Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

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.