Tag Archives: Arthur Schwartz

Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 2)

29 Jan

miso 008Miso-Ginger Chicken with Scallions

I created this recipe years ago for Real Food magazine and didn’t remember how good it was! I made it the other night for “the food maven” (I mean who isn’t these days?) and a bunch of friends. Love at first bite…and the second…and as delicious the next day right from the fridge. I even brought a few pieces to a neighbor. (A rare thing for me to do.) It is a great do-ahead dish because it marinates for at least 8 hours and bakes at a super-high temperature for under 20 minutes.  (And a flash under the broiler).  That’s it!  I bought two large packages of small chicken thighs (24!) and piled them high on a platter when they were all dark golden brown and crispy.  A shower of slivered scallions finished the dish.  It is the white miso (known as shiro miso) that tenderizes the flesh to make it silky and lush.  Miso is also a “flavor carrier” and helped the garlic and fresh ginger permeate every crevice. Shiro miso, and mirin (sweetened rice wine) can be found in Asian markets, health food stores and most supermarkets.  Great with beer, sauvignon blanc, chilled sake, and even beaujolais. The recipe is easily doubled and tripled and is great hot, warm, room temperature, or chilled.

1/2 cup shiro miso
3/4 cup mirin
4 large cloves garlic
3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
12 chicken thighs (with skin, bone-in)
8 scallions

Put miso, mirin, garlic and ginger in food processor. Process until smooth. Put chicken in a large bowl and pour marinade over chicken. Finely chop white and green part of 5 scallions and stir into chicken. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours. Preheat oven to 450. Transfer chicken with some of its marinade to rimmed baking sheet. Bake 18 to 20 minutes (depending on size of thighs) and then broil 1 to 2 minutes until dark golden brown and cooked through (do not overcook.) Finely sliver remaining scallions and scatter on top.  Serves 6

Cookbook Nirvana

17 Jan

conferenceNirvana – a place of bliss – is my word for a cookbook conference taking place in New York City next month.  If you are a lover of cookbooks, like I am — a writer, or simply an avid user — this may be just the weekend for you.   The conference promises a tantalizing array of panels (from “Give Us This Bread: Christianity in Cookbooks;”  “In the Night Kitchen: Why Write Cookbooks for Kids;” Trendspotting in the Food Space;” to “Publishers and Food Bloggers — Creating a Productive Partnership”); distinguished guests (Amanda Hesser, Arthur Schwartz, Molly O’Neill, Mollie Katzen), and illuminating workshops (from “The Wild World of Self Publishing” to “The Way to Look: How To Do Research with Cookbooks”), all under one roof at the Roger Smith Hotel on Lexington Avenue.   And if that is not enough to whet one’s appetite, I’m told that the food served at last year’s conference, thanks to chef Daniel Mowles, was very good indeed.

But cookbook aficionados do not live by food alone and judging by the erudition of this year’s panelists, the real sustenance is about ideas, culinary history, process, and politics.

According to the conference organizers the event is an “eclectic gathering of those who publish, write, edit, agent, research, or simply buy and use cookbooks.”  In other words, there is something for everyone — even collectors, who might enjoy a panel entitled “Cookbooks as Works of Art.”

Andrew Smith, the conference founder, charmingly takes “credit (or blame),” for launching the idea last year.  He teaches food history and professional food writing at the New School for Social Research in New York, and is the author and/or editor of 23 books.  His latest works include American Tuna: The Rise and Fall of an Improbable Food, and Drinking History: 15 Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages.   And while he has never published an actual cookbook, Professor Smith uses them constantly in his own research and wanted to explore the vicissitudes of the field.  Because “cookbook publishing is changing so rapidly – self-publishing, printing on demand, blogging, online cookbooks, websites filled with recipes, and culinary apps,” Mr. Smith said that he didn’t understand what was underway – or where the genre was headed.  After talking with many cookbook writers and publishers, he concluded that no one else did either, “although many had insights and opinions.”   After last year’s triumphant conference, Mr. Smith felt his teaching and research methods had improved simply by attending the event and feeding off the vast culinary brain trust that had gathered.

To find out more about the conference, go to www.cookbookconf.com and save a place for yourself!  You’ll find me in the “Night Kitchen” – talking about the challenges of researching, writing and publishing books for children with moderator Laura Shapiro – one of the finest minds in the culinary world.

Why does this conference matter?  After all, we seem to have shifted from a cooking society to an eating society, so is there any real point to the annual tsunami of cookbooks being published?  My answer is without a doubt.  We are a nation obsessed with food, but the rules of the game are changing.

A Happy Thanksgiving to All

21 Nov

It’s been awhile since you’ve heard recipe news from me. As you know, I’ve been cooking and supervising hundreds of volunteers to continue feeding those-in-need from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. It is definitely a time to give thanks: For me personally, the thanks come from the opportunity to serve. The food maven himself, Arthur Schwartz, came to help yesterday and will be there in our satellite kitchen at Congregation Beth Elohim today. His tasks included peeling eggs (20 dozen of them!) and sautéing 30 pounds of onions until caramelized. They are for the homemade bread stuffing we will make for our pre-Thanksgiving meals. Our goal is 1500 sandwiches and 250 hot lunches – roast chicken, stuffing, mixed vegetables, cranberry sauce and “dinner” rolls. Fresh apple slices, too. Anne Hathaway and her new husband came to visit us at the shul the other day – they were heartened by the work that was taking place.

That said, here are some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, for it is a time when simplicity might be most appreciated. I, too, will be preparing a Thanksgiving meal for a dozen or so of our family and friends, and then again on Saturday. And a nice invitation just came our way – a dinner of leftovers on Friday night at a neighbor’s home. I adore leftovers more than you can imagine. In addition to the radically simple recipes below, you might enjoy my refreshing cranberry granita – yes, made from a wobbly block of leftover cranberry sauce – complete with its ridges.

Below you’ll also find some wine suggestions from my favorite wine gal, Carol Berman (classinaglasswine.com), who says, “the Thanksgiving feast is filled with many flavors, which run from savory to sweet. I look to wines that simply harmonize with them and sway with the music of the meal. These are my Thanksgiving picks for 2012. Look for current vintages, although these all age gracefully and sell for less than $25.00.”

Paumanok Vineyards, Riesling, North Fork, Long Island, NY
Domaine des Terres Dorées, Beaujolais, L’Ancien, France
Montinore Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Oregon
Tenuta Pederzana, Lambrusco Grasparossa, Emilia Romagna, Italy

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Juicy Turkey Breast with Sausage, Fennel & Golden Raisins (adapted from Radically Simple)

This really elegant recipe is a cinch to make and looks like an elaborate French “ballontine.” Have the butcher bone the breast, leaving the breast halves attached and the skin on. This is a perfect Thanksgiving recipe for six, but often I roast turkey thighs that are marinated in garlic, fresh thyme, rosemary and white wine so that we can all enjoy some dark meat, too. Stunning and simple.

12 scallions, white and green parts separated
¾ pound Italian sweet sausage, removed from casing
½ cup golden raisins
2 tablespoons fennel seed
3-pound boneless whole fresh turkey breast, with skin
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the scallion greens in a row on a broiler pan. Mince the white parts of the scallions and combine with the sausage, raisins and 1-1/2 tablespoons of the fennel seeds. Sprinkle the turkey (skin side down) with salt and pepper. Spoon a line of sausage mixture down the center. Starting at one long side, roll up tightly to enclose the filling. Tie with string at 1-inch intervals. Place the turkey on the scallions and brush with the oil. Sprinkle with the remaining fennel seeds and salt. Roast 1-1/2 hours, basting with 1 cup broth, until the stuffing reaches 155 degrees. Transfer turkey to a platter. Place the pan atop the burners. Add remaining broth. Boil, scraping up browned bits, 5 minutes; strain. Remove string from the turkey; thickly slice. Drizzle with the pan sauce. Serves 6

Jane Brody’s Brussels Sprouts

Jane Brody, the personal health columnist for the New York Times since 1975, is my neighbor in Park Slope, Brooklyn. She is crazy about Brussels sprouts and gave me her recipe to include in my book, Radically Simple. It is her adaptation of a recipe from the Bear Café in Woodstock, New York. I love how recipes travel around.

½ cup pecan halves
1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Toast the pecans in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Set aside. Add the Brussels sprouts to the boiling water and cook 5 minutes. Drain well; cut each in half through the stem end. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over high heat until golden, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and Brussels sprouts and cook until tender and browned in spots, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl. Break the toasted pecans in half and sprinkle over the Brussels sprouts. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4 to 6

Leftover- Cranberry Sauce- Granita

This is one of my favorite inventions! After (or before) Thanksgiving you can transform a can, or two, of jellied cranberry sauce into an amazing granita — or sorbet. Garnish with fresh raspberries or pomegranate seeds. If you don’t have an ice cream maker to make sorbet, you can prepare this as a granita by freezing the mixture and stirring it with a fork until slushy.

Grated zest and juice of 3 large lemons
Grated zest and juice of 2 large oranges
2/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
16 ounces jellied cranberry sauce

Combine the lemon zest, ½ cup lemon juice, orange zest, and ½ cup orange juice in a medium saucepan. Add the sugar, vanilla and 2-1/2 cups water; bring to a boil. Spoon the cranberry sauce, in large pieces, into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and whisk until melted and smooth. Cool, and then chill well. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Serves 8

One Pea Pod/Scallops and Pea Puree

21 Jun

What did I have for lunch yesterday?  One perfect pea pod.  No kidding.  I was rushing like crazy and forgot to eat lunch.  I was at my favorite stand at the Union Square Farmer’s Market buying micro-greens, edible flowers, pink-stemmed buckwheat sprouts, and more.  Windfall Farms carries “boutique” produce unlike any other and that’s where all the photo/prop/food styling folks go.  Including me…and I have a photo shoot for Lenox China coming up.  Anyway, I was also thirsty and the nice farmer said, “here, eat a pea pod.”  In one fell swoop, I tasted early summer…I felt satisfied…and my thirst was quenched. That’s it. A pea pod bursting with tiny fresh peas.  The essence. Nothing more.

As promised yesterday on my Facebook page, I present the recipe that got a surprise rave from cooking maestro Arthur Schwartz who said he made my “Seared Scallops on Sweet Pea Puree” from Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease.  He said “be mindful when browning the scallops,” but he also said that the timing was perfect and that it was delicious.  I think he added a burst of fresh lemon juice and so may you. I hope you enjoy it as much as Arthur and his guest did.

This dish is an adaptation of one of the most beloved recipes from my original Recipes 1-2-3, but I’ve updated it with dry vermouth and a garnish of trendy pea shoots. It is a dish for any time of the year because frozen peas, always available, provide the base of the lovely buttery puree, but I suggest you try it soon with super-fresh peas from the farmers market.  If using fresh peas, shell enough peas (from their pods) to get about 1-1/2 cups and follow the recipe, cooking the peas as long as needed to get tender but still bright green.

Seared Scallops on Sweet Pea Puree
Get the best freshest scallops available.  Make sure they haven’t been “dipped” in a solution or you will have difficulty browning them.

10 ounces frozen petits pois, thawed
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
20 medium-large sea scallops
3 tablespoons dry vermouth
handful of pea shoots, mache, or microgreens

Put the peas in a saucepan with water to just cover. Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes (longer if using fresh peas.) Drain well and save 6 tablespoons cooking water. Put the peas, 2 tablespoons of the butter, and the reserved cooking water in a blender.  Puree until very smooth and thick.  Add salt and pepper.  Return to the saucepan and keep warm.   Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet.  Season the scallops and add to the pan.  Sear over high heat 2 minutes per side until golden and just cooked through.  Spread the warm pea puree in the centers of 4 large warm plates.  Arrange the scallops on the puree.  Add the vermouth and remaining 1 tablespoon butter to the pan. Cook over high heat until syrupy, about 30 seconds.  Pour over the scallops and top with pea shoots.  Serves 4

Give peas a chance.  Enjoy!

A “Babette’s Feast” Dinner

28 May

A still from the 1987 Danish film, “Babette’s Feast.”

For my daughter’s school charity auction I agreed to host a dinner at my home — where I was chief cook and bottle washer (well, actually, the only cook) and my husband was sommelier, digging out gems from his cellar such as an 1982 Chateau Margaux and several bottles of 1978 (!) Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon from California. The latter far exceeded the former but drinking the former (valued somewhere between $900 and $1900) was interesting, to say the least. It actually improved in the glass overnight — and we sipped it for breakfast as we continued washing more than 100 plates, every pot in my house, and more than 75 wine glasses. One of my favorite movies is Babette’s Feast. I suggest you rent it. You will then understand the title of today’s blog. The menu for my 7-course seated dinner is as follows and it includes the hors d’oeuvres and wines also served. Many thanks to Susan Goldberg-Liu and her husband for bidding for the dinner, and to beloved Arthur Schwartz for being our “celebrity” for the evening and for signing his wonderful book The Southern Italian Table to all. Many thanks, too, to Omar Honeyman, waiter and bartender extraordinaire — a legend on New York’s catering circuit.

“COCKTAILS and LITTLE MEALS with ARTHUR SCHWARTZ”

Susan Goldberg-Liu and Simon Liu and friends
FOR BERKELEY CARROLL

Hosts: Michael Whiteman and Rozanne Gold

May 24, 2012

Homemade hummus with za’atar and lavash crisps
Cracked olives with wild fennel & “fish-sauce” pecans
Tiny crostini of red pepper tapenade, goat cheese & fresh thyme
Smoked salmon pizzette with lemon & basil

 Fresh corn fritters with cumin seed, wild arugula and lime
Venezualan “guasacaca” sauce

   Ginger-Pear Lime Martinis
Vinas de Balbo (chardonary-ugni blanc) in magnum, Argentina

M   E   N   U

Chilled Beet Soup with crème fraiche, smoked bacon & lemon zest
Michael’s homemade whole grain-rye bread

Mia Prosecco, Italy

Sauteed shrimp with shallots and tarragon, roasted garlic flan
Pasanella & figlio Bianco, Maremma 2010

Crisped duck magret, roasted grapes & sauteed ramps with potato-cauliflower puree
& grape demi-glace

Chateau Margaux, France 1982

Falling-off-the-bone pork, vinegar, kale, wild mushrooms and buttery grits
Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon, California 1978

Bitter chocolate mousse cake, lemon buttermilk sorbet, venetian wine cake
Cockburn’s Quinta do Tua, 1987, Vintage Porto

CHEF:  ROZANNE GOLD

A Radically Delicious Recipe: Torta Caprese with Espresso, Served with Lemon Mascarpone

4 May

Photo: Terry Brennan

 

Sweet Friday

I often write for a wonderful magazine called Real Food.  It is not available on newsstands but instead can be found in some of the best upscale supermarkets across the county. In the summer 2012 issue, out now, I created a cover story based on our trip to the Amalfi coast last summer.  Included in the story are recipes for a white bean, mussel and red onion salad made with a dressing fashioned from sliced lemons, another salad of grilled romaine with Roma tomatoes, chicken breasts with black olives, lemon and fennel, and little potatoes with sun-dried tomatoes baked al cartoccio.  The final touch is a a famous cake from Capri called Torta Caprese (adapted from Arthur Schwartz’s wonderful book, Naples at Table.) My version has added espresso powder and a hint of almond extract added to the chocolate-ground almond batter. I gild the experience with an unorthodox helping of mascarpone (Italian cream cheese) whipped and flecked with bits of lemon zest. Limoncello, anyone?

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
12 ounces almonds
6 extra-large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon espresso powder
¼ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
8 ounces mascarpone
1 large lemon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using 1 tablespoon butter, butter bottom and sides of a 10-inch removable bottom cake pan.  Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and butter the paper. Melt the remaining butter and chocolate in a heavy saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth, stirring often. Process the almonds in two batches, each with 2 tablespoons sugar, until very fine and powdery. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in espresso powder. Set aside.

Beat yolks until light and thick, about 3 minutes. Add ½ cup sugar and beat 2 minutes longer. Add the melted chocolate and the almond extract to the yolks. Stir well. Stir in the ground almonds until thoroughly mixed. Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt and ¼ cup remaining sugar until very stiff. Add beaten whites to the batter in 2 batches until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on a rack placed in the bottom third of the oven for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until the cake is just firm. Cool and invert. Remove paper. Dust with 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar pushed through a sieve.  Serve with lemon mascarpone:  Beat mascarpone with 4 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar. Grate the lemon zest and add to mascarpone with 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice and a large pinch of salt. Serve with cake. Serves 10 to 12

Sophia Loren & NYC’s Best Pizza

20 Apr

A Vittorio De Sica movie from the 1960s, called L’Oro di Napoli, features a young, voluptuous Sophia Loren sensually flattening discs of pizza dough while her cuckold of a husband drops them into a primitive vat of very hot oil. They promptly inflate and are sold without embellishment to be eaten as a snack, or as what today we call “street food.”

The set for that movie was a real-life restaurant called Starita, where they’ve been baking or frying extraordinary pizza since 1910. But about 10 years ago, Antonio Starita, the shop’s third-generation pizzaiolo, hit upon an ingenious third-step — first frying the dough, then decorating it and popping the pie into an oven to warm the toppings and melt the cheeses.

Last summer in Naples, we forked over a fistful of Euros to a clueless cab driver while searching for this legendary pizzeria in the twisty-curvy district of Materdei. Like many pizzerias in Italy, it was closed for lunch. But a version of it recently opened on Manhattan’s easy-to-locate West 50th Street — and there he was, Don Antonio Starita himself, overseeing a grand parade of classically Neapolitan pizzas coming out of his wood burning oven and, oh, yes, out of his deep fat fryer, at the new Don Antonio by Starita.

His specialty is called montanara in New York and simply pizza fritta in Naples. The fried dough puffs into an amazingly soufflé-light disc and topped with an intense tomato sauce and imported smoked mozzarella di bufala known as provola, and then popped briefly into a volcanically hot oven. It is like eating an exceedingly flavorful pillow.

The secret? Palm oil. The palm oil is important because it can withstand the rigors of high temperatures without breaking down, adding a delicate crispness to the dough’s exterior. The dough downright floats with a bearable lightness of being.

We were a party of six celebrating culinary maven Arthur Schwartz’s birthday, (he is the author of the award-winning cookbook Naples at Table), and I can tell you that every dish was its own celebration. We began with a huge platter of angioletti, which are fried puffy thumb-sized strips of dough topped with marinated cherry tomatoes, garlic, excellent oregano, and arugula, which was, for me, one of the most original and delicious dishes I’ve had anywhere recently! Then onto pizzas chosen by Antonio, not all of them on the menu.

We went nuts over a two-layer affair stuffed with mix of sautéed escarole, pine nuts, raisins and ricotta, then topped with wafer-thin dough and fresh mozzarella. A splendid pie with grape tomatoes in tomato sauce with mozzarella and basil stopped all table conversation for a short moment. And for dessert there was a pizza slathered with ricotta, honey and almonds, punctuated with a lit birthday candle.

Fat be damned, you’re looking at a trend here, mark my words. I’ve run across a sushi bar selling slices of pizza dipped in tempura batter and deep-fried. Fish-and-chips shops have been doing downmarket versions for years in (of all places) Scotland, but they’ve kept it a rather well deserved secret. Out in Denver, Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizzeria has a montanara and a ricotta-honey dessert pie, but they’ll also fry any of their numerous pies in the same manner as Starita, right down to using palm oil.

Of course if you pile some mozzarella, salami, ricotta and tomato sauce onto a round of pizza dough, and fold it into a turnover, then you have a makings of a deep-fried calzone — which is what you get at Locanda Positano in San Francisco and numerous other pizza joints around the country — but these miss the point of crisping all the dough’s surfaces, making for an amazing depth of flavor.

In Naples where they’ve been frying dough for centuries, you get it Starita’s way or occasionally you run across a decorated thin-crust pizza that’s topped with a second layer of dough, the edges being pressed together and the entire affair gently submerged in hot oil. This is not an obscure product in Naples, but it sure has taken its time crossing the Atlantic.

Now a restaurant named after the dish itself, La Montanara, has just opened on New York’s Lower East Side. There, Giulio Adriani, who owns a restaurant in Rome and two places called Forcella in New York, is serving only fried pies, but he’s using sunflower oil.

Locating Starita in New York may be easier than searching the curvaceous streets of Naples hoping to find either Sophia Loren or great pizza, but getting in isn’t easy since they take no reservations and crowds form early, often waiting on the sidewalk for one of the restaurant’s 70 seats. Bring a bunch of friends so you can try several of the 70 varieties available. Or, you might consider that long-awaited trip to Napoli.

Tell them Don Antonio sent you.

Tastes of the Week

27 Mar

March 19 to March 26, 2012

It was all-Italian all-the-time last week with three indelible meals. So here’s an homage to pizza, to pizzazz, to posterity, and to the maestri behind the magic:  Antonio, two Frankies, and Pepe.

Last summer in Naples, we forked out a fistful of Euros to a clueless cab driver while searching for the legendary pizzeria named Starita in the twisty-curvy district of Mater Dei. Of course it was closed. But a version of it recently opened on Manhattan’s easy-to-locate West 50th Street, and there he was, Don Antonio Starita himself, overseeing the grand parade of pizzas in and out of his wood burning oven and, oh, yes, his deep fat fryer. I’ll come back to the fried stuff in a moment.

Antonio has partnered with a former student who also runs the pizzeria Keste in New York and the new place is called Don Antonio by Starita.” We were a party of six celebrating dear friend Arthur Schwartz’s birthday, and I can tell you that every dish was its own celebration. We began with a huge platter of angioletti, which are fried puffy strips of dough topped with marinated cherry tomatoes and arugula, and then onto pizzas chosen by Antonio and not necessarily on the menu.

We went nuts over a two-layer affair stuffed with a mix of sautéed escarole, pine nuts, raisins and ricotta, then topped with wafer-thin dough and fresh mozzarella. For dessert there was a pizza slathered with ricotta, honey and almonds.

But in between these pies came Starita’s justly famous fried pizza – called montanara — invented there about ten years ago where it simply is called pizza fritte. They drop a round of pizza into hot palm oil and it puffs up into an amazingly light disc (light as in texture; caloric like the dickens), which they top with an intense tomato sauce and imported smoked mozzarella di bufala, and slide it into their oven for finishing. You’re looking at a trend here, mark my words.

We all rolled home to sleep off dinner because there was another the following night, celebrating another friend’s birthday…Erica Marcus, former honcho cookbook editor and now ace food reporter for Newsday. That feast took place at Frankies (no apostrophe – there are two guys named Frank) in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens. We sat at two long tables in a romantically refitted old stable behind the restaurant and took our food from huge platters of antipasti; crostini of chicken liver mousse, delectable eggplant caponata, split fresh sardines en saor, followed by platters of  homemade cavetelli and hot sausage in brown butter;  of ethereal meatballs with pine nuts and raisins;  and robust braciola marinara — all washed down with an infinity of excellent Barbera.

My husband especially liked Frankies’s opening aperitif, made with gin, Cointreau and lemon juice topped off with prosecco. He reminded me the following morning precisely how many he’d had as we got into the car for a two-hour drive to Yale where our daughter will be attending a high school summer program.  I knew he was worse for wear when he popped a couple of Tums on I-95, which he blamed merely on two days of feasting.

Now Yale is in New Haven, and you don’t drive there without stopping either at Sally’s or Pepe’s, both of which are the town’s equivalent of Starita, both of which bake a thin-and-crispy crust in coal-fired ovens. Yale could wait because we had just enough time for a pepperoni pie (pretty good) and for New Haven’s gastro-gift to the world – the white clam pie, which we had at Pepe’s (Sally’s being closed for lunch). This is a fairly affable assemblage of chunks of chewy clams, a sprinkling of cheese, some oregano, copious dousings of olive oil and enough garlic to eradicate all the witches in Transylvania.  It was an ultimate umami assault on our tastebuds, and while some folk make pilgrimages for the white clam pie, I think it is OK just to make it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Tonight we’re having broccoli.

Tastes of the Week(s)

19 Mar

February 27 through March 18, 2012

Several weeks have gone by and I haven’t shared some of the interesting and, often superlative, tastes that I’ve had. This “tastes” column is a way for me to both document and re-imagine the experiences, but also an invocation for you to fine tune your own. This is a new era of “mindfulness” for me — in both cooking and eating — resulting in far more pleasure and appreciation. As many of you know, I am a student in a program called Foundations in Buddhist Contemplative Care and I work in an emergency room and on a cancer floor once a week. The very notion of contemplation spills over into everything nowadays — not just in working with patients. It even extends to the little cafe at Beth Israel Hospital in New York, where I slowly savor my tuna fish sandwich and unexpectedly decent coffee in a weekly ritual, sharing tables with strangers, wondering what the day has been like for them. Mindful eating is now being talked about with much grace — I enjoy re-reading the wonderful article in the New York Times about it several weeks ago — but I am also interested in “contemplative cooking” — that of my own and of others. It is a subject I will be writing much more about.

This installment bridges February and March — the end of an almost nonexistent winter and very early spring. I had a wonderful lunch last week at Rouge Tomate, a beautiful sprawling modern restaurant on East 60th Street in the city.   Their $29 prix fixe menu was quite a surprise especially because the meal was as enjoyable and professional as one I recently had at Le Bernardin. The chef, Jeremy Bearman, deserves much more attention and I look forward to learning more about him and his philosophy in cooking. Now here is a “contemplative chef!” Every detail of taste, color, harmony, balance and surprise existed in every dish. I started with a Green Tornado (not part of the prix fixe) instead of my usual glass of wine. It was a fabulous quaff blended from tarragon, spinach, basil, butter lettuce (!), mint and lemon juice. Stimulating and satisfying, I could drink these all summer long.  (And doesn’t butter lettuce sound divine and fattening?!) The first course, Wild Mushroom and Leek Salad, was a “painting” that also included spring garlic, frisee, Meyer lemon, and a polenta crisp. The main course, Arctic Char a la Plancha, came with black rice (also known as “forbidden rice”), green olives, spring onion, and passion fruit. The passion fruit was expressed by a disk of daikon that was cooked “sous vide” in passion fruit juice. It might have been one of the most exciting tastes I’ve ever had.  And while the arctic char spent a few too many seconds on the plancha, the dish as a whole was fascinating.  Desserts? A bittersweet chocolate tart, with accents of banana, coconut, lime yogurt and ginger gelato, and Fingerlakes Farms’ Yogurt Panna Cotta, with notes of dried cherry, pistachio, orange and kumquat. I want to learn more about the principles of SPE — which according to the menu is based on a “genuine respect of ingredients and the crafting of balanced dishes that naturally marries extraordinary cuisine and authentic nutrition.” The restaurant is committed to support local farms, fisheries, and producers who employ sustainable practices. And while I respect all that, I respect the “mind of the chef” most.

I had a bar of chocolate called Brooklyn Bar from Mast Brothers Chocolates — a real player on the chocolate scene  — manufactured in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The flavor profile of this particular variety really got my attention — red wine and plum.

Vietnamese coffee at the home of Arthur Schwartz. Arthur just returned from a 40-day cruise to Australia and Asia and we went to hear stories of the voyage and sip extraordinary coffee that he brought home from Vietnam. Just a few sniffs of the coffee could send you into orbit. There is nothing else that has that bouquet. Vietnamese coffee is usually served with sweetened condensed milk — but I love it straight. I, too, was so enamored of it from my own trip to Vietnam five years ago that I put a “recipe” and photo of Vietnamese coffee in my book Radically Simple! The coffee is very expensive and worth it.

Fabulous Spanish wine tasting with Gerry Dawes at Despana in Soho. It’s a terrific place to stop into mid-afternoon for a snack. 410 Broome Street. Wonderful tapas and more of that terrific Iberico ham.

Homemade whipped cream! I forgot how delicious it can be. I had leftover heavy cream from an article I was working on and decided to whip it up with confectioners sugar and good vanilla extract. Plopped it on strawberries and crepes we made from Eat Fresh Food:  Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs — for Sunday brunch.

Have a delicious week!

Tastes of the Week

8 Jan

January 1 to January 8, 2012

A home-style Chinese banquet:

What better way to welcome the tastes of a new year than at a Chinese banquet.  Not in a restaurant, mind you, but in the comfort of someone’s home. And so, just a few days ago, our friends and neighbors, Simon Liu and Susan Goldberg-Liu, invited us to a “dumpling fest” at their gorgeously restored brownstone. Along with their son Max (just home from Paris) and daughter Emma, our daughter Shayna learned to fill and fold her first dumplings (see photo), while Simon tended to his homemade chicken broth in which they all were poached. We had dumplings of shrimp and sausage, some of “just sausage” as Shayna’s still shy of seafood, along with some naked fishballs. They reminded me of Italian gnudi, which are ravioli without the ravioli skin. Rounding out the meal were roast duck, pork and cuttlefish purchased in Brooklyn’s vibrant Chinatown, where Simon has his art-and-restoration studio. It was all washed down with a rioja from Spain and a sauvignon blanc from Argentina. Everyone said no thank you to the barrage of chocolates and gingerbread men that followed, and then, of course, we ate them all.

A New Year’s leg of pig:
I often make an extra turkey on Thanksgiving because, in my opinion, it’s not a party without copious leftovers for guests to take home. With that in mind, I encouraged my husband to roast an entire leg of pig for New Year’s Eve even though were only eight for dinner and even though he pointed out that, after allowing for the bones, we’d have over two pounds of pig per person. Dutifully, he cut deep slits into the meat and stuffed them with a chop-up of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, hot peppers, sea salt and an immeasurable quantity of garlic — these being the seasonings for a classic Italian porchetta. The resulting roast looked like a bronzed sculpture sitting on our kitchen counter, and after he’d carved enough for double portions it still resembled a Henry Moore. No matter, I simply invited another shift of friends for lunch on New Year’s Day and after slicing off food for a dozen guests, there it was, slightly diminished, but still hulking. Eternity has been described as “two people and a ham” (perhaps by Dorothy Parker). After a couple of meals of leftover leg, a roast pork ragu with penne rigate and several sandwiches of garlicky pork, sriracha, sliced tomatoes, arugula & pickled red onions, we just tonight saw the last of it — except for stock made from the bones, which reside in our freezer waiting for a day in some uncertain future when our appetite is at last restored.

Mozart and Sausages:

No more flowers for me. Instead send me pork products from La Tienda and regale me with marzipan candies that evoke days gone by. Such were the gifts from my brother and sister-in-law last week. Part birthday gift, part holiday tidings, these edible treasures were firsts for me. First the candy: Known as Mozart Kugeln, packed in a delightful red tin with tiny portraitures of the composer, these are deluxe confections exquisitely filled with marzipan, made from “fresh green pistachios, almonds and rich hazelnut-nougat, enrobed with delicious milk and bitter chocolates.” They have been made in Germany for more than 150 years and delighted my guests who unwrapped each elaborately-foiled candy with great affection. Add to that, a selection of Spanish sausages so fine as to make one swoon. From La Tienda, a family-owned company who gleans the best artisan products from Spain and ships thousands of order per week to homes across America, came three amazing products — one entirely unknown to me — sobrasada Mallorquina, a semi-soft chorizo that is meant for spreading on crusty bread. It is superb. Add to that, a cured sausage Sorio made with smoked paprika, and a Spanish-style salami flavored with black pepper instead of the more typical paprika.  (www.latienda.com)

Arthur Schwartz’s Pasta and Lentils:
A vegetarian gift to all for the New Year. In Italy, lentils are good luck for the new year and so this is my wish for all. Made by the maestro himself, we enjoyed it tremendously on New Year’s day. Click here for the recipe. 

One hunded wine glasses:
We washed at least this number by hand. A variety of shapes and sizes, for champagne, wines, moscato passito di Pantelleria, and Liquore Centerba, a digestif made with 100 herbs — which was very helpful at the end of such a week.

Here’s to a delicious 2012.

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