I used English muffins, lightly toasted, spread with butter.

To stay in the Indian mode, I followed Madhjur Jaffrey’s recipe for Potato Chaat. The advantage of this dish is threefold: it tastes terrific, goes well with lamb, and has to be made in advance. 


Lamb Burger
Cole Slaw
Potato Chaat
Wine: Crozes- Hermitage Michel Poinard 2007
Dessert: Chocolate Frozen Yoghurt

Recipe Potato Chaat

½ pound red potatoes, boiled, allowed to cool, and peeled (do not refrigerate)
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Cayenne pepper
Cumin seeds, roasted and ground
Lemon juice
Opt. Cilantro, chopped

Cut the peeled potatoes into thin slices. Put into a bowl together with the rest of the ingredients and mix well. (Start with small amounts of spices and adjust accordingly). Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Crozes Hermitage, a lesser cousin of the noble Hermitage, added to the enjoyment of this multi ethnic meal.

December 1, 2010

Gone Indian: Spicy Shrimp

George and I love Indian food. Unfortunately, the Indian restaurant in our neighborhood doesn’t measure up to expectations. Although I had vowed not to buy another cookbook, I succumbed to Madhur Jaffrey’s latest opus “At Home with Madhur Jaffrey”. Jaffrey delivers her promise to simplify the use of Indian spices which, to a novice, can be mind blowing. I went to Kalustyan*, the Indian spice mecca on Lexington Ave., and replenished my Indian staples of ground coriander, cumin and cayenne pepper, with  cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, and ground turmeric which, according to Jaffrey, together form the cornerstone of Indian cooking.


Spicy Shrimp
Steamed Rice
Roasted Grape Tomatoes
Wine: Dr. Konstantine Frank, Gewürztraminer, 2007
New York Finger Lakes
Dessert: Fruit Salad

Shrimp Recipe

3/4 pound medium-sized shrimp with shell
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon lemon juice

I shelled the shrimps, covered the shells with water, brought it to a boil and the let it simmer for 10 minutes. I strained the liquid. Once cooled, I poured it in a mini ice tray and put into the freezer. (This is a good beginning to assemble fish stock.) Next. I patted the shelled shrimps dry and placed them in a bowl together with the turmeric, cayenne, coriander, cumin and salt.

I heated the oil in a sauté pan, added the garlic and let it soften. Then I added the shrimp, lowered the heat and cooked the shrimp until they turned opaque and slightly red, about 3 to 4 minutes. I removed the pan, added the lemon juice and tossed to mix. I placed the shrimps in the center of the plate, and arranged the rice around them.

Since the shrimp dish was my first attempt at Indian cooking, I didn’t make any of the suggested rice dishes, figuring I would be too occupied with the shrimps. As it turned out, I didn’t have to worry. The dish was easy to make and had that intriguing Indian flavor. I’ll definitely venture on.


November 28, 2010

Small Bird vs Big Bird: Rock Cornish Game Hen

Since we were going to have Thanksgiving dinner at George’s brother’s house whose wife is a fabulous cook, I decided to celebrate Thanksgiving Eve with Rock Cornish Game Hen. Actually, this is neither a game bird, nor a hen, but a baby chick that weighs about 1 pound.


Roasted Cornish Hen
Sautéed Mushrooms
Cranberry Sauce *
Wine: Chiroubles, Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois, 2009
Dessert: Biscotti

Recipe: Cornish Hen

2 Cornish Hens, butterflied, patted dry
Salt and pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
¼ cup Madeira

Preheat oven to 400°.
Rub the skin of the chicken with 1 tablespoon of butter. Season with salt and pepper. Smear an ovenproof baking dish with additional butter. Add the rosemary springs. Place the chicken on top of the rosemary sprigs, skin side up, and put into the oven. Baste several times with pan juices. Roast for 25 minutes, or until the juices run clear. Remove the dish to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Let rest while making the sauce.

Place a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the garlic in butter and olive for about 2 minutes. Scrap up juices from the baking pan and add to the skillet. Add the Madeira and bring to a boil. Cook until reduced by half. Adjust seasoning.

Carve the chicken and arranged on a serving plate. Pour the sauce over it and garnish with the rosemary springs.

The Beaujolais, recommended by Will Helburn of Rosenthal Wine, dispersed my prevbious prejudices against Beaujolais. A cru Beaujolais from a small producer, it was a bright and youthful wine, with just  enough fruitiness. I will definitely add the wine to our wine list.

*Store-bought at Ottomanelli

November 21, 2010

Culinary Odds & Ends: Observations and Recommendations

In my effort to bring good and interesting meals to the table, I’m always on the look-out for different opportunities. These are some recent results.

Cheater’s Chili

Chef Frank of Ottomanelli makes an excellent beef chili. At $5.00 a pint, it is just right for the two of us. I used to make a big pot of chili for New Year’s Day, kept it on the stove, put sour cream, grated cheddar, plates, glasses, paper napkins, silverware, and red wine on the kitchen table, and invited friends to come over at 5 o’clock. Cooking chili for two people doesn’t make sense. Thanks Ottomanelli.


Beef Chili
Canadian Diamond Cheddar, grated
White Mountain Rolls
Mixed Salad
Wine: Domain Monpertuis, Côtes du Rhône
“Vignoble de la Ramiere”, 2008
Dessert: Italian Ricotta Cheese Cake

Ottomanelli’s chili contains the right balance of meat, beans, red and green peppers. Since it is fairly mild, I added some Sazón Goya’s seasoning and a dash of Madeira. The White Mountain rolls from Glaser’s Bakery are soft and fluffy, slightly sweet, with a faint taste of yeast. They are ideal for soaking up the sauce.

I am assembling wines for our winter dinners. This beautiful Côtes du Rhône
will definitely go on our wine list. Juicy, bright and red fruited, it paired nicely with the chili.

Featherlight Moussaka*

Going to Saigon Grill to buy our monthly Royal Bouillabaisse, I passed a newly opened shop selling homemade Greek food. The place is the size of a doll’s house; the dishes, coming out of the tiny kitchen on sheet pans, look appealing. I bought two portions of moussaka, a portion of Greek salad and a small container of thick yoghurt with honey. Coming home with two meals, I decided the bouillabaisse could wait a day, and served the Greek food. The béchamel had the texture of light custard; the ratio of meat to potatoes was just right. It was an unexpected, lovely meal.

I served the moussaka with the red Portuguese Periquita wine. Next time I’ll look for a Greek wine.

*Anthi’s Greek Food (212) 787-1007
614A Amsterdam (90th Street)

Glaser’s Bake Shop

Nothing beats Glaser’s for honest-to-goodness pies, Danish pastries, brownies, black and white cakes, old-fashioned White Mountain rolls, and a fantastic assortment of Viennese-styled cookies. No wonder the line for their Thanksgiving pumpkin and pecan pies extends around the block. The bakery was established in 1902. The present baker, Herb Glaser Jr. represents the third generation of the Glaser family.

Glaser’s Bake Shop (212) 289-2562
First Ave. at 87th St.

Two Little Red Hens (212) 452-0476
1652 Second Ave. 86 St.

Squeezed between Schaller & Weber and Old Heidelberg, this hole-in-the-wall bakery/café is small on space, but big on cupcakes.

Good News for Upper East Siders

The Saturday Greenmarket on 82nd St. betw. First and York Ave, will stay open year round. In addition to the remaining stands with winter vegetables, apples, pears, cider and baked goods, the fish stand from Hampton Bays, Calkins Creamery, and the Pride of NY wine, there are an increasing number of special services. I had my knives and scissors sharpened for a third of what the hardware store charges. A cookbook author, might offer samples from her book. Two young, enterprising singers might treat visitors to a medley of show tunes and opera arias.

On Monday, Dec. 5th you can have your useless papers shredded at the 92nd St. Greenmarket on First Ave. For information what’s coming when, check www.grownyc.org, or call (212) 788-7476.

November 14, 2010

Chicken Cutlet with Saffron Rice

This dish is so simple to prepare, a child could whip it up (providing you’d let your child near the hot burner.) To compliment the chicken cutlet, I wanted the rice to have more oomph. For a moment, I toyed around with the idea of flavoring the rice with white truffles. But, at $350 an ounce, that was no option. Luckily, I had saved some strands of saffron in a tightly closed jar and decided this was the perfect time to use them.
As usual I cooked the rice in the rice cooker. The saffron accomplished two things: it imbued the rice with a deep orange color, exuded an enticing aroma and heightened the flavor. The chicken all but cooked itself.
The only trick here is timing. The chicken has to be cooked and served à la minute. The saffron has to be steeped for at least 20 minutes. The rice takes about 45 minutes to cook. The eggs are no brainers. You do the math.


Hard boiled eggs, stuffed with salmon roe*
Chicken cutlet
Saffron Rice
Braised Brussels sprouts
Wine: Pouilly-Fume 2008, Pascal Jolivet
Dessert Muscat Grapes

*The best way to cook hard boiled eggs is to put them in pan and cover with cold water. When the water boils, shut it off and let the eggs sit in the water for 10 minutes. Remove and rinse in cold water and peel immediately. Scoop out the eggs yolk, mash and mix with the salmon roe. If desired, add a little soft butter.


The Rice

Steep three strands of saffron in 1 cup of warm water for 20 minutes. If necessary break apart.
1 cup sushi rice, rinsed several times under cold water
½ cup Mirin sauce
½ cup rice vinegar
1 bouillon cube, crushed
2 bay leaves
A splash of corn or vegetable oil

Put the washed rice into the rice cooker. Add the above ingredients, cover the rice and cooker and turn on the heat. The rice cooker will shut off automatically after about 20 minutes after which it takes another 20 minutes for the rice to settle and cook through. Remove bay leaf and adjust seasoning.

The Chicken

1 chicken breast, boned and skinned, cut into 2 pieces and flattened out
Salt and pepper
About 1 tablespoon clarified butter
Lemon wedges
Chopped curly parsley for garnish

Dry the chicken breasts thoroughly on a paper towel
Season both sides with salt and pepper
Heat the butter in a nonstick frying pan
Sauté chicken breast in the hot butter for 1 minute on each side.
Serve immediately with lemon wedges and chopped parsley.

November 7, 2010

Red Snapper with Anchovy Butter

Red snapper is such a delicate fish, the less you do with it, the better. Serving it with flavored butter was George’s idea. It reminded us of Kay Hansen, our first great chef at La Colombe d’ Or who used to serve our Tom Cat bread with three different kinds of flavored butter, changing them from day to day. With the advent of olive oil, butter went out of style. I, for one, am ready to resurrect it. Trying to decide between mustard, tarragon or anchovy butter, I opted for the anchovy one.

Red Snapper with Anchovy Butter
Mashed Potatoes
Broccoli Rabe
Wine: Alsace Gentile de Katz 2009
Dessert: Chocolate Yoghurt with Belgian Wafer Cookies


¾ pound red snapper fillet, cut into two portions
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 tablespoon or more anchovy paste
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
Lemon juice and lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Incorporate the softened butter, anchovy paste, chopped parsley and a bit of lemon juice and set aside. Place the fillets, skin side down, on a lightly oiled baking dish. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the fish. Transfer the fish to a serving plate and top with a portion of the flavored butter. Serve with lemon wedges.

This was a lovely dish and easy to prepare. The highly recommended Alsatian wine was a tad too sweet to compliment the dish.

November 1, 2010

Chicken Braised in Beer With Belgian Endives

A Labor of Love

“Tastes better than any coq au vin,” said George. Reward enough for the effort in preparing this dish, inspired by Ruth Van Warebeek’s “Everybody Eats Well in Belgium Cookbook.” Make no mistake, this is the kind of labor intensive dish, I used to prepare in my Julia Child’s heydays. To start with, I bought a whole chicken, something I hadn’t done in ages. I trimmed the chicken pieces of excess fat and put the chicken wings and back aside for making stock. As I went on to brown, braise, and cook the dish, I wasn’t at all sure about the outcome. But by the time I had reduced the sauce, magic had happened: the endives had all but melted; he sauce was rich and full of flavor.


Braised Chicken with Endives
Mixed Salad
Beer: (George) Duval
Wine: (Helen) Côtes du Rhône Delas, 2008
Dessert: Muscat Grapes

1 chicken, cut into serving pieces, patted dry
Salt and pepper
Flour to coat
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 Belgian endives, cored and halved
2 teaspoons sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
2 shallots, peeled and minced
1/2cup of Belgian beer, such as Duval
Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dust lightly with flour. Heat the butter and oil in a heavy Dutch oven and brown the chicken pieces on all side. Transfer the chicken to a platter and set aside.

Sprinkle the endives with sugar, add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the endives to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shallots and cook for about 2 minutes to soften.

Place the chicken pieces over the vegetables, add the beer. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Remove the chicken. Raise heat and boil the sauce to reduce by about half. Adjust seasoning. When ready to serve, arrange the chicken pieces on a plate, spoon sauce over it, and sprinkle with parsley.

I gained a new respect for endives, a hitherto loser vegetable in my mind. Having braised the endivews, I know better now: endive is a winner.

October 28, 2010

A Cheese Blow Out

A chapter in R. W. Apple, Jr.’s recent book “Far Flung and Well Fed” mentioned the Michelin three star rated restaurant La Pyramide, in Vienne. It reminded me of our lunch there, sitting in the garden, finishing a late lunch with St. Marcelline –Fernand Point’s favorite cheese-- accompanied by Condrieu. A confirmed sentimentalist, I tried to simulate that experience and went to Zabar’s in search of St. Marcelline. In addition I bought three more cheeses and was on my way for another cheese dinner. I toyed around with the idea of buying a bottle of Condrieu, but I wasn’t ready to spend $50. Instead I opted for a fruity Alberiño.

The Cheese Plate
Queso Leonora
Pont L‘Êvêque
St. Marcelline


Fresh Green Figs
Pink Lady Apple
Roasted, Unsalted Almonds
Pumpernickel bread
Sour Dough Roll
Wine: Rías Baixas Alberiño, 2009
Dessert: Biscotti

Tangy and robust, the soft-ripened goat cheese Queso Leonora from Leon, Spain was my favorite. The little known Langres was another winner. It is a soft ripened cow cheese from the Champagne region with a nearly sweet and subtle flavor. The cheese is washed with an orange pigment from the Annatto tree and flavored with a local Marc de Champagne

I didn’t have Pont l'Êvêque for a long time, but recalled it as being very creamy and pungent. Sure enough, it was so creamy it practically ran off the cheese board. It also had the pleasant after-kick I remembered.

Oddly enough, the eagerly anticipated the St. Marcelline, was a disappointment. It came in a small plastic crock, was buttery all right, but had little else going for itself. Perhaps the cheese is too young and delicate to travel and best to buy it at the source.

The Rías Baixas Albeirñro ($18.) from the northwest region of Spain in Galicia, was an excellent choice. The wine is made from the Albariño grape which is likened to both Riesling and Viognier. No wonder, I liked it.

October 22, 2010

A Double Winner: Chicken Breasts with Garlic & Parsley/Home-Style Roasted Potatoes

This was a terrific meal. The chicken breasts were succulent, perfectly cooked and nicely flavored. The potato dish was a winner: it required little effort and was so tasty, we could have eaten twice as much. No question, I’ll incorporate it into my cooking repertoire. Both recipes were adapted from Teresa Barrenechea’s The Basque Table.   

Chicken Breasts with Garlic & Parsley
Home-Style Roasted Potatoes
Wine: Springtown, Oregon Pinot Noir 2006
Dessert: TCNY Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

Potato Recipe:

1 Yukon Potato, peeled and cut into medium-thick slices
1 red onion, cut into thin strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt & white pepper
Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Place potatoes, onions, olive oil, salt and pepper into a baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Mix before serving and garnish with chopped parsley.                                                 

Chicken Recipe:

1 boned chicken breast with skin cut in half
Salt and a few dried pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
About 2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil

Salt chicken breasts. Mix the parsley, garlic and olive oil in a small bowl. Rub the mixture over the both sides of the chicken. Heat olive oil in a skillet. Add the chicken breasts, skin side down and sauté over high heat for 1 minute. Reduce heat and sauté for about 3 more minutes. Turn over, raise the heat and sauté for 2 minutes, reduce the heat, and continue to sauté for another 2 minutes, or until cooked through. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

The only sour grapes, literally, was the wine. It lacked structure and tasted thin. Judging by its ridiculous label, I should have known better. But, the wine salesman assured me this was a fine example of New World Pinot.

October 19, 2010

My Favorite Winter Vegetables

As much as I like summer, come the first nippy days, I’m ready for a change. The most dramatic switch is from salads to vegetables. Luckily, the farmers market on 82nd Street
off York Avenue, offers the freshest, most appealing vegetables. I came home with an armful of tender, young carrots, golden–colored cauliflowers, and baby-sized Brussels sprouts.

To avoid vegetable overkill, I opened two cans of sardines, dribbled some lemon juice over them and served them with hard boiled eggs as an appetizer.

Boneless Portuguese Canned Sardines in Olive Oil
Hard Boiled Eggs
Caramelized Carrots
Baked Cauliflower with Cheese
Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar
Wine: Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2009

George loved the caramelized carrots because they were nice and sweet. Personally I prefer carrots râpées, but am usually too lazy to grate them.

Caramelized Carrots
1 bunch baby carrots 
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and a pinch of sugar

I peeled the carrots, cut them into 1” sized pieces, and steamed them over boiling water till tender (about 35-40 minutes). When ready to serve, I sautéed the carrots with butter in a hot skillet, added salt and sugar and cooked them until lightly browned.
Cauliflower seems an underestimated vegetable. I like it a lot, particularly cooked this way. 

Baked Cauliflower with Cheese

1small head of cauliflower
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil (more if needed)
Sea salt and black pepper
Grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

I cut the cauliflower into florets and arranged them in a single layer in an oven-proof baking dish. Next, I sprinkled lemon juice over the cauliflower, drizzled the florets with olive oil, and added salt and pepper.  I baked the dish in the preheated oven, uncovered, till cooked through (about 30-35 minutes), and the tops had turned lightly brown. I removed the baking pan from the oven and poured the remaining pan juices over the cauliflower and sprinkled them with a generously portion of finely grated Parmesan.
As a child, I hated Brussels sprouts. The fact that my family assured me that one day I might find a pearl in one of the Brussels sprouts did nothing to alleviate my intense dislike for the dish. Who knows? Maybe they overcooked the Brussels sprouts. Maybe my palate has grown more sophisticated. Anyway, I have totally changed my mind.

Brussels sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 pound Brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon butter
Salt & pepper

The Brussels sprouts were so small, they didn’t need any trimming. I blanched the sprouts in boiling water for 5 minutes, drained and rinsed them under cold water.

I heated the olive oil in a skillet and sautéed the garlic for a few minutes. Next, I tossed the Brussels sprouts into the skillet and sautéed them for about 8 minutes. (I like them slightly underdone.) Then I poured the Balsamic vinegar over the sprouts. To finish I added the butter, salt and pepper.

October 14, 2010

Veal Birds with Olives

The autumn weather put me in the mood for some serious cooking. After some back and forth, I decided to cook veal birds. Under one name or other--Fleisch Rouladen (meat roulades) in my case, and oiseaux sans tête, (birds without a head) in George’s case—veal birds were part of our respective culinary background.


Veal Birds with Olives
Mashed Potatoes*
Wine: Willm Riesling 2009
Dessert: Fresh Pineapple

Veal birds appear in many different guises. Looking at various recipes I came up with the following composite. The dish takes longer in the telling than in the making, particularly since  I prepared as much as possible in advance.


2 thin large veal scallops, evenly pounded
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 thin slices of boiled ham
2 ¼ pickle, cut lengthwise

I spread the mustard on one side of the veal scallops and topped each scallop with a slice of ham and the pickle. Then I rolled the scallops up and secured the jelly-like role with kitchen twine. I wrapped the birds in aluminum foil and refrigerated.  


2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, peeled and chopped
¾ cup grape tomatoes, cut in halves
2 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed
1/4 cup pitted Picholine olives
Salt, black pepper, and a few flakes of crushed red pepper
Optional: A plash of Madeira

I heated the oil in a skillet, added the shallots, and cooked to color lightly, about 5 minutes. When done, I removed the shallots with a slotted spoon, raised the heat and added the veal birds to the pan, browning them on all sides. 
I returned the sautéed shallots to the skillet, added the tomatoes, and the garlic. I lowered the heat and cooked everything through for 10 minutes. Next, I removed the veal birds, tossed in the olives, raised the heat, added a splash of Madeira, and seasoned to taste.  

I removed the strings from the veal birds and cut George’s portion into small slices. I arranged the slices on a plate and surrounded the meat with the vegetables.  

*Store-bought and warmed in the microwave oven with a generous portion of butter. 

October 8, 2010

Reminiscing over a Bottle of Chateau Haut-Brion 2001

George has been home for 10 days. I planned a simple dinner with pasta and cheese.

“Let’s have the Bordeaux Julien gave us,” said George who hadn’t had a sip of wine since his hospital stay. He was referring to the Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, brought by his brother. I thought it was a brilliant idea.

The Haut Brion was good, but it wasn’t great. I should have opened the bottle two hours ago. But then, who knew?

We had the pasta and enjoyed the Roquefort Société, Goat Gouda and Asiago while reminiscing about the memorable meals we have had on our travels.

“Best fish?” No question. We agreed on Loup de Mère at Tetou in Golfe Juan where we spent two months in a garden apartment across the street from the restaurant. It was only natural that we should become habitués. George opted for the Bouillabaisse at Chez Michel in Marseille—his great love.

“Best chicken?” At L’Ami Louis in Paris where we finished lunch and two bottles of wine at 4 o’clock and appeared that evening, stuffed and tired, at Joël Robuchon where we had made dinner reservations a month ago. The spit-roasted chicken doused in cognac and pistachio nuts by the joke-cracking chef/owner of L’Auberge des Seigneurs in Vence. And the extraordinary, juicy, crisp-skinned Poulette at Michel Bra in Laguiole, an ardenous Schlepp from Montpellier, but worth every kilometer.  .

“Best lunch?” The homemade charcuterie and beef stew at Café Sjiek in Maastrich; in the kitchen at Comme Chez Sois in Brussels; the buffet around the pool at La Mamounia in Marrekesh; in the garden of Le Pigonnet in Aix-en-Provence; and at Azrak in San Sebastian.

Once we hit the memory button, there was no stopping. What about the hors d’oeuvre beneath the Leger ceramics in the courtyard of La Colombe d'Or in St. Paul de Vence after which we named our restaurant in New York? The Bollito Misto at Diana in Bologna. Or dashing to Wheeler’s in London, after the theater, for Dover sole, Stilton and port.

We finished our meal long before we got around to best dinners. We have traveled a lot and eaten at so many places, it would take time to remember them. Besides, why blow it all during one meal? Nothing is more delightful than talking about food while eating.

October 3, 2010

Salmon with Avocado Remoulade

Unlike George, I am not enamored with salmon. To please George, I went to buy it at Agata & Valentina. The lady ahead of me bought King salmon which was $6.00 more than regular salmon.

“Is it worth the difference?” I asked.

“Definitely,” she said. She was right.


Salmon with Avocado Remoulade Sauce
Mashed potatoes (GS)
Salad (HS)
Wine: Giesen Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Dessert: Caramelized Apple Slices


1 ripe avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
About 2 teaspoons green onions, finely chopped
About 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
1teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

I put the avocado, lemon juice, onions and parsley in the food processor
and blended it, gradually adding the olive oil, and seasoned the mixture with mustard, salt and pepper. I stored the sauce in a bowl, covered it with seran wrap and kept it in a cool place till ready to use.


¾ lb King salmon fillet, cut into two portions
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
Lemon wedges for garnish

I seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper and sautéed the fish, skin
side down, for about 3 minutes per side. I plated the salmon and
served it alongside the avocado sauce.

The look of the pale green remoulade and the glistening pink salmon
alone made me root for this dish. More important, this salmon was succulent and infinitely flavorful. George awarded the avocado sauce
two stars.

October 1, 2010

Thinking Soft

Meatloaf in Spring Rolls Skin

George’s appetite is improving. His only diet restriction is that the food must be soft. I tried to come up with a tasty and interesting meal. I made a meatloaf and folded it into delicate spring rolls skins. To appease my preference for crunchy food, I made a big salad.


Meatloaf in Spring Rolls Skin
Pureed green peas
Wine: Giesen Sauvignon Blanc, 2009
Dessert: Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream

Recipe: Meatloaf in spring rolls

¾ lb ground round
Bread soaked in beef broth
A chunk of soft liverwurst
Ketchup, salt, pepper Tabasco sauce, soy sauce
4 spring rolls skins

I separated the seasoned meatloaf into two separate loafs. Since I didn’t want any crust, I brushed the meat loafs with soy sauce and baked them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Next, I soaked the spring rolls skins in warm water to soften, placed slices of meatloaf on top of each and rolled them up. To finish, I sautéed the filled spring rolls briefly in butter.

“Tastes terrific,” said George.

I knew we were on our way and treated myself to two glasses of Giesen Sauvignon Blanc.

September 27, 2010

The Feast of The Squab

When the doctor told me that George was about ready to come home, I decided to have a little feast. Squab, that special little bird with
all dark meat, seemed tailor-made for the occasion. I ordered the bird
a day in advance and had the butcher butterfly and whack the breast
so that the bird would cook evenly.


Broiled Squab
Baby Peas
Sliced Tomatoes
Wine: Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir, 2009
Dessert: 85% Lindt Dark Chocolate

Recipe: Squab

1 squab, butterflied
2 tablespoons butter
about 1 tablespoon, chopped Italian parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
11/2 tablespoons soy sauce

Preheat broiler

Melt the butter in a small skillet. Add chopped parsley, minced garlic
and soy sauce. When the mixture boils, remove from heat. Brush the
squab with the basting liquid and place in preheated oven, skin side
up, and broil for 12-15 minutes. Turn the squab, baste once more with
the liquid, and broil for 5 minutes. The squab will be cooked medium
rare, which, I think, is perfect.

Frankly, the expected squab epiphany never happened. The bird was perfectly cooked, but impossible to cut. I ended up tearing it with
my hands-- which I don’t mind--but George would never tolerate.
The basting liquid was terrific. I’ll definitely adapt it for
other occasions.

Looking back, the dinner was Rabelaisian rather than festive. I'll do festive once George can eat everthing again. I am thinking risotto
with white truffles and blini with caviar.

September 23, 2010

Dinner without George

Veal Scallops with Mustard Sauce

My Wiener Schnitzel meal put me in the mood for veal and veal scallops
with mustard sauce fitted the bill. The dish can be prepared within minutes; the flavor is terrific.


Veal Scallops with Mustard Sauce
Mixed green salad with Feta cheese
Wine: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir 2008
Dessert: Lindt 85% dark chocolate

Recipe: Veal Scallops

½ pound veal scallops, cut into 1” cubes
Salt, black pepper, 4-5 crushed red pepper flakes
Flour to dust
2 tablespoons clarified butter
2 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup white wine
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Chopped Italian parsley for garnish

Season the veal scallops and dust them lightly with flour. Heat the butter in a skillet, add scallions and cook for 5 minutes without browning. Raise heat, add the veal, cook for 1 minute per side and remove. Add the wine to the skillet and bring to a boil. Cook until the mixture is reduced. Whisk in the mustard and boil for a few minutes. Season to taste. Arrange the veal on a plate. Spoon the sauce over it and garnish with parsley.

I had bought ½ pound of veal and was sure I’d have enough left over for the next day. No such luck: the dish was so tasty, I finished every morsel. I’ll definitely cook it again, maybe adding piquillo peppers or roasted tomatoes.

The New Zealand Pinot Noir is the perfect veal wine—harder to pronounce than to drink.

September 19, 2010

Dinner without George

Wiener Schnitzel (veal escalope)

In my family, Wiener Schnitzel was considered a special dish, usually served when we had company. Since then, I have enjoyed Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna and at chef Kurt Guttenbrunner’s restaurants in New York, but I have never cooked it. Now, it stuck me as the ideal one person dish. Besides it would remind me of my childhood, spent in Germany.

In the morning, I had bought baby eggplants at the Farmer’s Market, the size of my pinky finger. I was eager to try them.

“Just sauté them with oil and some garlic,” the eggplant’s grower advised.


Baby eggplants
Wiener Schnitzel (Veal Escalope)
Wine: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, 2008
Dessert: Biscotti

Recipe: Baby eggplant
Olive oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
about ¾ pounds of baby eggplants, green top removed, washed and dried
Salt and pepper

I sautéed the garlic in hot oil and removed them just before they turned brown. Next, I sautéed the eggplants for about 20 minutes, returned the garlic, seasoned the dish and covered it to keep warm.

Recipe Veal Escalope

6 oz. veal escalope, pounded evenly
Salt, pepper, and Pimentòn de la Vera
Flour to dust
1 egg yolk, beaten
about ¼ cup of bread crumbs
2 lemon slices
Chopped parsley for garnish

I seasoned the veal, dusted it lightly with flour, dunked it in the egg wash, and turned it in the breadcrumbs until well coated. (This could be made ahead of time and refrigerated till ready to use.) I heated the butter in a skillet and sautéed the veal until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. I transferred the veal to a plate, poured the remaining hot butter over it, and dressed it with the lemon and parsley.

The veal was perfectly cooked, but it was shy on flavor and would have benefited from some anchovy butter. I popped the cute looking eggplants into my mouth, which was rather fun. But, they tasted nothing like eggplants and had little flavor. I obviously had missed something here and could use some suggestions.

The dinner was a pleasant experiment. The light and fruity New Zealand Pinot Noir tight it nicely together.

September 16, 2010

Dinner without George: Skate

Yesterday was George’s birthday. His brother and sister-in-law had planned a party. Alas, George is still in the hospital and we observed the day according to the ICU rules: no flowers, no food, no champagne.

A friend invited me for dinner, but I needed to be home. I cooked skate--
a fish I love-- dressed with my favorite condiments. At first, I thought
I would have Prosecco, but dismissed that as being too pretentious. Besides, as much as I like champagne or sparkling wine for an aperitif, I don’t think it pairs well with food. I decided on Wilm’s Alsatian 2009 Riesling instead.


Skate Mayonnaise
Yellow baby tomatoes
Wine: Wilm Riesling 2009
Dessert: Biscotti

Jane Grigson’s paper bag "Fish Cookery" came out in 1973. Rediscovering it among my cookbooks, I became a new devotee. Those were the days
when butter and cream reigned high and the pleasures of the table were
not measured by counting calories. Grigson gives five recipes for skate.
The one I liked best was skate mayonnaise. It also fitted into my
schedule. I prepped everything in the morning and assembled the rest
in the evening.

Recipe Skate Mayonnaise

Instead of poaching the fish in court-bouillon, I poached it in white wine, spiked with bay leaves and a bouquet garni. As suggested, I dressed the poached fish with a little vinaigrette, made with lemon juice and olive oil.

In the evening, I seasoned Kiwi mayonnaise with lemon and added a lot of
capers. I put some lettuce leaves on the place, arranged the skate on top
and poured the mayonnaise over it.

I lapped it all up. At the end I made little mayo and lettuce sandwiches. The Riesling did the rest. Only George was missing.

September 12, 2010

My Dinner without George

Cod with Mustard Butter

It looks like George is going to be in the hospital for quite some time. My dinners have been sporadic and not very good: store bought, dried chicken, overpriced and underdressed Cobb salad,  tough roast beef Tartine, and a boring Pad Thai.

I went to the Farmer’s market this morning, essentially to buy plums and
cherry tomatoes and ended up buying sweet red baby peppers and a beige colored cauliflower not larger than a man’s fist. I remembered the fantastic taste of these cauliflowers from last year: superior to any cauliflower I had tasted before. I waited a year to experience that taste again. When I bought a piece of cod from Long Island  fish vendor I knew I was going to cook tis evening after my return from
the hospital. The very thought made me feel good.


Cod with Mustard Butter
Roasted sweet baby red peppers
Yellow tomatoes, sliced
Wine: Vin de Savoie, Appremont 2008
Dessert: Biscotti

Prep: Sweet Red Baby Peppers

I removed the green stems  from the peppers, brushed them with oil, and baked them in the preheated for about 25 minutes. When done, I scooped out the seeds of which there were few.

Prep: Mustard Butter

I combined 2 tablespoons of softened butter with 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard and seasoned  the mixture with salt and pepper.


6 oz. cod

I brushed the cod with clarified butter and sautéed it in a hot pan for 3-4 minutes on each side. (Cooking fish, I go more by feel than by timing).

I had already placed the red peppers and yellow tomatoes on the serving plate and put the cod in the center, napping it generously with the mustard butter. The cold mustard butter melted when it hit the warm cod. . The dish could have used some boiled potatoes, but I couldn’t be bothered and was just as happy to soak up that sauce with chunks of bread.

I savored the meal and raised a glass of wine to my absent George. Unfortunately, the wine didn’t stand up to the dish. Buttery and macho, it demanded an equally rich, and mighty wine.

Tomorrow I’ll cook the cauliflower and have it with a skirt steak

September 6, 2010

Dinner at the Hospital: Chicken Breast with Rosemary Broiled over Bread

George is in the hospital with pneumonia. He had been coughing and had difficulty breathing for about six weeks. We saw two doctors. The first messed up our appointment; the second suggested a nose spray. George ran no fever and had a fairly good appetite. Who knew?

The first night we didn’t eat at all because George was in the emergency wing where they had run out of food. When a bed finally became available at the hospital, they moved George to the ICU to a room that overlooks the East River.

The first dinner didn’t look great. In fact we couldn’t tell what it was. But, the meat was tender and surprisingly tasty. Beginner’ luck or hunger is the best chef.

Next day’s dinner offered “Pork Roast with Gravy.” The pork was overcooked; the gravy stuck to the plate and wouldn’t budge.

George’s appetite had returned. Time for action.


Deviled Eggs
Chicken Breast with Rosemary Broiled over Bread
Chickpea Salad
Dessert: Wedge of Camembert

I hadn’t made deviled eggs in decades and realized, once again, how terrific eggs are. I buy mine at the farmer’s market and don’t worry about the bad wrap they have received. The chicken could have been warmer. It didn’t really matter because this was more of a picnic than a formal dinner. I brought colorful plastic plates, attractive paper napkins, and regular cutlery.

Recipe: Chicken Breast

½ large chicken breast with skin, boned, cut in two portions
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Some lemon juice
2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
2 slices of bread

Preheat the broiler.
Line the broiler with aluminum foil. Trim the bread to fit the chicken pieces (I used Pane Francese), and brush the top of the bread with olive oil. Brush the chicken breasts with oil, season with salt and pepper, dab with some of the lemon juice and sprinkle with half of the rosemary. Place the chicken breast, skin side down, on top of the bread. Broil for 10 minutes
Turn the chicken, skin side up, brush with additional lemon oil and remaining rosemary. Broil for an additional 8 minutes.

When the chicken had cooled slightly, I wrapped them in aluminum foil and packed our dinner into a basket and took it to the hospital.

“Too bad, we can’t have some wine,” said George.

I knew he felt better.

September 1, 2010

Too Hot to Cook? Get out of the
Kitchen and into Beef Carpaccio.

In restaurant jargon there is an expression: “If it’s too hot in the kitchen, get out.” Meaning, if you can’t work in a professional kitchen, it’s not for you. After days of sweltering heat, that’s exactly how I felt. I got out of the kitchen and into Beef Carpaccio. However, beef carpaccio cannot be bought at the spur of the moment because the beef has to be frozen first, thinly sliced, and brought up to room temperature. Ottomanelli had my order ready the next day.


Beef Carpaccio with Pecorino Gran Cru
Small grape tomatoes
Thyme-cured, pitted green olives
French dried figs
Wedge of Fontina
Wine: Txomin Etxaniz Getariako Txakolina
Dessert: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia

I lightly brushed the paper thin beef slices with olive oil, added a touch of lemon juice, shaved Pecorino Gran Cu over it, and wrapped the whole thing over the Grissini. Since George doesn’t care for Grissini, I rolled his carpaccio into small packages and secured them with toothpicks. I placed these on a long platter, together with the tiny tomatoes, green olives, French figs, and wedges of cheese.

“Looks great,” said George.

Tasted even better.

Don't ask me to pronouce the name of this libation. But, this exuberant, youthful Basque wine, with a light spritz, added to the enjoyment of this perfect hot weather meal.

August 29, 2010

Trilogy of Summer Staples: Basil Pistou, Brunoise, Tomato Concassée

I came home from the Farmer’s Market with an armful of pungent basil, luscious tomatoes, tender zucchini, and fiery red pepper. Since this was a lazy weekend with half of the city seemingly out of town, I decided to do myself a favor and prep some staples. First I made basil pistou. The one I make contains walnuts, Parmesan, and garlic confit. It is moss green, fairly thick, and packs a mighty wallop. I like to spread it on bread, sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, and usually finish half of it before I have a chance to use in chicken roulade with pesto, not to mention pasta.

Recipe Basil Pistou*

1 ½ cups basil leaves, tightly packed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated Parmesan
¼ cup shelled walnuts
2 tablespoons garlic confit (or about 4 cloves)
3 tablespoons water, more if needed

Wash the basil leaves and pat dry. In a blender, purée the olive oil, Parmesan, walnuts, and garlic. Add the basil and finish puréeing. If the mixture is too thick, add water. Adjust the seasoning.

Next, I prepped brunoise. This was a regular staple at "La Colombe d’Or." The kitchen always had two batches of brunoise on hand: a blanched and a marinated version. Blanched brunoise quickly sautéed, flavors soups, pasta or sauces; marinated brunoise, dressed with capers, anchovies, garlic, red wine vinegar, oil, salt and pepper, garnishes anything from house smoked salmon to hard boiled eggs.

Prep Brunoise*

Any of the 3 following:

1 large carrot
1 yellow squash or yellow pepper
1 zucchini or cucumber
1 red pepper
1 Spanish onion
2 celery ribs

Peel and dice 3 of the above vegetables. Blanch them briefly in boiling water. Strain and store in a covered container. Because it’s so useful to have on hand, I put a small portion of blanched brunoise in plastic bags and keep them in the freezer.

Tomato Concassée*

Tomatoes are my favorite vegetables. I could eat them on all and every occasion. Since I had bought too much of them at the market, I decided to make tomato concassée, a kind of tomato marmelade that spruces up dishes from scallops and chicken to meat loaf.

1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
Bouquet garni” 3 sprigs fresh thyme, 3 springs Italian parsley, 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed, tied in cheesecloth.
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar

Prep Concassée

Blanch and peel the tomatoes. Cut them in half, remove the seeds and dice into small pieces. Pour off any excess liquid. Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Add the shallots and sweat them slowly till they give off their moisture, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the bouquet garni. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes.

Remove the bouquet garni. Adjust the seasoning. Let the concassée cool.
Store in a tightly covered glass jar and refrigerated till ready to use.

August 26, 2010

Lamb Chops with Oregano

The sudden change of weather put me into such a good mood, I treated us to rib lamb chops.


Lamb Chops with Fresh Oregano
Zucchini Chutney
Red Baby Potatoes
Wine: Barnard Griffin, Sangiovese Rose 2009
Dessert: Purple Figs

Recipe Lamb Chops

4 rib lamb chops, trimmed
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, rosemary or marjoram, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

Rub the lamb chops with oil on both sides. Season with salt. Sprinkle with oregano and garlic. In heated skillet sauté lamb chops over high heat for 4 - 5 minutes a side. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.

Recipe: Zucchini Chutney

½ Spanish onion, peeled and slices crosswise into thin slices
3 small yellow squash, peeled and cut into small triangles
3 small zucchini, peeled and cut into small triangles
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 small piece ginger, peeled and grated
¾ - 1 cup fresh orange juice
Zest of ½ orange
1 tablespoon honey, or to taste

Heat the oil in a sauce pan and sweat the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the squash, zucchini, salt and pepper and ginger. Sauté to coat. Cover with the orange juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and let the chutney simmer for 25 minutes, or until soft. Season to taste. Serve at room temperature.

It's best to make the chutney in advance because it tastes even better 1 or 2 days after it has been made. Properly stored, it will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week. This recipe is enough for at least one more serving.

George put the chutney on top of his lamb chops. Perfect match!

August 23, 2010

Ode to Fresh Tomatoes: Veal with Fresh Tomato Sauce

Hurrah for New Jersey tomatoes. I use them to make Tomato Soup, Tomato Concassé, and Roasted Tomatoes. They play a major role in the easy-to-make, tasty veal dish below.


Veal with Coarse Fresh Tomatoes*
String Bean Salad
Wine: Columbia Crest Sauvignon Blanc 2008
Dessert: Vanilla Ice Cream & Biscotti


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 ½ cups peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil. Sauté the garlic until it just begins to color. Add the tomatoes and the basil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes Set aside till ready to use.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound veal from the shoulder or leg, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled and flattened
Salt and black pepper
1/3 cup white wine, more if needed
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

In a skillet heat the olive oil. Add the veal and sauté over high heat, until it begins to color. Add the garlic, salt and pepper. When the veal begins to brown, remove and set aside. Add the wine, the tomato sauce and oregano. Cook, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened to the desired consistency. Season to taste. Add the veal and cook through for another few minutes.

The fresh oregano was a revelation. I think it made the dish. I wrapped the left-over oregano in a damp paper towel and put in the refrigerator. I plan to use it again soon.

*Recipe adapted from Ed Giobbi’s “Pleasures of the Good Earth”

August 20, 2010

A Basque Fish Dinner: Hake & Txakolina Wine

Ever since Eric Asimov mentioned New York sources of Txakolina, the impossible to pronounce, but utterly beguiling Basque white wine, my head has been filled with memories of our trip to San Sebastian. We were seduced by its people, scenery, architecture, food and wine. We had a high-end, intriguing meal at Azrac, a superb lunch at the Guggenheim Museum Restaurant in Bilbao, and several delightful snacks of pinchos at a café around the corner from our hotel. No matter where and what we ate, we drank the local Txakolina. Light, young and refreshing, the wine fitted right in.

When we returned New York, the wine was unavailable in wine stores. Fortunately that has changed and, thanks to Asimov’s information, I hunted down several of them. Question was: “now what?”
I toyed around with idea of giving a pinchos party. But, because of the limited space of our apartment that was totally unrealistic. Then I thought of hake, that delectable, delicate fish we had so enjoyed during our Basque visit.

Hake is not always available. Luckily, I found it at Citarella.* (In a pinch, use scrod.)


Tomato Salad
Lightly Puffed Pan-Fried Hake
Roasted Potatoes
Wine: Xarmant Arabako Txakolina
Dessert: Ice Cream


¾ lb hake cut into 6 portions
1 tablespoon flour
Salt and white pepper
1 egg, white and yolk separated
1 tablespoon olive oil

Season the hake with salt and white pepper; dredge each piece in flour and shake off excess flour. Beat
the egg white until foamy, then whisk in the egg yolk.In a sauté pan, heat the oil. Dip the fillet pieces into
the egg mixture and drop them into the pan. Sauté for 3 minutes per side, less or more depending on the thickness of the fish.

The Txakolina, of course, had us reminisce about our visit to the Basque country. What a delight!

*Citarella ((212) 874-0383
**Adapted form Teresa Barrenechea’s “The Basque Table”

August 16, 2010

A Cuban Supper: Ropa Vieja + Cold Tomato Soup

George grew up in Havana, a country he remembers fondly. Picadillo (Cuban Beef Stew) and Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes) are among his favorite dishes. I think to call Ropa Vieja “Old Clothes” is an insult. It is a highly flavorful dish that can be dressed up or down, depending on individual taste. George advised me on the spicing. There were no complains.

Now that I have taken my food processor down from the upper shelve, I enjoy making cold soups. With tomatoes in season, the chilled tomato soup is a natural. It is so simple to prepare that a child could whip it up.


Chilled Tomato Soup
Ropa Vieja
Black Beans
Wine: Marqués de Cácerres, 2006
Dessert: Fresh Berries

Chilled Tomato Soup

2 large ripe, New Jersey tomatoes, skin removed and cored
2 cups top quality tomato juice, more if needed
Salt and black pepper
Pinch of sugar
Snipped chives for garnish

Purée the tomatoes in a blender, adding tomato juice to thin to a medium thickness. Season the soup with salt, pepper, and sugar. Refrigerate. When ready to serve, spoon the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with chives.

Tip: I freeze some tomato juice in a small ice tray and float three or four frozen cubes on top of the soup.

Ropa Vieja

1 lb. beef flank steak
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons canned tomato paste (more if needed)
½ package Sasón Goya (with Coriander & Annatto)
Generous pinch of smoked sweet paprika
Salt and pepper

Optional: 1 red pepper, skin and seeds removed, cut into strips


Put the meat in a small saucepan. Cover with water. Add several black peppercorns and coriander seeds, 2 bay leaves, 1 cube Knorr chicken bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until very tender. When cold enough to handle, drain the meat and pull it apart into shreds. (The meat iself tasted so good, I kept on noshing.)


Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté the onions until translucent. Briefly sauté the garlic. Add all other ingredients, including the meat. Stir-fry until well mixed and heated through. Adjust seasoning.
Serve over a bowl of rice.
Arrange the optional pepper strips over the meat.

August 11, 2010

Bonnard in the Kitchen

Avocado Soup with Shrimp & House Cured Salmon

Pale olive green, blush red, splashes of dark green-- the colors of avocado and shrimp soup; surely, a palette that would have pleased many painters, particularly Pierre Bonnard. What’s even more, the dish isn’t only good enough to eat—it is great. Thanks, Mark Bittman for your recipe.

House-cured salmon was one of our favorite summer appetizers at La Colombe d’Or. It requires no cooking, is made in advance, and is light and refreshing. Extra portions will enhance Cucumber Soup, another summer crowd pleaser. (to follow soon)


Avocado Soup with Shrimp
House-cured Salmon
Light sour Cream
Cucumber Salad
Wine: Prosecco Zardetto Brut

Recipe: Avocado Soup with Shrimp

1 cup chopped, ripe avocado (1 large or 2 small avocados)
¾ cup milk (more if needed)
Salt and cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon lime juice, or to taste
4 large cooked shrimps*
Chopped parsley for garnish

Put chopped avocado in a blender. Gradually add milk, a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper; process to a purée. Add more milk as needed. Chill for up to 6 hours (press a piece of plastic wrap to surface of soup so it does not discolor.)

When ready to serve, add lime juice and adjust seasoning. Serve in individual soup bowls, float the shrimps on top, garnish with parsley.

*Tip on cooking shrimp. Place unshelled shrimps in a sauce pan with cold water to cover. Bring to a light boil. Remove the shrimps when the shells turn red, refresh under cold running water. Peel and serve.

Recipe: House-Cured Salmon

The measurements depend strictly on the thickness of the salmon

2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 ¼ cup Kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces salmon fillet

Coarsely grind the coriander seeds and peppercorns in a food processor. Coat the both sides of the salmon with the ground spice mixture. Put the coated salmon into a Ziploc bag. Combine salt and sugar. Completely cover the salmon with the salt/sugar mixture. Shake the bag to make sure the salt evenly covers the salmon. Refrigerate.

Depending on the thickness of the salmon, the salmon will be cured after 5 to 6 hours. Rinse under cold water; blot dry and brush off any remaining coriander seeds and peppercorns.

When ready to serve, thinly slice the salmon fillets against the grain. Serve with sour cream and cucumber salad on the side.

Enjoy the dinner with Prosecco.

August 8, 2010

Filet of Sole with Almonds

Thinking how to utilize the left over slivered almonds from my previous white garlic soup brought me to this dinner. Filet of sole with almonds was one of our favorite dishes many years ago. I decided to resurrect it. I realized with a shock that, in order to do it right, I had to clarify the butter—something I hadn’t done since the age of butter gave way to olive oil. Clarifying butter, however, is not a big deal. All you have to do is bring the butter to a boil in a small saucepan, let it stand for a few minutes and then skim off the white particles that form on top. It was like a throw back to former cooking days. Will I do soufflés next?


Filet of Sole with Almonds
Green salad with black olives, feta cheese, and grape tomatoes
Wine: Columbia Crest 2009
Sauvignon Blanc
Dessert: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Recipe Filet of Sole

2 pieces of sole (about ¾ lb)
Flour for dusting, seasoned with salt & white pepper
About 4 tablespoons clarified butter
¼ cup slivered almonds
Lemon wedges & parsley for garnish

Dust the filets with the seasoned flour. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in sauté pan. Sauté the filets for about 2 minutes per side. Remove to a serving dish. Heat the remaining butter in the pan, add the almonds and cook till golden brown. Pour the almond/butter sauce over the filets. Garnish with lemon wedges and springs of parsley.

The Columbia Crest from Washington State added to our enjoyment of the meal. Wish they would all be like that.

August 4, 2010

Lazy Turkey & Red Pepper Coulis

It’s not the turkey that is lazy, but the cook. Ottomanelli* daily sells a marinated Turkey London Broil. All I had to do is pop it into the oven, put the timer on 30 minutes, and voilà, a tender, perfectly cooked, skinless, boneless turkey breast. It wasn’t a Cordon Bleu masterpiece, but a good contribution to our Sunday evening dinner. At $7.95 a pound, it was a bargain. If you want to be ultra lazy, you can buy Ottomanelli’s fully cooked version every Thursday after 11 AM.

Now that local peppers are plentiful, red pepper coulis is one of my summer staples. Properly stored, it will keep in the refrigerator for about a month. I have never been able to keep the coulis for that length of time because, before I know it, I’ve depleted my stock


Roast Turkey Breast
Red Pepper Coulis**
Wine: Moulin-e-Vent Georges Duboeuf
Dessert: Häagendasz Chocolate Ice Cream

Recipe Red Pepper Coulis

4 red peppers
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper
Pinch of sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Rub the peppers with olive oil. Bake them in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a metal bowl. Seal with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, remove the skin and seeds from the peppers. Purée the peppers in a blender, together with the oil. Season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.

I thought a Beaujolais Village would go well with the meal and had gone to our local wine store to buy a bottle. All their Beaujolais were by Georges Duboeuf of whom I never had a high opinion. Still, I thought this was a bit of snobbism and bought the Moulin-A-Vent. I disliked it thoroughly.

*Chef Frank
Ottomanelli (212) 772-7900
York Ave. & 82nd St.

**The recipe comes from my book, "Life of a Restaurant." It is available at Kitchen Arts & Letters.

August 1, 2010

Ajo Blanco & Morcilla (White Garlic Soup & Spanish Blood Sausage)

Ivory colored, garnished with a circle of green grapes, this soup from southern Spain looks like a bridal bouquet. Don’t be fooled: made with bread, almonds, garlic, olive oil and sherry vinegar, it packs a mighty wallop. You either love it, or hate it. George and I loved it.

Morcilla is a Spanish blood sausage seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon. In general I’m not a great friend of blood sausage, but I liked the morcilla because of its enticing flavor and nice texture. Bought on my previous visit to Despaña Brand Foods all I had to do was heat the sausages in hot water for a few minutes and cut them into bite-sized portions.


Ajo Blanco (White Garlic Soup)*
Sautéed caramelized apple
Wine: Marques de Canceres Rioja 2006
Dessert: Fresh berries

Recipe Ajo Blanco
*adapted from a recipe by Joanna Pruess, food writer and consultant for the specialty food industry.

½ cup stale white bread, soaked in warm water
2/3 cup blanched almonds, more if desired
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup olive oil, more in needed
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Amontillado sherry (optional)
10 white seedless grapes for garnish

Combine the soaked bread, almonds, garlic and a bit of olive oil in a food processor and purée until well blended. Slowly add the remaining oil, vinegar and salt until the mixture is smooth. Add more water and olive oil as needed. Adjust the flavor. Add sherry if desired. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate.
Serve in individual bowls garnished with grapes.

For the caramelized apple I used Granny Smith , cut into slices and sautéed in butter until golden brown. They added a touch of sweetness the sausages.

July 29, 2010

My Summer Wines

In general, I prefer red wine to white. But during the summer, I lean toward the whites-- with a nod to Rosé--because white wines, served chilled, pair well with our summer dishes. In addition I look for wines with relatively low alcohol content because they are lighter in style and easier on the head.

The following wines are our current staples. All are under $20. I frequently try a newly recommended wine and make changes. Since we don’t have a wine refrigerator, I re-order frequently.

I am not a wine expert and my selections are based on “like a lot”, “like”, “don’t like.” I’ve starred our list accordingly.

White Wines

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and Alsatian Riesling are my favorite white wines. Alsatian Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire run a close second. Lately, I have become enamored with Grüner Veltliner, Austria’s major grape variety. Good Grüner is dry and crisp, with a slight kick. Apremont from the Savoie region of France is another winner. Made with the 100% local Jacquère grape, it is dry and a bit flowery. The wine contains only 11.5% alcohol, but has enough backbone to stand up to food.

***Babich Sauvignon Blanc 2009

**Petit Bourgeois, 2009
Sauvignon Blanc
Vin de Pays du Val de Loire
Henri Bourgeois

***Willm, Riesling Reserve 2008

***Willm, Pinot Gris, 2008

**Pierre Boniface, Apremont, 2009
Vin de Savoie, French Alps

Rosé Wines

I always hesitate before I approach Rosés. Having tasted a lot of different Rosés in the last two months, the following three have made the grade.

Cherry red and mature, Giugal’s Tavel is a Rosé with muscle. Griffin’s Sangiovese Rosé comes from the heart of Washington State. Bright and burthing with flavor, it does Sangiovese proud. I confess, the peach colored, Couer D’Estélles Rosé, made it for sentimental reason: it reminds us of the year we lived with the children in the Provençe.

***E. Giugal , 2007

***Barnard Griffin
Sangiovese Rosé, 2009
Columbia Valley

**Coeur Estérellelle, 2009
Côtes de Provence

Red Wines

I discovered the ItalianMontepulciano d’Abruzzo only recently. It is an excellent, well balanced wine that I like to serve with pasta dishes. The Spanish Rioja has been a favorite for quite some time. No reason to change it.

***Cantina Zaccagnini, 2007
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

**Marqués de Caceres Rioja, Crianza 2005

In addition, I always have a bottle of Prosecco Zartdetto Brut in the refrigerator, in case we are in celebratory mood.

July 25, 2010

Escabèche to the Rescue

It’s boiling hot. Still, I feel like eating something that is different and piquant. Chicken Escabèche to the rescue. I found the recipe in my Chicken for Every Occasion Cookbook, published in 1988. The recipe
is basically an assembly job that takes longer in telling that in doing. What’s even better, the dish is best
when cooked a day ahead.


Chicken Escabèche
Mixed salad of arugula, corn kernel, sweet peas, pitted Niçoise olives, grape tomatoes
Wine: Petit Bourgeois, 2009
Sauvignon Blanc, Vin de Pays du Val De Loire
Henri Bourgeois
Dessert: Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Ice Cream with fresh strawberries

Recipe Chicken Escabèche

3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tablespoon lime juice
   juice of ½ lemon
¾ cup white wine
Bouquet garni of 2 bay leaves, 10 peppercorns, 10 coriander, 1 teaspoon dried thyme tied in cheesecloth
1 to 2 tablespoons imported small capers
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 small or 1 large chicken leg, drumstick and thigh separated, skin removed*
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley and lemon wedges for garnish

*Have your butcher do that.
Combine all ingredients except the chicken and garnish in a saucepan, bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the chicken pieces. Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, turning the chicken pieces over once. Remove the chicken from the heat and let cool. Discard the bouquet garni. Return the chicken pieces to the saucepan. Cover, refrigerate and let set to jell.

Frankly, I had my doubts about the jelling part. But, when I removed the dish shortly before serving, the mixture had indeed jelled. I took the drumstick and served George the thigh.

“Should have been butchered better,” he said.

Give me a break!

July 21, 2010

Ginger Fried Rice

Whenever I cook rice, I have some left over. This time I struck gold with a recipe from Mark Bittman, stuck away in my old recipe file. At first glance, the recipe looked complicated. But, following it step by step, the dish came out exceedingly well: it looked lovely and, according to George, tasted great.

Since I am not a great fan of rice, I opted for a marinated skirt steak instead. We both had tomato salad, made with the first, ripe yummy New Jersey tomatoes. The wine straddled both dishes.

Menu: George

Ginger Fried Rice
Tomato Salad
Wine: Barnard Griffin Sangiovese Rose, 2009
Columbia Valley
Dessert: 85% Lindt Chocolate

Recipe: Ginger Fried Rice

¼ cup peanut oil
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger*
1 leek, white and light green parts only, rinsed and sliced into thin strips
1 cup day-old rice
1 egg
sesame oil
soy sauce

*I came to ginger relatively late. But once I started to appreciate its unique taste, I have taken to it like the proverbial duck to water. Grating fresh ginger, I discovered, is easier than mincing it.

Sauté garlic and ginger in hot oil until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel. Reduce heat and cook the leek about 8 minutes until tender but not browned. Season lightly with salt. Raise heat, adding more oil if necessary, and add rice. If the rice is too dry, squirt some cold water of it. Heat through and transfer into a serving bowl.

Fry the egg in a nonstick skillet, sunny side up, until edges are set but the yolk is still runny. To me, this was the trickiest part of the recipe since I don’t remember ever having fried an egg sunny-side up, because when I was a child, it struck me as barbaric having to destroy the lovely looking egg yolk. Lo and behold, the egg came out beautifully. I slipped the egg over the rice, drizzled some sesame oil and soy sauce over the dish, and sprinkled the crisp garlic and ginger over everything.