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Friday, May 28, 2010

A Toast to "Sex and the City 2"

We’d like to raise a glass to the gals starring in Sex and the City 2, the just-released sequel to the sexy television series. To make a proper toast we propose a few invitingly indecent cocktails created by Alizé liqueur, an infusion of premium French spirits with exotic flavors from all four corners of the earth.

Alizé is very versatile, much like Samantha, try it on the rocks like Carrie and Big’s relationship, straight up like Miranda or pour it in something as sweetly elegant as Charlotte, such as a Mimosa. And of course, don’t neglect to whip up a batch of special Alizé Cosmos.

Here’s to the ladies who are launching Sex and the City 2!

Hello, Lover! Cocktail
2 parts Alizé Red Passion
2 parts Champagne
Serve chilled in a champagne glass and garnish with fresh fruit.

Samantha’s Mai Tai Me Up Cocktail
3 parts pineapple juice
2 parts orange juice
1 part Alizé Red Passion
1 part white rum
¾ part dark rum
Blend ingredients and serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a fresh mango slice.

Big’s Berry Fizz Cocktail
2 parts Alizé Red Passion
1 part vodka
1 parts cranberry juice
Splash of lemon-lime soda
Shake well over ice, strain and serve up in a martini glass.

The Bitter Ex Cocktail
4 dashes Angostura Bitters
4 parts ginger beer
2 parts Alizé Gold Passion
Blend ingredients and serve in a rocks glass

Visit for more info.

This article was first published for Next magazine as an online exclusive.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Impromptu Pasta

Part classic amatriciana, part arrabiata, this smoky, spicy sauce that I poured over pasta shells did the trick when Reggie stopped by the other evening. Stock your pantry, load your larder and freeze your perishables to create a memorable meal at a moment's notice!

Impromptu Pasta
Serves at least two

1/2 pound Barilla medium shell pasta, to harbour the sauce
6 strips bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 very large shallot or perhaps 2 medium shallots, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup dried slivered onions, or 1/2 fresh onion, chopped
1 28 oz. can of Redpack crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons Sriracha hot chili sauce
Probably more than you meant to use of Stubb's Liquid Smoke (maybe 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
Plenty of grated Parmesan for topping
Start by boiling the water for the pasta.
In a large skillet, fry the bacon over medium heat and remove when appropriately browned, placing on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the excess grease. Reserve the bacon fat from the skillet for another use.
Add the olive oil to the skillet and cook the shallots for a few minutes until tender. Throw in the garlic until fragrant, just a few minutes more. If you have a freshly chopped onion, put it in now.
Deglaze your pan with the wine, moving the shallots and garlic around. Add in the dried onions here if that's what you have.
Pour in the crushed tomatoes and bring to a fine simmer.
The rest is very simple: add in the vegetable stock, chili sauce, liquid smoke, salt, pepper, sugar and let your sauce thicken, about 20 minutes or so. Chop up the bacon or just crush it in your hands and throw that in as well.
When the pasta has cooked, stir a ladleful of the pasta water into the sauce to bind it and toss with the pasta.
Find a grand dish to serve it in, top with the Parmesan and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chilled Potato Soup with Spinach

Long about the time I was in high school and somewhat beyond, Pepperidge Farm used to make the most delicious Vichysoisse to which I used to add thyme. I've since made my own version, chopping the leeks, boiling the potatoes and whatnot, but in a pinch I go for Campbell's Cream of Potato Soup. I still add thyme and ever since I saw Madonna's Truth or Dare movie with that curious scene when she's on the phone slurping something out of a tureen that I thought was spinach, that goes into the pot as well. A friend recently informed me that Madonna was actually having miso soup with seaweed. I've never made that but here is my recipe for Chilled Potato Soup with Spinach that I would like to propose as an absolute delight for summer. And yes, you can still make your own Vichysoisse and perhaps think to add thyme and spinach!

Chilled Potato Soup with Spinach
Serves two hungry people
1 can of Campbell's Cream of Potato Soup
1 can of spinach (I like Popeye's!)
1 cup of milk (2% if you'd rather)
2 teaspoons of thyme
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Several grinds of salt

Over a low flame, add the can of soup to your pan and whisk in the milk. Continue to whisk occasionally, adding in the thyme. When the mixture becomes warm add in the can of spinach and let them get acquainted. Simmer slowly, tossing in the pepper and salt. Once heated through, let cool by placing the pan near an open window or something--when you can lift it without using oven mitts, put in the refrigerator to chill it thoroughly, at least two hours or so.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shouldn't You Just...?

Purchase a bouquet of fresh flowers to enhance any room?

Modern advice on etiquette for the not-so-new millennium

Monday, May 17, 2010

Birthday Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I have often made Pineapple Upside-Down Cake to celebrate my friend Carl's birthday. I don't know exactly how it started some years ago, I guess just because pineapples are symbols for hospitality and friendship--and perhaps because of my penchant for maraschino cherries (Yes! Add them to your topping!). But there I've been, arriving at his parties, with the cake still warm in my treasured flame-colored Le Creuset cast iron skillet, having lugged it all from home. The pan works very well in making this particular dessert and the guests certainly seem to like it, given all the "oohs" and "ahs" exclaimed with its unveiling.

Happy Birthday, dear Carl!

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake
Adapted from Gourmet magazine
yield: Serves 8
active time: 30 min
total time: 1 1/4 hr
"This cake, thought to have first appeared in the 1920s, has had such names as pineapple glacé and pineapple skillet cake."

For topping:
1/2 medium pineapple, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
3/4 stick unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

For batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 to 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
2 tablespoons dark rum for sprinkling over cake Special equipment:
a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make topping: Cut pineapple crosswise into 3/8-inch-thick pieces. Melt butter in skillet. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Arrange pineapple on top of sugar mixture in concentric circles, overlapping pieces slightly.

Make batter: Sift together flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in granulated sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla and rum. Add half of flour mixture and beat on low speed just until blended. Beat in pineapple juice, then add remaining flour mixture, beating just until blended. (Batter may appear slightly curdled.)

Spoon batter over pineapple topping and spread evenly. Bake cake in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cake stand in skillet 5 minutes. Invert a plate over skillet and invert cake onto plate (keeping plate and skillet firmly pressed together). Replace any pineapple stuck to bottom of skillet. Sprinkle rum over cake and cool on plate on a rack.

Serve cake just warm or at room temperature.

Cooks' notes: •Some of the food editors found 3 teaspoons of cardamom to be too much, but others loved the intense flavor.•Cake may be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Lost Art of Real Cooking

While Sandra Lee has been toiling about any number of craft stores trying to find a “tablescape” to match her curious culinary concoctions and cocktails, Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger have been hard at work on a tome full of recipes for those of us who prefer to linger in the kitchen and cook up something that isn’t “semi-homemade.”

The Lost Art of Real Cooking: Rediscovering the Pleasures of Traditional Food One Recipe at a Time by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger joyously brings it all back to the basics, presenting well-researched recipes from years past that are also surprisingly contemporary. Here are just a few of the many great, homespun classics featured:

Breads, such as sourdough, wholemeal, pizza dough
Beef jerky, roast piggy, braised game, rabbit pie
Wine and beer
Doughnuts, pies and truffles
Cultured butter, yoghurt, crème fraîche and ghee
Pickles and sauerkraut
Preserves, jam, marmalade

These foods can be made in the tiniest of New York kitchens without any extraordinary equipment, turning any house into a home—so get cooking!

The Lost Art of Real Cooking: Rediscovering the Pleasures of Traditional Food One Recipe at a Time is out on Perigee Hardcover July 6.

This article was first published in Next magazine.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Red Lentil Soup

In an effort to clear out some of the foodstuffs in our cupboards, I made this recipe for Red Lentil Soup! The best thing about it is that, except for perhaps the red lentils, it incorporates everyday stuff you probably have around the house. Green lentils would do too or even some canned beans you might have on hand. I didn't have any celery so I used celery salt instead of table salt. To waken the dish up, I added a lot of incredibly aromatic fresh ground Tellicherry black pepper from Penzey's and one of my new favorite things, Asian Sriracha hot chili sauce, which can be used on just about any dish that needs a lively, fiery spice--add it to enhance other sauces or fiddle about with frittatas and fish!

Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 carrots, chopped (1 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh or canned tomato
1 celery rib, chopped
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried red lentils
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Heat oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic, carrots, tomato, celery, cumin, and salt and sauté, stirring, 2 minutes.
Add lentils, water, and broth and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
Stir in parsley, then season with salt and pepper.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Next Magazine - Allegretti

46 West 22nd St

Chef Alain Allegretti deserves a humanitarian award of some sort. His alchemic culinary mastery drove us into spasms of delight, wringing our hands, rolling our eyes, leaving us with little choice other than a wish to shower him with kisses in thanks for serving us his illicit divinations summoned from regions of Italy and the southern part of France—and what a pleasure to simply be in the room that sommelier James Morrison graciously attends, so elegant and comfortably lit.

A Flatiron Negroni ($14) seemed appropriate to get us started, here with Bluedog gin and Campari but also inspirational additions of sparkling wine and muddled grapefruit. We skipped the Tuna Tartare ($16) served in a crispy lavender taco as it sounded vaguely vaginal, however we nearly wept over the criminally outrageous Burrata Cheese ($9) with olive oil and balsamic vinegar all wonderfully worthy of gross indecency charges. No less culpable was the Octopus ($16), extraordinary twists of the fish, gilded by a farro salad with fava beans and a few well-appointed daubs of tonnato (Italian for tuna) sauce.

Provencal Fish Soup ($13) tasted like the fresh, salty air in the Old Port of Marseille (but much better than the soup I had there), with garlic croutons, brisk shavings of gruyere and a gorgeous saffron rouille. We reveled in the fond orbs of Olive Ricotta Gnocchi ($16) with roasted tomatoes and crisp bacon. Deliver me!

The lord of the manor also treads the boards with equal dexterity when it comes to dishing out meat or fish, which is a rare and enviable talent. We loved the Branzino ($29) with a fennel trio that stunned with stuffed fennel confit, fennel salad and a fennel saffron jus on top of that. Perfectly pink Citrus Crusted Duck Breast ($28) was pretty devastating too with a savory, sumptuous spring vegetable gratin served alongside with scrumptious nuggets of rosemary polenta.

Dessert was beside the point but we had it anyway. Clafoutis ($10) has all of our favorite things including strawberries, rhubarb, chocolate and crème fraiche. Further props go out to chef Allegretti that we weren’t sent out in a wheelchair.

This article was first published in Next magazine.