Tag Archives: chef

Ten Radically Simple Days of Christmas

16 Dec

photo 2(2)Recipe countdown:  For the next 10 days I will share a main course recipe from Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease. After all, it is the time of year where we all crave abundance without the burden. A nice holiday gift? A copy of the book from Amazon. For me, I’d love a fruitcake.

Salmon & Mint in Crispy Grape Leaves
This is an unusual fish dish for this time of the year but it’s one of my favorites. Serve it on a mound of couscous mixed with orzo — a new combo for me.  I invented it this morning!  Add a side dish of tiny roasted Brussels sprouts with a drizzle of walnut oil, sea salt and lemon zest.  What to drink?  Open a great bottle of pinot noir from Oregon or France, depending on your mood. This recipe is easily doubled, or tripled, and so is quite desirable for a holiday menu.

1/2 cup crème fraîche (I love the one from Vermont Creamery)
1 small garlic clove
4 thick salmon fillets, 7 ounces each, skin removed
2 medium bunches fresh mint
8 large grape leaves in brine, rinsed and dried
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the crème fraîche with the garlic, pushed through a press. Add salt to taste. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Top each fillet with 6 mint leaves. Wrap each piece of fish tightly in 2 overlapping grape leaves, tucking in the ends as you go. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the packets and cook over high heat until crispy, 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the fish to a rimmed baking sheet and scatter with mint sprigs. Bake 8 minutes, until the fish is just firm. Serve with the crème fraîche and crispy mint. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired. Serves 4

Win a Signed Copy of Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease!

17 Dec

radically-simple5Welcome to this year’s holiday contest!  I encourage everyone to enter to win a signed copy of Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease — named one of the most important cookbooks of the past 25 years by Cooking Light magazine and voted one of the best cookbooks (2010) by the New York Times.  You will find the recipes most helpful this time of the year — as each exemplifies delicious abundance without the burden.  Proof?  Every one of the book’s 325 recipes’ procedures is expressed in 140 words or less!

Some of my holiday favorites?  Broccoli Soup with Lemon-Pistachio Butter, Riso in bianco with Shrimp Scampi, 500-degree Cod with Macadamia Butter & Radicchio,  Short Rigatoni with Cauliflower, Anchovies & Golden Raisins, Filet of Beef with Wasabi-Garlic Cream, Coconut-Espresso Creme Caramel, All Chocolate Velvet Tart.  My Walnut-Onion Muffins (baked in tiny tins) make a fabulous hors d’oeuvres to accompany champagne.

Do you have any radically simple holiday recipes you’d like to share?  Good luck!  Happy holidays.

HOW TO ENTER:
Leave me a message  in the comment section below telling me your favorite holiday dish.

Bonus entries:
1) Share on Facebook and leave a separate comment here letting me know you’ve done so.

2) Share on Twitter and leave a separate comment here letting me know you’ve done so.

The contest is open until December 21st. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced here and on my Facebook page.

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child

7 Aug

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child
By Bob Spitz
Alfred A. Knopf (August 2012)

I knew Julia up close: I cooked for her; shared dozen of meals in a variety of cities; drank vintage wine and listened to music together, and celebrated with friends at book parties, engagement parties and restaurant openings (sometimes our own). I worked in the industry dominated by Julia’s spirit and accomplishments for most of my career as a professional chef. So it was with avid interest that I devoured her life’s story whole. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child — told with affection and reverence by author Bob Spitz – lifts an American icon from the cauldron of celebrity into a dish of comfort food. The book chronicles an appealing personal journey defined by obstacles, perseverance, and an endearing quest to satisfy her many appetites.

Spitz, who distinguished himself as the über-biographer of The Beatles, is a rightful heir to Julia’s life story. Not only were they colleagues who traveled, ate, and gossiped a bit, but Mr. Spitz’s keen insights and artistry, help tell her story through a historical prism that spans a century. The book, to be released this week (to coincide with what would have been Julia’s 100th birthday on August 15th), illuminates the shifts in culture, cuisine, customs, and class, and examines the struggles of a woman, born in California in 1912, searching for identity. The book is hard to put down, despite its heft (557 pages), but few lives are worthy of such delicious scrutiny.

Julia’s life, while charmed and privileged, came with its own profound struggles for self-identification and meaning. I was struck by the meandering of Julia’s journey – until her thirties, when she enlisted in the war effort as an office worker for the OSS. The underbelly of her early story includes a lackluster attitude towards school (with grades to match at Smith), a spiritual yearning that never seems to materialize, a jagged relationship with her ultra-rich, ultra-conservative father, and the subsequent idealization of men. Despite all of it, what becomes crystal clear is Julia’s extraordinary self-confidence and almost super-human work ethic that continued until her late eighties when she was still master of stage and TV screen. Mr. Spitz, however, does not shine Julia up for public consumption; he keeps her flaws and foibles intact. Julia’s husband, Paul Child, emerges as an equally compelling personality, one who was hugely responsible for who, and what, Julia became. “Paul filled a hole in Julia’s development,” Mr. Spitz observes. Her story is also a powerful look at the allure of food that today is perhaps too available to all of us. For Julia it was that first meal in Rouen, France – a fish, cooked in butter and parsley, with insouciant simplicity, at La Couronne in 1948 — that hypnotized her.

For a Pasadena society girl to ultimately find a calling when nearing 40 is an interesting enough read, but to become a media icon at age 50 is quite another story. All 6 feet, 3 inches of Julia emerged on television in homes all over America, and from that time forward — more than three decades worth — we were treated to indelible images of omelettes, a chorus line-up of raw chickens, bubbling copper sautoirs of boeuf bourguignon, laughter, and learning.

Even more than her recipes, however, was her out-sized personality that served generations of women well beyond the kitchen. (It is interesting to note that Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique” was published around the same time as Mastering the Art of French Cooking.) In Dearie, Julia’s multi-generational imprint on what then was our gastronomically myopic culture is expertly textured by Mr. Spitz, who makes Julia’s personal and professional trajectory of targeted historical importance. Whether or not you grew up watching Julia on TV, or ever mastered the art of French cooking, you will no doubt get a vicarious culinary education by the book’s end. Julia’s dining experiences, cooking adventures, and culinary travails are enough to make you swoon.

Julia encouraged Bob to write her story. Unhappy with an earlier biography, Appetite for Life, written in 1997 by Noël Riley Fitch, Julia felt that she appeared lifeless and “already dead.” Gauging by the multitudinous events slated for the 100th birthday celebration of Julia this week, this month, and in the coming months – including an all-day seminar at Radcliffe, the re-opening of Julia’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, and hundreds of restaurants dishing up Julia’s favorite recipes — Julia has never been more alive in the hearts and minds of those who grew up with her and ate and drank her dreams. Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child is then, a much-appreciated, well-timed gift to us all.

Win an Autographed Copy of Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease

14 Jul

Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease might be most useful in the summer months, so here’s a way for someone to get an autographed copy.

One lucky winner will be randomly chosen on Monday, July 23.  Here’s how you can enter:

1) Comment below letting me know what your favorite summer “go to” recipe or meal is.  If you’d like to share a recipe, so much the better.

2) For an extra entry share this post on Facebook or Twitter and comment letting me know that you have done so.

A few quotes about Radically Simple:

“Chosen as one of the most important cookbooks of the past 25 years.” — Cooking Light Magazine

“Gold’s global palate and talent for distilling a dish’s essentials put her in a Minimal(ist) league of her own.”–Christine Muhlke, New York Times

“Rozanne Gold is the personal trainer of food writers. She wrings stylish, streamlined, fabulous results with inspired combinations.”–Julia Moskin, New York Times

Here are a few recipes for a wonderful summer meal:

Cucumber-Coconut Bisque
This is incredibly refreshing and lasts, surprisingly, up to 5 days in the fridge. Even kids love it. Make sure all the ingredients are icy cold before assembling.

2 large cucumbers, peeled
1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup coconut milk, chilled
4 scallions
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus julienned mint for garnish
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1/3 cup finely minced red bell pepper

Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise and scrape out the seed with a spoon. Cut the flesh into pieces and put in a blender with the yogurt and coconut milk. Sliver the dark green parts of the scallions and set aside for garnish. Chop the white and light green parts and add to the blender with the chopped mint, cumin, and oil. Process for several minutes, until smooth; add salt. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with slivered scallion greens, julienned mint, bell pepper, and a drizzle of oil. Serves 4

Grilled Tuna with Lemony Tahina, Greens & Pomegranate Seeds
This dish is made with both fresh cilantro and ground coriander seed. The first perfumes the fragrant tahina sauce; the latter contributes its aroma to the fish.

1/2 cup tahina
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 medium garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
5 tablespoons olive oil
4 thick tuna steaks, 6 ounces each
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 ounces mesclun
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds

Combine the tahina, lemon juice, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor. Process, slowly adding 1/2 to 2/3 cup cold water, until smooth and thick. Add salt and pepper. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the oil all over the tuna steaks and season with salt. Mix the coriander and cumin on a plate; rub into the fish. Heat a ridged cast-iron grill pan over high heat. Sear the tuna 2 minutes on each side. Keep the tuna very rare. Toss the mesclun with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Add salt and divide among 4 plates. Place the tuna on the greens. Pour the tahina sauce over the fish and scatter with the pomegranate seeds. Serves 4

Orange Flower Strawberries & Mint Sugar
While this recipe can be made all year long, it is sensational right now — when berries are at their peak.

2 pints very ripe strawberries, hulled and halved
1/2 teaspoon orange flower water
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh well-dried mint leaves
1/2 cup crème fraîche
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Toss the berries with the orange flower water and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Put the remaining 5 tablespoons granulated sugar and mint in a food processor and process until incorporated. Divide the berried among 4 glasses and sprinkle with the mint sugar. Combine the crème fraîche with the confectioners’ sugar and dollop on top. Serves 4

Women with Beards

12 May

Mina is one of my favorite singers and I have always loved this album cover. I wonder if she cooks.

There is much chatter about women in the restaurant industry or, rather, the lack of them.  Since my early days as one of the few women chefs in New York (late 1970’s/early 1980’s), this has been a subject that rears its head every few years.  Has the glass ceiling been shattered?  Have women earned a competitive place alongside their male peers in upscale restaurants?  Is it possible to differentiate food created by women from that of  men?   It depends who you ask, but swirling speculation and empirical evidence aside, Monday night’s James Beard Awards showcased women in the brightest of lights.   A terrific article by Sumathi Reddy in the Wall Street Journal, posted moments after the awards, summed up the “women wins”:  Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef of Prune (in New York’s east village); Saipin Chutima of Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas (best chef Southwest), Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (best chef Southeast), Angela Pinkerton of Eleven Madison Park in New York City (outstanding pastry chef), and in the wine category, Belinda Chang of Danny Meyer’s Modern (outstanding wine service).

With a note of sarcasm in her acceptance speech, Ms. Hamilton said “Wow, I didn’t know you could win a Beard Award for opening a can of sardines and serving it with Triscuits.”  Hmmmm.  Would a guy say that? Prune has a one-star rating from the New York Times as opposed to the numerous two and three-star offerings from the other nominees, including the very awesome April Bloomfield — whose simple brilliance is in evidence at the Breslin, the John Dory, and the Spotted Pig daily.  But a perusal of all the restaurant and chef categories at the Awards shows some statistical shortcomings.  Out of five choices in each category, there was only one woman, Barbara Lynch of Menton in Boston, who was a nominee for Best New Restaurant.  One woman, Suzanne Goin of Lucques in Los Angeles, for Outstanding Chef Award, one woman as Rising Star Chef — Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, and, out of 50 nominees for regional best chefs, there were only six women* represented.  And true to the industry’s norm, there were three women out of five nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef Award.

Many more women (including me) were represented at the media and book awards and there were lots of women “guest chefs” cooking for the receptions.  And there were wonderful women chefs on stage, including Traci des Jardins and Susan Feniger, and major kudos to Emily Luchetti who organized the entire outstanding event. As past president and a member (for three decades!) of the first professional organization of women in food, wine and hospitality, Les Dames d’Escoffier, I can faithfully say that we’ve come a long way yet still have a long way to go.   But first we must continue to celebrate the industry’s extraordinary women — for our contributions are womanfold.

*Krista Kern Desjarlais of Bresca in Portland, Maine; Maricel Presilla for Cucharamama in Hoboken, New Jersey; April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig in New York City; were nominated, three of the six won in their categories.

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