Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

September 15, 2011

Chicken Liver Frisée Salad and Poached Egg

Chicken liver, bacon and eggs? This dish recalls a time when people indulged in kidney, tripe, and the likes and didn’t worry about healthy issues. Since George loves chicken liver, I decided to throw dietary worries to the wind and went full steam ahead. The result was most gratifying.


Heirloom Tomatoes with Mozzarella
Chicken Liver Salad
Wine: Riondo Garza Argento Rosé
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt

I adapted the recipe from Chef Bruno Davaillon’s Chicken Liver Salad that appeared recently in the Wine Spectator.

Prep Vinaigrette

1 small frisée, cleaned and torn into pieces
1 small shallot, minced
2 teaspoons Pommery mustard
1 teaspoon red wine or sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 slices bacon, cut into ¼-inch pieces

Combine shallots, mustard, vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper in
a bowl.
Sauté bacon until crisp and the fat is rendered. Remove the bacon, dry
with paper towel and toss into the vinaigrette. Divide frisée among two plates.

Cook Chicken Livers

½ pound chicken livers, cleaned and patted dry
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
Chopped chives for garnish
Pinch of fleur de sel

Season chicken livers with salt and pepper
Heat butter in a sauté pan, add chicken livers and cook for one minute on each side. Remove and keep warm.

Bring water to a boil and add a few drops of vinegar. Poach eggs for about 3 minutes. Top over the frisée salad. Arrange the chicken livers around the eggs. Finish with fleur de sel and chopped chives.

The dish was an intriguing combination between the macho vinaigrette and the simple cooked chicken liver. Unfortunately I still haven’t mastered the technique of poaching eggs: at best, these looked messy. The young and lively, vino frizzante Rosé from the Veneto pulled the meal nicely together.

August 15, 2011

Black Sea Bass with Honey/Mustard Marinade

I went to the greenmarket and bought black sea bass, some Heirloom tomatoes, a baguette, fresh strawberries and was ready for dinner. Since I had never cooked black sea bass before I read up on it and, among other things, learned that the fish begins life as a female but changes into a male. Be that as it may, black sea bass turned out to be terrific food fish that will definitely become part of my cooking repertoire.


Heirloom Tomatoes
Pan roasted Black Sea Bass with Honey/Mustard Marinade
Wine: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Dessert: Strawberries

Prep marinade

2 tablespoons white wine
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoons honey
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon Oyster or Worcestershire sauce
Ground black pepper
¾ pound sea bass fillets, cut in half

Combine marinating ingredients in a bowl. Add sea bass. Marinate for up to an hour.

Cook Sea Bass

Black Sea bass
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped parsley for garnish

Remove fish from marinade and pad dry. Heat butter in a skillet to medium high. Sauté the sea bass for 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the fish. Transfer to the serving plates. Return marinade to the skillet and reduce till thickened. Spoon over the fish. Garnish with parsley.

The Heirloom tomatoes looked and tasted so great, I decided all they needed was bit of sea salt and a dribble of olive oil.

“Excellent dinner,” said George. “Everything tasted great.”

I rest my case.

August 12, 2011

Pasta Plus

Let’s face it, pasta is not my forte. But I wanted a change from all our recent fish, salads and vegetables dinners. Besides, hope springs eternal.


Tomato Salad with Anchovy & Capers
Fettuccini (or Linguine) with Peas
Wine: Marqués de Cáceres Rioja, 2007
Dessert: Red Cherries

Recipe Tomato Salad

1 large heirloom tomato
Salt and pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine or sherry vinegar
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fresh basil leaves, chopped

Cut tomato in wedges and put in a salad bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Add remaining ingredients. Gently toss.

Recipe Fettuccini

6 oz. fresh Fettuccini or Linguini
Salt and pepper
¾ cup defrosted baby peas, drained
1 tablespoon butter
Grated Pecorino Gran Cru

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the pasta.
Cook pasta according to recommended time. Drain and reserve ¾ cup of the cooking liquid.
Heat a large skillet, add butter. Mix in pasta. Raise heat, pour in most of the reserved liquid and cook until the liquid has been absorbed.
Meanwhile heat peas in a separate skillet. Mix into the pasta.
Serve with a generous portion of grated cheese.

No question about it: the best part of the meal was the tomato salad. Even without heirloom tomatoes it will become part of my summer repertoire.

August 8, 2011

Scallops over a bed of Braised Leeks

Braising takes time, but it is worth the effort. Consider the rewards: the dish improves when made ahead of time, is fool proof and guaranteed to taste great. The scallops take 2 minutes to cook. My idea of a perfect summer meal.


Cold Cherry Soup
Scallops over a bed of Braised Leeks
Wine: Vin de Savoie Apremont 2010
Dessert: Fresh green figs

Recipe Leeks

3 leeks, thoroughly washed and dried
¼ cup olive oil
3 small peeled carrots, sliced into 1- inch pieces
½ cup chicken stock (or water), more if needed
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Cut the leeks lengthwise; then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
In a large skillet heat the oil, add the leeks and carrots. Let simmer until leeks have softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the liquid, sugar, salt and pepper. Cover and let simmer over low heat
until vegetables are completely softened, 20-30 minutes.
Add lemon juice. Let cool and put aside. If refrigerated, remove from
refrigerator 45 minutes before serving.

Recipe Scallops

2 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound scallops, trimmed and dried
1 tablespoon butter
Chopped curly parsley for garnish

In a skillet, sauté the garlic in butter until wilted. Add the scallops and sauté 1 minute per side.

Place braised leeks in the center of a serving dish. Arrange scallops/ garlic mixture over it. Garnish with chopped parsley

Labels: shellfish, braised leek

July 31, 2011

A Belgian Dinner

After experiencing a lull in my cooking endeavors, I finally snapped out of it and went full speed ahead with an all out Belgian dinner.

Separately or together, George and I must have visited Belgium at least twenty times. Before opening Café de Bruxelles in New York, we stayed a month in Brussels to do research, buy Belgian lace curtains and other decorative items. Naturally, our dinner tonight was accompanied by recollections of good times spent in Belgium, now sadly divided into Flanders and Wallonia.

I apologize for serving a Portuguese wine instead of a Belgian beer. No excuses. The Vinho Verde is my latest discovery. It is the perfect summer wine that pairs well with this light meal.

Preparing the meal looks more formidable than it is. Most of the prep can be done ahead of time. In fact, the shallot-parsley vinaigrette can be done a few days in advance.


Salade d’Ardennes (Salad from the Ardennes)
Scallops on a Bed of Belgian Endives
Wine: Vera Vinho Verde, 2010, Portugal
Dessert: Grapes

Prep: Shallot-Parsley Vinaigrette
(make 2 cups)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup red wine vinegar
1 egg
1 ½ cup vegetable oil
1 medium sized shallot (about 1/3 cup), minced
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Place the mustard, vinegar and the egg in a blender. With the engine running, add the oil until it is incorporated. Add the shallots, parsley, salt and pepper. Refrigerate till ready to use. (Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks)

Authentic Salade d’Ardennes contains the region’s famous smoked and air-dried, jambon d’Ardennes. Prosciutto or Serrano hams are good substitutes.

Recipe Salade

1 small head of red leaf lettuce, washed and dried
Some frisée or escarole
6 grape tomatoes, halved
2 oz. Prosciutto, cut into ¼-inch strips
½ cup shallot-parsley vinaigrette
Opt. home-made croutons

Combine the salad greens in a salad bowl with the tomatoes and Prosciutto. When ready to use, incorporate the shallot-parsley vinaigrette.

I keep forgetting how delicious braised Belgian endives are. It takes only a few minutes to cook them. In this instance, they are the perfect accompaniment to the tender scallops.

Recipe Scallops

3 endives, cored and sliced lengthwise into ½ inch long strips
1 tablespoon sugar
½ tablespoon lemon juice, more if needed
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup light cream
6 sea scallops, halved
Chopped parsley for garnish

In a mixing bowl, toss the endives with the sugar, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a skillet over high heat. Add the endives and cook, stirring until tender and slightly caramelized, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove and set aside. Pour the cream into the skillet and simmer until thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Pour over the endives.

Melt the remaining butter in the skillet over high heat. Add the scallops and sauté, turning them over, until they turn opaque and slightly browned for 2 or 3 minutes.

Arrange the endives on individual plates and top with the sautéed scallops. Garnish the outside of each plate with chopped parsley.

July 24, 2011

Cool Does It: Cold Beef Salad

The first time I had cold beef salad was at the restaurant Abattoir (meaning slaughter house) in Toulouse. George and I were visiting the Languedoc region in France, essentially to sample the three different versions of cassoulet. We had tasted the one in Castelaudary and in Carcassonne. Toulouse’s version was our last stop. We figured that a restaurant named slaughter house would do the Toulouse cassoulet proud. However, the owner convinced us that today’s special –Salade de Boeuf-- should not be missed under any circumstance, and he was right.
Scouting for a substantial salad for dinner, I remembered the cold beef salad. The dish is essentially made with left over braised beef. Barring that, I bought a marinated hanger steak at Ottomanelli. The resulting beef salad wasn’t as fabulous as that of Abattoir’s, but it was a fair second. My only complaint was that the salad looked too brown on brown. A side dish of red pepper coulis would have helped. But then, I opted for simple. Besides, the peach soup looked attractive enough for both dishes.


Chilled Peach Soup
Cold Beef Salad
French Baguette
Wine: Moulin a Vent, Cru Beaujolais Villages Potel-Aviron, 2009, slightly chilled
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt

Recipe Peach Soup

4 medium sized ripe peaches, peeled and cut into pieces
1 small cantaloupe or ½ honeydew melon, peeled, pits removed and cut
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup orange juice, more if needed
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
Pinch of salt
Opt. Fresh mint, chopped for garnish

Blend all of the above ingredients, adding more yogurt or liquid as needed.
(The soup should be fairly thick). Adjust flavor. Refrigerate overnight.

Recipe Beef Salad

¾ lb marinated hanger steak
French dressing: salt, lemon juice, mustard, olive oil pepper, plus
minced green onions, capers, fresh green herbs such as tarragon, thyme,
chives and, or parsley

Dry the steak well; slice thinly against the grain and sauté to brown, about 1 minute per side. Make the dressing according to your liking and whatever you have available. (I planted thyme, rosemary, and parsley in pots.) Mix everything together and refrigerate till ready to use. Serve on a bed of lettuce.

The light-bodied Beaujolais went well this typical summer meal.

July 19, 2011

Chicken Fillets in Parsley Aspic

This recipe comes from my “The Chicken for Every Occasion Cookbook.”
I had written the book so long ago, I didn’t remember ever having made the dish. I followed the recipe closely, wondering about the outcome. The stock didn’t look like aspic even after I had put in the gelatin. I didn’t spend a sleepless night over it, but I had my doubts. Peeking at the mold the next morning, I was pleasantly surprised: the aspic had set and the dish looked attractive.

I bought the cherry soup at Café André, a hole-in-the wall Hungarian restaurant, dating back to the time when the East 70’s and 80’s was an almost exclusive German, Hungarian and Czechoslovakian neighborhood. The soup reminded me of my childhood, our garden, and sour cherries. As such, it was a nice curtain raiser to a summer dinner. Besides, it tasted utterly delicious.


Cherry Soup*
Chicken Fillets in Parsley Aspic
Tomato and Feta Cheese Salad
Wine: Garda Classico Chiaretto Rosé 2010
Dessert: Fresh Peaches

Recipe: Chicken Fillets in Aspic

½ boneless, skin less chicken breast, cut into two pieces
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
½ package gelatin
1 tablespoon white wine or sherry vinegar
1 egg white, lightly beaten
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 carrot, sliced into attractive shape for garnish
2 cornichons, sliced fanlike for garnish

Season the chicken fillets with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a skillet. Sauté the fillets for 3 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Remove and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil. Dissolve the gelatin in the vinegar and add the mixture to the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce and let simmer for a few minutes. To clarify stock, add the beaten egg white, stir, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Line a sieve with a paper towel and strain the aspic through it.

Coat the bottom of a bowl, large enough to hold the chicken, with the aspic. Sprinkle with half of the parsley and let set slightly. Place the fillets over the aspic. Garnish with the vegetables and sprinkle with the rest of the parsley. Cover with the remaining aspic, and put into the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

I thought the chicken dish was under spiced. George, who tends to undersalt most of his food, thought the dish was excellent. I didn't argue. The Sangiovese Rosé hit the right notes.

*André’s Café
1631 Second Ave.at 85th Street
(212) 327-1105

July 16, 2011

Too Hot to Cook: Try Seviche

92 degrees. No way am I going near the stove. Seviche to the rescue. Actually I had never made seviche before and didn’t know whether George would like it. As it turned out, I needn’t have worried on either count. In fact, the meal seemed like a celebration of summer. Next time I may serve it with Prosecco.


Cold Avocado and Buttermilk Soup
Boston lettuce and grape tomatoes for garnish
Wine: Babich Sauvignon Blanc, 2010
Dessert: Cantaloupe with Fresh Figs

Recipe Cold Avocado and Buttermilk Soup

1 ripe avocado
1 tablespoon green onion, chopped
4-5 sprigs fresh tarragon, finely chopped
Salt, pepper, lemon juice
1 ½ buttermilk, more if needed
2 shrimps, peeled and cooked

Split the avocado lengthwise; remove the pit and scoop out the pulp. Put the avocado in a blender together with the other ingredients and blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning and desired thickness. Serve in small soup bowls topped with shrimp.

Recipe Seviche

¼ lb each of fillet of sole and scallops, sliced into strips
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons green onions, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper
Dash of Tabasco
Boston lettuce and grape tomatoes for garnish

Place the fish pieces into a dish. Pour the lime juice over it, cover, and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, until the fish has turned opaque. Drain off the lime juice; combine the remaining ingredients and pour over the fish. Mix well, adjust seasoning and refrigerate till ready to use.

Line serving plate with lettuce leaves, spoon seviche over it and decorate with grape tomatoes, cut in half.

July 11, 2011

Favorite Summer Salad: Frisée aux Lardons

When it comes to summer salads I become a confirmed Francophile
again. Consider their carrottes râpes and celery root remoulade, plus my all time favorites: Salade Niçoise and Frisée aux Lardons, also known as Salade Lyonnaise, after its origin city Lyon. The Niçoise presents no problem as long as you use haricots verts and a good canned tuna. The frisée, however, calls for some ingenuity because it depends on frisée and lardons, two French products not readily available.

The almost white, frizzy frisée has a slightly peppery, bitter taste
that is quite unique. You could use chicory, of course, but the texture and flavor won’t be the same. Lardons is a French type bacon that does not exist in this country. However, if you get double smoked bacon and blanch it for ten minutes in simmering water, it resembles the French version.

Frankly, I was more worried about poaching the eggs and for good reason. The white of the first poached egg got lost in the water, leaving me with the egg yolk. The second attempt was a little better but not great. Trying it again, I cracked the egg into a small soup ladle and slipped it into the water. Lo and behold, it produced a nice looking poached egg.


Canapés with Anchovy Butter
Frisée aux Lardons
Wine: Château d’Oupia, Minervois Rosé 2010
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt

Recipe Frisée aux Lardons

¼ pound frisée, rinsed, dried, torn into bite-size pieces,
2 ounces thickly cut double smoked bacon, cut into small squares and blanched (I did that in the morning)
2 eggs (the fresher the better)
Water with a few drops of white or sherry vinegar
½ cup croutons

Place frisée and croutons in a mixing bowl. Prepare vinaigrette and toss with the frisée. Divide into two plates. Sauté the blanched bacon until golden. Remove and spoon over frisée. Heat water and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring liquid to a bare simmer. Break egg into a teacup and slip into simmering liquid for about 2 minutes for runny yolk to 3 minutes for firm one.* Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and set aside. Poach the other egg. Top each salad with the poached egg and grind some black pepper of it.
*For me, the small soup ladle worked better.

All told, it was a lovely meal. However, George thought the Rosé was too alcoholic and lacked finesse.

July 6, 2011

There’s Always Room for Improvement, plus a Word about Mustard

Improvement Example: Roasted Chicken with Dijon Mustard

When I first made the chicken with mustard sauce, (June 20, 2011)
I overcooked the chicken. To avoid tis from happening again, I brined the chicken (which makes them juicy) and sautéed them for 3 minutes for side. Instead of heavy cream, I used regular milk, which worked just as well. Happy to say, the meal was a success.

Roasted Chicken with Dijon Mustard Sauce
Baked Cauliflower
Watercress Salad
Wine: Wölffer Estate Rosé 2010
Dessert: Grapes

Roasted Chicken with Dijon Sauce

½ skinless, boneless chicken breast, pounded flat, cut in half
salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white wine
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, more if desired
Chopped parsley for garnish

Pat chicken dry and season lightly with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a sauté pan. When hot, add chicken and sauté, three minutes per side. Remove from pan. Add shallots and wine to the pan juices. Raise heat and boil until reduced by half. Add the milk and boil until slightly thickened. Whisk in mustard, and adjust seasoning. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the chopped parsley.

Baked Cauliflower (Oct. 19, 2010)

1 small head of cauliflower
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil (more if needed)
Sea salt and black pepper
Opt. Grated Parmesan
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cut the cauliflower into florets and arranged in a single layer in an oven-proof dish. Sprinkle lemon juice over florets and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake the dish in the preheated oven, uncovered, till cooked through (about 30-35 minutes), and the tops had turned lightly brown. Removed the dish from the oven and pour the remaining pan juices over the cauliflower. I skipped the grated cheese because I thought it would make the meal too rich.

I’ve been an advocate of Wöllfer Estate wines from the beginning. I wrote several articles about the wines and the wine maker Roman Roth with whom we became friends. The Wöllfer Rosé is a classic Provençal style rosé, of medium weight and a lovely bouquet.

Second example: gilding the lily. Grilled Salmon with Mustard Glaze (posted March 19, 2011; redone June 24, 2011)

This is George’s all time favorite fish dish. I prepare it when I want to make up for a meal that didn’t turn out so well, or when I’ve run out of ideas. When I told George that I was planning to make salmon with mustards glaze for dinner, he said: “Get some Prosciutto to go with it.”

I couldn’t see it at first, but it turned out to be a brilliant idea. The different textures between the fish and the Prosciutto, and the sweet glaze and salty ham, were magical. Not exactly kosher, but heavenly in a pagan kind of way.

Quite incidentally, both dishes involved Dijon mustard. It reminded
me of my press trip to Dijon, sponsored by Maille’s public relations company. I became so enamored with mustard, I decided to write a book on the subject. Nothing came of it, but I organized a mustard tasting dinner for members of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an event that was highlighted by a mustard pump, flown in from Paris, to dispense fresh mustard, and wrote a mustard article for Food Arts that included some 20 recipes. So be prepared for some upcoming mustard driven dishes.

July 4, 2011

4th of July Celebrated on the 2nd

Over the past two years I had two scares over the 4th of July weekend. Once, my sister suffered a stroke on the 4th of July; at another time, George had to be rushed to the hospital because he had a hematoma. So, I am particularly glad to celebrate the holiday, but there was a different problem: 4th of July means hamburgers and hamburgers call for freshly ground meat. This year’s 4th of July falls on a Monday when the butcher is closed. Since I don’t own a meat grinder we had our 4th of July dinner on Saturday, July 2nd.

A few days ago the NY Times featured a recipe for “Japanese Burger with Wasabi Ketchup”, to be served with champagne. I toyed around with the idea of trying the Japanese burger but, since I like an honest-to-goodness burger, I skipped the Japanese version, but went for the wasabi ketchup. Much as I like champagne, I opened a bottle of a cru Beaujolais. We enjoyed a happy meal.


Hamburgers on toasted English Muffins with Wasabi Ketchup
Zucchini Chutney*
Wine: Juliénas 2009 Cru Beaujolais
Dessert: Watermelon Salad

Recipe: Wasabi Ketchup

¼ cup ketchup
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons wasabi paste

*The recipe for Zucchini Chutney appeared in my August 26, 2010 blog. If you need help, please contact.

I don’t normally care for watermelon, but this watermelon salad is fantastic. The recipe appeared in the July 9, 2010, but I so much want you to try it, I repeat it here and now. Refrigerate before serving.

Recipe Watermelon Salad

Equal amounts of
Watermelon, seeded, cut into cubes
Red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh strawberries, lightly mashed
Touch of lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Sugar if needed

June 22, 2011

Midsummer Night Dinner, June 21

There isn’t an ounce of Scandinavian blood in me, but I love to celebrate midsummer night. I fondly recall a tip to Norway where we visited Oslo
and Bergen and took a catamaran to Stavangar. Stavangar was a lively town, filled with bright-eyed sailors, young amd old people their faces lobster red from too much sun. On our first evening, George and I had a leisurely dinner, went to the movies, spent time in the public library, and strolled over to cathedral square where we watched a group of masked ballet dancers on stilts. It was past midnight and still light.

A few years ago we gave a midsummer night party in Sag Harbor. We asked everybody to come dressed in white. People appeared in anything from wedding gowns to tennis outfits. We served white wine only and, with the exception of salmon, had as many white dishes as possible.

For this year’s midsummer night dinner, I concentrated on herring. To get it all together was far from practical but, then, being sentimenmtal never is. Main thing we enjoyed the evening.


Herring in Sour Cream*
Matjes Herring*
Boiled Potatoes
Salmon Roe,** Blini,*** Sour Cream
Aquavit, O.P Anderson
White Grapes

*Schaller & Weber
** Katagiri
*** Zabar's

June 20, 2011

The Practical Side of Me, Part II

Summer agrees with me. I love the long days; the fact I can go outside without a coat, hat and gloves. I love walking barefoot around the house and, beyond all of this, I love tending to our garden. It helps me function more efficiently, or so it seems. The other day, three dinners popped into my head simultaneously. I bought all ingredients in two stores: chicken breast, pulled pork, and chili at Ottomanelli; the rest (indicated by a*) I had in the house, or bought at Gristede’s.

Dinner # 1

Roasted Chicken with Dijon Sauce
Haricots Verts*
Wine: Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé, 2010
Dessert: Frozen chocolate yogurt*

Recipe: Roasted Chicken with Dijon Sauce

½ chicken breast, pounded flat, cut in half
salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a sauté pan. When hot, add chicken, skin side down, and sauté to brown, 5 minutes per side. Depending on the thickness of the chicken breast, you may or may not have to bake it in the oven for additional few minutes.
Meanwhile, add shallots and wine to the pan juices. Raise heat and boil until reduced by half. Add the cream and boil until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in mustard, and adjust seasoning. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the chopped herbs.

This could have been a great meal: the Dijon sauce tasted great; the haricots verts were excellent; the wine was good. Unfortunately, I had overcooked the chicken. Better luck next time.

Recipe Haricots Verts

1/2 pound of haricots verts, trimmed
2 teaspoons butter
1 shallot, sliced
Salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Parboil haricots verts for 3 minutes. Plunge them into cold water, drain, and pat dry. In a medium sized sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the haricots verts and cook to desired doneness. (3 minutes if you like them crisp; longer if you like them lightly browned and soft.) Season with salt and pepper.

Even George, a stickler for etiquette, ate the haricots verts with his fingers.

Dinner # Two

Pulled Pork
Dill pickles*
Left-over sauerkraut*
Wine: Bogle Petit Syrah, 2008
Dessert: Fresh pineapple*

I heated the pulled pork and stuffed the meat into two separate rolls, topped with sliced pickles. The asparagus were a bit too elegant for this trencherman’s meal. I had enough left-over for the following meal.

Dinner # Three

Steakhouse Chili
Asparagus Salad*
Wine: Guigal, Côtes du Rhône, 2007
Dessert: Valhora Chocolate*

For sheer value, you can’t beat Ottomanelli’s steakhouse chili. I used to cook a mean chili on New Year’s Day and invited friends over for a five o’clock “help yourself chili and wine.” It simply doesn’t pay to cook chili for two people. Ottomanelli’s medium-sized container serves two. I like to add a bit of sweetness by cooking it with turnips and carrots. I may also add some red wine and serve the dish with grated cheddar cheese. The asparagus, made into a spicy salad, worked well.

Tomorrow’s dinner? If it’s Monday, it’s going to be Sushi of Gari.

June 13, 2011

Four Summer Meals

I had hardly finished my litany about the heat and how I handle our dinners, when the weather changed and turned cool. However since we are only at the beginning of summer, I know there be other dog days ahead, so herewith my solution.

Summer arrived with a vengeance. In fact, we are in the middle of a heat wave. Shopping in this heat is torture and never mind cooking. After a few mishaps I’ve developed a system that seems to work. First of all, I shop early in the morning, preferably before 10 AM. Ideally, I shop for three to four meals. Dishes should either be served cold, or to be made ahead of time. It’s like being back in the restaurant days when everything had to be planned.

Here is my hot weather dinner line up:

Dinner # One

Buttermilk Soup
Poulet Maison*
Wine: Moulin a Vent
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt

The recipe for the buttermilk soup was given to me by my friend Alice who, in turn, copied if from Dorothy Rodgers' Summer Soup. I had no idea how this dish would come out. To my delight George liked it a lot and, since I did too, I’ll incorporate it into my repertoire.

Recipe Butter Milk Soup

8 medium-sized shrimp, cooked and peeled
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, dissolved in a bit of buttermilk
1 small cucumber, diced
Fair amount of fresh dill, snipped
Pinch of salt and sugar

I reserved 2 of the cooked shrimps for garnish. I diced the remaining ones and mixed them into the buttermilk, together with the rest of the ingredients. I refrigerated the soup and adjusted the seasoning just before serving, placing one shrimp on top of the soup.

*Poulet Maison

For recipe see my blog of April 15, 2010. This was one of our most popular
dishes at La Colombe d’Or. It must be prepared ahead of time and then takes only 10 to 12 minutes to cook.

Dinner # Two

About every second week, we place an order with Fresh Direct: primarily cleaning material, paper goods, Snapple, coffee, and George’s favorite cheese Roquefort, plus some of Terrance Brennans’s frozen dishes.

Terrance Brennan: Fettuccini w/Shrimp, Tomato Confit & Pesto
Spinach with Garlic
Wine: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2009
Dessert: Grapes

It took 8 minutes to get this meal on the table. Terrence Brennan’s dish looks appetizing and is tasty. The spinach was perfectly cooked. I just added a bit more garlic and oil.

Dinner # Three

Deviled Eggs
Tuna Fish/ Cannellini Salad
Carottes Râpées (carrot salad)
Wine: Rosé Chateau d’Oupia (Minervois) 2009
Dessert: Valrhora Chocolate

Recipe Tuna/Cannellini Salad

The salad is very satisfying, easy to prepare and fool proof.
1 can tuna fish packed in olive oil (I use imported “Genova Tonno”)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped
Pinch of dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper

Break tuna into coarse pieces. Then mix all ingredients together and serve at room temperature.

Recipe Carottes Râpées
3 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried cranberries, optional

Grate the carrots in a food processor. In a bowl, combine grated carrots with garlic. In a separate bowl combine the lemon juice with olive oil. Pour over the carrots. Add cranberries if desired. Season with salt.

The salad can be prepared a day ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate. Return to room temperature before serving.

Dinner # 4

Chilled Tomato Soup with Crabmeat and Chives
German style potato salad
Cole slow
Wine: Willm, Pinot Gris, 2008
Dessert: Cantaloupe and Strawberries

Since I attended a meeting, we had dinner later than usual and I wanted everything to be ready the minute I got home. The tomato soup recipe is from my “Life of A Restaurant” cookbook. It is so easy to prepare that a child could whip it up. The wonder is that it tastes as if a professional chef had toiled over it.

I don’t understand why people buy strawberries out of season. They are woody and have zero flavor. The greenmarket is now featuring the season’s first strawberries. They are relatively small, deep red, juicy, and altogether yummy. I don’t even bother to remove the stems.

Recipe Tomato Soup

1 pound ripe plum tomatoes
1 14-ounces can good-quality tomato juice (I use Sacramento)
Salt and black pepper
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon crabmeat or surimi
1 teaspoon snipped chives

Core the tomatoes. Purée them in a food processor or blender, adding tomato juice to thin to a medium thick consistency. Season with salt, pepper and sugar. Refrigerate to chill. When ready to serve, spoon the soup into individual bowls. Float some crab meat or surimi on top, and garnish with chives.

George’s Favorite Sandwich

I bought all the ingredients at Schaller & Weber, prepared the sandwiches ahead of time, and popped them into the toaster oven to warm up just before serving.

Our 2 Sandwiches

6 ounces low sodium ham, shredded
3 slices cream Havarti cheese, sliced fairly thick
Balsamic vinegar and olive oil, Dijon mustard
Dill pickle, cut into thick slices
2 Kaiser Rolls

I moistened one part of the rolls with the Balsamic vinegar and oil and spread some Dijon mustard on the other side of the rolls. I alternated one layer of cheese and one layer of ham twice. Closed the rolls tightly, cut each in halv, and wrapped in Saran wrap till ready to serve.

June 2, 2011

Italian Sausages meet Provençal Mushrooms

I have been ogling Ottomanelli’s home-made pork sausages for quite
a while and finally tried them.

“Just sauté them in a frying pan,” advised Frank, the butcher.
I did just that, cutting the sausages into small pieces. Easiest thing I ever did and so tasty!


Italian Sweet and Spicy Sausages
Home-Style Roasted Potatoes*
Mushrooms Provençal
Wine: Beaujolais Villages 2009 [Juliénas]
Dessert: Valhora Chocolate

This meal was a triple winner. George loved the potatoes and asked for seconds; I loved the mushrooms; we both liked the sausages.

Mushrooms Provençal

3/4 pounds crimini mushrooms, wiped dry and cut into quarters
¼ cup olive oil, more if needed
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon fresh marjoram, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
2 teaspoons bread crumbs
Salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms. Sauté over high heat to brown, about 8 - 10 minutes. Reduce heat. Add garlic, herbs,
and parsley. Continue to sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Mix in the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Lately I have become rather fond of Beaujolais. I just had to learn which ones to buy. Will Helburn at Rosenthal Wine Merchants is a big help, educating me about superior Beaujolais. Served slightly chilled, they are great summer wines.

Skeptic meets great Chocolate

Anyone who follows my blog knows that I don’t like sweets. That is to say with one exception: Valrhona’s “70% Cocoa Baking Bittersweet Chocolate”. I discovered it at Zabar’s nuts and dried fruit department-- a big block of chocolate, wrapped in saran. I don’t know what made me buy it. We tried it that evening after dinner. I couldn’t believe it: this was a great chocolate! It is so dense, I had to use a Parmesan cutter and a mallet to break off some pieces. Once, in your mouth, you have to chew it slowly—a process that helps savor its opulent, rich flavor. In addition, this chocolate goes well with red wine. Now we both are addicted to it.

*For recipe see December 14, 2010 blog

P.S. The dogwood tree is still blooming. Good doggie.

May 23, 2011

Another Celebration

May is celebration month. First there was our wedding anniversary, then Mother’s Day, and now my birthday. Birthdays were important events in
my family when I was a child; they are big now. My wish? A dogwood
tree. Let me explain. We have a ground floor apartment that has an enclosed greenhouse and a garden. Two years ago, our Japanese maple
tree died. The tree had a certain sculptured look during the winter
but, came spring, it became an eye sore. It took over a month to
choose the tree, where to buy it, who would plant it and get rid of
the dead maple tree. Everything fell into place and here I was, on
my birthday, with the dogwood tree in full bloom, right under our
bedroom window.

But what about dinner? I definitely didn’t’ want to cook. After much
back and forth we decided to get in-house made charcuterie, and
cheese from the recently opened Épicerie Boulud*


Rillette Maison
Terrine de Canard au Poivre Vert
Pâté en Croute de Canard aux Figues
Abondance – a raw cow’s milk cheese from Savoie
Abbay de Tamie, another raw cow’s milk cheese, Savoie
Celery Remoulade
Epis Bread
Wine: Pol Roger Sir Winston Churchill Champagne, 1998

The rillette, terrine and pâté were excellent, but so rich, we
didn’t touch the cheese. The champagne--courtesy of my brother-in-law,
Julien—pulled everything together nicely and added a festive touch.

Toasting ourselves, and munching charcuteries, we recalled former birthdays--the one in our rented apartment in Golfe Juan when George
gave me three Hermes scarves. The one at La Colombe d’Or in St. Paul
de Vence, sitting next to Yves Montand and his wife, Simone Signoret; Veuve Cliquot in Paris, Le Bernadin in New York, the Gritti in Venice;
on the
SS France and the Italian Michelangelo. Then there were the parties at
the restaurants we owned at various times: foremost our beloved Colombe d’Or, named after the one in St. Paul de Vence; Café Bruxelle, and George Studley’s Long Wharf in Sag Harbor. Undoubtedly there had been some flops and disappointments. Fortunately, these are easily forgotten.

*Épicerie Boulud

May 11, 2011

55th Wedding Anniversary & Beyond

Special Occasion

George and I just celebrated our 55th wedding anniversary. Since we got married on our lunch hour, we always commemorate it with a festive lunch. We treated ourselves to a bottle of Pol Roger Extra Cuvée Réserve, Brut. Rich, well rounded, and slightly buttery the champagne was the perfect accompaniment to our meal of Kumamoto oysters on the half shell, Tarte d’Alsace (bought at Trader Joe’s), salade Niçoise, and an apple tart (bought from Glaser’s Bake Shop).

Vegetable of the Month: Green Asparagus

Last May I sounded off about the superiority of white asparagus. A year later, I bought a bunch of green asparagus at the farmer’s market. Figuring that less is more, I steamed the asparagus and served them with clarified butter.


Mozzarella and Grape Tomatoes
Grilled Salmon
Steamed Green Asparagus
Wine: Trimbach Riesling 2008
Dessert: Fresh pineapple

Recipe Green Asparagus

1 bunch green asparagus, bottoms snapped off and peeled
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons heated clarified butter

I placed the asparagus in a large pot, added water to cover and
steamed the asparagus, covered, for 8 minutes. Then I drained the asparagus carefully and put them aside.

Meanwhile I put 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a small pan over medium heat, brought it to a light boil and removed the butter before it turned brown. I served the butter in a small crock for dipping. The asparagus tasted so terrific, I became an instant convert.

For the salmon, I followed the Grilled Salmon with Mustard Glaze
recipe on my March 19, 2011 blog, eliminating the mustard glaze.

“Wonderful meal,” said George.
I agreed wholeheartedly.

Culinary Suggestion

Interested in culinary history? I recommend joining the Culinary Historians of New York (CHNY) of which I have been a member since the early 70’s. The organization has about 250 members, divided between food enthusiasts and people in the hospitality industry. The CHNY feature monthly programs that range from ancient cuisines to current issues. Volunteers prepare appropriate dishes; wines are usually donated.

On June 8 Claudia Roden will discuss her new book “The Food of Spain”. On June 16 Marc Meltonville will talk about “Reconstructing Historic Royal Kitchens”, including those of Henry VII and George III.

Annual membership for Individuals is $45.; $25. for Seniors.

Trader Joe’s

Glaser’s Bake Shop


April 27, 2011

Changing of the Blog

After sharing 113 meals with you, I’m running out of steam. While I remain on the look-out for interesting recipes and will continue to post them, the blog will encompass tips, observations, and news items that I hope you’ll find interesting.

Pantry: My pantry staples now include a minuscule package of squid ink, a $3.00 investment that transforms plain rice into a delectable black risotto. Sazón Goya Con Azafran is another flavoring favorite. A few pinches act like magic on anything from vegetables to stews.

Cheese of the Month: Roaring 40’s Australia

Roaring 40's Blue Cheese hails from King Island, south of Tasmania. The island’s rich soil and lush pastures account for its unique dairy industry. The cows of King Island are renowned for producing the sweetest, creamiest, purest milk, leading to an array of fine dairy products and award-winning cheeses among them the Roaring 40's Blue. The cheese is named after the ferocious westerly wind that blows between the latitude of 40 and 49 degrees, creating havoc along its way.

Made from cow's milk, Roaring 40’s Blue is a full bodied, slightly nutty cheese, with a pleasant after kick. The rindless cheese is matured in black wax casing which helps retain its moisture. Quite incidentally, it also adds to the appearance of this macho cheese.

I served the Roaring 40’s along-side two other cheeses which were of different origins and also had unique pedigrees: Nocetto di Capra, is a soft-ripened, velvety cheese made from Orobica goats, which are indigenous to Bergamo, Italy, and Abbaye de Belloc, a dense textured, tangy cheese made from the red-nosed Manech sheep (an old local breed) by the Benedictine Monks at the abbey of Notre-Dame de Belloc in the Pays Basque.

The wonder is that these remarkable cheeses ended up at the cheese department of Zabars on the upper West Side.

Good news for upper Eastsiders: On Saturday, April 30th from 10-3, the 82nd Street Greenmarket will play host to the Recycle-A-Rama paper shredding truck--an easy way to dispose of old documents and papers you don’t want anybody else to read. Check: Uppergreenside.org.

And now, something unrelated to food: my friends Nimet and Sue Habachy will hold their semi-annual Egyptian Craft Sale on May 3, 4, 5, from 11 am to 8 pm at the Christian Education Center, on 7 West 55th Street. The sale features one-of-a-kind items, hand crafted from scraps and trash heaps by young Egyptian women. The Habachy sisters have championed this cause for many years.

April 18, 2011

Paella, Greatly Simplified

Paella is Spain's national dish par excellence. It originated in the rice fields near Valencia, starting as a simple, outdoor, peasant dish. On a visit to Valencia several years ago, George and I became so enamored with paella, we ended up cooking paella along side the then Spanish paella champion, Chef Frederico Sanjeronimo Gil. Chef Gils’ paella included chicken, rabbit, snails, mussels, broad and lima beans. It took all morning to prepare and was so copious, it could have fed a party of six.

George used to cook paella for friends in Sag Harbor. He became such a pro, we declared him the East End’s paella champion. Now he suggested to prepare a simplified version of paella, using fewer ingredients and a rice cooker.

To give our paella its Spanish due, I served it with a Rioja.


Mixed Salad
Wine: Marqués de Cáceres, Rioja, 2006
Dessert: Chocolate Rugalach


½ lb small shrimps, shells removed
1½ cups fish stock*, or water
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced, covered with half of the oil
1 tomato, peeled and cored, coarsely chopped, soaked in the above
1 teaspoon Pimentòn de la Vera
½ package Goya Sazon con Cultnatro y Achiote
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Several red pepper flakes
¾ cup short-grained rice, washed and rinsed several times
2 bay leaves
¼ lb surimi

*I used “Kitchen Basics Original Seafood Cooking Stock” and cooked the removed shrimp shells in it. I then strained the liquid, pressing the shells down to release their moisture. Next I added the garlic, tomato, and spices.

When ready to cook, I put the rice into the rice cooker together with the bay leaves, remaining oil, added the stock, and turned on the machine. When the rice was cooked (after 40 minutes), I adjust the seasoning and spread the rice out on an ovenproof dish. I added the shrimps and surimi, salted the shellfish slightly and dribbled some olive oil over it. To finish, I baked the dish, uncovered, for 5 minutes in the preheated 350 degree oven.

The rice tasted terrific, but we were of two minds about the shrimps. On one hand, the liquid from the shells definitely added to the flavor. On the other hand, the shrimps had zero taste.

“Maybe we should forget about the shrimps and simply add more surimi,” said George. “This is a good dish. Let’s have it again soon.”

April 11, 2011

Monkfish Scallops On A Bed Of Lima Bean Puree With Basic Pistou

Monkfish was a very popular dish at La Colombe d’Or, undergoing various transformations depending on seasons and chefs. In my book, “Life of a Restaurant” I offer four different monkfish preparations, freely mixing a decade of garnishes. This one is my favorite.


Monkfish Scallops
Lima Been Purée*
Basil Pistou**
Roasted Grape Tomatoes
Wine: Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2010
Dessert: Bahlsen Dark Choco Leibniz Cookies

*See recipe, January 25, 2011 post under “Spicy Indian Chicken Meets Soothing Lima Bean Purée.” I usually make double portions of lima bean purée because I like its taste and looks. Properly stored, it will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days and in the freezer for 3 months.

Basil Pistou**

**Although I have a recipe for basil pistou in my book, I didn’t bother to make it myself and bought it ready-made from Citarella.

Cooking Monkfish

1/2 pound monkfish, sliced on the bias into 1-inch scallops, about 8 pieces)
2 bay leaves
Salt and white pepper
Snipped chive

In a saucepan, place enough water to cover the monkfish scallops. Add the bay leaves and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Add the monkfish scallops. Poach, uncovered, for 1 minute per side. (Monkfish tends to get tough easily. Don’t overcook!)


Make a circle about 4 inches round on 2 individual plates with the basil pistou. Fill the circle with lima bean purée. Place scallops in the middle. Season with salt and white pepper. Garnish with chives.

To counterbalance all that greenery, I served roasted grape tomatoes on the side.

April 5, 2011


Food-wise I'm glad the weather turned cold again because I still hadn't cooked one of my favorite winter dishes: osso buco. It seemed a formidable task to undertake. Actually, cooking osso buco takes longer in the telling than in the making. Once you have assembled all the ingredients, the dish all but cooks itself. It gets better the longer you cook it, plus the flavor intensifies if made a day or two ahead of time.

Ottomanelli’s knowledgeable butcher Mark advised me to get pork shank. “Tastier than veal,” he said. Who knows? This one was a winner.


Osso Buco
Mashed Potatoes
Wine: Bogle Petite Sirah 2008
Dessert: Fruit


1 pork shank (about 1 lb.), tied with kitchen twine
Flour to dust
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ lb pancetta, cut into small pieces
1 carrot, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
½ cup chopped canned tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine, more if needed
½ beef or chicken stock, more if needed
Grated lemon and orange zests
Touch of Pimentòn de la Vera
Touch of sugar
Chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pat pork shank dry. Combine flour, salt and pepper. Dip shanks in the flour mixture and coat. Heat oil in a heavy skillet or Dutch oven. Add pancetta and cook until it begins to render its fat. Add the pork shank and brown on all sides. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Cook carrot, onion and celery in same skillet for 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in wine and stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Add the pork shank. Cover the skillet with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for at least 2 ½ hours. Ever so often, check to see if more liquid is needed.

Let the osso buco cool and then refrigerate. When ready to serve, skim the layer of fat that has formed and remove the twine. Bring the osso buco to a simmer over medium heat. Add the lemon and orange zest. Adjust seasoning. (I asked George to taste the dish. He suggested adding a little bit of sugar. Brilliant!)

To serve, I cut the meat from the bone, scooped the marrow out of the bone, mashed it into the vegetable mixture, and garnished the dish with chopped parsley.

Later on I cleaned and washed the bone and gave it to our dog, Mops. He was in heaven.

March 31, 2011

Pasta with Sardines & Capers

Give me a can of sardines and capers and I’d be happy. However, since this doesn’t constitute a dinner, I found one of Mark Bittman’s recipes that combines sardines and capers with pasta and bread crumbs.


Pasta with Sardines and Capers
Arugula, Grape Tomatoes, Black Olive Salad
Wine: Chianti Rufina “Nipozzano” Riserva 2007
Dessert: Biscotti

For The Pasta

3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup breadcrumbs
1 small onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
6 ounces spaghetti, or similar thin pasta
Grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 can boneless sardines in olive oil
Chopped parsley for garnish

What to Do:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Put 2 tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, until golden brown. Remove. Add the remaining oil and the onion to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until softened.

Meanwhile add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until just tender. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid.

Raise the heat under the onions, stir in the lemon zest, capers and sardines and heat through. Add the pasta to the mixture and toss to combine. Add the breadcrumbs and enough of the reserved liquid to moisten well. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with parsley.

I would have liked more sardines. George asked for grated Parmesan. That’s life.

March 28, 2011

Our Korean Encounter

“Korean take-out. Interesting,” said George referring to a New York Times piece entitled "Grazing Tour of Koreatown." The idea of Korean food didn’t particularly thrill me but, since I am always ready for a culinary adventure, I headed for Koreatown, an enclave on West 32nd Street in Manhattan. On the way, I passed Artisanal, where George and I had several wonderful meals. I was tempted to buy some their cheeses but, mindful of my Korean mission, I tried to find H-MART, one of the stores listed in the NY Times. Street numbers were sporadic; and signs were in Korean.

By checking the phone number on the marquee of one place which matched that of the Times, I realized that H-Mart, stood for Han Ah Reum, a large Korean supermarket. It took a while till I found some one who spoke English. I showed her the NY Times article and asked her to locate the items marked interesting: pickled vegetables, blood sausage, and whiting pie. All were prepackaged and weighed a ton.

Next I searched for Koryodang, referred to as a “tony café.” Koryodang was tony alright. In fact it was an attractive, super modern establishment, filled with young people. The café specializes in sweet and savory pastries (called dutch) lined up at a long counter. I chose the bacon filled dutch which, according to the Times is so substantial, “it practically oinks.” Weight-wise, it further added to my load.

Preparing my purchases for dinner, I realized they could easily feed a party of six.


Pickled vegetables (Kimchi)
Bacon filled Dutch
Korean blood sausage
Whiting Pie
Wine: Willm Gewürztraminer 2009
Dessert: Bahlsen Choco Leibniz

The pickled vegetables-- carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts, mushrooms, spinach, and fenugreek--were so spicy, my lips puffed up. Far from oinking, the bacon-filled dutch was dry and shy on bacon. The pan-fried whiting, to which the Times referred to as “the fabulous love child of a fishcake and an omelet”, was bland. The most interesting dish was the blood sausage. According to the label, it contained porkomasum, pork blood, sweet rice, soybean, and garlic. Fortunately I detected neither blood nor pork, only the sweet rice encased in a thin, edible casing.

The acidic and slightly sweet Gewürztraminer straddled the meal from the spicy kimchi to the sweet rice.

March 25, 2011

Broiled Garlic Chicken with Cold Potato/Mint Purée

This recipe comes from my The Chicken For Every Occasion cookbook. I hadn’t looked at the book for a while but, once again, I am intriguiged
by some of the recipes of the “Chicken Around the World” chapter. The dish offers an exciting contrast between the sizzling chicken and the cold, smooth purée.


Broiled Garlic Chicken with Potato-and-Mint Purée
Watercress, Grape Tomatoes, and Feta Cheese Salad
Wine: Pascal Granger Juliénas 2008
Dessert: Lindt 85% Cocoa Chocolate

Prep Chicken

2 garlic cloves minced
1/4 cup oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs separated, trimmed)
Salt and pepper
Combine garlic, oil and lemon juice. Pour over he chicken pieces and marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Prep Potato-Mint Purée

2 medium potatoes, cooked and peeled
1/4 cup oil, more if needed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon lime juice (more if desired)
1 tablespoon fresh mint (more if desired)

Place the oil and garlic in a blender, mix. Add lime juice and potatoes, blend. Add mint and blend until smooth. Season to taste. Cover and store in the refrigerator till ready to use.

Cooking Chicken

Preheat the broiler

Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade. Pad dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces, skin side down, on the broiler rack. Brush with marinade and broil for 15 minutes. Turn, brush again, and broil for another 15 minutes. Test for doneness. Lest rest for several minutes. Serve hot with accompanying cold potato-mint puree, and garnish with thin slices of lemon and lime.

This is the second time that I was impressed by Beaujolais, my least favorite wine. My prejudice against the wine stems mostly from the hoopla around Beaujolais Nouveau and the mass produced wines from the Beaujolais region. Beaujolais from top producers of the 10 Cru Villages—among them Juliénas, Moulin-A-Vent, Fleurie, and Morgan-- are another matter. Light and delicious, the Juliénas was a case in point. As advised, I had opened the bottle three hours before serving to give the wine plenty of time to breathe.

March 22, 2011

One Table, Two Separate Orders: Hanger Steak, Plus

I love hanger steak, also called butcher steak, because it is so flavorful. I also like the fact, that the butcher will often cut the hanger steak into smaller pieces, just right for one or two people.

Anatomically, the hanger steak "hangs" from the diaphragm of the animal. The diaphragm is one muscle, commonly cut into two separate cuts of meat: the hanger steak traditionally considered more flavorful, and the outer skirt steak composed of tougher muscle within the diaphragm. If you like, you can marinate either steak. But I don’t mind a bit of chewyness. In fact, I welcome it.

I know that George wouldn’t dream of eating hangar steak and prepared a small meatloaf for him. No contest here. We both won.


Hanger Steak: HS
Meatloaf: GS
Mashed Potato
Braised Red Cabbage
Wine: Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rouge 2007
Dessert: Fruit Salad

Hanger Steak
1 6-ounce hanger steak, about 1 inch thick, trimmed
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
Fresh or dried thyme sprigs to coat the steak
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 shallot thinly sliced
Chopped curly parsley for garnish

Rub the steak with olive oil and coat with the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining olive oil until shimmering. Add the meat and pan-fry over moderately high heat until browned and crusty, about 3 minutes per side for rare, 4 minutes for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.

Add the shallots to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, about 3 minutes.
To serve: Cut the steak on the bias into thin slices and fan the slices out on a warm dinner plate. Spoon the sautéed shallots on top of the steak, garnish with the parsley.

Braised Red Cabbage*

1 pound red cabbage
2 ounces pancetta, cut into small cubes
1 ½ tablespoon goose or duck fat, or olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
¼ cup red wine
Salt and pepper

Quarter the cabbage, remove the core, and shred fine
Sauté the pancetta in a heavy skillet till slightly crisp.
Pour off the rendered fat. Heat the goose fat or the oil in the same skillet. Add the onion and sauté till translucent. Add the cabbage and the wine. Lower the heat and braise the cabbage, covered, for 45 to 55 minutes, or until soft. Season with salt and pepper.

*You can prepare the red cabbage a day before. A big help, I think.

March 19, 2011

Grilled Salmon with Mustard Glaze

Grilled salmon used to be the number one best-seller on the menu of La Colombe d’Or. At the restaurant we served the salmon with braised red cabbage and carrot curls. Instead, I made caramelized carrots and, since I can only juggle two dishes at a time, I served the salmon with last nights’ left-over black risotto (squid ink).


Grilled Salmon with Mustard Glaze
Caramelized Carrots
Black Risotto
Wine: Bordeaux Blanc Sec “Chateau La Rame” 2009
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt

Prep Mustard Glaze and Sauce

1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ tablespoons water
1/4 cup Pommery Grain Mustard
2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mix the dry mustard, sugar and water together to create a paste for the glaze. In a separate bowl, mix the Pommery mustard with the oil emulsion.

Prep Caramelized Carrots

1 bunch fresh carrots
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sherry or wine vinegar

Peel the carrots and cut off their tops. Slice them into small rounds.
In a skillet, warm the olive oil and butter. Add the carrots. Cover and let cook over medium heat until tender, about 30 to 45 minutes. When ready to serve, sprinkle the carrots with the sugar. Cook, uncovered, until the carrots have caramelized. Add the vinegar and season with salt.

Cook salmon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the salmon with oil. Season with salt and pepper. In a hot skillet, sauté the salmon, skin-side down, for 3 minutes at one side. Remove the salmon and brush the top with the mustard glaze. Transfer the salmon in the preheated oven for 3-4 minutes for medium rare.

Place the salmon in the middle of the plate; surround with the Pommery mustard sauce, the carrots and risotto.

Back in 1994, we suggested to enjoy the dish with white Burgundy such as Chassagne-Montrachet or Puligny-Montrachet. Today, these wines retail for about $120. We were just as happy with our Bordeaux Blanc.

“Excellent dinner,” said George. I wholeheartedly agreed.

March 15, 2011

Missing Mark Bittman: Pasta alla Gricia

I had clipped some of Mark Bittman’s favorite dishes in his exit of the Minimalist column from the pages of the NY Times, among them Pasta alla Gricia. Not having an ounce of Italian blood in my bone, I decided to take the proverbial bull by the horn and-- when in Rome—forged ahead.

Alla Gricia , I learned, is a Roman classic consisting of guanciale, cured pork jowl, which has a unique, intensely piggy flavor, and Pecorino Romano, the hard, tangy grating cheese made from sheep's milk. “With so few components at play, substitutions are not minor,” I further read. “Pancetta and Parmigiano will make a tasty dish, but you cannot call it alla gricia, for the simple reason that their flavors are quite different.”

Thus advised I went to Di Palo’s to get cured pork jowl and, while there, bought various Italian items, among them crucolo, a succulent semi-soft cow’s milk cheese from the Trentino region of Northern Italy. That
cheese, which I served while cooking the pasta, was so good, we overindulged and barely could do justice to the pasta.


Crucolo from Trentino*
Pasta Alla Gricia
Wine: Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva 2007
Dessert: Ricotta Cheese Cake**

Recipe Pasta alla Gricia

• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1/4 cup guanciale, sliced into thin strips or wide ribbons
• ½ pound linguine or similar thin pasta
• 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Place the guanciale in a cold sauté pan with the olive oil and place over medium heat; the olive oil helps to render the fat evenly and helps transferring the flavor from the pan to the pasta.

Drop the pasta into the water as you slowly sauté the guanciale. The goal is to slowly soften the fat, keeping it translucent; avoid letting it turn brown and crisp, or the pleasure of biting into those soft, juicy, fatty parts will be lost. When the guanciale has softened, add a small splash of water from the pasta pot. Lower the heat, and keep dribbling in a little of pasta cooking water, just enough to keep the guanciale moist.

When the pasta reaches al dente texture, scoop out some of the cooking water and set it aside. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan, then turn up the heat. Toss the pasta, coating it with the guanciale and rendered fat. If needed, add a splash of the reserved pasta cooking water.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the grated Pecorino Romano. Season to taste, toss well and serve on a heated plate.

Although I usually prefer crunchy crispy pancetta, or bacon, I found the taste of guancile most intriguing. George wouldn’t commit himself. He did appreciate the cheese cake.

*Di Palo’s of Little Italy

**Café Ferrara

March 12, 2011

Charcuterie Dinner

I needed a break from cooking and treated us to a predominantly Spanish charcuterie dinner, enhanced with a French Pâté and German potato salad.


Truffle Mousse Pâté*
Serrano Ham**
German potato salad*** with migas
Wine: Muga Reserva 2006 Rioja
Dessert: Fresh pineapple

I have a soft spot for Serrano ham which I first tasted at the Museo del Jamon--the delicatessen/bar in Madrid--before it became legal to import the ham to the U.S. George prefers Prosciutto, finding Serrano ham too salty. I, on the other hand, wouldn’t touch blood sausages with a ten foot pole. Luckily, we came together over the chorizo, beautifully spiced with Pimenton de la Vera, and both agreed that the Truffle Mousse Pâté stole the show. The mousse contained chicken liver, sherry wine, truffles, mushrooms, and Brandy aspic. It was utterly delicious.

The surprise came with the potato salad/migas. In my infatuation with Despaña’s food, I had bought ½ pound of their ready made migas. Once home, I discovered that the migas ingredience had been cut into minuscule size. I couldn’t possibly serve it like that. But, when I tossed it into the German potato salad, the combination turned into a triumph.

The Rioja pulled the meal together nicely.

*Trader Joe's

**Despagna Brands Foods

***Schaller & Weber

March 7, 2011

Corned Beef Hash

I wanted to cook a meal that George would really like and decided on corned beef hash. I had never cooked the dish before. In fact, I thought this was not the kind of dish I would enjoy. Still, I love preparing new dishes and threw myself wholeheartedly into this one. The recipe calls for boiling the potatoes in oil. It seemed odd, but I assumed there was a reason.


Corned Beef Hash
Cole Slaw
Wine: Réserve Perrin Côtes du Rhône
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt


1 lb. medium-size Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and dried
Vegetable oil to cover (in my case 2 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
¼ lb corned beef (or pastrami), cut into bite-size pieces
Salt and pepper
Opt. 2 poached eggs

Put the potatoes in a pot large enough for a single layer. Cover with the oil. Turn the heat to medium, bring to a simmer, and cook 25 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked. Remove the potatoes and set aside to cool. (The oil can be reused.)

When ready to serve, peel the potatoes and cut into dice. Heat a nonstick skillet to medium high. Heat olive oil, add potatoes and distribute evenly in pan. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes until browned
on both sides. Stir in the butter, shallots, garlic, parsley and corned beef. Cook until the corned beef is heated through and the shallots are soft. Season to taste.

I skipped the poached eggs because it seemed like a protein blow-out. But we agreed the hash could have used the eggs as a binder. George used ketchup instead.

I was sure we would have left-over. But we finished every bit of it.

March 5, 2011

Chicken with Yogurt/Spice Sauce

“I think I need more yogurt in my diet,” said George. We all do and the idea of chicken braised in yogurt appealed to me. I also found a recipe for Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Raisins in Madhur Jaffrery’s “At Home with Madhur Jaffrey”s cookbook and liked the almonds/raisin/rice combination.


Chicken with Yogurt/Spice Sauce
Rice Pilaf with Almonds and Raisins
Baked Spinach
Wine: Les Bosquets Vouvray Sauvion, 2009
Dessert: Afrika Cookies

Recipe Chicken

½ large chicken breast, with skin and bone, cut into four pieces
Flour for dusting
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon clarified butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala (store-bought)
1 cup plain yogurt
Lemon juice if desired
Chopped mint or parsley for garnish

Dust the chicken lightly with flour and season with salt and pepper. Heat a casserole to medium-high, add butter and sauté chicken to brown. Remove the chicken; cover to keep warm.

Raise heat and add olive oil to the casserole. Sauté onions till translucent. Then add the garlic and sauté for a few minutes. Stir in the spices and the yogurt. Lower heat and warm through. Add chicken to the yogurt-spice mixture, cover. Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with chopped mint or parsley.

The chicken dish came out nicely. It was rather spicy, but the yogurt tempered it.

The less said about the rice pilaf, the better. In fact, it was a gummy disaster. Fortunately, I always serve excellent bread with our dinner, so all wasn’t lost. The Vouvray was a delight.

February 28, 2011

Spanish Mackerel with Orange and Anchovy Sauce

Blood orange and anchovy with fish? I couldn’t imagine what that would taste like. But, since restaurateur Anita Lo, whose recipe appeared in the Wall Street Journal, is a highly regarded chef, I decided to go for it. In case the dish didn’t turn out, I had left-over meatballs as a backup.
Lo and behold, the dish tasted terrific. Even George, who usually makes a face when I serve fish, was impressed and thought it was “highly original.”


Spanish Mackerel
Boiled Potatoes
Artichoke Vinaigrette
Wine: Bordeaux Blanc Sec “Chateau La Rame” 2009
Dessert: Cinnamon/Apple Cake


2 four-ounce fillets of Spanish mackerel with skin
2 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 small shallot, peeled and minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly chopped
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Zest of ½ lemon, grated
2 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry and finely sliced*
¼ cup orange juice
1 tablespoon butter, more if needed
1 small blood orange, sectioned
Snipped chives for garnish
*I substituted anchovy paste for the anchovy fillets.

Preheat Broiler

Place a sauté pan over high heat. Add olive oil, shallot, garlic, pepper flakes, lemon zest, and anchovies to the pan. Cook until it sizzles. Add orange juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the mixture thickens. Turn off the heat and swirl in the butter. Add the orange sections. Adjust seasoning. Divide the sauce among 2 plates

Meanwhile brush both sides of the mackerel with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Place mackerel, skin side up, on the top of the oven rack. Cook until the skin starts to blister, about 3-5 minutes. Arrange the mackerel fillets over the sauce and garnish with chives.

Serving the gentle Bordeaux Blanc with the macho dish was a mistake. The more pungent Babich Sauvignon Blanc would have been a better choice.

February 25, 2011

100th Blog: Musing and Schmoosing

This is my 100th blog! I confess, I had no idea how much I would enjoy it. First and foremost there is the challenge of what to cook for dinner. I sleep better once I’ve decided on the next three meals. These usually include one new dish, plus favorite standbys like meatloaf, a simple chicken, fish and pasta dish. Cooking falls into two categories: à la minute such as hamburger, or those that require lengthy prep, such as stews, which can be done in advance. Depending on the day, the weather, and my ambition, I’ll gravitate to one or the other. We both enjoy a good meal, but George is fussier than I am. Presentation and flavor nuances are important to him. I like variety and the right choice of wine.

Recent shopping Ventures & Changes

Trader Joe’s*. Granted, it’s a schlep but definitely worth it once in a while. Their frozen Tarte d’Alsace alone is worth the trip. I also like their Truffle Mousse Pâté, made with chicken liver, truffles & mushrooms, Irish Kerrygold Butter*, (see A word abut butter), frozen French Haricot Verts, and reasonably priced spices. The place seems overwhelming. But the staff is very helpful and will accompany you on your quest of assorted items spread over two floors.

“If it’s Monday it must be sushi……” The quality of sushi from the Katari market had deteriorated, and we now order our Monday night sushi ritual from Sushi of Gari.* Their sushi is consistently first rate; their Tofu salad is a gem.

Instead of going to Sandy’s for roasted chicken, I now buy roasted chicken at Chicken Festival,* a hole in the wall Peruvian eatery in our neighborhood. Sometimes their chicken is better than on others. George likes their rice and beans.

I continue to buy Saigon Grill’s Royal Bouillabaisse on Amsterdam Avenue. To make sure that the fish isn’t overcooked, I remove the fish and shellfish pieces before reheating the bouillabaisse. I may also add some shrimps, having cooked them in their shell first and then add the strained liquid to the bouillabaisse.

A Word about Butter

When the beurre noir for our skate dish didn’t turn out right, I suspected it was due to the quality of the butter. Enamored with extra virgin olive oil for the past decade, I had forgotten that you need top butter to make a good sauce. High quality butter has at least 82% butterfat. French butter with Appelation d’Origine Controlee designation such as Beurre d’Echire, Isigny-Ste-Mere, and Celles-sur-Belle fall into this category. So do their American counterpart among them Vermont Butter, Organic Valley, Ronnybrook Farm and the Irish Kerrygold Butter. Unfortunately American butters don’t indicate the butterfat content on their label. So, it’s a guessing game. I’m slowly doing my own comparative tasting. I'll keep you informed. Meanwhile, our sauces and flavored butters are getting better.

*Trader Joe’s (212) 737-8352
Bway & 72nd Street

*Chicken Festival (212) 988-2844
1584 First Ave. bet. 82nd & 83rd Street.

*Sushi of Gari (212) 517-5340
402 East 78 Street
Sushi of Gari (212) 362-4816
370 Columbus Ave (bet. 77 & 78 Sts.)

February 20, 2011

Filet of Sole with Apple Cider Vinegar Sauce

In my quest to expand the variety of our meals, I came across a recipe by Patricia Wells of turbot with a cider vinegar sauce. Wells suggested to use either flounder or lemon sole if turbot was not available.


Filet of Sole in Cider Vinegar Sauce
Baked Spinach
Wine: Bordeaux Blanc Sec “Chateau La Rame” 2009
Dessert: Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

Recipe Fillet of Sole

½ lb. fillet of sole
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
Salt and white pepper

Bring water or fish stock (in my case left over from previous moules marinièrs) to a boil. Place the fish into the liquid; reduce heat and cook, covered, for 4 to 5 minutes, until opaque. Transfer the fish fillets onto a warm plate and cover loosely to keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring the cider vinegar to a boil. Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking until all of the butter has been added and the sauce is smooth and creamy. Season to taste; spoon the sauce over the fish.

“Boring,” said George. “I like fillet of sole nicely browned, served with lemon wedges.”

I actually liked the sauce but, by and large, find lemon sole boring. Dover sole would have been another matter. And hard cider instead of apple cider vinegar would have made a difference. But this is not Normandy and I like living in New York.

Pommes vapeur would have been nice instead of the rice,” said George.

That’s what keeps our meals interesting.

February 17, 2011

Old Time French Bistro Meal inspired by Left Overs

I had so much soup stock left over from the pot-au-feu dinner, I decided to make onion soup. I hadn’t cooked the dish since the 70’s, but, like bicycle riding, I didn’t forget. To be on the safe side, I checked out Julia Child’s version. Except for the addition of cognac (which I don’t have in the house), we were more or less in agreement.


Onion Soup
Celery Remoulade
Black Diamond Cheddar*
Wine: Sauvion Saumur-Champigny “Les Gravières Du Roy” 2009
Dessert: Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia Ice Cream

Prep Onion Soup

1½ lbs yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons butter
Pinch of sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2- 2 1/2 cups stock
¼ cup white wine
Black Pepper
Touch of Sazón Goya’s Coriander & Annato seasoning
2 slices of baguette, lightly toasted
½ cup grated Swiss cheese

In a heavy saucepan, cook the onions with the butter in a covered saucepan for 15 minutes. Uncover, raise heat and stir in salt and sugar. Cook for 30 minutes, until the onions have turned a golden brown. Sprinkle the onions with the flour; stir for a few minutes. Off heat, add the boiling liquid and the wine. Simmer, partially covered for 30 to 40 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook Onion Soup

When ready to serve, reheat. Adjust seasoning. Pour into soup bowls over the bread and sprinkle with grated cheese.

Recipe Celery Remoulade (inspired by my friend Sylvia I)

I tend to overbuy and had a big knob of celery root left over. Ugly looking and hard to clean, this is one of the most neglected vegetables. Pity, because celery remoulade is one of the most delectable salads.

1 celery root, peeled and coarsely grated
Lemon juice
About ½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper
Opt. 2 white celery stalks cut into small pieces
Some dried cranberries & walnut pieces

Sprinkle the grated celery root with lemon juice. Fold it into the mayonnaise/mustard dressing. Add celery, dried cranberries and walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.

*The onion soup was so filling and the celery remoulade so plentiful we never got around to the cheese.

February 13, 2011


I finally cooked pot-au-feu, the ultimate winter dish. I nearly gave up before I started because the various cook books I consulted called for bottom round, beef shanks, oxtail, short ribs, marrow bones and chicken to start with. But where, I asked myself, was that written? Pot au feu, the classic French peasant dish, simply means pot on the fire. Like stone soup, you can put into the pot whatever you like. In my case I narrowed it down to boned beef shank, short rib of beef, one marrow bone thrown in by my obliging butcher, plus four vegetables.

Patricia Wells, one of my favorite food writers, makes a point of cooking the vegetable separately, arguing that each vegetable will retain its character and the finished dish will be less fatty.


Wine: Fleurie “Domaine de la Chapelle des Bois” 2008
Dessert: Chocolate

Recipe Pot-au-feu

Day 1 Meat

1 pound boned beef shank
1 pound short ribs of beef
Opt. one marrow bone
Bouquet garni (pepper corns, sprigs of Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves, dried thyme tied in cheesecloth)
1 large yellow onion, studded with clove

Tie the beef shank and short ribs into two separate bundles. Place into a stockpot to hold, together with the marrow bone. Cover with water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Let simmer for about 40 minutes, continuously skimming the surface, removing all impurities or grease. (This is the most tedious part of the entire operation)

Season the liquid with coarse salt. Add the onion and the bouquet garni. Skim again and simmer for 2 to 3 hours or till the meat is tender.
At this point, I discarded the onion, bouquet garni and removed the string from the meat. I moistened the meat with some of the liquid, covered it, and put it into the refrigerator. I poured the liquid through a strainer and placed it, covered, into the refrigerator.

Day 2 Vegetables

3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized portions
1 small celery root, peeled and cubed
3 turnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized portions
2 leeks, washed and trimmed to about 5 inches

Dijon mustard
Sea salt

Place the carrots and celery root into a pot, cover with the cooking liquid (surface fat removed), and cook for about 25 minutes. Add
the turnips and cook for another 15; add the leeks and cook for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile reheat the cooking broth. Slice the meat as desired and warm in the liquid.

To serve: Place the meat on a platter and arrange the cooked vegetables around it. Ladle a bit of broth over the pot-au-feu. Offer the condiments, together with pieces of lightly toasted baguette.

As usual, George’s observation was right. “No point cooking the vegetables separately,” he said. “After all, this is a one pot dish.”

Following the advice of my wine guru, Will Helburn of Rosenthal Wine Merchant, I had decanted the Beaujolais several hours before serving. It seemed pretentious, but Helburn insisted it would make a difference. “Most wines improve when allowed to breathe for a few hours,” he insisted. “Taste the wine before and after.”

Good heaven, he was right! While I didn’t particularly like the wine at first, it had morphed into superior Beaujolais which pulled the meal together nicely.

Am I going to cook pot-au-feu again? Unlikely. But it was an interesting experience.

February 10, 2011

Beurre Noir turns into Bête Noir: Skate with Beurre Noir

I love the texture and flavor of skate. Besides, the fish cooks in four minutes. Dinner should have been a cinch. So what went wrong? The beurre noir, that’s what. While all recipes for beurre noir state that the butter would brown within 1 minute, it took this butter at least 5 minutes to show any color. Maybe it was the pan; maybe it was the quality of the butter, who knows? Meanwhile, my perfectly sautéed fish was getting cold.

“You should have warmed the plates,” said George.

The white Bordeaux was lovely. Soft, fruity, it added a touch of class to the meal.

Skate with Beurre Noir
Red Pepper Coulis*
Wine: Chateau La Rame, Bordeaux Blanc, 2009
Dessert: Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

Recipe Skate

2 pieces of skinless, boneless skate
Flour to dust
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, drained
Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Lightly dust both sides of the skate with flour. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet. When hot, add skate. Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes per side until the fish turns opaque. Transfer skate to two plates. (Preferably warm)

Melt remaining butter in a pan over high heat. Cook until the butter starts to turn golden. Remove from heat, swirling pan. Add vinegar or lemon juice, and capers. (Caution: the butter might splatter all over the place). Spoon sauce over skate. Garnish with chopped parsley.

*See August 4, 2010 blog for Red Pepper Coulis recipe

February 6, 2011

Chinese New Year Celebration: The Year of the Rabbit

A gigantic feast prepared by sister-in-law Jane Studley, enjoyed by
family and friends ranging in age from 3 to 92.

The Buffet

Assorted Spring Rolls
Sashimi platter including tuna tartare and crabmeat salads
Boned, slices of roasted duck
Boned slices of roasted chicken
Steamed artichokes with dipping sauce
Platter of cooked, mixed vegetables
Platter of raw, shredded vegetables
Whole sea bass
Bean curd
Jellyfish and shredded radish
Broccoli Rape
Mixed salad with raisins and walnuts

“Pigeon?” I asked Jane.
“Yes,” she said, without further explanation. She was so busy, I didn’t want to bother her.

We left before dessert. Jane offered us a doggy bag which I declined. Dumb.

Our dinner the following evening was less exalted:

Frozen Tortelloni plus Spanish Chorizo and Green Peas

Thanks to Fresh Direct I had a box of frozen Tortelloni in the freezer. Although the label stated that the tortelloni contained gorgonzola and walnuts, there was no evidence of it. Still, who was counting? I had a sweet Spanish chorizo in the refrigerator, some Parmesan, plus a small can of sweet peas.

After the tortelloni were cooked and strained, I sautéed them with olive oil in a hot pan to brown. Next I tossed small slices of chorizo, skin removed, into the pan, together with the drained peas. After plating I grated Parmesan over the pasta.


Piquillo Pepper stiffed with Italian Ricotta Cheese
Tortelloni with Sweet Spanish Chorizo & Sweet peas
Watercress salad with grape tomatoes, dried cranberry, and walnuts
Wine: Chateau Massiac, Minervervois Rouge “Cuvée Sentille, 2009
Dessert: Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

Am happy to report that my salad was almost as good as Jane's.

February 3, 2011

An Accidental Oxtail Dinner

I confess. Seeing the neatly lined up oxtails at the butcher shop at Agata & Valentina, I couldn’t resist. The weather justified strong action: Oxtail Ragout. The recipe is loosely based on Teresa Barrenechea’s The Basque Table. Barrenechea calls it “Oxtail Bilbao Style, referring to Bilbao’s annual bull run, similar to the famous festival in Pamplona. Without worrying about the provenance of my oxtail, I tried to do it justice.


Oxtail Ragout
Potato Dumplings*
Wine: Marques de Riscal Rioja, Reservea, 2005
Dessert: Fruit

Prep Oxtail

4 pieces oxtail, trimmed
Flour to coat
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, diced
¾ to 1 cup red wine
Salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes
Chopped parsley for garnish

Sprinkle the oxtail with salt. Spread the flour in a shallow dish, and coat the oxtail on all sides. Shake off the excess flour. In a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the oxtails for 5-7 minutes, until they are browned on all sides.
Add the carrots, leek, onion, and garlic. Cook, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the tomatoes. Add the wine and reduce heat. Cook for 2 to 2 ½ hours until the meat is tender. When cooled, refrigerate over night.

Finish Oxtail

Remove the fat before reheating the stew. Adjust seasoning. The recipe suggests to purée the vegetables. I preferred to have them visible.
Since George hates to tackle any food with bones, I removed the meat from two oxtails and arranged them over the vegetables. Luckily I love bones. So there was no contest here.

*I simply followed the instructions on the potato dumpling package.
They came out rather well. All told, it was a dramatic winter meal.

January 30, 2011

Baked Red Snapper with Piquillo Pepper Vinaigrette

My love for red snapper continues. This time I garnished the fish with another favorite of mine: piquillo peppers. The Spanish peppers are roasted over embers, which gives them a distinct sweet, spicy flavor. They are peeled and de-seeded by hand, before being packed into jars or tins. Stuffed with goat cheese, shrimp, or left-over rice, they make terrific appetizers. I like to toss them into green salad.

Red Snapper with Piquillo Pepper Vinaigrette
Baked Spinach
Wine: Martin Códax Albariño Rías Baixas 2009
Dessert: 85% Lindt Dark Chocolate

Baked Spinach Recipe

Preheat the toaster oven to 400 degrees

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound spinach, well washed
Salt,pepper and a touch of sugar to taste

Pour olive oil in an ovenproof casserole. Add rest of the ingredients, cover with aluminum foil, and place in the oven. Spinach will be ready in 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and keep covered, till ready to use.

Piquillo Peppers Vinaigrette Recipe

3 scallions, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 tomato, diced
1 teaspoon drained, small capers
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
4 whole canned Piquillo peppers, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a small sauce pan to medium-high. Add the scallions, onions, and garlic. Cook through till wilted. Mix in the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Remove the sauce from the heat, cover to keep it warm.

Red Snapper Recipe

¾ lbs red snapper fillet, with skin, cut in half

Preheat toaster oven to 450 degrees

Season the fillets with salt, and place, skin-side down, on a baking sheet. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until the fillets are opaque and just beginning to flake.

Put a fillet on each plate. Spoon the warm vinaigrette over each fillet.

January 28, 2011

Mark Bittman’s Spaghetti with Fried Eggs, lightly tweaked

Bless Mark Bittman for choosing a blizzard for his farewell selection of his 25 favorite recipes. I didn’t have to brave the elements to put supper on the table: Spaghetti with Fried Eggs. What could be simpler?

For the salad I assembled whatever I had in the house: some left over greens, Piquillo peppers, defrosted corn kernels, half a can of baby peas, and a bit of feta cheese.

Spaghetti with Fried Eggs
Mixed Salad
Wine: Saint-Esprit 2008 Côtes du Rhône, Delas
Dessert: Frozen Chocolate Yogurt

Spaghetti Recipe

½ pound spaghetti
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 eggs
Salt, pepper and freshly grated Parmesan

• Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Start cooking the pasta when the water boils. Combine the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil to release its flavor; it should barely color on both sides. Remove the garlic, and add the remaining oil.
• Fry the eggs in the oil, until the whites are just about set and the yolks still quite runny. Drain the pasta, and season to taste. Top with the eggs. (The yolks will finish cooking in the heat of the pasta.)

“Boring,” said George.

I rather liked it; particularly breaking up the eggs. It was a fun thing to do, reminding me of college days.

January 25, 2011

Spicy Indian Chicken Meets Soothing Lima Bean Purée

The recipe for Chicken Karhai is based on Madhur Jaffrey’s recent cookbook At Home with Madhur Jaffrey. Karhai refers to a wok, the cooking utensil believed to have originated in India.


Chicken Karhai
Lima Bean Purée
Wine: Bogle, Pinot Noir 2008
Dessert: Valrhona Guanaja 70% Cocoa Chocolate

Chicken Karhai Marinade

4 small chicken thighs, boned and skinned,
cut into bite-sized portions
2 tablespoons Canola oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Small amounts of ground cumin, coriander seeds, cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

Combine all of the above ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Cooking Chicken

3 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, chopped
Freshly chopped mint

When ready to cook, pour the canola oil into a wok, or large frying pan and set over medium high heat. When hot, add the onions and stir-fry for a few minutes. Add the chicken and the marinade. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, or until the chicken pieces are cooked. Fold in the chopped mint.

Lima bean purée is an ideal winter dish. It’s easy to prepare, tastes great and looks attractive. Properly stored, it will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days; in the freezer for 3 months.

Lima Bean Purée

1 package frozen lima beans
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Sprigs of dried or fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Cook the frozen lima beans as directed, reserve some of the liquid. Purée the lima beans with the butter in a food processor. Gradually add the oil and vinegar, and as much of the reserved liquid as needed to form a medium-thick purée. Blend in the chopped parsley and the rosemary. Season with salt and pepper.

January 22, 2011

Scallops with Braised Endive and Broccoli Rape

Surely, scallops are among cook’s best friend. You barely have to wash them; in a pinch, you can eat them raw. To cook them takes all but 2 minutes per side. They all but beg to be accompanied by vegetables with pronounced tastes. Broccoli rape, that slightly bitter, macho green and the slightly off-beat Belgian endive fill the bill.

The broccoli rape can be prepared ahead of time, which is a blessing since the endives require supervision and the scallops are cooked à la minute.


Scallops with Endives & Broccoli Rape
Wine: Domaine Jean-Paul Balland, Sancerre 2009
Dessert: Chocolate Yogurt

Broccoli Rape

1 bunch broccoli rape
2 tablespoons olive
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Red pepper flakes

Remove the tough stems from the rape. Cut the smaller leaves into 2-inch pieces, leaving the buds intact. Drop the rape into salted boiling water. When the water beings to boil again, drain immediately, saving ¼ cup of liquid.
Place the rape into a saucepan with the oil, garlic and pepper flakes. Cook 10-15 minutes or until tender. Add some of the reserved liquid if the rape becomes too dry.


2 small endives
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Madeira (or sweet Vermouth)

Remove dark leaves from the endive. Trim the ends. Cut the endive in half; core the inside. Heat the butter in a saucepan. Stir in the sugar, Madeira and salt. Add the endives. Cover loosely with wax paper. Braise over medium heat, until soft and slightly brown, about 15-20 minutes, turning once.


6 scallops
1 tablespoon butter

Pat the scallops dry. Salt lightly. Heat butter in pan over high heat. Add scallops. Cook for 2 minutes per side.


Place the braised endive in the center of individual plates. Surround with the broccoli rape. Arrange the scallops around the broccoli.

January 17, 2011

My Version of Choucroute Garni

Preparing my version of choucroute garni, I remember the ones I ate on my several visits to Alsace: the mountain of pale choucroute, three different kinds of sausages, gigantic pig’s knuckle, cured slab bacon, plus boiled potatoes--enough to feed the Light Brigade. I briefly considered adding the two Italian sausages sitting in the refrigerator to my version, but decided against it. Who eats like that now?

Instead I concentrated on elevating the ready made sauerkraut from Schaller & Weber to something more akin to the noble Alsatian kraut. I warmed up some duck fat, added white wine and a few twists of ground juniper berries. When the mixture had cooked through, I turned off the heat and seasoned the sauerkraut with salt and sugar.


Baked Pork Chops with Vegetables
Boiled potatoes
Wine: Willm Rieseling 2008
Desert: Grapes

Prep Vegetables

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small green pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
Salt, pepper, pepper flakes, sugar

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Sauté green pepper, then add onion. Reduce heat and continue to cook. Add tomatoes. Cook vegetables for about 20 minutes until soft. Season the vegetables with salt, black pepper, pepper flakes and sugar. Set aside till ready to use.

Recipe Baked Pork Chops

2 pork chops, trimmed and patted dry
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Reheat the cooked vegetables.
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add pork chops and sauté until lightly browned. Transfer pork chops to a casserole. Spoon the vegetables over the chops and bake, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chops are cooked through.

George’s verdict: “tough and tasty.” Fact was I’d overcooked the chops by a few minutes. The sauerkraut tasted terrific.