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Monday, August 30, 2010

Tea Time

We stopped by organicoa cafe on the Hudson River recently, to seek a little respite from the unyielding sun and slake our thirst with something cool. We were fortunate enough to grab a few chairs and a little table in the shade. There, we decided it was time for tea! Organicoa has the most incredibly refreshing iced teas! Baby loved sipping his Mint tea and I was so taken by my Blood Orange tea I suddenly became inspired to make chilly iced tea of my own to always keep in the fridge. Maybe cinnamon or cranberry tea in the cooler months...anyway, after slurping every last drop and chewing the ice, off we went to the supermarket for tea! There wasn't any Blood Orange tea, but we did find a substitute that we found to be peachy keen.

Peach Iced Tea
Serves 1 quart of tea

Take 1-quart Mason jar and rinse with boiling water to temper glass. Fill with boiling water to neck and add five bags of Bigelow Perfect Peach Herb Tea (caffeine free!). Hold tea tags in place, dangling the bags in the water and seal strings tightly with lid of the jar. Steep 10 minutes and remove tea bags. Let cool to room temperature, roughly two hours, and refrigerate overnight.

It's just delicious as it is, with hints of rose hips, hibiscus, orange peel, strawberry leaves and roasted chicory--or add a little simple syrup to sweeten the "pot".

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rum Coco

During our last day on the beaches of Paradise Island in the Bahamas, we finally tracked down the elusive islander roaming the white sands selling coconut drinks--more to the point, drinks in coconuts. Now, there is little else I like more than a drink in a coconut, except perhaps a drink in a pineapple. When I finally caught up with the man, I asked him about his concoctions and below is roughly what he told me, in his particular cadence.

Rum Coco
Serves 1
Hack off the top of a coconut with a machete. Add ice to the coconut milk, some milk, and as much rum as you like. Et voila, behold the Rum Coco!

The rest is easy: stick in a straw, lie back on a lounging chair, gaze out at the ocean and try counting the endless shades of blue dancing on the Caribbean.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Miss Monique's Planter's Punch

For Baby's nephew's bar mitzvah present, we took him to Atlantis, that huge, overblown resort filled with palm trees, pools and water slides on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. I had never been before to the Bahamas at all and boy was it hot. During the steamy days, we barely left the water the entire time and spent much of it floating in the gorgeous, silky Caribbean--although, we went across the property to Dolphin Cay one morning and frolicked with the friendly dolphins! Sheer delight!

In the midst of all this heat, we were fortunate enough to meet Monique. What a lovely gal! She works in several of the snack huts around the pools and the beach and as we also discovered, makes a mean Planter's Punch. Needless to say, wherever she was stationed, Baby and I followed.

I don't know exactly what was in the concoction we drank, but after scouring through a bunch of recipes, I found one in cocktail king Anthony Dias Blue's epic tome, The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks that I think might be close. Of course we can't replicate what Miss Monique poured for us--any other Planter's Punch will always be missing her sweet smile and friendly conversation!

Planter's Punch III
Adapted from The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks
2 ounces dark rum (or so, or maybe a splash of light rum)
1 1/2 ounces pineapple juice
1 1/2 ounces orange juice
3/4 ounces lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 ounce grenadine
1 maraschino cherry
1 strip fresh pineapple, peeled (we didn't have this, but it couldn't hurt)

Mix the rum, juices, and grenadine in a shaker. Pour the mixture into a highball glass (or plastic cup if you're beach bound!) with ice. Garnish with the cherry and the pineapple strip.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Alain Allegretti's Provencal Fish Soup

The restaurant Allegretti is simply my favorite of the year and I wrested this incredible fish soup recipe from the proprietor, Alain Allegretti. I don't like soup for dinner ordinarily and I didn't like the bouillabaisse too much in Marseilles, but this fish dish demands a standing ovation! Extraordinary!

Provencal Fish Soup (I don't know how many it serves; just make it and have everybody get in line!)

1/4 bottle white wine, reduced by half
olive oil
2 lb Red Snapper, Monkfish, Cod, and Porgies, filleted (reserve bones)
1 lb Blue Crab
1 fennel bulb, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot
1 garlic head
16 oz canned plum tomatoes (drain and reserve liquid)
8 oz Pernod
½ oz saffron
water (to cover)
chicken stock (to cover)
1 Idaho potato, peeled and diced
3 basil leaves
3 black Peppercorns
1 star anise
½ lb fennel stalks
1 oz salt

large pot
food mill
china cap

1. Reduce 1/4 bottle of white wine by half and set aside.
2. In a new pan, add olive oil to cover the bottom and heat until smoking hot.
3. Add the fish, their bones, and the crab to the heated pan. Lower the heat to medium-high. Sear all sides of the fish and remove. Flip the crab, and roast the bones until they have good color. Remove all and drain the oil.
4. Add fresh oil, fennel, onion, carrot, and garlic to that same pan, and sweat all until translucent. 5. Add drained tomatoes and caramelize. Then reintroduce the bones to the pot.
6. Add Pernod and saffron, and reduce.
7. Add reduced white wine and reduce entire mixture again.
8. Add chicken stock and water to cover. Place potatoes, basil, peppercorns, anise, and fennel stalk in a cheesecloth, tie and add it to the soup with salt.
9. Simmer for 1½ hours.
10. Remove all solids and run them through a food mill, then recombine with the liquid and strain through a china cap
11. Skim the fat as the soup settles. Or place the container of soup in an ice water bath to shock it and make it easier to skim.

½ cup fish soup (above)
1 Idaho potato, peeled and sliced
10 garlic cloves
1 pinch saffron
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 egg yolk
olive oil
canola oil
white pepper

1. Heat the fish soup with the potato, six cloves of garlic, and saffron.
2. Remove the potato and garlic and crush them, then reintroduce them to the soup.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the mustard and the egg yolk. Then drizzle in olive and canola oil and mix it as you would a mayonnaise.
4. Chop the remaining four cloves of garlic very fine, and add it to the mix.
5. Mix the soup and potato mixture with the mayonnaise. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve soup with rouille, grated gruyere, and garlic rubbed croutons.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Next Magazine Review - Hudson Hall

HUDSON HALL 356 West 58th St, 212-554-6502,

School’s back in session—or at least it appears to be so at Hudson Hall. Formerly the whimsically chic Hudson Cafeteria, the space has been revamped with a 360 degree art installation and a self-service cafeteria-style line wrapping around the exposed kitchen, replete with sporty red custom-made trays, just like the days when we broke for lunch, having spent our time learning reading, writing and ‘rithmetic.

From the list of Canned items, we had to start with the Hell or High Watermelon Wheat ($7) where the brew tread a fine balance with slightly bitter and smooth melon flavors. Booze came in the form of a crazy, gorgeous Salty Dog ($12) with a mash-up of Cazadores blanco tequila, grapefruit, agave nectar and sea salt.

Sample Small Plates range in price from $4 to $12 per item so we loaded up our trays. Big chunks of fresh Ahi Tuna Tartare ($10) were an absolute delight with hijiki seaweed salad, avocado, lotus root and a delicious truffled soy vinaigrette—I don’t remember any lunch lady serving up that! The Heirloom Spinach Salad ($6) was good too, with Humboldt Fog goat cheese, Marcona almonds frizzled with sugar and dried raspberries all tossed with sherry vinaigrette. Farm fresh Tinkerbell Peppers ($6) shared a plate with buffalo mozzarella, aged balsamic and baby arugula. The Fries ($4) were delicious and the Tater Tots ($4) a real hoot.

The Margarita Flatbread ($6) brought us old-school, tasting like perfect Elio’s frozen, and I mean that in the most sincere sense. White Flatbread ($6) with roasted artichokes, Parmesan, sheep’s milk ricotta and garlic was another charm.

Several orders of the Spring Agnolotti ($8) with morels and zucchini made it around the table and Chermoula Roasted Amish Chicken ($10) perched on top of a Sullivan Street Bakery bread salad with currants, toasted pine nuts, frisee, Cippolini onions and Kalamata olives was a fragrant little garden indeed.

Desserts were creamy dreams also reminiscent of our childhoods: Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake ($8) with candied lemon rind, macerated blueberries and a graham cracker crust enthralled us as did the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding ($6).

First published in Next magazine.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hot Dog!

Earlier this summer The French Culinary Institute really put on the dog, hosting the 3rd Annual Hot Dog Competition where its staff and students competed in a weenie fest benefiting Friends of The French Culinary Institute, an organization founded in 1990 to help chefs-to-be reach their gastronomic goals.

An all-star panel of foodie judges were on hand for the event, including Top Chef Master’s Anita Lo (Annisa); Johnny Iuzzini (Jean Georges); Mark Ladner (Lupa and Otto); Alain Sailhac (The French Culinary Institute) and Jim Leiken (DBGB Kitchen & Bar).

Various challenges included: The Sabrett Slider Challenge, which had FCI staff vying for three days paid vacation, won by Dave Arnold; Thirty Inches of Fury, which challenged students to devour a 30” hot dog the fastest, won by Mina Ayoub; The Battle for the Blender, which had FCI students competing to create the perfect hot dog beverage pairing, won by Jeff Weiss; Beyond the Mustard invited contestants to create an original hot dog condiment, won by Glen Thomas.

The only thing better than a hot dog is what you put on it—here are a few of our favorite condiments that were featured at the event!

Spicy Caramelized Vidalia Onion, Pineapple, Mango Relish

By Glenn Thomas (WINNER!)


¼ cup butter

2 Vidalia onions, peeled, sliced thinly

1 pineapple, skinned, cored and cut into 1 inch cubes

3 mangos, peeled and diced small

1 ½ tbsp. chili powder

2 tbsp. fresh chives cut into small rings

1 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

½ cup Heinz tomato ketchup

½ cup white wine

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


In a medium size pot over a medium high flame, add butter and thinly sliced Vidalia onion and cook 5-7 minutes till golden brown and caramelizing but not burning.

Add the white wine and reduce by ½ then add the pineapple and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the mangos and cook for another minute or so.

Next add the ketchup and chili powder and mix thoroughly to make sure the chili powder and ketchup in evenly distributed.

Finally, add the chopped herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saucy Sauce

By Jessica Young

Yield: about 1 Cup


1 cup + 1 ½ tbsp. tamarind concentrate

2 tbsp. Samba Oelek chili paste

1 tsp. harissa

½ tsp. ginger

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

salt (to taste)


Peel ginger and use a microplane or small grater to grate finely.

Mix all ingredients together.

Serve at room temperature.

Spicy Onion Relish

By Anette Kreipke



balsamic vinegar

sriracha sauce





Thinly slice and sauté onions until caramelized.

Deglaze with balsamic vinegar.

Season with sriracha, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

Keep warm till service.

First published as an Online Exclusive for Next magazine.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Eat The Drum!

Baby and I were considerably moved after watching Big Night, where the owners of a failing Italian restaurant decide to go out with a bang by creating the most extraordinary meal that their personally invited guests have ever encountered. The molto moment is an incredible dish called timpano, where pasta and sauce, hard-boiled eggs, meatballs and cheese are baked into a huge pie, shaped like a drum (timpano--timpani, capiche?). Well, that was cause enough for us to get cooking and make a timpano of our own. Baby found a timpano pan (simply an enamel wash basin, really) on eBay weeks before our particular big night.

In preparation for our dinner on Thursday, we shopped on Monday for the meat and made the sauce as we began inviting a few people, which by happenstance created a rather international salon: Slovenia, London, Mexico, Philly, New York and New England were representing in the house.

The saucy ragu involved first searing pieces of stewing beef and spareribs, as depicted below.

The meat was then added into the tomato sauce with a host of things such as onions, garlic, red wine, basil leaves and oregano which quietly sat in the refrigerator afterward for a few days once cooled.

Thursday: I hated making the diminutive meatballs (polpette) and the process infuriated me. Apart from the fact that nobody has yet to invent a pan or a stove top large enough to harbor so many meatballs at once, the recipe says the little balls are done when they don't stick to the pan--but that wasn't the case here; they were done, still stuck, some fell apart and if I hadn't rescued them and delivered them to a safe plate they would have burned. My suggestion is to bake them on a rack in a good and hot oven to cook them evenly and cut out all that nonsense. The second batch worked out better and from the whole lot we picked out the best to stuff in our timpano.

Our gorgeous, patiently rolled out dough was strictly Baby's doing!

We filled the dough with layers of Genoa salami pieces, cubes of provolone cheese, sliced and quartered hard-boiled eggs, meatballs, ziti cooked al dente, and sauce powdered with lots of finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese and lastly topped with several beaten eggs before the dough was neatly folded over all of the sumptuousness and the ends trimmed.

We set the table with melamine plates we recently found in Maine and Depression glass from Baby's parents!

When the timpano emerged from the 350 degree oven, having reached an internal temperature of 120 degrees, it looked like this while we let it rest for 30 minutes, anxious as we were to dive in.

Making our timpano was pretty easy, but the real nail-biter was inverting onto a platter. Would it fall apart? Would we have to throw the whole mess in the garbage, tell our guests a rogue mongrel made off with our meal, while making our polite excuses, ordering in pizza or Chinese food? Well, you would have thought I had won the World Cup from the triumphant exclamations that came out of the kitchen when the timpano slid out of the enamel pan fully intact. I had such an exuberant feeling of accomplishment!

Here is our practically perfect timpano!

The stewing meat and spare ribs that we had simmered into our sauce were brought to room temperature, served on the side, and although that was eaten (along with a salad simply dressed with red wine vinegar, olive oil and salt a la minute), our merry band was too consumed with consuming our delicious drum, asking for seconds, thirds!

The full recipes for a big night of your own may be found here.