Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

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.