Monday, January 18, 2016

In The Kitchen with Jacks--Osso Buco

Jackpot took a moment to pose for me but was otherwise ensconced in her doggie bed while I prepared an osso buco courtesy of Emeril with Creole seasonings! Two veal shank pieces (roughly 8 oz. each) is an ample portion for two, when served with a heaping side of rice and a salad dressed perhaps spiked with a shallot vinaigrette, sumptuous mushrooms and crisped pancetta. If you don't happen to have something like Zatarain's around for the seasoning, a recipe easily created from items most likely found in your spice cabinet may also be found here. What's best is that the meat simmers for about two hours, so guests enter to a wildly fragrant aroma--and then the dish finishes cooking while you're chatting over hors d'oeuvres and wine! Sit down and serve!

I veered from this recipe with highly satisfactory results. Since I have a most confounding, irritating allergy to tomatoes, I pureed a can of cannellini beans with some water as a substitute for the red devils (or for a great tomato-less marinara to be used, click here). I also cracked open a bottle of a hearty beer instead of opening up a whole bottle of red wine (course an opened bottle of wine rarely lingers). The result was truly an impressive, really easy rustic delight! Now, make sure you serve with tiny spoons to scoop up all the delicious marrow from the bones!

Friday, January 8, 2016

DriveThru - Jun-Men Ramen Bar

A quick stop into where to eat with Pete!

Far East meets West Chelsea with ramen craze newcomer

Jun-Men (translation, please: pure noodle) may not be much to look at, nor is there much to look at here--it's so tiny--and the little ramen bar has an abbreviated menu as well but sure does pack in as many flavors as it does folks hovering about outside, waiting for a spot at one of the 28 seats. Baby and I piled in recently and the whole affair reminded me of a hoppin' joint I would have crashed around two in the morning with a bunch of friends, somewhere in the East Village in the late 80's. I have however, left such behavior behind, and Baby and I were seated at a more reasonable hour, such as 8:30 pm to experience the latest ramen rage.

The Quick Bites:
Terrific, meaty double fried chicken wings sweetly glazed with Jun-Men sauce;
Fried rice with smoky Chinese sausage, a bit of a bitch-slap from kimchi, gently fried egg, sweet tobiko, micro basil;
Salad of kale, quinoa, tomato, white cheddar, grilled corn and lively lemon somewhere in there, ever so delicately tossed with miso dressing

Chewy chashu (stewed pork) bone with dormitory-approved ramen noodles, sumptuous kikurage (wood ear mushrooms), menma (fermented bamboo shoots), a slightly trembling egg, with chopped scallions and a drizzle of black oil all in a delectable broth;
Rich and rewarding mazemen (dry noodle) with pancetta crisps and frizzled shallots smacked of a Korean carbonara preparation with porcini butter and truffle oil stepping in for the classic egg/Parmesan mixture, topped with a balanced, refreshing plunge into sea urchin. Uh-huh.
Tart yuzu sorbet and ginger gelato for a sweet finish!

Until Next Time: yellowtail ceviche with kimchi jus, pickled mango, fried dumpling skin; green tea cheesecake

Jun-Men Ramen Bar is located at 249 Ninth Ave (b'twn 25th/26th Sts), New York, NY, 646-852-6787,

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Perfect Peppermint Platter!

With this recipe for peppermint platters, you really can even eat the dishes! Now, I don't know the extent of Willy Wonka's involvement with this spectacular eye and mouth candy--all I know is what a little bird from told me! Use your platter to serve bite-sized desserts, such as festively wrapped holiday chocolates (as I did), pile up a of batch of brownies--or smash it on the kitchen counter top and nibble on the pieces during the marathon showing of A Christmas Story.

The link is here with the recipe in a sprawling slideshow format but I've assembled it quite neatly below for your holiday enjoyment.

Peppermint Platter
Special items: you will need a 9" springform pan for this as well as a sheet of parchment paper

1 bag peppermint candies of the Starlight variety (60 or so pieces)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is heating up, unwrap the candies and place (1/4" apart?) into springform pan lined with parchment paper. Make sure all of the candy is resting on the paper. I would recommend first drawing a circle on the paper using the pan bottom as a guide to create the circle before evenly lining the base of the pan with it. Place in oven for 6-8 minutes, until candy has melted. Do keep an eye on this, depending on the reliability of your oven! LET COOL COMPLETELY. Push base of springform pan from bottom to release your peppermint platter and ease parchment off of it, gently pulling it off (should come off very easily).

Here's the platter, simple  and unadorned. And oh, so tasty too!

Monday, December 21, 2015

A Friend Writes...Where's the Beef?

In Pittsburgh, there are apparently many mysteries--just ask Michael Chabon about his marvelous book, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh--however, this simply made, hearty beef stew from Pittsburgh is not among them. If you have a mind to, check out The Odd, Mysterious & Fascinating History of Pittsburgh page on facebook (where my friend found this recipe), and here's a link to what some may consider a variation of this preparation that I made, the French Boeuf a la Bourguignonne from Julia Child's The French Chef Cookbook

In the meantime, say hello to Pittsburgh's own television host Kay Neumann!

Kay Neumann's Beef Stew
1 tablespoon shortening (we used canola oil)
1 1/2 pounds lean beef, cubed (about 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick)
1/4 cup flour
2 1/2 cups water
1 small-medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 cup carrots, sliced (about 2 or 3)
1 1/2 cups potatoes, diced or cut (we diced about 3 medium potatoes in 1/2-inch cubes)
1/2 cup celery, sliced (about 1 stalk)
Place the flour in a deep bowl. Add the beef and toss to coat. Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the beef and cook until beef is browned (stir almost constantly so the flour won’t clump). Add the water, chopped onions and remaining ingredients except the vegetables. Cover and cook over medium heat for 1 hour. Add the vegetables and cook another hour.
Note alternative: After the beef was browned, some people added all remaining ingredients, including the vegetables. Cook the stew, stirring occasionally on low to medium until the vegetables were soft, about 1 1/2 hours.

Do enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Shouldn't You Just...? Words to the Dog Walker

In Friendship Fog, our hero Clifford Bowles--the ultra-fabulous mogul who helms the Divine Living omni-media empire--offers a few words pulled from his monthly column. Download the ebook or find my novel in hardcover and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Do enjoy!

by Clifford Bowles

Mr. Bowles offers his advice on modern etiquette.
  • Discourage your pets from soaking others’ garbage with their urine streams? If only to lessen the work of the sanitation engineer?

Sunday, December 13, 2015

In The Kitchen with Jacks--Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce

As we just made our first meal together, I'd like to introduce our IOHR rescue 3-year old terrier mix, Jackpot! She's guarding a pig ear (well, sort of) seen in the photo above, Waldo. Maybe we should call her Waldo.

Now, while it is ill-advised to feed avocado to a dog, I have no problem scooping a bunch of chips into some really good guacamole made tableside in a lava rock vessel (molcajete, si?), or setting up a sliced avocado salad with grapefruit on a bed of peppery arugula greens tossed in a light shallot vinaigrette. So it was an obvious temptation to attempt this delicious pasta dish with avocado--and so quickly prepared! Jacks was a perfect pet throughout all of it, observing out of harm's way from her fleecy dog bed--but alas she had to stick to her Orijen adult dog food (comprised of "free-run chicken, turkey, wild-caught fish & nest-laid eggs") while I stuck a fork in my swirls of pasta lightly coated with a creamy, pleasantly green, guilt-free avocado sauce. Garnish freely with parsley as that is something your dog can certainly try!

Spaghetti with Avocado Sauce
Serves 6-8
Adapted from

12 oz spaghetti
2 avocados, halved pitted and peeled
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 bunch scallions
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped parsley, for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente, 6-8 minutes.

While the pasta cooks, make the sauce: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the avocados, garlic, scallions, lemon juice and olive oil until smooth.

When the pasta is tender, reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta. Add the reserved water to the avocado mixture and process until smooth.

Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, portion the pasta onto plates and garnish with parsley.

Do enjoy, and well, arf! Thanks for the help, Jacks!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pear Galette

In A Well-Seasoned Appetite, Molly O'Neill's collection of  "recipes from an American kitchen," she wrote about her dissatisfaction with pears for not being apples. I've always believed O'Neill was stating that while she was quite pleased by pears, she simply wished that they weren't gritty, and rather that they were also as tingly crisp as apples. While I wholeheartedly agree, I had no problem taking a bite out of this recipe for pear galette and quickly scarfed down (winter time, get it?) two slices. But to round out the point in a way, I do however find quince to be a kindly considered hybrid of apples and pears, respecting both parties.

This dessert is elegant and designed to impress but honestly it's not even that difficult and moves along pleasantly. Just have your frangipane ingredients all measured out for convenience sake, and use care when dealing with the delicate business of slicing the pears. Work quickly too, so your pie dough doesn't lose its vigor before being transferred to the rimmed baking sheet (or pie dish, as I used).

Edges brushed with egg wash before going into the oven...

While making my galette, quite by happenstance, Laura Nyro  sang out on my stereo, "...marzipan sweet bakin out in December..." How rich! (while frangipane and marzipan do have their differences, the lyric was certainly apropos enough here) for sour cream on that? Extra jam topping? I'd be delighted!

The recipe for Pear Galette below and the direct link with a more printer-friendly page is here.

From the Williams-Sonoma test kitchen:

Pear Galette

For the frangipane:
1 1/2 cups (6 oz./185 g) sliced almonds
2/3 cup (5 oz./155 g) sugar
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1  tsp. almond extract
2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted 

3 firm but ripe pears, preferably Comice or Anjou

1 batch Basic Pie Dough
1 egg beaten with 2 tsp. water
1/4 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) apricot jam 

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 425°F (220°C).

To make the frangipane, in a food processor, combine the almonds, sugar and salt and process until the almonds are finely ground. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extracts and melted butter and process until the mixture comes together. Set aside.

Cut the pears in half through the stem end and remove the cores with a melon baller. Slice the pears very thinly vertically, stopping 1/2 inch (12 mm) from the stem so the pear slices stay attached at the stem end.

On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out the pie dough into a round 13 inches (33 cm) in diameter and about 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick. Trim off any ragged edges to make an even 12-inch (30-mm) round.

Evenly spread the frangipane over the dough, leaving a 2-inch (5-cm) border uncovered. Fan the pears in a decorative pattern on top of the frangipane, cutting the pear halves in half vertically if necessary to make them fit. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the filling, forming loose pleats all around the edge and leaving the center open. Using the sheet of parchment paper, transfer the galette and parchment to a rimmed baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, brush the edges of the galette with the egg wash.

Bake the galette until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife and the crust is golden brown, 50 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

While the galette is cooling, in a small saucepan over low heat, warm the jam until it is liquefied. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve set over a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the top of the tart with a thin coating of the jam. Cut the galette into slices and serve warm or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 8.