Monday, July 18, 2011

Movin' On!

Travels with a Culinary Artist has moved!

I have taken the blog over to Wordpress and created what I think is a clean and slick looking blog!
It's a step towards learning more about the nuts and bolts of blogging, including some of the behind the green door aspects of programming etc.  That's all in the future but meanwhile check out the new and improved Travels with a Culinary Artist!   Be sure to sign up for email alerts or add us to  your Google Reader.  Enjoy!

Eat Well....Be Well!
Chef Jim

Friday, June 24, 2011

I know, I know its summer….but…

dinner 20110624

When I woke up yesterday to move the car for alternate side parking, I decided to go get a much needed haircut.  After the haircut I visited my favorite store: The Natural and roamed the aisles trying to plan dinner.  It was cooler that morning than it had been and at the butcher counter the boneless pork loin roasts were calling my name.  Logic said that it wasn’t going to be 90º today so it might not be a bad day to roast some meat and have the leftovers for a few meals.  Along with my new best friend, the tied boneless pork loin, I grabbed some sweet potatoes and some broccoli crowns and shallots.  No exact plan in mind, but I figured it would come together at home utilizing pantry items.

Once home, I was still less than inspired, so I turned to Mastercook, the recipe storage program I use for my business and searched for Roast Loin of Pork.  I got a gazillion recipes for everything pork and roasted.  Narrowed the search and it was a much more manageable list.

Read several interesting recipes and eliminated them as most would require a return trip to the store to procure at least one missing major ingredient.  Then I stumbled on one from The Too Hot Tamales,  AKA Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken from the Food Network TV show of the same name.  The recipe is from 1997 and is below for your perusal.  It requires the pork to be marinated for 8 hours or overnight.  So I instantly scrap the plan for that nights dinner and go "freezer-diving" for some scraps and ended up with 5 Sea Scallops and 1 boneless chicken breast.  I broiled these with lemon butter shallots and a healthy sprinkle of Hungarian Paprika.  Found a small amount of tri-colored Israeli Couscous and made Succotash with Yellow & Shoepeg Corn, Edamame, Onion, Red Pepper, Dill and fresh tomatoes, not a bad slap-dash meal.

So for the Pork I prepped the marinade while cooking dinner. Here’s my twists on the recipe:

*I’m not a big fan of reserving marinades that meat has spent some time in to use for a sauce.  Sometimes I’ll make extra marinade and put it aside before adding the meat to the balance.  Other times I figure out a sauce later.

*The only beer in the house was some old Pumpkin Ale I had purchased to make Pumpkin Chili with and to enjoy while eating that Pumpkin Chili.  So it was anything but new, but I figured since it’s a marinade and possibly a sauce it’ll be cooked enough to not worry about its flatness!
*I had a jar of basic organic Dijon Mustard, next time I’ll use something a bit more exciting, even if its only country style.

*I browned the roast in my cast iron frying pan and transferred it to my 12” All Clad skillet for roasting in the oven and I added some water during the cooking time to keep the pan drippings from burning.

* When it was done I pulled the meat out to a sheet pan covered it with a foil tent and put the All Clad Skillet on the stove.  Heated it up and added chopped Shallots. Then I added 1 tablespoon of Mustard, a pinch of Herbes de Provence and reduced the liquid to a nice sauce, which I mounted with butter to finish.  After the usual 10 minute wait I sliced the roast and napped the slices with the sauce making sure that we had a substantial amount of the shallots.
*We enjoyed it with Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Dried Chili Flakes and Lemon and Simple Baked Sweet Potatoes.  Delish!
* Exported from MasterCook *

                    Roasted Pork Loin With Beer Sauce

Recipe By     :Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken
Serving Size  : 6     Preparation Time :0:00
Categories    : Main Dish                       Pork
  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  2        tablespoons  Butter
  1              large  Red onion -- thinly sliced
  2                     Garlic cloves -- minced
  1           teaspoon  Ground cumin
     1/2      teaspoon  Ground cinnamon
     1/4      teaspoon  Ground allspice
  2            bottles  Beer - (12 oz ea), not dark
     1/2           cup  Dijon mustard
     1/4           cup  Honey
  3 1/2         pounds  Boneless pork loin, tied
  2        tablespoons  Vegetable oil
                        Salt -- to taste
                        Freshly-ground black pepper -- to taste
  1         tablespoon  Butter -- room temperature
  1         tablespoon  All-purpose flour
   Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sauté until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Add garlic, cumin, cinnamon and allspice and stir 1 minute.  Add beer, mustard and honey and bring to boil (sauce will foam).  Remove from heat.  Puree in batches in blender until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.  Pour into baking dish.  Add pork loin; turn to coat.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
   Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
   Remove pork from marinade; pat dry.  Reserve marinade.  Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat.  Season pork with salt and pepper.  Add to skillet and brown on all sides.  Transfer to baking sheet with rim.  Roast in oven for 3/4 to 1 hour or until thermometer inserted into thickest part registers 155 degrees.  Transfer pork to work surface; reserve any pan juices.
   Combine pan juices and marinade in saucepan.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Mix butter and flour in small bowl until smooth paste forms.  Add to sauce and simmer until sauce thickens.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Cut pork into slices.  Pour sauce over.
   This recipe yields 6 servings.
   Recipe Source:
TOO HOT TAMALES  with Susan Feigner and Mary Sue Milliken
From the TV FOOD NETWORK - (Show # TH-1E07 broadcast 10-27-1997)
Downloaded from their Web-Site  -
  Formatted for MasterCook by Joe Comiskey, aka MR MAD  -   -or-
                                    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Enjoy, we sure did!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Travels to Rhode Island In June


We spent a wonderful week in Rhode Island with our Grandsons. We attended the youngest ones graduation from Kindergarten at Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary School!  We’re so proud of this little champ he let the proceedings in Our Father!  He stepped right up to the microphone and spoke very clearly into it!



He participated in several other group presentations and never missed a line of any of their recitations or songs.  He was amazing with just the right amount of “haminess” !IMG_0242




IMG_0222Sister Andrea says he’s a natural leader and many of his fellow classmates enjoy following him,  not always the right way but more often than not with respect.



He listed his favorite things about school were:  1. Being a Door Holder  2. Free Play on Fridays 3. Music Class


We were just beaming with pride as were his parents, older brother and Grandpa Mario!




The next day was spent at the Sacred Heart Catholic Elementary School’s Field Day @ Grist Mill Pool & Tennis Club! It was tough work being a chaperone, but we managed to suffer through all the fun and frolic!  What an amazing time!  What lucky students to get to spend a day there and it was glorious weather to boot!

IMG_0274 IMG_0294IMG_0283IMG_0296

We also spent time at the Soccer Field where the boys attended a soccer clinic which ensured they’d sleep well that night!IMG_0213


It was a great week and we enjoyed ourselves getting to be the spoiling Grandparents for 5 days! 

Of course Poppa cooked and made a variety of dishes including Spaghetti and Meatballs; Grilled Chicken with Tomatillo Salsa; Marinated Grilled Steaks; Asian Style Chilean Sea Bass;  Roasted Balsamic Glazed Vegetables; Rice; Roasted Potatoes w/Cheese; Farfalle Pasta Salad; Corn and Lots of Salads! 

We ate well, and played hard!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

We grew up with Croque-Monsieur, progressed to Croque-Madames and now Croque-Uncle Jimmy!

Sunday mornings have become rather lazy around here so even though I may rise early, it doesn't mean I'm moving around early.  Today was perfect example, up @8, surfed the internet; read emails; created and emailed a client's menu and read some news.  Finally, around 11 o'clock I got up from the computer desk and exercised on the elliptical. Once I was done I realized I hadn't eaten breakfast and was now famished.  So instead of our typical breakfast of fruit, cereal and toast, I opted to make brunch!  Had watched Melissa D'Arabian make Croque Madames, while exercising, so wanted something substantial like that based on what ingredients I could find. 

Check out this Wikipedia list of different Croques!

The results of my search:

Bacon; Gruyere Cheese; Eggs; Whole Wheat Tuscan Pane; ingredients for a mustard dressing; a variety of fruits for a Fruit Salad.

First while the bacon was baking with fresh ground black pepper on it, I made the fruit salad: Pink Grapefruit, Orange, Sliced Strawberries, Blueberries; Blackberries and sliced Banana.  Easy to prep, very tasty, sweetened the grapefruit and orange juices a bit with raw sugar, tossed all together, see the pretty bowl it made!

All the other ingredients were for Paninis.  To make the dressing I used a simple to remember proportioned recipe:  1/2 teaspoon, 1 tablespoon, 2 tablespoons, 3 tablespoons.  

!/2 teaspoon fines herbes
1 T Capers chopped
2 T Dijon Mustard
3 T Mayonaisse
if it's too mustardy for your taste just add more mayo!

Brushed the dressing onto one side of each slice of bread, topped one side with 3 bacon slices and 3 planks of cheese, fried the eggs in butter with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper placed one egg on top of cheese and covered with the other slice of bread.  Spray outside slices of bread with Pam and place on Panini Grill.

Simple yet tasty, served them with additional dressing as desired.

So that takes care of breakfast and lunch---now dinner?  Leftovers or something new and fresh?  Hmm, there is grilled Flat Iron Steak, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Fava Bean & Corn Succotash and Salmon Croquettes from last night's dinner with Tiff & Howie!  Or maybe save that for Monday after cooking all day!

Need to read a cookbook for inspiration!  Enjoy the day, and don't forget the evening will be all about Oscar night!

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Feeling lazy today, mired in business paperwork, not really looking to cook something complicated I opted for a pizza using the Trader Joe's Ciabatta Flat Bread I had in the freezer.  Stumbled across this recipe while downloading other Mediterranean Recipes for clients from Eating Well's website.

So besides subbing in the flat bread for the dough I decided Gruyère would be interesting in place of cheddar!   

If I were to use dough in the future, I'd probably stretch it to fit the sheet pan and make the edges push up the sides to help contain the egg.  I also heated the bread for 3 minutes before adding the toppings.  

* Exported from MasterCook *

                       Bacon, Egg & Asparagus Pizza

Serving Size  : 6     Preparation Time :0:00

  Amount  Measure       Ingredient -- Preparation Method
--------  ------------  --------------------------------
  1              pound  prepared pizza dough -- preferably whole-wheat
  2             strips  bacon
     3/4           cup  sliced shallots
  1              pound  asparagus -- trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  4              large  eggs
     1/4      teaspoon  salt
     1/4      teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
  1                cup  shredded extra-sharp Cheddar

Preheat oven to 500°F. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to about the size of the baking sheet (see Tip). Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake until crisped on the bottom, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Drain on a paper towel. Add shallots to the pan and cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add asparagus and cook, stirring, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes more. 

Spread the vegetables over the crust and crumble bacon on top. Whisk eggs, salt and pepper in a medium bowl until combined; slowly pour over the vegetables, trying not to let any run off the crust. Sprinkle the pizza with cheese. Bake until the eggs are set and the cheese is melted, 8 to 10 minutes.

  "This pizza, topped with bacon, eggs and asparagus, was inspired by a wood-fired-oven pizza served at the Montpelier, Vermont, farmers' market. Serve with: Mixed green salad."
  "EatingWell:  March/April 2010"
S(Internet Address):
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We enjoyed it with a green salad.  We spent a good amount of time discussing the variations that could be concocted.  It's a versatile as a frittata!


Thursday, January 13, 2011


This year's Fine Dining Christmas present to ourselves was lunch @Del Posto.  The magnificent darling of the famous trio of Lidia Bastianich; Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali!  

We decided on this venue after reading about the wonderful Prix Fixe Lunch they serve for $29.00!  Yes, you read that right: $29.00!

It's a choice of Antipasto; Primi or Secundo; and Dolce. See the menu here.
They also offer a 6 course tasting menu with or without wine pairings, it's listed at the bottom of the menu.

Of course it was a big question if we would even make it there Wednesday, as we had a lovely snowstorm overnight!  We went to bed resolved that we'd wake up and make the decision if we would trek in or cancel and reschedule.  We woke up and saw that traffic was moving and planned our trip via subway and foot.  We left our warm apartment around 11 a.m. and traversed the worst part of our trip, walking down our hill to the subway.  Due to a construction project, that just started last month and will last 2 years, we had to walk a block out of our way to get to a different subway entrance, as the one we've used for 33 years is closed as part of the reconstruction of the overpass of Queens Boulevard.  

Once in the city, the streets and most of the sidewalks were perfectly cleared, even the slushy corners weren't as bad as we expected.  We had booted up to protect our feet so while not elegant we were at least dry!

Upon arrival we were greeted by the coat check in the vestibule of the grand restaurant.  We gladly gave her our coats, hats and scarves.  Next we moved into the wonderful space. I grabbed these pictures from the restaurant's Google Place Page, they don't do it justice, in a word the space is gorgeous.

We were seated on a leather banquette with beautiful throw pillows!  Actually in the picture there are three tables ours was at the top of the section. Our table was a corner of the banquette so we sat adjacent to each other vs across from or next to each other.

Water was the first offering, we chose tap, as we do most often now that I'm limiting my intake of carbonation.  Next drinks or wine list was offered, wine list was requested.  Having not decided on what to eat we chose to have a glass of VERMENTINO by Terenzuola Fosso di Corsano  2008 from  Toscana.  We had enjoyed a similar one before and selected it based on it's refreshing qualities.  It's a full-bodied dry White and was a perfect foil to our first food.

Now comes the menu.  The choices were all very interesting and inviting.

Before we could decide along came an amuse bouche!  There was a trio of delicious looking bites.  First a shot of an Italian version of Egg Drop Soup, a salty broth that warmed us nicely. Next were gourgeres-like morsels filled with Mortadella which reminded us of deviled ham, only sooooo much better!  And finally crispy rice crusted mozzarella balls.   Unbelievably delicious!  

For our antipasto we chose:

Roasted Winter Vegetables w/Robiola Sformato & Truffled Hazelnuts
Warm Cotechino w/Umbrian Lentil Vinaigrette & Dried Fruit Mostarda

We each ate half and switched plates.  The Cotechino was a beautiful pink color and perfectly prepared.  The Lentils were tiny and cooked al dente and the dried Fruit Mostarda had just the right amount of heat to brighten your taste buds.   The roasted vegetables were tiny morsels of winter root veggies and pears.  Each crunchy bite was better than the last.

For Entrées we ordered:

Grilled Pork ode to Emilia-Romagna with Sunchoke Crema
 & Aceto Conserva

Slow Baked Lamb alla Puttanesca & Garlic Tatsoi

Prior to receiving our entrées we consulted with the Captain about selecting glasses of red wine to compliment our meal.  He asked what our entree choices were and suggested two different wines.  For Nana's Pork he recommended Valpolicella Superiore Marion 2004 from the Vento a very fruity red wine with medium body. And for my Lamb Dish he suggested AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE Laluce Zimberno 2006 from  Basilicata also a medium bodied smooth palate pleasing wine.  We enjoyed them immensely.  His recommendations were based on being from regions close to where the style of the dishes we were enjoying them with were created.

The Lamb was three good sized morsels topped with the Tatsoi and draped with the Puttanesca.  So in each bite you got a mouth explosion of flavors.  It was truly the tenderest chunks of lamb you could imagine.  The sauce was rich and full of flavor but didn't taste overcooked, the olives and capers and tomatoes had distinct texture and nowhere near mushy.

The Pork was a lovely piece of meat, also very tender and yet held together with just the right amount of chewiness.  The Sunchoke Crema was impossibly perfect.  The only disappointment would be that it wasn't a bowlful serving! And what dish isn't elevated by garnishing it with the Balsamic reduction. 

Both of us were over the moon with these choices and how well the wines complimented the meal. We truly thought it couldn't get any better! on my friends!

Next: onto dessert.  

We knew we would be pleased, but wait there's more! There were no bad choices to eliminate easily but finally we selected:

Chocolate Ricotta Tortino Toasted Sicilian Pistachios 
& Extra Virgin Olive Oil Gelato

Butterscotch Semifreddo Melon Agrumata, Crumbled Sbrisolona 
& Milk Jam

I can't even begin to describe how delicious and beautifully presented these desserts were!  I had the Chocolate Ricotta Tortino especially since I am a fan of Olive Oil Gelato, ever since I had it @OTTO!    Nana loves all things Semifreddo so the Butterscotch version sounded incredible.

Along with our desserts, coffee. and tea came a surprise.  On a cheese grater embedded in a wooden box with a drawer came two mini Bombolinis and yes, we could have devoured a plate of these! Perfectly cooked, sugared and filled with a cream filling to die for! Also on the grater were two Nut Crusted Chocolate Lollipops with more Olive Oil Gelato centers!  

Then, Voila! Open the drawer and find four more awesome bites, two small mini-citrusy tarts, smaller than a vanilla wafer, and two of the most decadent cocoa powdered truffles! Yummmmmmmmmmm!

Satisfied would be an understatement. We were there for 2 1/2 hours enjoying our experience.  It's pretty obvious to me, that the whole concept is to entice you to rejoin them for dinner, which of course would be a bit more then $29!  But what an awesome meal we had and we certainly are saving our pennies for a return trip.  Our glasses of wines comprised 50% of the meal, but that was our expectation.  They were neither the least expensive nor the dearest glasses on the menu! The bill is presented on Letter Head, what a novel idea!  Two could dine here for an elegant leisurely paced lunch for less than $90 with no problem.  

The service was impeccable and never intruding.  We sat in a very comfortable banquette where we had ample room for a jacket and bags.  We observed that at the freestanding tables they provided an ottoman for the diners to place their handbags on.  Now that's classy!  Every person who came to our table smiled and politely asked to clear or pour water or crumb the table, when asked where the restroom is, they do not tell you or point, they take you to the restroom alcove which is located behind this staircase.  We also took a quick look downstairs at the private dining rooms and seemingly endless walls of cellared wines!  

Del Posto, never change, we had such a wonderful lunch and truly want to enjoy another meal there very soon!  I truly recommend Del Posto for a great dining experience!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

The Cookbook Collection is Swelling!

19 New Cookbooks!

I keep saying it's hard to keep up with my desire for more recipes, but seems I've really overloaded this season!  Count them!  Nineteen, yes 19 new books, plus two on backorder!!

First, lots of new books came out this fall that I really wanted. Second, the Good Cook Book Club had some awesome deals and of course I got some as gifts!

So I'm vowing to review each one here or at least comment on a recipe or two that I make from these new tomes! 

Here's the official list:

FAMILY MEAL by Tyler Florence
MORE FAST FOOD MY WAY by Jacques Pepin
LOOK + COOK by Rachael Ray
COOK THIS NOT THAT by David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding
BON APPETIT DESSERTS by Barbara Fairchild
NIGELLA KITCHEN by Nigella Lawson
AVEC ERIC by Eric Ripert
COOK WITH JAMIE by Jamie Oliver

The two on back order are:


A few quick notes:

Food & Wine and Cooks Illustrated are annuals from the magazines and will be good reading for technique and recipe development.
Avec Eric follows the TV program which I have enjoyed watching, looking forward to reading and cooking from this book.
Cook with Jamie is my first Jamie Oliver book and I've already enjoyed reading through it, now on to making some of his recipes.
James Beard's, NY Times, Book of Ingredients are more reference books, but I'm sure I'll find some interesting recipes to cook.
Nigella, Barefoot Contessa, Rachael Ray, Cook This, Family Meal, More Fast Food, Falling off the bone, all will have very Client Friendly recipes and will get lots of use for sure!
Desserts and Cookie books will be perused and used more by the baker in the family but I'm sure I'll point to some great recipes in them!
Have finished reading 500 Calorie Dinners, and will be installing these recipes into our personal repertoire along with an exercise regimen!
And finally, FEZ was a gift along with lots of spices from Morocco, it includes instructions on how to use Camel meat in place of mutton, beef or lamb!

Check back often for more pearls of wisdom and comments on recipes and overall reviews of the books. However, don't hold your breath till you hear about any Camel being used! 

The Holidays are over!

Wow, we had lots of great times during the holidays and thankfully, were very busy with cooking for clients both regular cookdates and special parties!

We enjoyed a New York Christmas this year!  Spent Christmas Eve with our Daughter and Son-in-Law in the City, having a magnificent meal at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain.  The room is very modern but warm in feeling, there's an open kitchen/raw bar on one side and a bar on the back wall.  We sat in the mezzanine with a comfortable view of the buzzing below us.  The food was outstanding everyone loved their choices and the bites of each others that we shared.  YUM!  

After dinner we did the typical and walked to Rock Center to see the Tree and watched the light show reflected on Saks Fifth Avenue's Walls.  It was a chilly night and it was crowded, but not awful.  

Christmas Day they came over for dinner and exchanged presents, we had a great time.  Simple Meal with Roasted Garlic Shrimp Cocktail; Glazed Spiral Cut Ham; Macaroni & Cheese; Corn and Edamame Succotash;, Green Peas; Pickled Red Beets, Cornichons and Deviled  Pickled Red Beet Eggs.  Apple Pie and Ice Cream rounded out the meal and everyone was very pleased.

The Rhode Island contingent came down for New Year's Day Dinner and the locals were able to rejoin us.  We had sent our gifts to RI for the Grandsons but they brought ours to us on New Years.  The five year old was so proud to present us with each gift one at a time!  It was adorable to see him get as much pleasure out of giving gifts as he certainly enjoys receiving!  His eleven year old brother was happy to help out from time to time but very careful not to steal his thunder!  

When Daughter and Son-in-Law arrived we had Hors d'oeuvres while they opened gifts and spoiled the nephews!  We had Brie en croute; Spanakopita; Parmesan Palmiers; Shrimp Cocktail and Roasted Red Pepper Hummus.

Dinner was awesome, Roasted Tenderloin of Beef with herbed tomato halves and wild mushroom sauce; Potatoes Au Gratin; Peas w/pearl onions; Corn; Rice; Salad with roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette.

Dessert was Red Wine Poached Pears w/Espresso Whipped Mascarpone Cream; Pecan Pie and Vanilla Ice Cream.

No one left the table hungry!  We started the evening with Proseco & Casis Kirs continued with Red and White Wines, Beers for those who preferred and finished with Godiva Chocolate Licqueur!

As you can see we had some great food and great times with our wonderful family! 

Our hope is that everyone enjoyed their holidays as much as we did and that the New Year brings everyone good health and happiness.