Friday, December 5, 2008

Red & White Wine Jams

There are sometimes when a bottle or bottles of wine are not finished in my apartment. This is rare, but after a big party there tends to be a few bottles of red left over that no one drinks and would otherwise go bad. I usually freeze the wine and use it for cooking in some vague future. That stockpile of frozen wine has built up. Thus these wine jams.

Wine and cheese, butter and popcorn, lamb and rosemary…these are a few of the iconic examples of ‘flavor pairings’; spices, libations or food combinations that enhance each other dramatically. You can pair almost any cheese with any kind of fruit preserve and its good! These jams just make it better.

Sauvignon Blanc, Chamomile & Pear Jam

Yield: 12 ozs.

5 Bosc Pears
1 ½ Bottles of White Wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Riesling)
½ Tbls Whole Coriander Seeds*
1 Tbls Whole Cardamom Pods
½ Vanilla Pod
½ Cup of Sugar
2 small Bay Leaves
1 Tbls Loose Chamomile Tea

1. Peel Pears and core. Coarsely chop and put into a small empty boiling pot.
2. Pour in the wine/s (you can use a blend of these 3 wines or just one varietal. I only used sauvignon blanc and it turned out great.). Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape the interior. Add the pod and scrapings into the wine and pears. Now put the stove on medium heat.
3. Shell the cardamom pods and crush the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Reserve.
4. Bouquet Garni: In a cheesecloth combine chamomile, bay leaves and cardamom pods. Secure the bouquet garni and add to the wine and pears.
5. Add the whole coriander plus the crushed cardamom seeds. Crank up the heat. Reduce by half.
6. After the pear/wine mixture is reduced by half, add ½ cup of sugar. Stir with a wooden spoon. At this point you should taste the jam. It maybe too tart, add more sugar. If you find that too much liquid is left in the pot AFTER you have added the sugar, reduce further. Add more sugar until the sweetness you desire is reached.
7. Chill and place in a jar

*I left the coriander seeds whole because once they cook for so long they soften up. Biting into a softened coriander seed with the pears is delicious. Plus it looks good in the jam. If it’s not your idea of ‘good’ then just grind it up in a mortar and pestle.

Pair this jam with a sheep’s milk Parmesan, Manchego or Gouda. Works well with roasted pork, Seared Wild Striped Bass or Black Cod or simply on toast in the morning.

Zinfandel, Herbs de Provence & Mixed berry Jam

Yield: 1 Quart
Time: 45 minutes-1 Hour

1 ½ Bottles of Zinfandel or Primitivo
½ Bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon
4 Containers of Blueberries*
2 Containers of Blackberries
½ Container of Raspberries
3 Tbls Herbs de Provence
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
4 Cloves
½ Tbls Allspice
2 bay leaves

1. Rinse all the berries and place into a 5-quart pot
2. Pour the wine into the pot. Turn the flame up to med-high heat.
3. Bouquet garni: Cinnamon. Cloves and bay leaves. Drop this into the simmering wine and berries. Add the Herbs de Provence.
4. Crank up the heat and reduce by half. Add sugar. If the mixture is still loose cook down further and stir with a rubber spatula keeping an eye on the heat. Do not allow the bottom to burn.
5. At this stage taste the mixture. If it is too tart, add more sugar. Remove the bouquet garni.
6. Chill and jar.

*Blueberries have pectin in them which is a natural gelatin. However, I used one Tbls of Knox dissolved in warm water and added it to the mixture before I chilled it.

Pair this with a Chicken liver pate or your turkey leftovers or cheese or toast or…you get the idea.

Chicken Liver Paté

My first experience with chicken liver pate was at the French Culinary Institute. A classmate of mine, Long Xiong was sautéing a ton of these nasty looking organs, and in a separate pot he was boiling all manner of trees and leaves. It was all chucked into a food processor and pureed. He spread it on toast points and I was reluctant to eat it, which usually isn’t my M.O., but I did and it was one of those tastes I’ll never forget.

A year and a half later, on Thanksgiving Day 2008 I tried to replicate Long’s pate. It was different but still lip-smackin’ good. It’s perfect with toast points and wine jam!


1 Quart Chicken Livers
2 Branches Rosemary
6 Branches of Thyme
6 Sage Leaves
2 Bay Leaves
1 Pint Heavy Cream
½ Large Yellow Onion, chopped fine
1 Cup Sherry or Port Wine
Salt & Pepper

Yield: ½ Qt. of Pate


1. Pour the cream, bay leaves and herbs into a boiling pot. Reduce by half on high heat.
2. While the cream is reducing, heat up some vegetable oil in a skillet until the surface is rippling. Sauté the chicken livers on med-high heat until the bottom side caramelizes (appx 5 minutes or less) flip and brown. Once both sides are browned, remove the chx livers from the sauté pan, lower the heat and add the chopped onions. Sprinkle with salt and sauté. Once the onions begin to brown, pour off any excess fat and deglaze with the sherry or port wine. Reduce by half on high heat.
3. In a large food processor, add chx livers, onion/sherry reduction, ¼ small teaspoon of salt and pepper. Pour in the reduced cream. Puree for 1 minute. Taste and adjust.
4. Set in chilled ramekins and place in the refrigerator for an hour.

Pan-Seared Chicken with Rutabaga Puree, Bacon & Diced Scallions paired with Cisco Breweries ‘Pumple Drumkin’ Spiced Ale

The Rutabaga. It’s gnarly looking and huge; bigger than the most feared pirate ever to sail the seas. Plus it’s really fun to say “Roo-tuh-bay-guh”. Root Vegetables are one of my favorite foods and an inside joke with my girlfriend and one of her best friends Meghan…I got shellacked on my birthday and came home ranting and raving about “Roo-OOT VEH-JUH-tuh-BullS” which I used to make a ravioli stuffing for culinary school on a previous night. I then, drunkenly started cooking under the watchful eye of my very concerned lady and demanded that everyone eat the ravioli stuffing. “No” was not an option. Anyways, I had never seen a rutabaga until recently at the Union Square Farmers Market. I had to have the biggest one and figure out what to do with it later.

When a chef doesn’t know what to do with something he or she usually puree’s it or it ends up in your Sunday brunch frittata as Anthony Bourdain points out in ‘Kitchen Confidential’.

Rutabaga pureed is like a smoother, richer mashed potato. However, it can have that bitter turnipy taste. To dull that bitterness down add a peeled potato (Big-ups to Sharlene for that trick), then either give the potato to the dog or chuck it out. It’s a worthwhile sacrifice. I am now a Rutabaga convert and found my enthusiasm is shared by such seemingly insane organizations as: The Advanced Rutabaga Studies Institute & The Mangold Hurling Association who has been known to use Rutabaga’s for their competitions.

Beer pairings are popular right now and with the ever-growing number of microbreweries there are many selections available to you in a myriad of flavors. During the fall and winter pumpkin ales abound in the supermarkets. One you won’t be able to find (unless you’re in Nantucket) is the ‘Pumple Drumkin’. It is a super tasty spiced ale with few equivalents. Dogfish Head’s Pumpkin Ale is fantastic and could be substituted with this dish. Cisco Brewers make the usual styles of beer in an unusually delicious manner. The brew master, Jeff, is top notch and I urge anyone who enjoys microbreweries to check this one out. It is worth the traveling time.


½ a Chicken, skin on (for one dish)
Salt & Pepper
Vegetable Oil

Rutabaga Puree (Yield: enough for 4 dishes)

1 Large Rutabaga
1/8 Tspn Nutmeg
1 Tspn Cinnamon
¼ Tspn Allspice
2 Tbls Salted Butter
1 Potato

2 Strips of bacon per dish
1 Bunch of Scallions

Rutabaga Stock*
Black peppercorns
2 bay leaves


1. Cut off all the skin of the Rutabaga. Also, you should notice a white layer of flesh that is between the flesh and the skin about an 1/8 of an inch thick, cut that out too. Cut the rutabaga into cubes and place them in a 5 Quart pot filled ¾ of the way with water. Peel a potato and cut it in half. Add that into the water with Coriander Seeds, Whole Pepper corns and 2 Bay leaves. Bring to a simmer until the rutabaga can be easily pierced with a knife. Remove the rutabaga but keep the water simmering. Discard the potato. Reduce the rutabaga stock by half, strain and freeze for later use.
2. Remove the cooked rutabaga and place in a large food processor. Add spices. I used more nutmeg than an eighth of a teaspoon but season it according to the way it tastes good to you…which means, “taste and adjust”. Keep warm.
3. Dice up the scallions on a bias and start cooking the bacon.
4. While the Rutabaga is cooking, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add veg oil to a large sauté pan and put on med-high heat. When the oil is rippling and searing hot, add the chicken, skin side down to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes and check to see how golden brown the skin is, if it doesn’t look crispy delicious, then keep it cooking on that side. (Check the bacon.) Once the chicken is golden, flip it and cook for a minute and a half. Take the chicken out of the pan and let rest.
5. Spoon the Rutabaga puree onto a plate. Slice the chicken between the drumstick at the joint and plate. Garnish with bacon and scallions.
6. Drink with the ‘Pumple Drumkin’

*The Rutabaga stock is so sweet and delicious that it should not be thrown away. Use it for a chicken soup or Miso soup.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Hybrid Hangover Remedy; The Bloody Oren

Ahh tomatoes. An American icon and blessedly good to eat. The tomato is one more reason to love the summer. Red, luscious and lusty, Tomatoes are loaded with Lycopene . A powerful antioxidant. Tomatoes turn quickly, especially if you keep them in the refrigerator. They are a warm weather fruit and the coolness of the fridge expedites deterioration so keep them on the window sill or chill just before using. Bloody Mary mix is easy to make and its delicious without the booze. Its great in the morning whether you're fighting off the effects of a long night celebrating or simply as a wake-up jolt brought to you (in this recipe) by the zing of Sriracha and the twang from umeboshi's.

The Bloody Oren, named after Oren Ishii from 'Kill Bill', uses japanese pickled plums and the plum vinegar. Robbie Swinnerton boasts that umeboshi's are the culinary equivalent of taking a cold shower. "The abrupt, searingly tart, tangy salty taste jolts the eyes open, shakes the stomach awake, sandpapers off any staleness from the taste buds, and gets the day off to an unforgettable start." The umeboshi's "powerful acidity has an alkalinizing effect on the body, neutralizing fatigue, stimulating digestion an promoting the elimination of toxins. In addition, umeboshi is said to help the liver process excess alcohol and be an antidote for food poisoning" (1). I have tested out the hangover claim and I have to say its damn good. Comprable to the "Hair of the Dog" method.

2 Large Jersey or Beefsteak Tomatoes
1 Cup Water
2 Umeboshi
1 Tbls Umeboshi Vinegar
1/2 Tspn Sriracha
1/4 Tspn Celery Salt
4 Celery Stalks, skinned
1/2 Tbls Worstechire
3 Tbls Lemon Juice
2 Scallions

1. After you've skinned the celery and trimmed the scallions put the tomatoes, umeboshi, celery and scallions into a food processor. Puree. Strain that through a fine mesh sieve. Reserve 4 Tbls of the tomato/scallion/ume mixture.
2. Add the remaining ingredients plus the 4 Tbls of reserved puree into the mixture and shake.

Tomato-Blueberry Bruschetta & Carrot Miso Canapes

The two titans of the summer season; blueberries and tomatoes are in abundance at all the farmers markets right now. I wanted to make some bruschettas for a party I was having and did not want to do the usual tomato, garlic, onion thing. Blueberries were close by and I was up in Maine a few weeks ago, tasted the first of the season on a hiking trail, and decided to roll with it. The combination was delicious. Garlic and blueberries though? First I blanched a bulb of garlic. Then I roasted the hell out of it, used three cloves and saved the rest. It was the right balance. The Fleur de Sel lends a subtle enhancement to the herbs de provence.

Tomato-Blueberry Bruschetta

1 Baguette
2 Tomatoes
1 Pint Blueberries
Juice of 1 lemon
3 Garlic Cloves, Roasted
Fleur de Sel
Herbs de Provence
Extra Virgin Olive oil

1. Slice the baguette into thin slices. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup olive oil and a few generous pinches of the herbs de province together. Lay bread slices on a cookie sheet. With a cooking brush or spoon, drizzle the mixture over the toast points evenly. Toast in the oven until golden brown. Allow them to cool on the side.
2. Wrap up the 2 cloves of garlic into aluminum foil, sprinkle with olive oil and roast at 500F for 10-15 minutes.
3. Dice up the tomato into small cubes. Drain excess water.
4. Halve or coarsely chop (depending on time and how fancy you want the bruschetta to look) the blueberries.
5. When the garlic is finished, puree it with the lemon and some olive oil.
6. Mix all the ingredients together except for the Fleur de Sel and spread on the toast points. Sprinkle salt onto the bruschetta.

Carrot Miso Canapés with Diced Scallions

I recently went to a David Chang chef demonstration at FCI. The kitchen at Ko was painted as a chef’s dream where new flavors are created using a myriad of techniques spanning Asian, Spanish and French cuisine. He’s not too far off the mark given the uber-positive reviews of culinary heavyweights like Ruth Reichl. One of the flavor combinations Chang’s team uses at Ko for vegetables is an equal mixture of sherry vinegar, miso and butter. It’s one of those tastes that when you taste it is branded into your gustatory memory. The combination is simple and brilliant. For canapés though it is too strong. So to dilute the intensity of the flavors I added a pureed carrot and almond milk. It makes a great spread for anything. Even as a sauce for pasta.

1 Tbls Butter
1 Tbls Sherry Vinegar
1 Tbls Miso
1 Large Carrot or 2 small thin ones
3 Tbls Almond Milk

1. Bring water to a boil. Peel and trim the carrot. Boil until soft.
2. Slice baguette and toast. Reserve and set aside.
3. Dice the scallions thinly and on a bias.
4. Heat up butter and Miso. Whisk together. Once melted and combined whisk in sherry vinegar.
5. In a food processor add all the ingredients except for the baguette and scallions. Puree.
6. Spread the mixture on the toasted slices and garnish with the scallions.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Clams Posillipo

Clams Posillipo reminds me of City Island where I grew up. As you are approaching City Island by bus or by car, the smell of the salty air hits you. For me it’s the smell of nostalgic days fishing and swimming in the bay. For most other people the briny scent evokes an appetite. There are a myriad of restaurants on the strip. The best restaurant on the mile and half long stretch is by far, Arties Steak & Seafood. This is where I first encountered one of the most delicious clam preparations. You don’t see clams garner much fuss in restaurants today. There’s always a raw selection of clams or baked clams or clams casino, but never much more than that. Posillipo is a neighborhood in Naples, Italy where this dish originates from and raises the clam up on high. The acidy and the buttery flavors play in your taste buds and the herbal notes add a distinctive harmony.

Clams and mussels are so simple to cook. Some butter, some shallots, some herbs and presto! Throw in a slice of bread for dunking or linguine and there’s a dinner that takes less than 20 minutes to make.

1Lb Littleneck Clams
1 Clove Garlic, Chopped
3/4 Cup Dry White Wine
½ Cup Water
½ Shallot, diced fine
3 Tbls Butter
4 Sprigs of Oregano, coarse chop
6 Large Basil Leaves, cut in a chiffonade
½ Cup Cherry Tomatoes, sliced in half
½ Lemon, Juiced

1. In a covered boiling pot add water, 1 Tbls of butter, white wine and ½ of your measured garlic. Bring to a simmer and add the clams. Cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Take the clams out and put them in a bowl, cover so they stay warm.
2. Strain the clam liquid through a fine mesh sieve to remove any sediment that may have been left on the clams. Clean out the pot you just cooked the clams in and pour the strained liquid back into it. Add the rest of the butter and throw in the tomatoes, shallots oregano and the rest of the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat.
3. Reintroduce the clams into the mixture. Add the basil and lemon. Cook for 1 minute more. Enjoy the buttery and briny fragrance then Mangia!

*Shrimp are a great addition to this dish. If you add them, do so with their shells on when you start to cook the clams. After the clams are cooked and set aside, deshell the shrimp. Wrap the shells in cheesecloth and cook the shrimp with the clams for a bit longer, as they take more time to cook. Cook the shells with the broth until ready to eat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Quick Pickles

Pickles. In the supermarkets they are a frightening pigment of green. It seems as if they are glowing with radiation. Yes they are more convenient, drop them in your cart and pay for them. But if you just give your vegetables a little bit of briny love you’ll be much happier with the taste and crunch.

Pickling is a great way to preserve food, they aid in digestion and like most fermented foods provide important nutrients. You can use turnips, radishes, cabbage, pearl onions (for a homemade twist on a ‘Gibson’) or cucumbers. Right now at the Union Square Green Market 1 large bunch of radishes is $1 but they start to deteriorate drastically after a day so I started to pickle them, there was a carrot in the house and I bought a turnip for the express use of pickling (Because the only way they can taste better is if you roast them and that will not be happening in the summer heat).

This recipe is for a fairly large jar of pickles. So make 1”x1” cubes of the radish or turnip to add to a salad for zing or big rounds to put on your burgers (Lamb Burger) or use them to nurse a hangover. Have fun.

Quick Pickles


1 Carrot
1 Daikon Radish
½ Cup Rice Vinegar
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Mirin
1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup
3 Tablespoons Water
½ Tspn Sriracha
1 Clove


1 1000ml Mason Jar

1. Slice the carrots and daikon in whatever shape you think you’d like to eat pickles, place them in your jar. Rounds are great for sandwiches, the matchsticks for just snacking and the small cubes to add as a complement to a salad and on and on.
2. Combine all liquid ingredients and the clove into a sauce pan and bring up to a boil for 1 minute.
3. Pour pickling brine over vegetables and let sit out on the counter, top off (covered with a paper towel or clean dish towel to aid in fermentation) at room temperature for up to six hours. Refrigerate. They will keep for at least month, but you’ll probably be finished with them by then.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Mango Pico de Gallo

Its HOT outside. Which means your body is craving cooler foods like salads, fruits, fresh veggies and of course the occasional roast pork butt and burgers (It wouldn't be summer without those two things for sure). For those of you that crave the former, salsa's and 'pico de gallo' are the answer. This recipe is kind of a cross between the two. You can use it as a compliment to a grilled fish dish, or as a salsa for dipping tortilla chips into or just as a fresh salad to munch on. Its quick and easy to make; this took me 20 minutes.

1 Mango, diced into small cubes
2 Roasted Red Peppers
½ Lemon, juiced
½ Lime, juiced
1 Tspn Sriracha (See Shrimp & Steel Cut Oats recipe)
½ Tspn Salt
1 Tbls Coriander
1 Tspn Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ Large Red Onion, diced fine
1 Cup Cilantro, chopped fine

1. Dice up the mango into small cubes. This is more daunting than I lead you to believe. Toss the cubes into a large mixing bowl
2. I used ‘Roland Fire Roasted Red Peppers’. They are awesome and skinless, unlike the other Roland Red Peppers. You can of course roast your own but that takes 30-40 minutes. Dice’em up into similar sized cubes like the Mango.
3. Juice the lemon and lime in a separate small bowl. Add coriander, sriracha, salt and olive oil. Mix well with a whisk.
4. Dice up the onion and cilantro into smithereens! Are you having fun yet?
5. Toss it all into a bowl and mix. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with tortilla chips
6. Listen to all the laudatory comments you receive for less than 20 minutes worth of work.

*You may have observed Black Beans in the picture of the salsa, I did put them in but then wished I hadn’t. Leav’em out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Maitake Mushroom Casarecce with Parmesan & Black Pepper

I am currently reading a book called “Japanese Foods that Heal”. Kind of funny considering I just came back from China. If you are one of those people that are very conscience of what you put into your body, heard of the macrobiotic diet or are just interested in ‘food as medicine’ than you need to purchase this book. I have not been able to put it down since I’ve purchased it. If you or someone you know suffers from high cholesterol, check out the sections on Shitake, Maitake and Green Tea.

Mushrooms are one of the most miraculous foods Mother Nature has to offer. They have been revered for centuries as potent natural healers, a source of vitality (said to activate your ‘qi’ or life-force) and curing disease. We’ll start with the Shitake. Dried, this mushroom contains 25% Protein (All 8 amino acids are present). It is loaded with glutamic acid which is considered “brain food” due its “ability to stimulate neurotransmitter activity and its ability to transport potassium to the brain.” It also lowers cholesterol. “Studies with humans have shown that consuming only 3 ounces of shitake for one week can lower cholesterol by 12%.” It’s also a potent antibiotic. It kills the bad bacteria in your body, has the affect of reducing blood clots and separately, stimulates the immune system which means it makes your body produce more T-Cells. (1)

Maitake: The King of Mushrooms was considered so precious and rare in ancient Japan that it was literally worth its weight in silver. It contains up to 27% protein and like Shitake contains all the essential amino acids, is rich in vitamins and minerals (B-Vitamins, niacin, magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, selenium and zinc) and in Japanese medicine is used as a tonic to strengthen the body and improve overall health. It also stimulates the liver which detoxifies your entire body. It is also used for weight loss. “A Tokyo clinic tested the effects of Maitake on over thirty overweight patients. Without making other changes in their diet, Masamori Yokota, M.D. gave patients both dried and powdered Maitake daily for 2 months. Yokota reported that Maitake is more effective than any other regimen he has ever tested…all of his patients lost weight and got nearly halfway to their optimal weight. Weight loss ranged between 11 pounds and 26 pounds; the average person lost 11-13 pounds in 2 months.” (2)

That being said, there is butter and cheese in this recipe which could tip the balance of healing factors in these mushrooms. So, subtract the butter and use more olive oil. You can subtract the cheese, but you would be making a huge mistake. Meat, I might be able to do without, take cheese away from my diet and you’re stealing my soul.


4 Dried Shitake Mushrooms or 6 Fresh
200g Maitake Mushrooms or 2 big bunches
½ Lbs Pasta (Prefably fusilli, rotini, casarecce. Not spaghetti or Angel hair)
1 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbls Butter
½ Onion diced fine
1 Cup Chx or Beef Stock/Broth*
4 Tbls Homemade Hazelnut Extract
¼ Cup Parmesan Cheese
Black pepper
¼ Tspn Truffle Oil


1. Fill up the pot you’ll be cooking the pasta in with water. Add shitake’s and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Turn off the flame until you are ready to cook the pasta. Let the mushrooms soak.
2. Add the olive oil and butter into a skillet. Add the finely diced onions. Cover and cook on a low flame for 15 minutes. During this time wash and chop the maitake’s.
3. Once the onions have cooked, add the maitake’s. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add salt. Sauté for another 2 minutes or until all the juices have dried up. Add the hazelnut extract and flambé.
4. Remove the shitake’s from the water and slice thinly. Add these and the Chx/Beef stock to the mushroom/onion mixture. Reduce by half.
5. Bring Shitake water to a boil and add the pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente. Times will vary depending on the pasta you make and how fresh it is.
6. Once the pasta is done scoop it out with a slotted spoon and add to the Mushroom/Broth mixture
7. Once all the pasta has been removed bring to a rapid boil and reduce for 5 minutes
8. While the pasta water is reducing coat the pasta and mushrooms together. Turn off the flame. Season with black pepper.
9. Add 4 Tbls of Shitake/pasta water. Heat up and toss in the parmesan and truffle oil. Coat evenly and serve.
10. All that pasta water is now a mushroom stock. Freeze it for a month or keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can use it to reinforce a sauce, for a vegetable or miso soup, etc.

*If using the ‘College Inn’ or ‘Swanson’ Brand adjust the amount of salt & parmesan you add because these are heavily salted.

(1)& (2): Belleme, John & Jan. Japanese Foods that Heal. Tuttle Publishing. 2007

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pan-Seared Sable with a Carrot Miso Puree & Olive Citrus Salad

Compared to the scallop dish, this fish preparation is much quicker and the flavors really pop in your mouth. Plus it is really healthy. Black Cod or Sable or Butterfish is not a true cod but its one of the most delicious fishes I have ever tasted when fresh. This is because of all the Omega-3 fatty acids in it.

Miso is one of the healthiest foods you can eat and is an essential part of the macrobiotic diet. If your local grocery does not carry it ask them to or buy it online. I’ll tout more pro-miso propaganda in upcoming recipes. Enjoy.

1.5 Lbs Halibut or Sable/Black Cod (serves 3 or 4 small portions)
Salt & Pepper

1 Carrot
1 ½ Tbls of Blonde Miso
½ Tbls Tamari or Soy sauce to taste
1 Tspn Sesame Oil

½ Cup Pitted Kalamata Olives, chopped coarsely
1 Orange, supreme

Citrus Dressing:
3 Tbls Orange Juice
2 Tbls Lemon Juice
1/8 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper


Carrot Puree
1. Bring salted water to a boil. Add the carrot and cook until tender.
2. In a food processor or blender, add the carrot, miso, sesame oil and soy sauce. Puree. I added some of the water that I boiled the carrot in to make the puree more viscous. I added a drop or two more of the sesame oil as well. Trust your palate here and it get it to where you think it tastes good. Miso is a powerful flavoring agent so be careful if you add more of this. Set aside the puree and keep warm.

1. Dice up the olives and reserve.
2. Supreme the orange. Follow the link for a demonstration. Reserve.
3. Wash the arugula. Dry and reserve.
4. Dressing: Add the citrus to a mixing bowl and in a slow steady stream whisk in the olive oil. Add 2 large pinches of salt and taste. Salt enhances the citrus flavor so don’t be afraid of adding more salt to develop a stronger citrus flavor. Add pepper to your taste.
5. Add the olives & oranges to the arugula but do NOT dress yet.

1. Rinse the fish and pat dry. Leave the skin on. With a sharp knife make 3 scouring slices across the skin. This is important because the fish will contract into a horseshoe when you apply heat and it will cook unevenly.
2. Bring vegetable oil to almost smoking point. There should be a heat-haze coming off the pan. Season the top and bottom of the fish and place in the pan. Beware of spitting oil.
3. The fish is going to contract a little so with a flat spatula apply pressure to the top of the fish for appx. 30 seconds. Lower the flame to medium. As the fish cooks you will notice that the rawness gives way to a cooked white color that creeps up to the top of the fish. Once that cooked-white color is ¾ the way up the fish, flip it. The skin should be a beautiful brown not burnt. If it did burn don’t worry the fish isn’t ruined.
4. Cook the fish on the flipped side for 30 seconds. No longer.

1. If you have a helper, once the fish is halfway done have the helper dress the salad and warm up the carrot puree either in a microwave or in a skillet.
2. Place the dressed salad on a plate, the fish on top and spread the carrot/miso on top of the fish. Devour.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mixology Pt. 1

Lillet has recently regained popularity in the New York bartending scene probably because of "Casino Royale". Its featured at "PDT" a speakeasy-esque bar in a N'awlins incarnation, "Marlow & Sons" as the 'White Manhattan' and similar cocktail venues. Inspired by the resurgence of an apertif wine as a mixer here are a few cocktails you can whip up with ease. The count measure refers to a one second pour out of the spout of the nozzled pour device that you may have noticed on the top of all liqour bottles at your nearest watering hole. If you don't have one of these nifty devices, one fluid ounce equals a one second count.

The French Connection

4 Count on Lillet Blanc
3 Count on Ketel One Vodka
2 Count on Cointreau
3 Tbls of Pom Pomegranate Juice
½ Lemon Squeezed
3 Mint Leaves

1. Combine all the ingredients in a martini shaker with ice and do the “White Man Shuffle” with more voracity than these two could ever muster. Strain. Voile!

Gettin’ Lillet’d

4 count on Lillet Blanc
2 count on Ketel
2 count on Cointreau
½ Lemon Squeezed
½ Orange Squeezed

1. Indulge in the previous step.

A brief word on Beets

“The beet is the most intense of vegetables. The radish, admittedly is more feverish, but the fire of the radish is a cold fire, the fire of discontent not of passion. Tomatoes are lusty enough, yet there runs through tomatoes an undercurrent of frivolity. Beets are deadly serious…The beet is a melancholy vegetable, the one most willing to suffer. You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip…” -Tom Robbins, “Jitterbug Perfume”

Nutritionally there are few veggies as good for you as the beet. Beets are high in Folate, which is necessary for the production and maintenance of new cells. They are also loaded with Vitamin C, dietary fiber and antioxidants. The beet is also high in betaine which is a nutrient that plays an important role in the health of the cardiovascular system. The beet because of these reasons has been described as a ‘panacea’ which plays a part in the secret to immortality in “Jitterbug Perfume”. Eat the beet.

Beet Gratin

This dish was a challenge. I wanted a dish to appeal to anyone who has celiac or is required to be on a gluten and dairy free diet. Gluten and dairy free meals are hard to come by and even harder to make well. Coming from a French culinary background I don’t feel the need to expound on their indulgent use of cream, butter and cheese. Whenever a dish wasn’t tasty enough, the “French Fix” was employed; a heavy wallop of butter and or cream into any soup, sauce, risotto, polenta etc. It was effective but there are other ways of coaxing out good flavors from food than just adding fat. Thus my Beet Gratin.

1 Bunch of Large Beets (3 pieces) or 2 Bunches of Small (6 Pieces)
450 Ml Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1 Nub of Ginger appx 1” in diameter
¼ cup of Onions, diced fine
1/2 Cup Whole Almonds
4 Tbls of Tahini
1 Cup Vegetable Stock*
1 Tbls Lemon juice
½ Tspn sriracha
Salt & Pepper to taste

*Vegetable Stock

Vitamins B & C are water soluble, which means that when you boil/steam vegetables as a cooking method you lose the nutrients thus the reason to eat them. Steaming is better but you still lose the vitamins. Vitamins are quicker to absorb into your body in a liquid fashion anyway so save the water that you cook all vegetables in. Boiling beets for this recipe? Reserve some of the juices (careful of the dirt). Boiling carrots for a puree? Or steaming broccoli? Save it all add a bay leaf, ½ Tbls of whole peppercorns and ½ Tbls of Coriander seeds boil it again for 20 minutes and use it to add depth to a soup or stir fry. Freeze it for a later use.

1. Boil beets in salted water until a knife pierces them easily (about 30 minutes depending on the size of the beet).
2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
3. While the beets are boiling, dice up the ginger and onion fine and place in a skillet on med-high heat with orange juice. Reduce by half.
4. Add vegetable stock and reduce that by half.
5. Toast the almonds in a skillet without any oil. Allow them to cool in a bowl. Add a bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss so it coats them evenly. Chop and set aside.
6. Once the vegetable/orange/ginger mixture is reduced, place it in a blender with tahini and lemon juice. Be mindful when blending hot liquids.
7. Run the beets under cold water when they are finished to stop the cooking. When they are cool enough to handle, slice into ½ cm rounds or thereabouts. Layer them in a small baking pan (I used an 8x8 pan). After the first layer is set, drizzle the tahini/orange mixture over the beets. Continue this procedure one more time or until there are 2 or 3 layers depending on the amount of beets you have.
8. Bake for 20 minutes and top the gratin with the chopped almonds.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Shrimp with Steel Cut Irish Oats and a Saffron Beurre Blanc

Were you one of those people this year that bought John McCann’s Irish Oatmeal around St Patty’s day to feel more Irish? You know the one in the steel can that looks like mother antiquity herself birthed it? I wasn’t. I was the person who bought it LAST year and still have not used it all because the three times I followed the ‘Irish Porridge’ instructions on the back I was duped by marketing and a nostalgia that wasn’t even mine. I was raised with ‘Cream of Wheat’ and Honey Nut Cheerios.
I am currently in the midst of Operation Clear-Out-the-Cupboard. An effort to use victuals in there that I rarely, if ever, use. The first assassination; John McCann. The great thing about 100% Whole grain oats, besides being good for you (lots of Fiber, protein, iron and high in B-Viatmins) is the amount of sticky starch they give off when cooked properly. For oats, this characteristic gives a velevety mouth feel without the butter and cream. There is cheese and yogurt in this recipe, but it is in very small amounts and you could leave these out if need be.
Porridge is pretty poor tasting without the addition of lots of maple syrup, sugar or some other flavoring agent. This recipe takes these oats away from breakfast altogether and uses it in a savory application (My Irish grandmother would refuse it on principle).


1 Bag of Uncooked, Frozen U/10 Shrimp
Vegetable Oil

Saffron Beurre Blanc

½ Shallot, diced
100 ml Rice Vinegar
300 ml White Wine
1 Bay Leaf
2 ¾ Sticks of butter, cubed
3 Pinches of Saffron


3 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Bay leaves
1 Cup McCann’s Steel Cut Irish Oats
4 Tbls Cup Rice Vinegar
1 Generous Pinch of Saffron
1/2 Tbls Sriracha
Salt, to taste
2 Rstd Red Peppers, diced
1/2 Cup Greek Fage Yogurt
1/2 Cup Goat Cheese
Cheese Rinds (Optional)
Scallions, sliced thin


1. Oats: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add Olive Oil and bay leaves. Pour in 1 cup of Steel Cut Oats. Continue at a rolling boil until the water begins to thicken. Once the water is viscous, adjust the flame and continue at a low simmer for 15-20 minutes. If you have leftover cheese rinds you can add them now. After 8 minutes of simmering you’ll need to keep an eye on the oats because they will stick to the bottom if you don’t stir frequently. Think of it as a risotto, the more you stir the more starch is let off and the more velevety it will feel in your mouth.
2. While the oats are cooking add the pinch of saffron to warm water and let soak for 5 minutes. Dice up red peppers and slice the scallions.
3. Once the oats are thickened and most of the water has reduced, you have in front of you Porridge or Gruel. Take the oats off the heat and add vinegar, sriracha, yogurt, cheese, peppers, scallions and salt if needed. Taste and adjust. Set aside and keep warm.
4. Beurre Blanc: Add saffron to warm water and let soak. Place shallots, vinegar, bay leaf and wine into a skillet and reduce. Once the mixture has reduced to nearly a syrup, take skillet off the heat and whisk in the cold butter a little at a time. Add saffron and continue to whisk until everything is incorporated. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Keep warm. If you want, you can add the shallots to the oats.
5. Shrimp: I bought one frozen bag of uncooked shelled U/10 Shrimp which means 10 per pound at Trader Joes for this dish, use what your supermarket has. Sub scallops for shrimp if the scallops are fresher. Devein and shell your shrimp. Keep the shells. Heat a skillet with 1 Tbls of butter and 1 tbls of veg oil. Saute shrimp with the shells. Shrimp cook quickly so this should be no longer than 5 minutes or so depending on how thick your shrimp are. Remove shrimp and shells separately. As long as your butter/oil mixture is not burned incorporate this into the beurre blanc.
6. Reheat oats, plate shrimp and drizzle the beurre blanc around your masterpiece.

Homemade Hazelnut Extract

I am one of many believers that anything homemade is better than what you can buy in the store. Purchasing extracts has always annoyed me. Vanilla extract is to blame for this. Its one of the more expensive foodstuffs you can have in your cabinet. Obviously Vanilla is rare so I understand the price and I would rather use fresh vanilla pods for ice cream rather than make an extract out of them, however, a little vanilla goes a long way if you have it. Nut extracts too don’t come cheap either and are much harder to find in the average supermarket Perusing an out of print ice cream book I found a recipe to make your own extract. I thought it was interesting but didn’t take the book out because I said to myself “I’ll just find this again on the internet”. I couldn’t. I spent about 10 minutes digging on the web and gave up. I ended up going back to the culinary library at the French Culinary Institute and copied it down. This is adapted from J & C Dueker’s “The Old Fashioned Homemade Ice Cream Cookbook”. The only changes I made were to toast the nuts first before I soaked them in Brandy and to chop them. Most people have a stock of cheap brandy somewhere in the back of their liquor cabinet which they hide and use for holiday/party punches, break it out for this recipe.

½ Cup Hazelnuts*, skinless
1 Cup Brandy


1. Pour hazelnuts into a skillet and toast. This should take about 5-7 minutes. They should be lightly browned not burned. If there are burned nuts don’t add them to the brandy. Once cooled, chop them coarsely.
2. Place in a jar or bottle and cover tightly. Allow at least a month before using. Dueker recommends subbing 2 Tbls of homemade extract for 1 Teaspoon commercial when using for baking or ice cream. I think you can add less but I’ll let you know once the extract is finished.

*If you do this for vanilla use a half pod per cup of brandy and do not toast. Slice it in half and scrape the insides. Combine everything in a jar.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Seared Scallops atop Piquillo Pepper Coulis with Cilantro Lime Sauce


1 Lbs Scallops
½ Onion
5 Piquillo Peppers or 2 Roasted Red Peppers
1 ½ Cloves Garlic
2 Pinches of Salt
1 Tbls Butter
Salt & Pepper
Thick palmful of Cilantro, stems and leaves
½ cup Fage Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream
Juice of 1 Lime


  1. Finely dice up the onion, garlic and peppers.
  2. Coulis: Heat butter up in a skillet with low-med heat and add the onions. Cover pan for 10 minutes. Uncover and add salt. Sweat for 3 minutes. Add garlic and peppers. Sweat for 5 more minutes. If at this point there is remaining liquid from the onions and peppers increase the heat slightly and watch carefully until there is no more liquid left in the skillet. Reserve and keep warm.
  3. Creamy Cilantro: Greek yogurt is probably the healthiest option but heavy cream can be subbed and it’s great. In a blender add the cilantro, lime, 2 pinches of salt and yogurt and blend. The consistency should be thick and it will taste tart and sour; this serves to cut the buttery flavor of the coulis and scallops. Add more cilantro or yogurt if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning. Keep chilled.
  4. To Serve: Heat up a skillet and add 2 tbls of butter on med heat. Once melted and beginning to bubble or pop add the scallops slowly one at a time. The pan will cool down quickly if you add them all at once and the scallops will not brown as evenly. Sear the scallops until golden brown on the bottom, appx 5-8 minutes depending on heat. Reheat the coulis and add to the plates. Place the scallops on top and drip the creamy cilantro on top.

Composed Salads

Composed Salads

Every night at Sfoglia NYC there is an Antipasti Della Casa comprised of 3 different items, 2 are usually composed salads and it’s a great item to share. We used to make a plate of composed salads at FCI as well and they were fun, great to snack on plus it’s an easy way to experiment with new flavor profiles. The salads below could work individually as appetizers, side dishes or served with a protein. A good combo could be the cauliflower salad underneath a piece of seared halibut or cod with an olive tapenade or the radish salad underneath bacon wrapped scallops. The apple, rosemary, parmesan combination was the brainchild of my brilliant gourmand gal one morning when we made crepes. It is an awesome combo and could easily be the star of any dessert tart or ice cream flavor (minus the celery and olive oil). It’s also a super refreshing salad.

½ Head of Cauliflower
Olive Oil
¾ Cup Whole Almonds
¾ Cup Kalamata Olives, pitted
3 sprigs of Thyme
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon
Salt & Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Break off florets of cauliflower and place in a bowl. Drizzle enough oil to lightly coat the florets, add 2 pinches of salt and toss in a mixing bowl. Roast for 15 minutes. When finished place in a bowl.
  3. While the cauliflower is roasting add 1 tsp of olive oil to a skillet. Heat for a minute and add the almonds. Add 2 pinches of salt. Coat evenly and heat until the skin starts to pop from the almonds or until they are a darker brown. Place in a bowl, add a pinch of black pepper and allow to cool.
  4. Dice up the thyme, olives and almonds (once cool) and juice the lemon if you are using fresh. Combine the olives and almonds with the cauliflower.
  5. Vinaigrette: Add the lemon and thyme to a bowl. In a slow steady, stream add 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil and whisk. Add some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust. Taste and adjust.
  6. Mix everything up and serve.

3 Radishes
Bacon, 2 crispy strips
1/3 cup Almonds, toasted
1/3 cup Cranberries, diced coarsely
Sesame Ginger Vinaigrette

  1. Cook the bacon until crispy. Lay on a plate with a paper towel to soak up the grease. Let cool.
  2. Prepare the almonds as described in the above procedure
  3. Dice up the cranberries, radishes and bacon.
  4. Combine all ingredients with ginger vinaigrette (Store bought is fine, the Paul Newman’s is good but I prefer the Japanese orangey looking ones, Annie’s has a good one and Makoto). Taste and adjust.

1 Macintosh Apple
1 Stalk of celery, peeled
Parmesan Cheese
1/8 tsp fresh Rosemary (1/4 if you are using dried)
Lemon or Lime
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  1. Peel the apple. Use a melon-baller to get rounds and drizzle a enough lemon juice to coat (this prevents the apples from turning brown for an extended period of time). Reserve.
  2. Rinse and peel the celery stalk. Slice very thin.
  3. Vinaigrette: finely chop enough rosemary to yield a generous 1/8 tsp. Add to lemon or lime and whisk in olive oil in a slow and steady fashion.
  4. Combine all the ingredients together and dust with parmesan cheese.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Cranberry & Goat Cheese Cucumbers with Ginger Dressing

Need some quick nosh food? This would not work for Super Bowl Sunday but any other time its good for a dinner party, a cinch to make and healthy to eat.

Whole Cashews
4 oz of Goat Cheese
2 Tablespoons of dried cranberries, chopped
1 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 Cucumber
Ginger Dressing


1. Rinse & peel cucumber.

2. Dice up the cranberries and mash into the goat cheese with a spoon. Ground in the pepper and mix.

3. Scoop up the goat cheese/cranberry mixture onto the cucumbers. Garnish with cashew and ginger dressing.

4. Wipe away all the sweat and tears it took to make this tasty app.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Beer N' Bacon Soup

4-5 Strips of thick cut Bacon
1 Leek, Top trimmed, White part reserved
2 ½ Cups of Beer (Guiness. Smithicks, Murphys or any Dark Malt Ale)
1 Can of Tomatoes and all the juice
Cheddar Cheese
Black Pepper, to taste
*Salt, if needed. Use sparingly

Yield: 1/2 Quart or 2 servings

  1. Render the bacon until very crispy but not burned on medium to high heat.
  2. Use bacon grease to sauté leeks for 8 minutes appx. Leave the bacon in the pan while sauteeing leeks. If there is any black burnt residue clean it all out and do not deglaze, instead just reduce the beer as in Step 3.
  3. Deglaze the pan with beer. Reduce.
  4. While the beer is reducing puree tomatoes and add to leek/beer mixture. Simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  5. Pass through a fine mesh sieve/chinois.
  6. Grate cheddar cheese and serve with a beer.

*If you want to tone down the bacon flavor, blanch it for a 1-2 minutes in boiling water and add to the tomato, leek mixture right before the 25 minute simmer.