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Friday, December 19, 2014

A Festive Celebrity Chef Connection

Thanks to Barbara J. Nosek for featuring me and my book The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery this year on her site! Check out her Dieter's Survival Guide, particularly the timely Holiday & Party Chapters section. With due acknowledgment to Tiny Tim, Happy Holidays to one and all, bless us! And of course, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Friend Writes...Pepper Tarragon Gravy!

My dear friend hosted Thanksgiving this year in D.C. Among everything else she served at the feast, she made several different gravies but told me she liked the pepper tarragon gravy the best. Although I was not in attendance, I am certain she is absolutely correct. Take it away, D.C.!

"...This gravy is easy. Make a good roux with the combination of butter and flour and add in white pepper. Add half beef and half vegetable stock. The roux to stock thickness is based on texture you like. Add a heaping tablespoon black pepper. Simmer 10 minutes. Add about 1/4 cup dried tarragon. Stir and turn off heat. Pepper and tarragon to taste. It's one gravy best to make early and let sit overnight in fridge and reheat. Flavors really blend. If too peppery add a teaspoon of sugar or more tarragon. If too sweet add some balsamic. I often add balsamic just for depth. It was an accident correction that's become a favorite!"

Thanks to for the photo!

Monday, December 1, 2014

DriveThru - Chicago is a Toddlin' Town!

A quick stop into where to eat with Pete!

I went to Chicago to be with a friend and her family for Thanksgiving but Baby and I also managed to hit the toddlin' town and eat out! Nothing as divinely decadent and extraordinary (or expensive) as Alinea during a previous trip. No, these ventures were considerably more conservative but still delights in their own individual ways.

Public (formerly known as Ambassador East) is an historic hotel in the Gold Coast neighborhood, filled with memories of legendary luminaries past and present who have visited and dined at the atmospheric, soothingly lit Pump Room restaurant, currently helmed by master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Taking a cue from such folks, we pulled up a cozy banquette there too.

The Quick Bites:
Belvedere martini with blue cheese stuffed olives; these garnishes are quite popular in the windy city apparently. I was more than happy to follow suit several times
Salmon on a crispy rice cake; the freshest fish imaginable will quite reel you in and may possibly warrant another order
Kale salad; a managebly minty, lemony daily dose of healthy greens
Fresh tagliatelle curls of pasta; with a light Meyer lemon cream sauce and ground black pepper
Fried organic chicken; scrumptious in a buttery hot sauce with a side of greens
Thick, creamy mashed potatoes and roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans; both were wonderful sides that left no room for dessert.

The Pump Room at Public Chicago is located at 1301 N State Pkwy, Chicago, IL, 312-787-3700,

The Girl and the Goat was a real charmer. Evidently, it is quite difficult to secure a reservation as I learned from the locals--but I merely picked up the phone like the old days (instead of any of the broad online reservation sites) and spoke to an actual human being at the restaurant. Fancy that! It was a snap to request a rather exclusive table for two ringside at the bustling kitchen only a week before. Executive Chef Stephanie Izard offers a heavy menu to be sure but it is much to her credit that everything appeared so enticing and exciting that we ordered much of it. Nevertheless, the food is all carefully considered and went down the hatch with a satisfying vigor. I hardly needed to eat until much later the next day!

The Quick Bites:
Pretzel bread; with onion cream cheese and grilled, frilly enoki mushrooms, this was easily devoured
Italian sausage bread; with fennel and stout butter and a perky pickle relish
Goat liver mousse; apple butter, mushroom relish and buttery crumpets was a perfect storm
Goat carpaccio; tiny orbs of smoked trout roe and an olive-maple vinaigrette furthered the onslaught
Wood-fired Wiley Point oysters; why not? They arrived warm, served with a slight influence of horseradish aoili, bits of bacon and preserved lemon rind (seen below)
Escargot ravioli; proper, stuffed pockets, gently tempered with a tamarind-miso sauce
Fried duck tongues; presented with strips of crispy wontons and a clever pairing of cubed tuna sashimi and black beans
Miso-butterscotch budino; a winner for dessert with bacon toffee, petite cubes of glazed pineapple and candied cashews
Apple buckle; okay, we ordered this too as a conclusion to our mad flight, with oatmeal-graham cracker streusel topped off with a scoop of brown butter gelato

Until Next Time:
Something called ham frites with cheddar beer sauce
Braised beef tongue with beef vinaigrette and salsa verde
Grilled beef heart with sweet potatoes and eel!

The Girl and the Goat is located at 809 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL, 312-492-6262,

Beatrix in the West Loop neighborhood was our grand finale, at least for the moment, for this particular visit. Despite the general hubbub of the crowd, our evening still managed to be intimate, even as we leaned in closer over the table to chat with an old friend and hear ourselves. The "New American" menu is solid, inventive and not overly fussed over.

The Quick Bites:
Deviled eggs; with potato salad--a must try! I ordered before the waiter even asked if we'd like something to drink (we eventually found the Californian Rickshaw pinot noir to be most supportive)
Enlightened Caesar; furthered with a Greek yogurt dressing
Chili and chocolate glazed salmon; at once curious, inspired, outrageously and unexpectedly good--my favorite dish of the year
Caramelized pork shank; a highly suitable cider reduction and a mash of sweet potatoes
Skirt steak; medium rare, with sturdy fries and green, grilled shishito peppers on the side
Pumpkin chiffon pie; a wonderful, autumnal treat
Tall, Dark & Handsome chocolate cake; the menu says "just try it" and I suggest you do too.

Until Next Time:
Pot roast with spaghetti squash
Turkey and sweet potato "neatloaf" with braised kale and vegetable gravy

Beatrix is located at 519 N Clark St, Chicago, IL, 312-284-1377,

Thanks to for The Girl and the Goat image!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sweater Stew!

I spent a wonderful Thanksgiving in Chicago with Baby and an old friend (that I met in London while were at school--in 1987!) and her family this year. I loved all of it. Baby and I also went out to dinner a few times in Chicago (more on that later) but there was a lot of delicious fun that was had with the creation of a dish I dubbed Sweater Stew.

When my friend and I were in London together all those years ago, we traveled to Ireland for a long weekend, where she purchased a dark wool sweater flecked with dots of orange, yellow, green, brown, and white. The colors inspired me to compose this little song that we ended up singing the entire time we were on the Emerald Isle. I've never forgotten it:

"Carrots, corn, peas, beans and rice--I think that sweater's very nice!
Carrots, corn, peas, rice and beans--why, that's the nicest sweater I've ever seen!"

So we were together once again, as we have always remained in contact, when she hosted Thanksgiving. I thought to knit an immensely satisfying Sweater Stew! Can you just guess what was in it?

Sweater Stew
(Serves A Few Comfortable Friends)

2 bags of a microwaveable vegetable mixture (such as carrots, corn, peas, and green beans)
1 bag microwaveable white rice
2 cans pinto beans
1 cube of chicken bouillon

While melting the cube of bouillon in two cups of water, drain the pinto beans and simmer them in a separate pan or the same one used for the bouillon. Microwave the vegetable mixture and rice, each at a time. Toss all together with salt and pepper added in, to taste. Easy as pumpkin pie!

After Thanksgiving dinner, I simmered our turkey carcass for hours in a big pot of water with a few roughly chopped carrots and onions, and a parcel of dried dill with some salt and pepper for a turkey stock. Baby added a cup or so of the remaining turkey gravy pulled from the refrigerator to the mixture with stirred egg noodles. Then we poured in the leftover Sweater Stew--suddenly we had Sweater Soup! Do enjoy and happy holidays!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chicken with Lemons and Olives

After my recent, spasmodic lemon craze, I wondered what I should do with my preserved lemons. Gourmet provided a ready answer with this chicken tagine dish (a somewhat shallow Le Creuset covered skillet and I proceeded to make short work of my sour, salty friends). This was not difficult work by any means although I suspect guests might think otherwise. Such a rhapsody to serve; a marvelous balance of tart, sweet, savory, salty and buttery deliciousness, even though no actual butter was involved. Incorporating garlic and ginger paste, cilantro and cinnamon, the aromas filled the kitchen--can't you practically inhale it all, leaping off of the page? Saffron threads were first up in a small skillet, to be toasted until fragrant. Frankly, I've never really understood what saffron does (this particular batch delivered by a Belgian friend), but I use it anyway, as suggested in any recipe. It's pretty but I've never really smelled it or tasted it; I just rely on the idea that it is doing its elusive job. I used subtly sumptuous, plump Castelvetrano olives that imparted an unexpected buttery flavor--pit them yourself or apprise your guests that the pits remain as they recklessly bite in. Whatever you do, be keen when choosing your olives--overly salty won't do, add your own salt in, if you wish. The pulp of the preserved lemons slides right off the rind with a proper knife and the chopped rinds themselves melt quite away, leaving a bright tingle to the tagine, once warmed. Now, you could purchase preserved lemons at a specialty market but there is really little to do--just quarter, salt and soak the lemons in their own juices a week ahead of time before topping off with olive oil, and proudly announce that you prepared them all by yourself.

Dispatching the lemons as the olives observe...!

The vibrant mix with a flutter of cilantro, about to be simmered for roughly 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, before the olives are tossed in for another 10 or so...!

Do enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Tell Them Pete Sent 'Ya


Chapter One is turning their American Tavern into a discrete watering hole for glamorous degenerates with a NYC Prohibition Dinner, as part of their Heritage Dinner Series. On Sunday, December 7th at 7pm, Executive Chef Warren Baird is whipping up an era-appropriate, three-course affair featuring Blue Point oysters, Prime Rib with creamed spinach and potatoes rissole, and a booze-soaked Brandy Alexander pie. Sip on a secret Prohibition Era cocktail while at it! Warning--may or may not contain bathtub gin. Who cares? As long as it burns!

See below for a permissible password--and pull out your knee-length pearls, find your fringe, collect your raccoon coats, and bring out your brimmers and bamboo canes to get into the swing of things.

And note the cost is hardly prohibitive: it's only forty-nine clams (plus tax and gratuity) for the whole kit and caboodle! Chapter One is located at 33 Greenwich Avenue in Manhattan. Call 212-842-9146 for the secret password and go to for more info. Remember, tell them Pete sent 'ya!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Should Life Hand You Lemons...Make Lemon Bars (and other things)!

I recently discovered I had a near to overwhelming amount of lemons in my crisper: I bought a few not realizing I already had couple and then there was a snafu with my favorite online food delivery service Fresh Direct where they delivered even more lemons instead of the limes I had ordered. I had first bought some lemons for recipes and drink garnishes but I don't make that much lemon chicken or drink that many vodka tonics with lemon wedges. So, what to do? Helen Rosner from Saveur magazine's 2012 Cookie Advent Calendar came to the rescue, in part, with her recipe for lemon bars. The underlying shortbread was wonderful and my curd topping tasted great; it just wasn't as firm as I would have liked--next time I would have left the bars longer in the oven once the curd topped the shortbread (which is baked first), somewhere around 15 minutes longer instead of the 10 minutes Ms. Rosner suggests, and also, really do refrigerate the bars for at least several hours after they have been cooled on the counter top for a firmer lemon curd, I think.

I also made preserved lemons and at the moment, I am using the juice from the last lemon to make a Caesar dressing found here to dress my kale later for a wonderful salad!

Lemon Bars
Make 16 Bars
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
Zest and juice of 2 large lemons

12 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ tbsp. sugar
2 ½ tbsp. confectioner's sugar, plus more for dusting
1⅓ cup flour

1. Whisk together sugar and eggs in a 2-qt. saucepan until smooth; stir in zest and juice. Place over medium heat, and cook, stirring often, until thickened to the consistency of loose pudding. Remove from heat and add butter, a couple cubes at a time, until smooth; transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

2. Heat oven to 325°. Combine butter, both sugars, and flour in a bowl and beat on medium speed of hand mixer until smooth and evenly combined. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined 8" square baking pan, and press into the bottom. Bake until lightly golden and set, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300°, pour lemon curd over crust, and continue baking until slightly loose in the center, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely, and then refrigerate until firm. Cut into squares and dust with confectioners' sugar to serve.
Thanks to for the juicy snap!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fried Chicken & Latke Waffles with Gravy

It's hardly a secret that I think Baby makes the best potato pancakes (latkes) and I love fried chicken and waffles, so we thought to combine the two to fantastic results (shown), our own fried chicken and latke waffles! Williams-Sonoma had a buttermilk brine mix once that appears to have been discontinued--but a simple brine they currently carry may work as well to make the excellent chicken. Baby even suggests just using a package of Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix found in any supermarket as the brine (it's basically the same thing and cheaper too)!

Fried Chicken & Latke Waffles
(Serves at least four with left overs)

For the Fried Chicken:
1 whole chicken cut apart into eight sections (have your butcher do this, if not found already cut up in a bag at your supermarket)
Brining mix (enough to thoroughly pat chicken to draw out the moisture from the meat)
Buttermilk (ditto)
2 cups flour, with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper each
Vegetable oil

For the Latke Waffles:
3 medium baking potatoes such as Yukon gold, grated (or even a bag of already grated potatoes, to save work--perhaps you can find this at your supermarket too)
Roughly 1 cup each chopped white or yellow onions, carrots, and celery
3 TB flour
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 eggs, beaten
1 pinch or two of salt and pepper

For the Dressings:
1 jar Heinz chicken gravy, or make your own ahead of time if you have a favorite
Crown syrup, or other fine maple syrup
Some fresh sage, for garnish (optional)

Rub the brine (generally a mix of lemon, garlic, thyme, and the like) onto your chicken and coat with buttermilk. Cover with plastic and place in refrigerator overnight.

While oil in fyer is heating up for the readied chicken, prepare your latke waffles. Spray interior of waffle iron with cooking spray. Mix all latke ingredients well. Ladle batter into waffle iron. Close and cook each waffle for approximately five minutes, flipping half-way through if using a flip waffle iron. We used a very friendly, Oster DuraCeramic flip Belgian waffle maker, also priced nicely and available on Amazon Prime for about $35. Bed Bath & Beyond, Amazon carries them too.

Prepare a large, heavy bottomed pot with about 4-inches deep of oil on high heat or use a Cuisinart Mini Deep Fryer (boy do I love these things and they're reasonable priced too, around $50) filled with no more than a liter of vegetable oil. Set temperature according to product directions. When ready to fry chicken, remove from brine and shake off excess buttermilk. Dredge in 2 cups of flour that have been combed with with the 1 tsp and pepper each. I like to use a gallon bag to shake it up, a few pieces at a time, just like Shake n' Bake. Shake chicken in batches, shaking of extra flour and add to your fryer, no more than 3/4 pound at a time  until nicely browned. Remove to plates layered with paper towels.

Heat the gravy--using a microwave is fine.

When savory latke waffles are done, plate them and top with the most marvelous, juicy chicken. Ladle some hot gravy on each dish with a bottle of maple syrup such as Crown syrup (check out that post) on the side should your guests might wish both. I know I did. Drop some sage leaves in to the hot oil for one second and scoop them out carefully with a slotted spoon, now crisped. Top your dish and do enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shouldn't You Just...?

Place a few fork-pierced, ripe fall apples into a pot of water and simmer them gently with such things as dried orange peel zest, cinnamon, and cloves to create a warming, fragrant aroma about the house? The Spice House with shops in Chicago and Milwaukee (and online) is an extraordinary place to find fine spices. Read more about a particularly good garlicky-pepper rub from The Spice House here.

Thanks to for the--pic!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Great Pumpkin (Ravioli)!

Duly inspired by the classic Charlie Brown special, I adapted this recipe for Fusilli with Gorgonzola and Walnut Sauce (Bon Appetit, November 2006) posted on to make pumpkin ravioli with a walnut cream sauce. I suggest you do too! My version varied by using the ravioli instead of fusilli and a few leaves of sage instead of a cup of chopped basil. Dress it up with a salad of arugula and sliced Fuji apples gently tossed in a red wine vinaigrette and do enjoy!

Pumpkin Ravioli in Cream Sauce with Toasted Walnuts
Comfortably serves four as a pasta course

1 package fresh pumpkin-stuffed ravioli, about 12 large pieces
2 TBS butter
1 TB olive oil (I skipped this; wasn't necessarily needed I didn't think--or okay, I forgot)
3 garlic cloves, minced with garlic press
1 tsp thyme
3/4 cup heavy cream (definitely needed)
3/4 cup domestic crumbled gorgonzola
3/4 cup toasted walnuts (put them under the broiler until fragrant, only a few minutes)
Several sprigs of sage leaves, without stems

Cook raviolis in salted boiling water until they float, about three minutes or so. Remove with a handled strainer and reserve a cup of the pasta liquid. Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat (add in a good green fruity olive oil here, if using). Toss in the garlic and saute with thyme for a few minutes. Add the ravioli, cream and gorgonzola on lower heat. Mix together and add pasta liquid slowly until sauce thickens; the whole cup might not be required. Stir in the sage and warmed nuts with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a few grinds of cracked salt.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pumpkin It Up!

How festive it all looks, does it not? This distinctly autumnal cocktail perpetrated by pumpkin puree makes an appearance as time-appropriate as changing leaves at the wonderful Cuba in Manhattan, via veteran bartender Eduardo Tavares. Instead of the panela syrup, which may be difficult to find, I used Crown medium amber maple syrup. How fall-tastically novel! 

Here's what to when creating this seasonal sipper, with a few of my suggestions slipped in:

Pumpkin Raspado Cocktail
2 oz Appleton estate rum
2 oz pumpkin puree
1 oz fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
1 oz splash of lemon juice
1 oz panela syrup
Wet the rim of a gorgeously fashioned, chilled martini glass with half of a lemon wedge and roll it gently over the rosemary. Pour the rest of the ingredients into a shaker filled with crushed ice and shake well. Strain into glass, garnish with a sprig of rosemary perhaps, as well as a wheel of lime--and do enjoy! 


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Murdery Delicious Duck Breast

I'm sure I've said this before--it is truly amazing what you might discover lurking in your very own pantry, cupboards and freezer. There it was before me, a perfectly good duck breast in my freezer! But what to do with it? I thought of my novel, The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery that features a number of creepily written recipes that anticipate the action in the unfolding fiendishly hilarious drama. I wrote them with tongue firmly planted in cheek but they are actually viable dishes to make. So here I present a variation of A Recipe for Bloodcurdling Duck Breast with Red Wine Sauce that I created from ingredients I that I already had on hand. It was so delicious indeed and utterly fowl-tastic. A soupcon of ingenuity is always the best ingredient in any kitchen concoction.

Murdery Delicious Duck Breast
(Figure on one duck breast per ghoulish guest)

Several Barolo wine-soaked figs from a jar, quartered
1 cup or so of dry white wine from an already opened bottle
1 cube of porcini broth dissolved in two cups of hot water
1/2 TB ground cinnamon
4 TB butter
1/2 large white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fistful of dried Polish mushrooms
1 tsp ground ginger
1 6 oz duck breast
1 TB olive oil

Melt butter and add olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic gently. Add figs and mushrooms. Pour in broth and simmer, reducing the liquid. Pat the duck breasts with a generous amount of salt and pepper on all sides a put in skillet, skin side down. Flip once until duck has achieved an internal temperature of 135 degrees for medium-rare. Let duck rest for ten minutes, covered in foil and then serve perhaps with roasted potatoes and green beans. And don't neglect the rest of the wine!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Belgium Brisket of Beef

Baby wasn't going to be home in time to start the brisket preparations for Rosh Hashanah this year, so I stepped in made my first brisket! It was delicious and so much better than, shall we say, others that I have experienced. Juicy and full of flavor I would make this anytime besides a holiday, such as a warming Sunday dinner. Or for variation, just think of Southern BBQ restaurants where they pair it with sides of mustard or collard greens and soak up the juices and smoky BBQ sauce with jalapeno-laced corn bread. Or shred the leftovers for a burrito stuffed with lettuce, rice and topped with pico de gallo! This particular brisket is from an old, yellowed newspaper clipping found on Baby was so proud of me and loved, as did our guests. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Belgium Brisket of Beef
(Makes 6-8 Servings)
5 pounds flat brisket of beef
2 tsp sale
1/2 tsp pepper
Garlic and onion powder to taste
2 onions, sliced
4 celery ribs
1 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup water
1 can beer (I used a Hennipen Farmhouse Saison Belgian-style ale, to great effect)

Place beef on a rack in a large roaster, fat side up. Season both sides of meat with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Place onions, celery and chili sauce over meat. Put 1/4 cup of water in bottom pan.

Roast in a 325-degree oven, uncovered, basting oven with drippings until meat becomes well browned. COVER. After beef has baked for 3 1/2 hours (having checked occasionally to see there is still enough liquid and if need, as in some more water), pour beer over meat. Recover and bake 1 1/2 hours longer or until meat is tender.

Remove meat and let cool slightly before slicing. Then slather with the dark gravy and Serve with roasted potatoes, your favorite greens--and more Belgian ale!

NOTE: To make day ahead, remove meat and cool after baking. Strain gravy into a bowl; let set until fat rises to the top. Skim off as much as possible. Slice meat. Before serving reheat meat in skimmed gravy. Add 1/2 cup water if necessary.

Do enjoy--and thanks to for the snap!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Lobster & Beer Lovers Set Sail!


Attention all lobster loving landlubbers and beer-guzzling boatmen alike!

Manhattan by Sail has tacked on two more Lobster & Beer sails before the end of this all too brief summer. As the Clipper City ship coasts through the harbor off of Battery Park City, put a couple of lobster rolls in your belly and knock back unlimited beers while at it!

On Tuesday September 16th and Tuesday October 7th from 6:30PM – 8:30PM, the proud Clipper City offers two 'Maine-style' lobster rolls from Luke's Lobster (served chilled on a buttered and toasted split-top bun with a little mayo, lemon and spices) as well as accompanying chips, pickles, coleslaw, and potato salad during the twilight cruise. Did I mention unlimited beer?

Purchase your tickets here and enjoy the ride!  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Happy Cow Cookbook

The HappyCow Cookbook compiles a full range of vegan and vegetarian recipes from restaurants around the world. Some of the recipes do require a lot of ingredients, and many of these are specialty order items, so stock your larder accordingly and ahead of time. Cheaper than hopping a plane, Eric Brent, creator of HappyCow and Glen Merzer, coauthor of Food Over Medicine, bring global gastronomy to your door--and dish with the owners about their restaurants is included as a complimentary side! Graze over pumpkin noodle salad, tricolor vegetable pasta with sun-dried tomato marinara and cashew cheese, and sweeten the pot with gluten-free coconut strawberry shortcake cupcakes! Here are two recipes that I think you will enjoy:

Buddha Lentil Burger (shown above)
From Buddha Burgers in Tel Aviv, Israel
Serves 8–10

“The principle of this burger is simple: to include as many healthy and energizing ingredients as possible. Therefore, the base is sprouted lentils and quite a lot of flaxseed. All other ingredients are included for texture and taste.”

2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
1 1⁄2 cups minced white onion
7 cups sliced white mushrooms
3⁄4 cups sliced celery stalks
3 cups sprouted green or black lentils
1 1⁄2 cups minced toasted walnuts
10 garlic gloves, minced
1⁄4 of a green jalapeno pepper, minced well*
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup ground flaxseeds
4 tablespoons tahini mixed with
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons soy sauce**
30 minced fresh basil leaves
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground sea salt (or regular salt)
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground black pepper

*Wear gloves when handling these peppers and never touch your eyes.

**For a gluten-free version of this recipe, use gluten-free soy sauce or Bragg Liquid Aminos.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Warm the olive oil in a pan and add the minced onion together with the mushrooms and the celery. Sauté for five minutes. Drain the vegetable mixture in a colander and press out all the juices and oil. Then put the mixture in a food processor together with the lentils and walnuts. Using a large food processor, work in batches. With the food processor half-full, pulse the ingredients for 5 to 8 seconds until it resembles the texture of ground beef.
Transfer the mixture out of the food processor and into a large bowl, and stir in the rest of the ingredients with a large spoon (or a mixer). Set aside and let it rest for 10 minutes so the ground flaxseeds can bind the mixture. The mixture should be soft and moist.
To make each patty, take about 5 heaping tablespoons of burger mixture and press them flat into a disc onto an oiled baking pan. Bake the patties at 375 degrees. After 10 minutes, flip the patties and rotate the pan around in the oven back to front (for even baking). Bake another 10 minutes. Remove and cool. The patties should be crunchy on the outside and softer on the inside.
Serve in a whole spelt bun with toppings, like our Bechamel “Cheese” (recipe in full cookbook), a vegan Thousand Island dressing (vegan mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, and dried onion), mustard, lettuce, tomato, red onion, or chives.

Tip: The healthiest way to prepare these burgers is to dehydrate them rather than baking. After shaping the patties, place them in an oven at 115 degrees for 12 hours.

Seitan Marsala
From Café Blossom in New York, NY
Serves 4–6

“This is our most popular dish at Cafe Blossom! It has satisfied many vegans and non-vegans alike for the more than five years.”

For the mashed potatoes:
6 Yukon Gold potatoes
1⁄2 cup Earth Balance butter substitute
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the sauce:
1 bottle (750 mL) Marsala wine
1 cup vegetable stock
2 cups port wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the fillet and greens:
3 medium bunches kale
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon Earth Balance butter substitute
12 4- to 5-ounce seitan fillets
1 cup flour
4 heads fennel, sliced
4 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
4 shallots, sliced
Peel and boil potatoes. Place cooked potatoes in bowl, add 1⁄2 cup of Earth Balance, chopped garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash together until thick and smooth.

For the sauce:
Combine all ingredients into a large pot and simmer for approximately 5 minutes over
medium-low heat to dissolve sugar, and then remove from heat.

For the fillet and greens:
Sauté kale with olive oil and garlic. In a separate pan, add 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance to pan over high heat. Coat seitan fillets with flour, reduce heat, and place fillets in pan. Once brown, add fennel, mushrooms, and shallots. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are cooked, and then ladle Marsala sauce into pan. Reduce heat, cover for 10 minutes, and let the Marsala reduce.

To assemble:
Place two large scoops of mashed potatoes in a deep dish. Place a handful of kale over the mash. Lastly, place your fillets and veggies on top and add salt and pepper to taste. Each serving should have two fillets. Pour remaining Marsala sauce over filets and serve.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Crown & Glory

"How might I go about making a meal with maple syrup," I sometimes ask myself--and this most often at breakfast, digging into tiers of toasty waffles with abandon, dripping with syrup and butter. The folks at Madava Farms in Duchess County, New York make it easy with certified organic Crown Maple syrups and other products. Their collection include medium amber (ginger bread, roasted chestnut aromas!), dark amber (coffee, chocolate!), and extra dark (ideal for cooking!). The varying versatile tastes of the ensemble enhance and enable a number cocktails and dishes incorporating the sweet stuff.

Look below for a kale salad with luscious caramelized peaches and corn before moving on to short ribs with a bourbon glaze, courtesy of Madava Farms' Executive Chef Jacob Griffin ... now, speaking of spirits, let's start with a cocktail, shall we?

Crown Maple Leaf, crafted by Niccole Trzaska of The Liberty NYC 
1½ oz. Maker’s 46
¾ oz. Crown Maple Medium Amber syrup
¾ oz. lemon juice

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass.

Peach, Corn & Kale Salad
4 ears of Fresh Bi-Color Corn
1.5 tsp of Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1 tbsp Olive Oil
4 ea Medium Size Kale Leaves, de-stemed and finely sliced
2 ea Parsley, chopped (about 1 tbsp)
.25 ea Small Red Onion, sliced
1 ea Ripe Peach, washed, pitted and chopped
.25 cup Crown Maple Dark Amber Syrup
pinch of Salt
.5 ea Lemon, juiced

1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Cut corn cob in half and cut the kernels off the cobb with a chef’s knife
3. Spread out evenly on a parchment lined sheet tray and sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil
4. Roast in oven for 10-15 minutes or until the corn starts to brown on top and the sides. Remove from oven and let cool.
5. Chop peach into a medium sized dice, toss in a bowl with Crown Maple Dark Amber® and place on a fresh parchment lined sheet tray
6. Watch peaches carefully and let caramelize for 5-8 minutes or until golden brown
7. Remove peaches from oven and let cool.
8. Toss corn, kale, parsley and lemon juice in a bowl. Adjust seasoning if needed. Top with caramelized peaches.
Note: You can also use this recipe as a vegetarian taco filling too. Add a little chili paste to add some heat.

Crown Maple Bourbon Glazed Short Ribs
10 ea Beef short ribs (about 1.5 lbs)
1 tbps Kosher salt
1.5 tsp Fresh ground pepper
4 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 ea Medium onion, large dice
1 ea Medium onion, large dice
1 ea Large celery stick, large dice
4 ea Cremini mushrooms, large dice
4 tbsp Tomato Paste
3 floz Dry Red Wine
2 floz Bourbon
1 qt Veal or beef stock
2 ea Bay leaves
.5 tsp Dried thyme
.25 cup Crown Maple Extra Dark
.25 cup Bourbon

1. Rub salt and pepper evenly over short ribs.
2. Sear short ribs with vegetable oil over medium-high heat around all edges
in a stockpot or cast-iron pot
3. Remove short ribs from pan, reduce heat and sauté diced onion, carrots and mushrooms until soft and tender.
4. Add tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes until a sweet aroma develops
5. Add wine and bourbon and cook until liquid has reduced by half
6. Add the veal stock and bring back to a simmer
7. Cover pot with lid and place in a 275°F oven
8. Cook for 1 hour, then carefully add bay leaves and thyme
9. Cook for 1 additional hour or until meat is tender that a fork easily shreds the meat
10. Remove short ribs rom the pot
11. Add Crown Maple Extra Dark and bourbon to the sauce and simmer until sauce thickens
12. Taste glaze and add seasoning as needed
13. Pour maple glaze over the hot short ribs and serve immediately

The Madava Farms' sugar house is open to the public on a regular basis, offering tours, culinary experiences with in-house chefs, places to hike and enjoy picnics. Sounds like a great day trip to me! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Ducky Dinner


Perhaps you may have read my post about the recent book launch of Red Jacket's gorgeous new cookbook Fruitful penned by Brian Nicholson and Sarah Huck. Naturally I couldn't wait to partake of some of the fruitful bounty found in the pages and was enticed enough by the recipe for Pan-Seared Duck Breast with Honey Gooseberries, that I started there when I assembled a brace of friends over for dinner. Although the duck was in the Spring and Early Summer section, I went right ahead and made it anyway, in the height of summer. It was terrific.

We chose our wines: I stuck with a Matchmaker Viognier, full of body and gently fruity (some of which I had added to the sauce) while my friends latched onto a highly suitable Celita Sangiovese red with nosy aromas of black cherries.

It was just about here when I added the Viognier to the softening, simmering gooseberries in olive oil, thyme, honey, sea salt and a good snort of ground black pepper!

Top pic is the finished dish. Check out the full recipe found in Fruitful and do enjoy!  And thanks to Red Jacket Orchards and all the folks behind Fruitful! Now go buy the cookbook and celebrate the seasons!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Disposable Meals

My dishwasher recently stopped working. He wanted more money. Ha ha. This lead to a simple equation: Dishwasher on the fritz + hating to wash dishes = devising a way to eat three meals a day without having a mess to clean up afterward. First off, I used plastic forks, knives, spoons (that I conveniently discovered unused and lurking in the cupboard from a party last year!), paper plates, and a roll of paper towels for napkins. Liquids were in disposable cups, drank from water (or beer) bottles, and boxes (such as Vita Coco not wine). Perhaps not so eco-friendly, he wrote cautiously, but dishwashers do use a lot of water anyway, so I suppose it was bit of a trade-off. But do note I used plastic ware that I already had on hand and of course there are many disposable products out that are very eco-friendly! Armed with a fully stocked and carefully thought out refrigerator and larder, please read on to see how I met the daily challenge. Use anti-bacterial, disinfecting cleaning wipes on counter tops, etc. as you go, of course.

P.S. I was able to finally schedule an appointment with the dishwasher repair man for this week! 

Iced Coffee every morning with milk, no sugar; rinsed out the glass, stirred with disposable straw
Breakfast: Fruit smoothie with kale every morning made in Vitamix (or blender) and poured into disposable plastic cup; read here and here for my recipes; rinsed out Vitamix, sometimes power-washed Vitamix on high with a little dishwashing liquid and about a cup of water—cleans perfectly, just rinse out bubbles
Lunch: My tuna with elbow noodles on pita and sprouts went in sandwich bag to office; serves four resulting in leftovers. Individual Fage peach yogurt snack, disposable spoon. Communal Ghiradelli chocolate squares from office.
DAMAGE: 1-a pot to wash that elbow noodles were boiled in; 2-a strainer; 3-a big bowl holding leftovers to later wash
Dinner: I went out for Cuban food at Cuba!

Iced Coffee
Breakfast Smoothie
Lunch: All went in sandwich bag to office: Leftover tuna from Monday with pita and sprouts. Slice of co-workers birthday cake on office paper plate and plastic fork
Dinner: Left over grilled salmon with coconut rice and black beans from Cuba! Frozen chocolate covered banana from freezer.

Iced Coffee
Breakfast Smoothie
Lunch: Leftover tuna from Monday on pita with sprouts, with hummus straight from the plastic container, with chips for dipping; individual cup applesauce with plastic spoon
Dinner: My Pete-tatouille found here. I sauteed onions and garlic in a pan, stirred with a spatula. Foil went over a cookie sheet and vegetables were roasted and added to pan—foil thrown out and cookie sheet stored away.
DAMAGE: 1-pan to be cleaned later as leftovers were wrapped, remained, and refrigerated; 2- spatula

Iced Coffee
Breakfast Smoothie
Lunch: Worked from home. Sandwich with peanut butter banana and honey on Pullman’s loaf bread (keep in the freezer but quickly thawed on countertop), Almond “Milk” Smoothie and Nutri Grain apple cinnamon bar
Dinner: Leftover Pete-tatouille with Uncle Ben’s boil-in-a bag rice—no strainer needed, kitchen shears to cut open bag, rinsed! Pita with hummus, tahini, sprouts as a snack later
DAMAGE: 1-hand-washed ice coffee glass; 2-pot used to boil rice; 3-knife

Iced Coffee
Breakfast Smoothie
Lunch: Worked from home. Pre-packaged egg salad on Pullman’s loaf bread with sprouts; chips; individual cup applesauce with plastic spoon
Dinner: Taco Night! Lightly toasted taco shells on foil—could even use foil for another use! Browned meat in pan, drained, stirred in seasoning mix with spatula, topped with salsa packet and shredded reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese
DAMAGE: 1-pan; 2-strainer; 3-spatula

Iced Coffee
Breakfast Smoothie
Lunch: Leftover taco beef on over easy egg, topped with low-fat Monterey Jack cheese, low-fat sour cream, crumbled taco shells and chopped scallions (cutting board easily rinsed)
Dinner: Two ears roasted corn on the cob, in the oven on foil-wrapped cookie sheet, quickly devoured; fresh-made purchased lobster ravioli in porcini broth, leftovers put in sealable plastic bag
DAMAGE: 1-pan for egg; 2-spatula for egg; 3-knife for scallions; 4-iced coffee glass pot to simmer broth, then reserved in disposable cup once cooled—I used same pot to cook ravioli

Iced Coffee
Breakfast Smoothie
Lunch: Part of a can of cheese soup with skim milk over broccoli, rinse microveable dish used for broccoli; frozen chocolate banana
Dinner: Leftover ravioli, reheat in rinsed microveable dish used for broccoli; oven-roasted zucchini and squash (on foil of course), drizzed with olive oil and served with low-fat sour cream, roasted pepper, parsley and chive sauce made with Vitamix—power-washed Vitamix on high with a little dishwashing liquid and about a cup of water—cleans perfectly, just rinse out bubbles
DAMAGE: 1-small pan for soup; 2-microvable dish for broccoli and later ravioli; 3-vessel for herbed sour sauce with roasted pepper, to be washed at a later time.

Whew! Not bad!

Thanks to for the snap! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

DriveThru - Union Bar & Kitchen NYC

A quick stop into where to eat with Pete! 

Union Bar & Kitchen is a great, casual hangout for a brew and a burger, with a tray of oysters perhaps, served with a side of civility. Chandeliers outfitted with Edison bulbs hover over the soaring space wrapped up in clean, white subway tile while bare Edison bulbs dangle over the roomy bar. Jonathan Renert wears a number of stovepipe hats as owner, executive chef and GM, and the restaurant itself refers to the union of flavors and people found there but it may also refer to the union of states as well--check out the marvelous portrait of Lincoln near the loo, the Lincoln's Storm specialty cocktail and the 21st Amendment (when publicly guzzling booze was made A-OK again) draught beer. Union Bar & Kitchen is not located in Union Square, however, as I first thought, but rather tucked away in West SoHo.

The Quick Bites:
Lincoln's Storm; reflected the temperamental weather (stormier than the drink!) as the folding glass doors were continually opened and shut. The cocktail though was a steady, even pour of rum, highly flavored with fizzy ginger beer and cool mint, and otherwise a highly sippable delight
East Side Cocktail;  I subbed fizzy seltzer for gin in this delicious summer drink, with mint and cucumber muddled in fresh lime juice
The Blue Point oysters were curious; watery as the evening outside, probably pulled from the waters of Long Island too soon to fully mature--but a few squirts of fresh lemon and a fantastic mignonette comprised of daikon radish and kimchi readily remedied this, and the oysters in their shells served as a vessel for the sauce and spared us the embarrassment of asking for a straw!
Bucket of steamed clams; served in a light cream sauce probably with some white wine. While the clams were decent, this New England boy loooves them simply prepared with drawn butter for dipping. I should have asked first, I merely assumed--of course
Caesar salad; flat and merely serviceable as an allowance of daily greens
Fried chicken; who cared about the salad, we had bigger chicken to fry! These juicy nuggets were well serviced by a judicious spray of lemon, already having been marinaded in such things as ginger, sake, and soy. Secret here is the chicken is dipped in potato starch, not flour, before hitting the fryer. Fabulous!
Tomr's Tonic Water; a most beguiling brew (it ain't Canada Dry), hand crafted with cinchona bark, herbs, spices and citrus that I asked for simply on the rocks. Look for it everywhere soon, I'll wager, and add it to your liquor-based drinks
Smoked Trout Deviled Eggs; won out over fries as a side to our sandwiches, smoky trout and creamy egg filling peppered with paprika were a perfect pick
The Morning After Sandwich; a twisty must-try version of a classic bacon/egg/cheese hangover combo with panko crusted pork cutlet topped with a fried egg, provolone cheese and tonkatsu sauce (similar to teriyaki sauce) all sandwiched on an English muffin. The accompanying nostril-whistling pickled ginger nearly killed my dining companion, but it didn't stop her from devouring the whole shebang
UBK Sirloin Burger; I had been hankering for a burger for days and this homey, grilled, medium rare meat-fest did the trick with bacon, cheddar, and frizzled onions on an English muffin
Peanut Crunch Chimichangas; a warm gooey mess with cream cheese got all over my face. I loved it. We subbed jalapeno-chocolate ice cream for plain old vanilla and suggest you do too.

Until Next Time:
Sauteed spinach that our sweet waitress raved about
Watermelon gazpacho
Smoked gouda on the burger

Union Bar & Kitchen is located at 300 Spring St, New York, NY, 646-791-0005,


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Drive Thru - Cuba NYC

A quick stop into where to eat with Pete! 

The air of festivity at Cuba is immediate and suddenly Old Havana is new again. Beatriz de Armas and Executive Chef Mario Garcia have worked together intimately to bring a familial atmosphere to their dining guests with live Cuban music and authentic cuisine--there's even a hand-rolling cigar maker in residence proffering Cuban-style cigars. So stop by and give the hoppin' joint a whirl as the friendly folk celebrate their ten-year anniversary!  

We didn't slide into the subterranean Hemingway Hideaway first for a few drinks--instead we staved off the heat in the cool dining room proper and started out with a few refreshing high-octane cocktails as we perused the straight-up menu laced with a more than a few creative, culinary creations...

The Quick Bites:
We went cuckoo for the Coconut Mojito; a most generous pour to say the least, topped with the shredded stuff
En Su Punto; a fiery fusion of jalapeno-infused gin with sprightly English cucumber and mint, muddled in lime juice and simple syrup
Cangrejito; translates to wonderful, perfectly pan-seared soft shell crab, perched on a beautiful mold of creamy avocado, cherry tomato, and sliced mango with a drizzled tamarind glaze
Chicharron Prensado; first off, there's braised pork belly with congri (traditional rice and beans combo), spicy Spanish chorizo, and smattering of greens peas flirting with a balsamic glaze
Tostones Rellenos; seemed requisite to us--green plantains wrapped around little nibbly shrimp and tingly sofrito sauce
Salmon; a perfectly pink shade of finely seared salmon filet freckled with micro cilantro and sumptuous coconut rice on the side with shrimp and lobster sauce (I suspected a hint of lemongrass) that forwarded the flavor of the fish--my favorite! I asked for a side of super, soupy black beans to accompany this
Filet de Pargo; green plantain-encrusted red snapper served with avocado, a mash of sweet plantains and a bright sofrito sauce that excellently accented the snapper. Sauteed Peruvian corn that we shared was an ideal dish to go with 
Bombom Cubano; the bomb! Such a luscious warm chocolate bombe, with a rich liquid center and an orb of pert strawberry ice cream. Accolades to this confectionary Cuban conclusion!

Until Next Time: classic Ropa Vieja; Pollo Guajira, chicken breast stuffed with sweet plantains, gooey mozzarella, and vegetables in a white wine sauce; guava and cream cheese turnovers with ice cream in a drizzled raspberry sauce.

And celebrate National Rum Day on August 16th by checking out Mixology Week at Cuba, now until August 15th--a week long party featuring a different cocktail every night (courtesy of bartenders Eduardo Tavares and Raul Palacios) leading up to the big day! Click here for more info including a full list of the nightly libations. 

Cuba is located at 222 Thompson St, New York, NY 212-420-7878,

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hail Caesar!

I often compare a Caesar salad to a margarita as it's a delicate balance with both to equally, accurately define the tart, sweet and sour. I think I hit it with a recipe from this week's Quinciple box. Read on about Quinciple, the fresh from the farm food delivery service replete with recipes. They don't provide all the ingredients called for however, so I used a few good squeezes of anchovy paste, for example, that I had on hand instead of purchasing a tin of anchovy fillets. Also--the dressing is quite fully flavored. Although I quite enjoyed dressing the first night tossed with half of the the romaine lettuce, I loved it the next afternoon with the rest of the romaine allowing the dressing to mellow overnight in the refrigerator.

4 tbsp. chopped chives
1 head romaine lettuce
2 slices Bien Cuit's rye miche
1 egg yolk
½ lemon
1-2 anchovy fillets
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for garnish
Red wine vinegar
Worcestershire sauce
Tabasco sauce
Olive oil, about ¼ cup
Salt and pepper

An unidentified writer scribed the following:

"This is not the Caesar Salad to end all Caesars because of some secret special recipe (though I do have to give credit to Jeff Smith, my college boyfriend’s dad for teaching it to me). It is an amazing salad because the classic Caesar dressing, when made from scratch is truly mind blowing. The stuff you get out of the bottle bears no relation. You’ll need to taste as you go and tweak to your liking.
Use a mortar and pestle to smash the garlic and anchovies (or you can do this on a cutting board with the bottom of a water glass). Add to a small mixing bowl with the egg yolk and stir. While stirring, add a few drops of olive oil. Continue stirring and slowly adding olive oil in a thin stream (the constant stirring is needed to ensure a good emulsification). Add enough olive oil to double the volume. Add a splash of red wine vinegar, a small squeeze of lemon juice and the Dijon mustard, along with two dashes each of Worcestershire and Tabasco. Add in ¼ cup grated Parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper. Now you’ll need to taste (use a small piece of lettuce if you like). If it is too strong add a bit more olive oil or some more cheese. I often add a bit more Tabasco and an extra squeeze of lemon juice for more zing. Toast the bread and cut into small ¼” cubes for croutons. Wash the romaine and chop into 2” strips. Toss the dressing with the lettuce and garnish with the croutons, chives and a bit more grated Parmigiano." 

Hail the Caesar Salad! And Quinciple as well!

Thursday, August 7, 2014


I created this dish, my own version of ratatouille, to readily dispatch some of the vegetables I had still cooling in the crisper. There aren't any tomatoes in this and I added a jolt of sriracha sauce to the mix--it was absolutely delicious. The Pete-Tatouille can be served as a side dish for four or dinner for two, piled on top of a bed of yellow rice. To be perfectly honest, I was so tempted that I ate much of it right out the pan!

Serves two for dinner or four as a side dish

2 medium squash, thinly sliced and salted
2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced and salted
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
2 cups frozen okra, cooked in microwave
2 cups porcini broth
1 TB anchovy paste, adding to taste
2 TB minced garlic, adding to taste
1 TB unsalted butter
2 TB olive oil
A lashing of sriracha sauce, depending on how hot you like it--some do!

Slice the onion while the other vegetables rest in salt. In a large pan, melt butter and add olive oil over medium-medium low heat. Sautee garlic and anchovy paste briefly, until fragrant. Toss in the onions and cook until slightly softened and yellow. Working in layers, add squash and zucchini, lightly salting and adding fresh ground black pepper to each layer. Add cooked okra. Scrape up good brown bits by deglazing with a decent splash of beer or white wine, if you happen to be drinking it at the time. Or crack some open. Pour in half the porchini broth, reducing, and continue to add the rest of the liquid, slowly simmering down to a slight pool. The luscious vegetables should have all but fallen apart, relenting to the porcini broth. Swirl in the spicy sriracha and adjust seasonings. Do enjoy!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Best Things in Life...

Include FREE eBooks of my wildly funny novel, The Murdery Delicious Hamwich Gumm Mystery! The first 20 people who respond to this post at will receive a special, exclusive code to download a free eBook. My novel is also available on and in paperback and hardcover as well as eBook formats. Go to for more info including excerpts and click here to read more--do enjoy!

About the book: This hilarious, wickedly clever jewel earnestly follows the gruesome trials of brothers Reynald and Willoughby Chalmers, who reluctantly become involved in the bloodied, spinach laden trail of a chainsaw-wielding madman. The rarefied pair of witty, modern day dandies are unwittingly served as the main ingredients in a most diabolical stew. With the help of the illustrious Inspector Hamwich Gumm, the brothers discover that the murder mystery of questionable manners turns out to be quite a fiendish family affair indeed.

National Rum Day

I just had to post this. Click the image for a closer look. Isn't it outrageous? National Rum Day is officially August 16th, but the folks at Mother's Ruin couldn't help but start early. On August 12 from 6-8pm, help them celebrate with a do-it-yourself Bloody Jerry bar! While the boys behind the bar mix up the dastardly drink featuring Sailor Jerry Rum, take a gander at garnishes that include pickles, sliders, SJ glazed bacon, pizza bites, mini hot dogs, waffle fries and wings...well, you'll just have to see it for yourself!

Mother's Ruin is located at 18 Spring St, NYC,

The folks at Cuba are making a go of it too with Mixology Week, August 8-15. Amid the grand spirit of old Havana and pulsing, live Cuban music, mixologists Eduardo Tavares and Raul Palacios are serving up a bunch of rum cocktails crafted from tropical fruits and herbs, featuring a flair for exotica. There's a different cocktail for each day of the celebration, so clear your calendar. You might want to even try the authentic cuisine too! Here a listing of the eight crazy nights and the rummy rundown:

Friday 08-08
Mezcal Cubana
Rum, tequila, radish, muddled jicama, piña, lime and sugar syrup, garnished with radish
Saturday 08-09
Blue Punch
Clement blue cane rum, curacao, lemon, sugarcane, garnished with lime peel

Sunday 08-10
Perla del Caribe
Bacardi rum, grapefruit, smoky spiced salt, lime juice, simple syrup, garnished with grapefruit

Monday 08-11
Guava Daiquiri
El Dorado rum, maraschino, guava, lime and demerara sugar, garnished with guava

Tuesday 08-12
Relajate y Coopera
Brugal Añejo rum, charred pineapple, sage, lime, orange bitters, garnished with pineapple

Wednesday 08-13
Cuban Caipirinha
Leblon cachaça, mint, lime, sugarcane, garnished with thick sugarcane

Thursday 08-14
Original sin Copia
Atlantico rum, muddled ginger, St. Germain, lime, cava float, garnished with candied ginger

Friday 08-15
Melon Ball Mojito
St. Teresa rum, cantaloupe sorbet, yuzu, mint, tajin salt, garnished with lemon

Cuba is located at 222 Thompson St, between Bleecker/W 3rd St, NYC,, 212-420-7878.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Smoothies Gone Bananas!

Perhaps you've read about my recent love affair with smoothies in my Wango La Mango Tango post. Well gentle readers, here are a four tempties involving bananas that I could not resist passing along to you! I highly recommend using a Vitamix but your most high-powered blender will certainly do too. Go bananas!

Cheeky Chia Monkey
1 banana
1 cup or so Vita Coco
2 fronds of leafy kale
1 heaping TB chia seeds

Pour your ingredients over ice and put in Vitamix and blend, my friend. Prepare to go ape with all the antioxidants!

5.3 oz Chobani pear yogurt, or plain yogurt with a chopped up pear
1 banana
1 cup Peach & Mango Vita Coco
4 oz Mott's applesauce cup

Throw a handful or so of ice in your device of choice (I find six cubes is good).
Add remaining ingredients and blend on high. Coolly elegant!

Amazing Almond "Milk" 
1 cup or more almonds
7 or 8 dates, to sweeten the deal
1 heaping TB chia seeds
2 cups water or more, to your preferred thickness.
Pinch of pink Himalayan rocky salt

Add all of your ingredients in your Vitamix or blender, and let it get nice and smooth before serving. Also refrigerates nicely and goes great alongside a peanut butter and banana sandwich with a little honey on a pita!

Watermelon Slide
Fistful of cubed watermelon
1 cup or so Vita Coco
1 banana
Fronds of leafy kale, to your liking
1 heaping TB chia seeds
Heavy splash of Naked Mighty Mango juice smoothie
4 oz Mott's applesauce cup

You know the drill by now. Blend away! Also try to find new (at least to me) Mott's Granny Smith applesauce cups and the apple/pear combo too.

Thanks to for the fabulous image!