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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Get Cooking With Foodista!

If you haven't already bought your copy of Foodista's Best of Food Blogs Cookbook, or even if you have, buy another one! Because now, as part of a sales promotion, if you order the innovative, grand culinary tome online on November 3rd between 10:00-11:00am PDT and forward your purchase confirmation email to, you will be entered in a drawing to possibly claim some of the great prizes that are being awarded! So get cooking--and click here for details on the exciting giveaway!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Olive Oil and Yogurt Cake

Here's a wonderful recipe courtesy of Pichet Ong and his disastrously divine dessert cookbook, The Sweet Spot which feasts upon Asian-inspired confections. Baby and I had sampled this cake at Ong's restaurant Spot and were so compelled that we just had to try it on our own! Instead of orange marmalade, we used peach jam and it was in fact all very peachy!

Olive Oil and Yogurt Cake
Adapted from Pichet Ong's The Sweet Spot
Makes one 9x13 -inch cake, about 24 servings

1 table spoon unsalted butter, at room temperature for greasing the pan
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
3 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
3 1/4 cups sugar
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon fleur de sel or other mild sea salt, such as Maldon

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 9x13-inch cake pan and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
3. Put the yogurt, sugar, eggs, orange zest, vanilla, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until well combined, about 2 minutes. Turn the speed to low and whisk in the flour mixture until well blended, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir the batter a few times.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup of the batter with the oil until smooth and homogeneous. Add the oil mixture into the remaining batter in a slow, steady, stream, folding continuously.
5. Transfer the batter to the cake pan. Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
6. While the cake is baking, stir the orange marmalade together with 1 tablespoon water.
7. As soon as the cake is done, brush the top with the orange marmalade mixture glaze and sprinkle with the fleur de sel. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.

Night and Day Souffle

I created this souffle of sorts back at my parents' home in New Hampshire over the holidays a few years ago. I was staring into the fridge in hopes of coming up with something to make for dinner, and the result was excellent with a glass of red wine. I've also made the souffle for breakfast and it was just as satisfying with orange juice and coffee. The flexible dish can be served as a terrific nosh anytime, or made ahead of time and quickly reheated.

Night and Day Souffle
Serves 4

6 eggs
1 chopped onion, sauteed in butter
4 dinner rolls
4 slices of cheese
4 strips of bacon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a casserole dish, whisk eggs with a little milk and add salt and pepper to taste. Incorporate the onion. Add dinner rolls (baked Pillsbury Grands would be a lively idea) to the dish and place bacon over them crosswise. Top with slices of your favorite cheese such as American or Swiss and bake for 40 minutes. Cut into four portions and serve.

First published in part in Next magazine.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bacon Meatballs

My cousin Kelle is the sister I never had. As kids, we suppressed giggles in church, shared a Mrs. Beasley doll, tortured our neighbors, and once, we made it rain. As adults, we celebrate our own special holiday by cooking together. Recently, we conspired to make a white pasta (with ricotta cheese and crisped shallots), fusing elements of a traditional carbonara, while creating the perfectly complementary meatball, wrought from bacon!

Bacon Meatballs
Serves 4-6 (about 24 meatballs)

12 oz. applewood smoked bacon, slightly frozen
1 egg
1/2 cups each Italian and Japanese panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Slice or cut the bacon into 1/4-inch pieces and let thaw. Put in a medium size bowl. Add egg, breadcrumbs, cheese and chopped parsley to the bacon and dive in, mixing with your hands. Form into little orbs, roughly the size of ping-pong balls (about 24). Place on a rack over a pan to catch drippings and bake for 10 minutes till browned. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes till cooked through.

This is great with an alfredo--and with scrambled eggs the next morning. Giggles left to your own discretion.

First published in part in Next magazine.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sing A Song

I wanted to write here about my experience singing in a Master Class taught by the incomparable, legendary Ms. Marilyn Maye but I dismissed the idea at first thinking it had nothing at all to do with my food blog. Then I thought this scribing does make sense: it's hardly a secret to the people who know me, that as much as I love to eat, I love to sing too and sometimes the twain do meet, on more than a few of my wine-eclipsed dinner parties--if music be the food of love, you know, sing on. But apart from these occasions, my penchant for piano bars and kick out of karaoke, I haven't sung on an actual stage in front of sober people or had musical training for 20 years, since I was in college! Until recently...

When a friend told me Marilyn Maye was teaching a 5-hour Master Class, I immediately signed up and sent in my deposit. I'd been feeling like I wanted to sing more, thinking about what I used to do, I guess, and here was a chance, a grand opportunity to present two songs and be critiqued by the legend. My feelings changed as I pulled, from a suitcase I'd first carried to New York, old sheet music imprinted with high-reaching notes I could no longer sing. I hadn't given a thought to an accompanist to practice with and when it was too late to do much about any of it, petrified as an old tree limb, I seriously wondered just what on earth I'd gotten myself into or rather, how to get myself out of it. Through various orchestrations too involved to go into here, I found and transposed some music I would bring and try to work with.

On the day of reckoning, there we all were: a schlub like me, in an intimate cabaret room full of pros, hopefuls, and auditors, assembled for a Master Class being taught by the great lady. As each took their numbered turn, mine growing ever closer, I discovered everybody had memorized all the words to their songs and seemed like they had performed them often. That didn't help. I. was. nervous. as. a. cat.

I hadn't eaten anything all day. I couldn't. I didn't dare. And all I'd consumed during the session was chamomile tea with honey, Ricola cough drops, bottled water and some chap stick that I'd rubbed on my lips so they wouldn't stick together from dry mouth.

But you know what? When it came my turn to perform, the old bones pulled together apparently, memory spurred, the voice rose up to a fair timbre. After I'd finished, Marilyn Maye was most complimentary to me, and added, as I resumed my seat, "make sure you tell your father that I love his son!" Imagine?

And suddenly, oh how I was full: full from having had the courage to try singing again as I'd thought about doing, wanted to do, hadn't dared to do, but did, steeling myself to the actual task; eyes full of brimming tears; and finally, realizing I was so full from having fed my soul.

What a thrill and absolute privilege indeed to meet the marvelous Marilyn Maye! Thank you, dear one!

Friday, October 15, 2010

A Friend Writes...

About recipes for Fall!

"I made some delicious Autumn recipes a few weekends ago - started with the Lentil and Sausage Soup, which I served with crusty French bread of which I had half a loaf left over - so was then inspired to make the Panade which required day-old bread! The Panade is like a savory vegetable bread pudding - really delicious and surprisingly hearty for something that is totally vegetarian (though not vegan - lots of dairy - milk and cheese). Both will fill your home with delicious aromas while they cook on a weekend afternoon, and will keep for a few days in the fridge or freeze very nicely for leftovers."

Published in The New York Times Magazine, 9/8/10
Adapted from “Tartine Bread” by Chad Robertson

6 tblsps butter 2 leeks, white part only, finely chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
6 cups whole milk
Salt 4-8 slices day-old country bread or French bread, each 1 inch thick
1 small butternut squash, about 1 lb, peeled, seeded and cut into ¼ thick slices
1 bunch black kale or Swiss chard, center stems removed
1 head cauliflower, about 1 ½ lbs, trimmed and cut into ½ thick slices
½ lb fontina cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 2 tblsps of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, the remaining 4 tblsps butter and 2 tsps salt. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Cover the bottom of a heavy, ovenproof 5-qt pot with bread slices (I used my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven). Arrange the squash slices in an even layer on top of the bread. Pour in 2 cups of the hot milk mixture. Add a layer of bread slices, and then the kale/chard. Arrange the cauliflower slices over the kale. Press down to compact the ingredients if they don’t quite fit in the pot. Pour the remaining milk mixture over the top. Stop adding milk when the level is almost to the rim. Season with salt. Cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 mins. Uncover and arrange the cheese over the top. Return to the over uncovered and bake until the liquid is absorbed and reduced and the cheese has melted and browned, 30-40 mins.

Lentil Sausage Soup
Adapted from the “Barefoot in Paris” cookbook by Ina Garten

1 lb French green lentils
¼ cup olive oil
4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
1 tblsp minced garlic (2 large cloves)
1 tblsp salt
1 ½ tsps black pepper
1 tblsp minced fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups medium diced carrots (4-6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock
¼ cup tomato paste
1 lb kielbasa or firm French-style sausage (I used a duck and fennel seed sausage from Trader Joe’s)
2 tblsps balsamic vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan for serving

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 mins. Drain. In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the sausage and vinegar and simmer until the sausage is hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pork Soup Dumplings

We didn’t get what the fuss was all about—at first. Grand Sichuan International (229 9th Ave @ 24th St, 212-620-5200) around the corner from our apartment is always packed, and quite often there are lines out the door! We’d ordered in a few times, working our way through tasteless Chicken & Broccoli and flaccid Sesame Noodles wondering “what are we missing?” Fairly recently, our lovely neighbors let us in on a little Chinese secret: there are two kitchens at Grand Sichuan! One kitchen is for take out and the other feeds the patrons seated at the restaurant.

Our neighbors took us one night and we instantly fell in love with the food. While the Corn Egg Drop Soup ($1.95/sm, $3.75/lg), Ginger Lobster (MP) and Cellophane Noodles ($9.25) are favorites, we can’t seem to slurp enough of the Pork Soup Dumplings ($5.75/eight). These plump beauties are chockablock full of minced pork wrapped in delicate wontons skins with a tiny aperture on top in which to pour a little soy sauce. Carefully lift the dumpling on to a spoon and shove the whole thing in your mouth, savoring the flavor as it bursts forth onto your taste buds. Soup’s on!

First published in Next magazine.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

In The Kitchen With Bill Telepan - Brown Butter Sauce

I had the enormous pleasure of cooking alongside Bill Telepan, chef and proprietor of Telepan, during the New York Culinary Experience over the weekend. We braised lamb shanks, mashed parsnips, caramelized shallots, and pinched pierogies into shape after stuffing them with beet greens. What I loved most was watching how butter, cream and white wine vinegar evolved to a brilliant brown butter sauce for our plump little Polish dumplings. This sauce is also a natural for gnocchi with some crispy sage or really anything you have in mind to make!

Bill Telepan's Brown Butter Sauce
2 tbs white wine vinegar
4 tbs unsalted butter
4 tbs cream

Put vinegar in a deep heat-proof bowl. Put butter and cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium-high heat and heat mixture until it boils. Turn heat down to medium-low and whisk constantly. It will thicken to the consistency of mayonnaise and then the milk solids will separate out.
When solids have separated and are floating on top of the mixture, remove pan from heat and pour mixture into a blender. Blend mixture for 20 seconds, breaking up the solids, and pour back into saucepan.
Cook mixture over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until it turns from reddish brown to a deep walnut-brown color, about 3 minutes. Pour sauce into bowl with vinegar (it will foam up a bit). Add a pinch of salt and swirl the sauce and vinegar around.
Telepan adds, "You may notice little bits of milk solids in the mixture; don't worry about them. They're sweet, nutty, and delicious."

Toques off to you, Chef Telepan!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Catered Affair

A few years ago a friend asked me to help throw a swank cocktail party for 50, on the scale of a Breakfast at Tiffany’s blowout. Done. Vodka and gin alternated the martinis with offerings of blue cheese stuffed green olives, smoked salmon stuffed black olives and lemon twists as garnishes. In keeping with the idea of pomp as well as the circumstances, I did a riff on breakfast food, serving hors d’oeuvres that featured thinly sliced, savory egg soufflés on walnut toasts with a dollop of crème fraiche, bloody mary steak shots, and in an ode to pancakes, blinis with caviar. I also served Jean-Georges Vongerichten's 27 Vegetable Salad as a starter and then Edamame Finger Sandwiches. Silver dragees, white pearls of tapioca, and black caviar lentils were spilled on the serving platters to coyly suit the evening and further set the mood.

The hostess had asked that a subtle dessert also be served, so as not to send the guests rushing home, as cake and coffee might suggest. I thought a cheese course would be right in line. Taking a cue from Mario Batali and how he drizzles truffle honey over a wedge of cheese at Otto to tempt the taste buds and remembering how my Nana used to spread cream cheese over the most delicious molasses pantry cookies when I was a wee ain, I served a wheel of D’Affinois cheese (a sweet, gooey brie) drizzled with white truffle honey and good old ginger snaps alongside. It was just gorgeous (and quickly consumed)!

The recipes are below but if you are wondering about the blinis, I just bought mine as they may be purchased easily enough already made--and check out black paddlefish caviar for a thrifty yet elegant solution to the more pricey stuff. As for the souffles, perhaps quotations should be attached as I improvised on tradition, but eggs briskly whisked with pepper, finely chopped sage and thyme will rise admirably once placed in a casserole dish and then baked in a more than moderately heated oven closely observed. Cautiously slice the expansion and then serve on your walnut toasts.

"27" Vegetable Salad With Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living

This salad is a wonderful start to any party, dinner or otherwise and with or without all of the entire 27 vegetables readily serves a reasonable crowd--I've served it often and in return, it's served me well. The involvement is well worth it, and keep this platter of vegetables warm, finally flourished with the herb garnishes.

coarse salt
14 cups mixed baby vegetables
1 cup chopped fresh chives
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pinch cayenne pepper
10 medium chopped shiitake mushroom caps
ground black pepper to taste
2 cups grape tomatoes
1 1/2 cups mixed herbs and edible flowers
Bring two large pots of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. If using red beets, blanch in one pot, and transfer to water bath to prevent any further cooking. Remove from ice bath, and drain. Set aside. Discard blanching water as it will discolor any additional vegetables.
In the second pot, blanch the remaining vegetables separately, beginning with the lightest in color and proceeding to the darkest in color, until just tender. Transfer to ice bath. Remove, and drain. Set aside. In a blender, combine chives, grapeseed oil, and salt. Puree until smooth. Let rest until mixture has settled. Strain through a fine sieve, and set chive oil aside. In a small saucepan, bring 1/4 cup water and 4 tablespoons butter to a boil. Season with salt and cayenne. Divide remaining 2 tablespoons butter between two large skillets. Heat over medium heat until melted.
Divide mushrooms between skillets, and saute until tender. Season with salt. Pour half the butter-and-water mixture into each skillet.
Divide vegetables between skillets, and cook until just heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
Add tomatoes, and toss to combine.
Transfer vegetable mixture to a large platter. Top with herbs and flowers. Drizzle with chive oil and prepare to stun.

Edamame Mousse
A shout out to my friend Stacey who created a better recipe than I did. Slather your mousse on crustless white bread for terrific tea sandwiches!

3 cups edamame (Stacey buys this frozen and out of the shell, or else it is a major pain!)
½ cups butter
½ cup cream
½ cup truffle oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Onion sprouts or chopped chives

Boil thawed edamame until tender in salted water, about 10-12 minutes. Puree in food processor with rest of ingredients and season to taste. Serve room temp or slightly warmed sprinkled with onion sprouts or chopped chives.

Bloody Mary London Broil Shooters
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living
I took this idea and made individual servings, thinly slicing the meat on the bias and placing into egg cups! Rally 'round the recipe and the portions of meat depending on the number of your guests.

Serves 6
2 cups tomato juice
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons prepared commercial horseradish
3 tablespoons dry sherry
2 teaspoons crumbled dried marjoram
1 teaspoon crumbled dried basil
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 1/2 pounds London broil, about 1 1/2 inches thick, trimmed
cooking spray
coarse salt

Stir together tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish, sherry, marjoram, basil, and pepper in a small bowl. Place steak flat in a glass or ceramic dish. Spoon the tomato-juice mixture over the meat, spreading to cover. Turn the meat to coat the other side. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or set aside at room temperature for no longer than 30 minutes. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. Lightly spray the grill rack with vegetable-oil cooking spray. The coals should be moderately hot to hot. Lift the meat from the marinade. Discard the marinade. Grill the steak for 8 minutes. Turn the steak, and grill for 7 to 10 minutes, longer for medium-rare. Let the steak rest at room temperature for about 5 minutes before slicing on the diagonal into thin strips. Salt to taste.

First published in part in Next magazine.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Next Magazine Review - Po

31 Cornelia St (btwn Bleecker/West 4th Sts)

It had been years since I’d been to Po—I believe Mario Batali was still at the helm then. His former partner, Steven Crane, now co-directs the honest, often soaring Italian fare along with Executive Chef Lee McGrath. After 18 years of being in business, the intimate results are still immensely satisfying.

Wine naturally began our progression. White Verdicchio di Matelica ($10/glass, $39/bottle) had a busy nose with a full palate of stone fruits, such as peach. The red Remole ($11/glass, $44/bottle) from Tuscany was a peppery blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet with a smooth finish.

White Bean Bruschetta
($2) as a starter was just a tease, with firm beans, balsamic, garlic, red chili flakes, and a burst of basil and rosemary amply spread across crostini. Tasty Po Cured Tuna ($13) was poached in olive oil and placed about a heap of frisee, radicchio, cannellini beans, raw artichoke slices, and chopped red onions with a wondrous drizzle of Spanish paprika oil and subtler parsley oil. Polpetta Di Carne ($12) a.k.a. meatballs were simply a-maz-ing! Were they pillows, I’d have rested my head and spent the night. Judiciously formed with perfectly moist ground lamb, beef and pork, they sat in a rich tomato sauce with simmered onions and basil that was just beyond.

The highlight of the dinner was White Bean Ravioli ($15), delivered in an envelope of sweet tomato pasta. The pockets filled with earthy beans in a tangy bath of balsamic brown butter were certainly good enough but when exquisitely paired with the ambient Nerello Mascalese ($10, glass/$39, bottle) red, redolent of black cherry, both wine and ravioli rose up together in sheer, lingering heaven.

Although the Porcini Crusted Cod ($22) featured fleshy, tender fish, alas the porcinis were burned—too disappointing! The boneless, pounded leg of juicy Guinea Hen ($20) having rested in a balsamic, mustard, black pepper and onion marinade, set us right again, served with fregola and sweet corn. Panna Cotta ($7) with sweetly tart amarena cherries and “Affogato” Coffee Gelato ($7), chilled cappuccino with chocolate caramel sauce, were both extraordinary.

What a pleasure to revisit Po!

First published in Next magazine.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Next Magazine Online Exclusive - Fall For Pancakes

This October, IHOP is celebrating the fall season by serving pumpkin pancakes! Lucky for us, there are several IHOPs in the Greater Metropolitan Area—three of them, in fact: one way uptown on Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., another in Brooklyn, and one more in Jackson Heights.

Now although the famous restaurant chain guards its gourd recipe closely, they did share a few general tips with Next magazine (which we’ve adapted) on how everyone can make their own perfectly good pumpkin pancakes—but first, what about actually the making the batter? Well, as Jo’s on the Lower East Side recently hosted their 1st Annual Labor Day Delicious Pancake Contest, we tapped them for their fabulous Ricotta Buttermilk Pancake recipe that we really flip for.

-Start with your favorite pancake batter recipe (see below) and add canned pumpkin and a few appropriate spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon into the proceedings.

-Don’t be afraid of a few lumps! And don’t overmix—small-ish lumps of flour make pancake stacks so magnificently fluffy.

-Use an evenly heated 350-degree frying pan or griddle as random hot or cold spots can affect cooking time.

-Do judge a pancake by its looks! When dropping the pancake batter, watch for bubbles to form and for the batter to have a dull appearance, about 2 ½ minutes. After flipping, cook approximately 2 minutes more.

Jo’s Delicious Ricotta Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

Yields about 14 4-oz pancakes

Wet Ingredients
6 cups buttermilk
4 cups ricotta cheese
8 tbsp light brown sugar
4 large beaten eggs
6 tbsp melted butter

Dry Ingredients
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp baking soda
2 tsp salt

Cherry Maple Syrup
1 kilo bag of sour Morello cherries
10 oz grade a maple syrup
1 piece cinnamon
1 piece star anise

In a large bowl, mix wet ingredients; in a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and lightly stir until combined. Butter a large nonstick frying pan (or griddle). When well-heated, drop a ½ cup of batter at a time—watch for those bubbles to form and continue to cook as previously suggested. Do not overcrowd.

To make syrup, combine ingredients and reduce over low heat until thickened. Remove cinnamon and star anise.

Pour Jo’s Cherry Maple Syrup over your flapjack stack and top with whipped cream!

For more information or to find an exact IHOP location, please visit; Jo’s is located at 264 Elizabeth St, 212 966 9640,

First published for Next magazine.