Sunday, November 28, 2004


Gifts for Cooks & a Smoked Chowder Recipe

The holiday season is here, (I can tell because there are lights strung up all over Beverly Hills.) and you may be looking for gifts to buy for your loved ones. Here are nine culinary gift ideas (and a recipe for Smoked Salmon Chowder with Corn) to get you inspired!

1. A Bradley Smoker. This is the best smoker I have ever encountered. You can hot or cold smoke meat, fish, cheese and vegetables, and it also doubles as a grill. It is light enough to carry, but holds a lot of food. If you like beer-smoked turkey for Thanksgiving, or hickory-smoked mozzarella cheese in the summer, this is the way to go.

2. Exquisite Handmade Japanese Knives. Why be like everyone else on the block with those ubiquitos German knives when these exist? They are the perfect combination of Japanese form and function. Hand forged with blue steel using the same techniques the Samurai used, and those boys liked a sharp knife that held its edge! What you should look for in a knife is good balance, a solid grip and that it is made with the highest quality steel. These knives have all that, plus they are just beautiful and rare.

3. A Benriner Slicer. I use these all the time for a wide variety of recipes. They are SO inexpensive it’s like a dream. You can find them in Chinatown. The ones at Williams-Sonoma are overpriced.

4. Saveur Magazine. I find that it’s the most passionate, sophisticated culinary magazine, with much less advertising (and pandering and coddling) than the bigger ones.

5. Salt. It may seem like an odd gift to a non-chef, but getting a few ounces of Danish Viking smoked sea salt or the Welsh sea salt Halen Mon is a culinary dream.

6. Ascutney Martini Glasses and Pitcher set. I give Simon Pearce glassware because it is beautiful, functional and always classic. He is a Vermont based British Glassmaker extraordinaire.

7. Schotts Food and Drink Miscellany. Just about the best book I have ever read. (I say that with a wink.) It's just lists of strange and interesting food and drink…well, miscellany.

8. A bottle (heck, if you can find it, a case) of 1985 Domaine Joseph Roty Burgundy and some 1990 Montefico Barbarescos. And why not throw in a nice wine cooler! I buy wine from The Wine Merchant in Beverly Hills.

9. Sarabeth Preserves. These kids certainly don’t need my endorsement, but their Strawberry-Peach preserves really are a little bit of heaven in a jar.

And now for that Salmon Chowder Recipe:

1 1/2 pound Yukon Gold potatoes
4 tablespoons butter 2 shallots, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flour
4 cups whole milk, warm
1 cup fish stock
2 pounds salmon fillet, skinned
6 ounces smoked salmon, finely chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon, minced fine (you can use savory or thyme instead) ½ cup corn (I admit, I use frozen)
Zest of one large lemon
Salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/4-inch cubes. Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat; add the shallot and cook, stirring often until softened, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, pour in the hot milk and fish stock, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the potatoes, season with salt, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the potatoes are almost tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the salmon and corn and cook until slightly firm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate and break into chunks. Add the chunks, smoked salmon, tarragon and lemon zest and juice to the hot chowder. Season with salt and pepper and simmer until just heated through, about 2 minutes. Serves four-six

And when the cookies and cake have caught up to you, don’t forget to sign up with James Brown – Fitness Guru To The Chefs (and Stars, if you insist.)

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Gifts Posted by Hello

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Veal Shanks with Fennel

Another Thanksgiving come and gone. Mine was great, I hope yours was too (if you celebrate, that is). Moving right along...I adapted this simple braised veal shank recipe and wanted to share, even though I completely forgot where I got the original (that one called for sausage and candied orange anyway, so maybe it's different enough not to have to admit I adapted it in the first place! Hmmm.) so on that note, here it is! This has to cook for five hours so be prepared. Other than that part, its pretty quick to make and super delicious. Enjoy!

4 veal shanks (whole center cut)

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 bulb fennel, cut into thick slices
1 small bunch celery, chopped into 1 inch pieces, leaves reserved
1 small brown onion, peeled and quartered
6 cloves garlic, peeled
Zest of one small orange
2 cups white wine
1 cup tangerine juice

2 quarts chicken stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced (fronds reserved for garnish)
1 small brown onion, sliced thin
Reserved celery leaves
Zest of one small orange

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Sprinkle veal with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof casserole dish (or brazier), slowly brown all sides of the shanks in the oil. When well browned, add the fennel, celery, onion, orange zest and garlic. Sauté until vegetables brown. Add white wine and tangerine juice and simmer until reduced by 3/4. Add enough chicken stock to barely cover shank. Add thyme, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to a slow simmer, and transfer to oven. Cook until the shank is tender, basting continuously with cooking juices, about 5 hours.

Remove from oven and refrigerate overnight in its juice.When cold, skim the fat off and then reheat over a low flame on the stovetop. Carefully remove the shank and strain the remaining liquid through a fine mesh strainer (a chinois if you have one) Return the liquid and the shank to the brazier and simmer with additional fennel, onion, celery leaves and orange, basting the veal occasionally to glaze well. When heated through, adjust seasoning and serve with chopped fennel fronds as garnish.

Most non-dairy creamers are flammable
American Beer is predominately made from rice. That is why it tastes so light
The tin can, was invented in 1810...the can opener in1855

Herring is the most widely eaten fish in the world

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Thanksgiving Turkey

If you need help with your turkey, check out the Butterball website. Have a great Thanksgiving! (And if you don't live in the US, have a great Thursday!)

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Today is also Guru Tegh Bahadur Martyrdom day!
Get out and party!


Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Chickpea Soup With Spinach

Yesterday, when I was talking about pickled garlic, I posted a link to
Malibu Farms because they sell smoked garlic. I was really intrigued by their site and decided to get some for myself to try out. Well, let me tell you, its REALLY amazing stuff! It has the most complex flavor. I ate a bit of it on crackers, but was half way through making a batch of this soup when I was inspired to add some in. The garlic and the smoky paprika gave it a whole new depth. I make this soup all the time (sometimes using that last bit of hummus to thicken it up) but that garlic really added something special. Here is the recipe in case you want to try too! Enjoy!

2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans worth)
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup water

4 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin (Smoked if you can get it. Roasted garlic puree is good too.)
1 tablespoon (smoky) paprika

Salt and pepper
1 pound fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 bunch parsley, coarsely chopped

Puree half the chickpeas with some of the broth until smooth and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook until soft and brown (at least 20 minutes). Add the garlic and some more salt and pepper towards the end of the cooking.

Add the stock, chickpea puree, whole chickpeas, paprika, broth and water to the pot and stir. Adjust seasoning. When the soup comes to a boil add the spinach and parsley. Reduce heat to low and allow the soup to simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.

Serves four

Take a quiz to see how the way you eat your
soup says something about your personality!
(Uh, sure!)


Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Pickled Garlic

My father, whom I adore, called me this morning to ask if it was safe to eat the garlic he had pickled that had turned blue. The answer is yes. He is constantly (at least when he is home) inspired to make his own versions of his favorite foods, which I think is terrific. (And explains some of my own habits!) The reason it turned blue has something to do with a reaction to copper (trace amounts found in tap water, most likely), but it does not indicate spoilage. You do want to be careful if there is any other sign of spoilage but if its blue and that doesn’t freak you out, go ahead and eat it. If you are like me and wouldn’t ever eat pickled garlic, this recipe also works for pretty much any other vegetable; you just have to adjust the cooking times. I love to pickle red onion slices to use as a salad garnish (I add two cloves to the brine.) and green beans in the summer (for that I add some dill too.). If you want to try his pickled garlic (it is an interesting accompaniment to cocktails.) recipe, here it is. Just be warned it really may turn blue!

6 whole heads of garlic, peeled
2 cups white vinegar
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp peppercorns
½ teaspoon pickling spice (or if you don’t have that, just use a mixture of dried herbs and spices like whole coriander and cumin)
1 bay leaf

Put all the ingredients except the garlic into a large pan and boil 2 minutes, add the garlic and boil for a further 2 minutes.

Pour into a large sterilized jar, seal firmly and store in a refrigerator for 4 weeks before using.

Have you ever had Smoked Garlic?

I tried to find Garlic Ice cream online, but all I could locate was this

And dont forget: A dollar will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat!

Monday, November 22, 2004


Black Olive Tapenade

Tapenade is a classic (and very salty) Provençal condiment, to be served on crackers (or crostini) with cocktails. This is my version. I just recently learned that you should always buy olives with the pits still in, as the flavor diminshes when they are not present. To de-pit, simply place the olives on a cutting board and whack with the flat side of your chef's knife, then pop out it out. That or you can buy a fancy olive pitter tool. Enjoy!

1/2 pound assorted black olives, pitted (do not use California Black olives, they have no flavor!)
2 anchovy fillets
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 teaspoon of toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1/4 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons of mixed thyme, rosemary and black pepper
Olive oil as needed

Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the oil and pulse a few more times to form a cohesive but still coarse paste. Add olive oil to after mixing to desired consistency.

Serve with large toasted crostini.

A Haiku (my favorite form of poetry) entitled Cocktail:

Chilled martini glass
Olive floating, vermouth spritz
Vodka through my veins

By Matthew A. Lynn

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Mushroom Stroganoff

The other day I had a really tasty mushroom stroganoff dish from Whole Foods. When I looked up the recipe on their site it was quite obviously not the same thing, so I decided to concoct my own. I think it came out really well! Normally you would add beef to this, but I just wanted to highlight the fantastic meatiness of the mushrooms. As with any other recipe, the key here is to use super high quality ingredients. Get the best butter you can, use your good brandy and make sure the mushrooms are not spongy. This is a hearty dish that holds up well in chilly weather. Enjoy!

2 tablespoons butter
1 small shallot, chopped fine
2 cloves of garlic, mashed
A hearty pinch of paprika
3 cups mixed mushrooms, sliced or rough chopped
A good dash of brandy
¼ cup sour cream or crème fraiche
Salt and (lots of fresh cracked) pepper to taste
Chopped dill to garnish

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat up and add the mushrooms and cook until lightly browned. The trick to getting mushrooms to brown is to not crowd the pan and to not move them at all for the first two or three minutes. Resist the urge and they will brown nicely. Turn the heat down and move the pan away from the flame, then add the brandy, paprika and crème fraiche, return to the stove and allow heat through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles, and a garnish of dill.

Serves four

"Beef stroganoff is a dish consisting of strips of lean beef sauteed and served in a sour-cream

sauce with onions and mushrooms. The recipe, which is of Russian origin, has been known
since the eighteenth century, but its name appears to come from County Paul Stroganoff,
a nineteenth-century Russian diplomat. Legend has it that when he was stationed in deepest
Siberia, his chef discovered that the beef was frozen so solid that it could only be coped with by
cutting it into very thin strips. The first English cookery book to include it seems to have been
Ambrose Heath's Good Food (1932)."---An A-Z of Food & Drink, by John Ayto

Friday, November 19, 2004


Apple Frangipane Galette

At one minute past midnight on the third Thursday of November more than a million cases (from the 4000 grape growers the Beaujolais region of France) of Beaujolais Nouveau are released and all over the world banners proclaim: Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive! "The New Beaujolais has arrived!" Made from Gamay grapes, Beaujolais is meant to be drunk young, and ideally at 55 degrees to get the most out of this refreshing wine. The beauty of this wine is that it goes with everything from Hamburgers to Haute Cuisine. So run out, buy a bottle (it can be quite inexpensive!) and enjoy! Here is what I am serving with mine, an Apple Frangipane Galette.

2 cups pastry flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
7 tablespoons Crisco, cold
1/4 cup ice water
1 cup blanched almonds, toasted
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 more tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 egg
2 pounds apples, peeled and sliced thin (pears and apricots work too)
pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon milk

Combine the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Next add the butter and pulse just until the pieces are evenly coated with flour. Repeat with the Crisco. Pour that mixture into a large bowl and add the ice water gradually, stirring with a fork until the dough just begins to come together.

Gather the dough with your hands. Handling the dough as little as possible, shape it into a thick, round patty. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for a few hours.

Preheat your oven to 425º.

To make the frangipane: Add the almonds, sugar and salt to the food processor and process until finely ground. Add the remaining butter and process until smooth. Add the egg and process again until smooth.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it soften at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes. Roll it between two sheets of parchment paper into a 15-inch circle, flouring lightly as needed to keep it from sticking to the paper. Remove the top sheet of parchment and slide a cookie sheet under the dough.

Spread the frangipane on the dough, keeping it 1 1/2 inches away from the edge. Arrange the apples in pretty circles. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar and nutmeg. Carefully fold the edge of the dough over the apples to make a simple border. Brush the edges with the egg milk mixture and sprinkle generously with sugar.

Tear away the excess parchment paper.

Keep the galette on the cookie sheet and bake until the crust is golden and the apples are tender, about 45 minutes. Slide onto a rack to cool slightly. Serve warm.

Serves 8


More info (and if it is still going on, a live webcast)
on the yearly wine frenzy known as Beaujolais Nouveau
at Wine Without Rules.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


Cranberry Sauce with Pinot Noir and Rosemary

I have always thought there was something suspicious about that cranberry sauce that comes from a can, all quivering and cylindrical...especially since making it yourself is so durned easy!

2 cups red wine (I like Pinot Noir)
1 12-ounce bag cranberries
1/2 cup frozen cherries, halved
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

Combine all ingredients in deep saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium, then cover the pan and simmer until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 8 minutes. Transfer to bowl and refrigerate until cold.


Nantucket Clipper Chocolatier offers Chocolate Covered Cranberries.
Can you say YUM?

Wednesday, November 17, 2004



It's a little early in the season to be printing a recipe for eggnog, but I was in the market yesterday and saw that the stuff had taken over 1/3 of the dairy case! Here is a recipe I use, it's very strong, and very tasty. At the bottom of the page there is a link for a vegan alternative. You know, in case you are vegan. Enjoy!

1 dozen eggs, separated
2 cups sugar
1 pint brandy
2 pints rum
1/4 pint apricot brandy
2 1/2 pints milk
2 pints heavy cream

In a large bowl, using a whisk, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until thick and lemon colored. Slowly stir in the alcohol, milk and cream. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled and pour into a punch bowl. Beat the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the eggnog. Serve with a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Makes about 30 servings.

That VEGAN recipe I was talking about.
Want to learn why it's called Eggnog? Click here


Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Zucchini Bread

I have been out of town the last few days, which is why I havent been posting. Sorry 'bout that! While I was gone, I made this twice though...enjoy!

3 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil (you can substitute apple sauce for ½ the oil if you like)
3 large eggs
2 cups grated zucchini (you can also mix in some grated carrot)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup crème fraîche

1/2 cup toasted walnuts (optional) or golden raisins (also optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Butter 2 (9- by 5- by 3-inch) metal loaf pans, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Sift the first 5 ingredients into medium bowl.

In another bowl, beat the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla to blend. Mix in the zucchini, vanilla and crème fraiche. Add dry ingredients and stir well.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack 15 minutes. Cut around bread to loosen. Turn out onto rack and cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and let stand at room temperature.)

"Vegetables are a must on a diet.

I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
-Jim Davis

Friday, November 05, 2004


Risotto with Pumpkin and Sage

One of the delights of autumn is a big bowl of risotto with pumpkin and sage. If you have never had (or made) risotto, what you are aiming for is the starch in the short grain Arborio rice to release and make a creamy, almost soup-like sauce. Additions could be scallops, chicken sausage or some kale.

4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white wine1 small onion, chopped fine

12 fresh sage leaves, chopped fairly fine
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
1 cup pumpkin or butternut squash, diced small
3 pats butter
pinch of nutmeg
salt and black pepper

1 small leek, white part only, sliced thin
12-16 fresh sage leaves

2 tbsp oil
parmesan cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat the stock and wine until almost boiling and then keep over a very low heat.

In a separate heavy-based saucepan sweat the onion in the oil until soft but not browned. Add the chopped sage and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the rice and mix well for a few seconds to coat the grains with oil, then pour in one-third of the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until almost all the stock is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add the pumpkin or squash and a little more stock, and continue to simmer gently until the stock is absorbed.

From then on add more stock a little at a time, until the pumpkin is soft and the rice nicely al dente. You may not need all the stock, but the texture should be loose and creamy.
When the risotto is almost ready, heat the oil in a small pan and quickly fry the leeks and sage leaves until crispy - it takes a matter of seconds.

Stir the butter and nutmeg into the risotto, and season well with salt and pepper.

Divide into four servings and throw a few crispy sage leaves over each portion. Grate some cheese over the rice and serve.

This recipe is lacto-vegetarian.
Some famous vegetarians in history include:
Leo Tolstoy
Tippi Hedren
Francis of Assisi
Benjamin Franklin
and of course
Alicia Silverstone

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnuts and Pecorino

I will be visiting my sister in Chicago next week. When she was a little girl, her favorite vegetable was Brussels Sprouts. She was a weird kid, but is an amazing woman, an amazing mother and an amazing friend. She still likes Brussles Sprouts, and so do her three year old twins. Must be genetic, because I do too.

1/2 cup walnuts
48 Brussels sprouts
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Pecorino cheese

Preheat oven to 350

Toast walnuts for about 10 minutes; remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Increase the oven temperature to 450.

Cut Brussels sprouts in half and toss in bowl with enough olive oil to lightly coat each sprout. Season with salt and pepper. Lay sprouts cut side down, on cookie sheet with a lip. Add water to cover the bottom of the pan (about ¾ of a cup) and roast, tossing occasionally, until fork-tender and some leaves have become crunchy (about 40 minutes) and the water has evaporated.

Let sprouts cool, then toss in bowl with the crumbled walnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Shave pecorino cheese on top.

Serves 6


Jelly Belly jellybeans come in 51 flavors including: Toasted
Marshmallow, Watermelon, Tangerine, Sizzling Cinnamon,
Juicy Pear and French Vanilla. But no cranberry!
They also have recipes on their website so you can combine
flavors to have your own candy menu! Check it out!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004


Apple, Cheese and Watercress Sandwiches

This, to me, is comfort food. Serve with some tomato soup and you have a perfect meal. It is also great with curry powder mixed in with the butter instead of the mustard. It may sound a little funky, but try it, you may just like it.

4 slices whole-wheat toast
2 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
1 apple, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small bunch watercress, stems discarded
1/2 lb extra-sharp Cheddar cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat your broiler.

Arrange toast in a cookie sheet. Combine the butter and mustard and spread evenly on the toast. Arrange apple then watercress on the toast, and cover with cheese. (Make sure the watercress is completely under the cheese to prevent it from burning.)

Broil sandwiches about 6 inches from heat until cheese is melted and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

Makes 2 servings
Chocolate works for comforting too.
Vosges Haut-Chocolate

So does action

Tuesday, November 02, 2004



This past weekend, in between Halloween festivities, I managed to cater a small dinner for eight. I served:

Butternut Squash and Parsnip Soup
Roasted Pork Loin With Apples
Maple and Chile Spiced Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Pancetta, Pearl Onions and Pecans
and Persimmon Bread Pudding with Bourbon Creme Anglaise.

They loved it. I was so glad.

I volunteered to work at the polling place today, it being election day and all, so I don't have time to post a recipe, just to voice my thought for the day...


Today is also Day of the Dead, or All Saints Day. If I had been
posting a recipe, I would have done something in honor of that :-)

And for Halloween I meant to post this: Evil Olive is a palindrome.


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