Monday, May 31, 2010

Monday Lunch

Rummaging around in a "Chef's" refrigerator can muster up an odd bounty of bits of ingredients.  Occasionally, there's a way to pull several of them together for a truly impromptu dish. 

Case in point:
Today, I started tackling the pile of Magazines with turned down pages, to enter marked recipes into Mastercook.  Since I haven't done this since January, so there's quite a few to deal with. In the background I have the new Cooking Channel on, they are running a marathon of shows, each one seems to have two episodes back to back, sort of an introductory tasting of each personality. After finishing Everyday Food issues I realized I was starving.  Craving so many different tastes I knew I'd never be able to match the craving with a planned peanut butter and jelly sandwich!!  Albeit on Eli Zabar's Manor House bread!

So a-rummaging I went.  Found the container of leftover roasted tomatoes used for:Long Fusilli with Roasted Tomatoes what to make, what to do?  Don't want to cook pasta, after all, we had homemade ravioli for dinner last night (will write about that disaster later).  Eggs, beautiful cage free brown eggs!  Slice of the Manor House bread toasted with two scrambled eggs a healthy spoonful of the heated roasted tomatoes, a dollop of ramp pesto and a few shavings of Parmesano Reggiano!  Yum Yum!
I apologize for the picture quality it's from my crackberry, Nana, the photog was in the laundry room and I couldn't find her camera. And I really wanted to eat it while it was hot!!  But you'll get the idea from the fuzzy rendition!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Breakfast

Toasted Manor House Bread by Eli Zabar, with goat cheese and fig preserves! YUM!

Chef Jim

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Spice & Easy

Food Network has a new show called SPICE & EASY.  I keep missing it and forgot to set the DVR for it for several weeks now! Finally, today I made sure I watched it.  It is a pretty good show, the hostess is Janet Johnston, who with her husband are the owners of three spice shops in Colorado called Savory Spice Shops.  Actually, a friend from Cookstalk forum has visited the shops in Denver, and told us about the show!  You can also order from their website.

Janet has a passion for herbs, spices and cooking so she's a natural for explaining how to "spice" things up!  Today's show was about a barbecue blend that they make from a recipe submitted by a customer during a contest held in the stores.  She made Ribs with Peanut Barbecue Sauce made with Chinese five spice; Chile Glazed Shrimp with Pineapple Ginger Salsa; Celery Root Slaw with wasabi and honey. And her dessert was Grilled Spiced Sugar Bananas with Spiced Nuts.

She used a brine to prep racks of ribs and then after slow baking them she basted them with the Peanut Barbecue Sauce. This got me thinking, I had boneless chicken breasts that needed to be cooked today in the fridge, why not use this brine and sauce for them? I had all the other ingredients as well and love Chinese five spice!  I also had broccoli/carrot slaw mix, so I'd make the dressing from her slaw too!  Yeah, two new recipes to test out today, admittedly tweaked, but still new! 

Brined the chicken breasts for 1 hour then baked @375º for 10 minutes; basted with Peanut Barbecue Sauce and baked for another 20 minutes until done!  Very moist and delicious!  I cut back on the wasabi as Nana is not a fan, and probably will go full on next time, it was so mild she didn't even notice it was there!  Also looking forward to trying the Celery Root version!  I used the broccoli, carrot slaw mix and added scallions, we finished it all! 

I think I'll make the shrimp in Rhode Island next time we visit, they would love it!  And maybe the bananas too!

Check out the show and definitely try the recipes!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Long Fusilli with Roasted Tomatoes

As some of you know, I'm a big fan of big, bold flavors and recipes with a long list of ingredients to accomplish that boldness!  But, honestly, I am also a practitioner of simple flavorful cuisine. Today's dinner was a perfect example of that method. 

I started out by receiving a request for Pasta for dinner from Nana.  So I headed to the kitchen to see what pasta would inspire me.  I found plenty of choices in the pantry: Farfalle, Penne, Spaghetti, Orzo, Faro Linguine and Long Fusilli.  We bought the fusilli in Philly's Italian Market at Claudio Specialty Food.  From the kitchen I headed to one of the many cookbook shelves and selected all three of my Lidia Basitanich tomes. Quickly scanned the indices for Fusilli and came up with: LONG FUSILLI WITH ROASTED TOMATOES in Lidia's Italy.  I posted the recipe on facebook here
It was delicious and fairly simple.  Only a few tweaks (I know you're not surprised) I used more basil than called for, adding some chopped to the olive oil that is infused with garlic slices and I also heated the oil to just below the bubbling point before tossing it with the pasta!  Also, used Sapore Sweet Cocktail Tomatoes as the plum tomatoes weren't that good at the store today! The Sapore are packaged on the vine and smaller than the Campari but bigger than grape or cherry tomatoes. Cooked them just a little bit less time wise and didn't slice up the halves, tossed the whole halves onto the pasta!  Next time I'll add shavings of cheese to the finished dish rather than grated, I love a bite of cheese with my pasta! 

This is a light appearing dish, but we both felt is was just right for a summery supper!  Enjoy! Here's the pics: before, during and after!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Do It Your Way recipe!

Dinner Tuesday night was a creation that could be tweaked many ways!

We had Barbecue Pork Tenderloin Strips with Onions and Peppers on Ciabatta Rolls; Broccoli Slaw with Cider Vinegar & Sugar dressing; Salt and Pepper Potato Chips.

Was kinda craving pulled pork sandwiches but didn’t have the time for nice slow cooked pork shredded and sauced on a roll!

Brought home a Pork Tenderloin, trimmed it up and cut it into strips, the size I’d use for beef tips. Then I seasoned with Roasted Garlic Gray Salt, Aleppo Pepper and Black Pepper; vertically sliced ½ yellow onion and julienned one red pepper. Sauteed pork for 2-3 minutes set aside; added onion and peppers to the pan when lightly caramelized added one tablespoon tomato paste sauté for 1 minute longer; deglazed with 1/3 cup white wine; added back the meat and ½ jar of Bone Sucking Barbecue sauce. Simmered for 10 minutes; served over toasted Ciabatta Rolls.

Options: Red Onion, Leeks, Green Pepper or a combo of the colored bell peppers, Jalapeno, Minced Garlic, Kosher Salt, Paprika, Smoked Paprika, Chili Powder, Cayenne, even Taco Seasoning could be good, Red Wine, Beer, Broth or just Water, Any Barbecue Sauce and Your Favorite sandwich rolls.

My plan for the slaw was to add apples and use a Champagne/Pear Vinaigrette, but the apples weren’t up to par. Any version of coleslaw would have been appropriate, Red Cabbage and Fennel is one of my loved versions. And of course any of the millions of flavored potato chips would be perfect.

Love the adjustability of this meal. Will prepare this again, varying different elements each time. It’s one of those recipes that Nana will say: Didn’t you write down what you did last time??  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Traveled to East Providence Rhode Island, on Friday, to attend the celebrations of the 5 year old grandson's birth!  We started out a bit later than usual and immediately joined the millions of trucks on the road and crawled across the Throg's Neck Bridge into the Bronx.  Finally on I-95 in Westchester County we were able to travel at the speed limit. Then, as usual, we slowed down in Connecticut.  So, since Nana was driving I pulled out the Blackberry and did a search for something to eat in the Norwalk area. 

Suddenly, I remembered SONO Baking Company and Cafe.  Got onto the GPS and let it navigate us to the Bakery in SONO (South Norwalk).  We had attended the Martha Stewart show on the day they taped the episode where John Barricelli brought out his new book entitled: The Sono Baking Company Cookbook, and as audience members we received two copies! 

The book is great, I really enjoyed reading it and will start testing some of the sweet recipes soon!  In the book he talks about the Cafe and the breakfast and lunch menus, they sounded interesting, so we set out to see what it was all about!  You can sit inside with picture window views of the staff working in the bakery preparing pastries and baking breads.  Or there are a few umbrellaed tables outside to dine al fresco.  

Meanwhile we enjoyed our lunch at the cafe!  Nana had the Club sandwich with Turkey, Ham, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Avocado with Horseradish Mayo!  I had the special salad with Grilled Salmon, Romaine, Tomatoes and Blueberry/Balsamic Vinaigrette.  We also bought a loaf of Seeded Semolina bread for our planned Spaghetti & Meatball dinner and two Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies for the car!  The cookies were awesome and the bread was perfect.

Of course now we're trying to figure out how early we have to leave RI on Monday to make it back for lunch on the way home!!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Roundup

Decided to post quickly before our trip to RI.

  Will post a weekend roundup on Monday!  Looking forward to a great time in RI, tonite we're having Italian Grandma's Spaghetti and Meatballs!  Haven't planned the rest of the weekend's menu as of yet, will be feverishly catching up on Food Magazine reading in the car on the way to RI and hopefully get inspired!! (Like that's ever a problem!)

Here's two pics of meals we made this week at home.

First is the Roast Chicken with Tapenade from Alex's Day Off on the Food Network.  It's from Chef Alex Guarnaschelli who says it's from her fond childhood memories of the food she ate at home.  You can get the recipe here, the only things I did differently was to add a clove of garlic in the cavity of the chicken and I started it by roasting breast side down for 15 minutes then turned it over.  The tapenade was plentiful and we ate it later in the week with little baguette toasts.  The side dish was steamed baby carrots and asparagus with ramp pesto!  Awesome way to use ramps!

Yummy, yummy!

Second Picture is of my own version of Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup. Simple ingredients list:
Roasted yellow peppers, peeled
White onion chopped and sauteed
Chicken broth
Heat all then puree
Served with a dollop of Greek yogurt and chopped chives.

The inspiration came from the soup I had at Motorinos earlier in the week!  Delish, and soooooo easy!  Really just try it!

This was Nana's plate with a slice of her leftover
Brussels Sprout Pizza!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Field Trip: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

As Sunday was a beautiful day we decided to head back over to Williamsburg to check out two points of interest.  Meat Hook a store within a store.  Meat Hook is a wonderful butcher shop inside the Brooklyn Kitchen Labs' new digs at 100 Frost Street right under the BQE.  We had been to The Brooklyn Kitchen's original store on Lorimer but have been hearing great things about the new location, so we went to check it out.  Great space, they have two working kitchen labs where they conduct classes, and are available to be rented, and of course the awesome Meat Hook butcher shop in addition to a very culled array of kitchen necessities.

Perusing the meat cases we thought the handmade sausages looked amazing and we'll be returning to make a few test purchases! Some awesome looking aged beef, lots of hams, pork tenderloins & chops; some lamb and chickens and rabbits were in the meat cases as well.  They also carry a variety of frozen homemade stocks that I bet are amazing!  A few dairy products and a handful of produce like purple and pink radishes! All products are from local farms.

Next we went to Marlow & Daughters @95 Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This butcher shop is located right down the street from the Famous Peter Luger Steak House. Another block away are Marlow & Sons and Diner Restaurants owned by the proprietors of Marlow & Daughters. Here also, were amazing looking cuts of meat and some special cheeses, along with some pantry stables, selected produce, bread and dairy products.  As it was now getting late and we needed to get something for dinner we opted to purchase the Lamb and Black Olive Sausage for dinner Sunday night and a chicken to roast with lemons and olives from Alex's Day Off. The recipe is here.  Picked up some ramps, baby carrots and asparagus to go with the roast chicken.  Got the olives we needed and a chunk of sourdough artisan bread!  Once we were home, I browned the sausage and braised it with onions, fennel and cabbage, using a grainy dijon mustard and white wine.  Served it with simple parsley new potatoes.  Another great meal.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fridge to Table Fritatta

For a delicious lazy Sunday morning Breakfast the first step is to go stand in front of your refrigerator with the door(s) wide open for a full assessment!  Then you pick out your ingredients at least some leftovers (potatoes, veggies, meats whatever), fresh eggs, butter, cheese, and maybe the ends of jars of condiments like artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, etc.  Don't forget to check the Deli drawer, there's often some wonderful bits in there!

Today's version had cubed leftover roasted sliced Japanese Yams; a few slices of prosciutto; 1 shallot; 1/2 yellow pepper; 2 jarred roasted red peppers, pepper jack cheese and parsley.

Started by melting some butter and olive oil in cast iron skillet and adding potatoes, shallot and yellow pepper all sprinkled with paprika and kosher salt.

Next I added chopped prosciutto and roasted red pepper; tossed a couple tablespoons of chopped parsley into the 6 eggs (I prefer to use 6 eggs and 2 extra egg whites for more fluff, but only had 6 eggs total) and a splash of ice water, then poured this mixture over the lightly browned veggies:

As the eggs were setting on the bottom, I tossed the cheese on top

Once the bottom was set and the center was starting to bubble I placed the pan in the preheated oven under the broiler, cooked until puffed and browned, let it rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving, good time to put down the toaster!

And finally plated with a dollop of ketchup, and fruit drawer bounty: orange wedges, blackberries & blueberries

Now there's leftover for lunch tomorrow!


Friday, May 14, 2010


Just the quick list of this week’s recipes, culinary adventures, etc.

Top Cooking Faves from this week:

Pork Loin with Fennel and Mashed Potatoes & Celeric from our Mother’s Day Cooking Project.
Chicken Breast Marbella the updated version of the now classic Silver Palate recipe.

Eggplant Relish with Sliced Roasted Pork Tenderloin—the relish is going to become a new condiment in the repertoire.

Braised Rabbit with Carrots and Leeks a wonderful stew and yes, it did taste like chicken! LOL!!

Pan Roasted Split Chicken Breasts in Cast Iron Skillet—Simple? Yes! Tasty? Double Yes!

This week’s Leftover Winner: Sliced Loin of Pork with Fennel

Things I learned:

Out of necessity I learned how to butcher rabbits! Not necessarily the most fun I’ve had. The butcher didn’t cut them up as ordered but sent whole skinless (thankfully) rabbits complete with heads and some internal organs still attached! Gives new meaning to minimally processed!

Glitches and/or disasters:

One of the wheels on my Rolling Contractor’s Tool Kit broke off!! Of course this was on the way into a clients’apartment! Required me to carry it from the kitchen to the elevator, then out of the building and down the block to the parked car! UGH! Guess I’m going shopping!

All the other Ingredients:

Looks like we’re finally getting to the end of the Aero Garden’s harvest of Basil, Thyme and Chives. Time to start thinking about the next project for the 3 pod herb garden. The basil was great the thyme a little milder than expected and the chives a complete waste of time! Used a good amount of the basil in a pasta dish this week, just sautéed garlic and heirloom cherry tomatoes mixed with basil and Parmigiano Reggiano! Honestly the basil and cheese were awesome, the tomatoes not so much!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Michael Symon’s Live to Cook

This book was acquired with a GC that I got for Christmas. I first became familiar with Michael Symon when I watched him defeat John Besh for the title of Iron Chef on The Next Iron Chef Season 1. His infectious laugh made me think his food might not be so serious and yet it was all I could do to keep from running to the kitchen to duplicate his efforts.

Next, while reading Michael Ruhlman’s book Soul of a Chef, I really enjoyed his insight into Symon’s restaurant Lola. He portrayed a hard working, mid-western chef with high standards that understands the balance between eating local and seasonal and producing dishes that appeal to his audience in Cleveland, Ohio. The message was that he cooks from his soul.

Symon’s book takes up where Ruhlman’s story of Lola leaves off, he brings you into his life and points out the influences that brought him to where he is, at the point of writing this book.

His narratives entertain and educate at the same time and then there’s the recipes and the bonus of the Symon Says tidbits.

While he believes a dish should be started and finished in one pan he refers to his style as “heritage” cooking. Based on the foods of his family, he has been influenced by Greek-Italian-Eastern European and American recipes.

He writes pages on Fresh Sausages, Vinaigrettes, Confit, Braising, Roasting & Grilling, etc. giving his take on technique. And, he gives us pages on Humility, The Power of Cookbooks and Family explaining his connection to the world.

This book is a cover to cover read; more cookbooks are going in this “novel” direction these days. Michael mixes it up with personal revelations, descriptive techniques and specific tried and true recipes.

It is written with Michael Ruhlman and you definitely feel his guidance and style in the narrative…never a bad thing!

I highly recommend this book and of course have many dog eared pages for recipes I’ll be trying out!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Three New (to me) recipes

I cooked today for a client where I make 3 entrees for two weeks worth of meals. So when Nana asked me what we were making today I realized I'd chosen 3 new recipes. One, the Meatballs, is a similar dish to things I've made in the past but was just a bit twisted.  So, thinking about the blog, I asked her to bring her camera and shoot pics of the new dishes.  All she needs is an excuse to carry her camera!  And who knows how long I'll be able to enjoy having her as sous chef/photographer, someday she'll get a new job and be unavailable for weekday cookdates!

The three dishes were: Roasted Pork Tenderloin w/Eggplant Relish; Thai Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Peanut Sauce and Chicken Breast Marbella.  The chicken dish is a modernized version of a famous recipe from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins.  The original recipe uses a whole chicken cut into pieces, the updated version is from Eating Well Magazine and uses boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

All three turned out very well.  The Meatballs in the Spicy Peanut Sauce are too hot for Nana and the bit of heat in the Eggplant Relish for the Pork Tenderloin wasn't her favorite either.  But the Chicken Marbella received a favorable review. The clients prefer lots of heat, in fact their fridge is better stocked with a variety of hot sauces than most grocery stores!

Side dishes included Honey Ginger Baby Carrots; Scallion Rice and Roasted Cauliflower, Chick Peas and Olives.  No pics of the sides, as we get more accustomed to taking pics we'll be more mindful, especially since they were very colorful today!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin w/Eggplant Relish

Thai Turkey Meatballs in Spicy Peanut Sauce

Chicken Breasts Marbella

Another good day of cooking!  I always feel so lucky to be getting paid to fulfill my own personal passion: cooking for others!

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day Cooking Project

So it was decided that Nana would pick out a recipe from her favorite TV chef: Ina Garten and we'd cook it together.  She chose Loin of Pork with Fennel from Barefoot Contessa at Home.  We decided to have it with Mashed Potatoes and Celery Root and Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Lemon.  We also baked a Meyer Lemon Cake w/Cream Cheese Frosting.

We went shopping at the Natural in Forest Hills, which was so busy with Flowers for Mom's Day! We bought a 2 1/2 lb. Boneless Loin of Pork and I butterflied it, stuffed it with the fennel, onions, breadcrumb mixture and then retied the roast.  While it roasted we tackled the truly ugly celery root aka celeriac or celery knob.  (See the picture below) We also prepped the potatoes and green beans and made a gravy with onions, toasted and ground fennel seed, white wine and chicken broth, lightly thickened and reduced.

Celery Root:

The table for two:

The finished dinner plate:

The Meyer Lemon Cake:

And the plated slice:

It was a delicious meal and a great day cooking together!


Saturday, May 08, 2010

Philly Phood!

Here's the rundown of our culinary adventures in Philadelphia. We spent the first weekend in May in Philly to belatedly celebrate our 40th Anniversary with my Sister and Brother-in-Law.  We had a great time, warm weather and a need to return to our diets!



On Friday we arrived around noon, checked in and walked over to Reading Terminal Market a few short blocks from our Hotel! This Market is definitely a Food Sensory Overload! After 5 minutes I was convinced it could take a few weeks to eat and savor the tastes available here! With four people all with unique ideas as to what lunch should be we finally decided to go to Pearl's Oyster bar. We secured a great table next to a window looking out onto the street. It is located on the perimeter in a corner of the building and would become the area from where we launched our search for everything food! Three of us enjoyed fried oyster platters and one had the Deviled Crab platter! The oysters were huge and well breaded and not greasy at all! Delish! Strolled through the entire market not missing a single booth, made some purchases of jarred items, like green tomato pickles and pickled brussels sprouts, jams and homemade ginger snaps for dessert!


Our choice for dinner was Parc located across from Rittenhouse Square a beautiful metropolitan green space. Parc is a French Brasserie and as such has all the typical Brasserie dishes. (And as an amateur Francophile I couldn't fault that!) We enjoyed the following: Kir Royale or Stella Artois. I had Pissaladiere and Skate Grenobloise and for dessert Apple Tarte Tatin. Kathy had Tomato Tarte and Beef Bourguignon; Debra enjoyed Escargot and Bouillabaisse and Profiteroles; Fred tried Steak Tartare and Braised Lamb Shank. Felt like we were in Paris! Food was outstanding and the atmosphere was perfect, large open doors to the outdoors, very busy bustling dining rooms and friendly, warm service! What more could you ask for? Just a great night out.


On Saturday we hit the Italian Market after riding the ducks sightseeing tour. First stop was Fante's Kitchen supplies, shopped till we were starving, on recommendation of one of the managers we seeked out Carlucchio's a small Italian restaurant one block south of the Italian Market--where else should you eat a wonderful Italian meal if you couldn't get to the south of Italy? Kathy had the most amazing Asparagus Risotto, Debra Chcken Parm Sandwich, Fred Rib Eye Cheesesteak Sandwich w/sweet peppers and I had a Chicken Cutlet Panino with Broccoli Rabe! SOOOOOOOOOOO Good! The restaurant is new in 2010, only 26 seats and is BYOB!


A beautiful respite of a Lobby Bar in the Sofitel hotel for drinks before dinner! White Sangria or Sauvignon Blanc, all very refreshing.


Saturday night's choice was Jose Garces' restaurant off Rittenhouse Square for Spanish style small plates. We enjoyed this experience as well! The food is over the top, each dish was better than the last and the only thing we decided was just great not over the top was one they put on the table that didn't belong to us: Crab Crostini! Nothing wrong with it, just wasn't up to the par of everything else. I'll just list the many things we had:

Mixto Charcuterie and Mixto Cheese Platters

Rodaballo a la Plantxa (Turbot, sauce pastis, baby fennel, citrus

Diver Scallops, cider demi-glace, benton's bacon, shaved apple

Duck Confit, serrano ham, black cherry, la peral spread

Kobe Beef, pisto lilbaina, romesco

Asparagus, smoked tomato compote, mahon espuma

Wild Mushrooms, roasted potato, shallt, parsley

Organic Chicken, truffled whipped mash, brussels sprouts, smoked bacon

Reveuelto De Cangreho, soft scrambled egg, jumbo lump crab, benton's bacon, english peas, herbed toast

No room for dessert! Wonderful Tempranillo wine! Talk about sensory overload!


We were unable to return to our first choice for brunch on Sunday due to an MS Run taking over Broad Street preventing us from getting across town. So we went to Mark Vetry's newest restaurant and Roman version of small plates. Kathy had Artichoke Alla Giudia and Frico (montasio cheese and potato tart) and assorted marmalades. Debra: Homemade Italian Cornetti with marmellata and Warm Belgian Waffles with maple syrup. I had Escarole Salad with apples and radish and Polenta Pasticciata with fennel sausage and provolone and Fred had: Warm Belgian Waffles with maple syrup and Frico (montasio cheese and potato tart) and assorted marmalades. While the food was very good and unusual it wasn't what we'd been expecting to eat @Parc.


From Whole Foods on South Street: Apricot Ginger Muffin, Orange Cranberry Scone, Fruit salad, Bottled Water!

We truly enjoyed our Culinary Adventures in Philadelphia, can't wait to return!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Blogging Revisited

I am finally getting up to speed on blogging, and the plan is to work at it to keep it up! Wish me luck!  So I'll probably spend less mindless time playing solitaire late at night and more time being productive here!  Stay tuned for some good reading (hopefully, it will be enjoyed)!