Thursday, July 28, 2005


Clam Bar

There are a thousand things about East Hampton that makes it so irresistible a destination. For me, its a place I have family and friends, childhood memories and am given a chance to relax (because, you know, I'm like, so stressed most of the time.) and party in such an amazing place. Its no coincidence that so many artists and persons of note live there, because it really is true that the light and a general je ne sais quoi is like no other place on earth. I had the best time there this summer, and I can't wait to go back soon. Beaches, parties, world class food, some of the most beautiful homes on the east coast and great shopping. What more can you ask for in a picturesque town? (Wait, wait, I know! Less tourists!)

I noticed on epicurious this month, there is a list of the best places to eat in that area, and I was sort of pleased to see that the spots I really love were left off of that tourist cattle call compilation. (Of course, many I love were on there too.) For instance, they left out the Clam Bar at Napeague. The last remaining place on earth (according to my sister, who waxes rhapsodic over her yearly pilgrimages.) where you can get steamers served the way they should be. Unadorned. (Now, now, of course we know that isn't true, there must be other places to get steamers. I bet they have them on Cape Cod, but she said it with such conviction!)

The Clam Bar is a blast of a spot really. Incredibly easy going and laid back, but with that shimmer of chic glamour. Its not much in itself, I mean you sit outside in tables in the gravel parking lot on the side of the highway, the specials board is dragged over and you order (do you see now why I limit my restaurant reviews? Seriously. It's tragic!) and they have a full beer and wine list (lots of it local). Basically its the perfect spot to laze away an afternoon, or to stop on the way home from a dip in the water. Per usual with the crowd I was with, we went with mussels, a few decadent rich and meaty lobster rolls, the outrageously sweet corn on the cob, fries (which seems right, now that I think of it, since East Hampton is really a potato farming community.) the single best veggie burger ever (hey, not everyone likes seafood, right?) and steamers. Lots and lots of perfectly cooked, plump, briny, local steamers. Everything comes out quick enough, the plates are paper, the napkins are too. And my friends, the food really is fantastic. A perfect spot in every way. If you are ever in the area, check it out.


A class action suit filed last week against DuPont, charges that Teflon releases PFOA under normal cooking use and that the company did not warn consumers about its dangers. Studies have shown that PFOA causes cancer and other health problems in laboratory animals, and it is under scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration.

DuPont says that while PFOA is used to make Teflon, none of it remains in the finished product, and all Teflon-coated cookware is safe.

The Environmental Working Group says items other than pans are likely to be the major sources of PFOA. Scientists are examining the chemical makeup of other products like food containers to gauge their potential hazards. But the group, along with many scientists, points out a different problem: an empty overheated Teflon-coated pan does pose a risk by releasing toxic fumes. DuPont does not dispute that, but there is no agreement between the company and Teflon's critics over what temperature releases the fumes. The Environmental Working Group says 325 degrees, or a medium flame; DuPont says 660 degrees.

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What is Kumara?

I was reading about New Zealand born Chef Peter Gordon (Who has a restaurant in London) and this paragraph caught my eye:

"Baby kumara has also got him excited. They have a less intense flavour and much softer skin than a regular kumara.

Regular kumara has been available in Britain only since last year, thanks to a British food importer who lived in New Zealand and fell in love with the vegetable, says Gordon."

The reason that was interesting is that until just three minutes ago, when I read that, I had never heard of Kumara. And since I am writing this instead of looking it up, I will take a pause and go find out what it is!

3 MINUTES LATER - Sigh. Kumara are sweet potatoes. What a let down. Here I was on the verge of getting to spend days on a hunt for a new food, and I've been buying it and eating it all my life. Oh well. Onward and upward.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Roasted Baby Beets

Going to a catered party is supremely satisfying to me. I mean to show up and have beautiful Actor-Model-Waiter-Boys handing out scrumptious tidbits and fresh drinks while all that is asked of me is to look glamourous and maybe tell a witty story or two is the best. It ranks up there with working on a deep tan on the deck of a boat floating somewhere just east of Bora Bora or flying to Kansas City for dinner just because you want a really good steak (both of which I am qualified to say, are pretty damn fab).

That is why, for my fabulous Auntie Shesh's no-holds-barred birthday bash last weekend, out on the lawn of her perfect in every way home in (much too popular for my taste these days. Sigh) East Hampton, I was in heaven. Floating on air, head in the clouds, stars in my eyes, heaven.

I must back up though and say that Auntie Sheshie is the most elegant, dangerously hilarious, woman I know. She was also always referred to by my mother as "A gourmet" and from an early age, not even knowing what that meant, I knew she was someone to hold in esteem. Her appreciation for food inspires me, and her friendship, kindness and generosity means the world to a little waif like me.

The party itself was decadant, the guests ravishing and the overall atmosphere exceptional, but it was the food my friends, the food that made it a flawless evening. Not just any food though, mind you. The event was brought to us by two women who are absolute culinary masters. First up, Auntie Sheshie's oldest and dearest friend, the amazing and much beloved Judy (wife to John, who I had to mention because he too rocks) the woman behind DuFour Pastry Kitchen fame a woman who's frozen hors devours rank among the tastiest foods on the planet (that night we had the 5-Spice Quail, the utterly To-Die-For Mushroom and Black Truffle and a Polenta Asparagus puff. Her whole line is really delicious but for me, the original spinach phyllo triangles may be the foodstuff that more than anything brings me back to my childhood in the nicest possible way. Sigh). A perfect start to the evening indeed. Tiny bites of baked perfection.

This divine madness was followed up by the brilliant, beautiful and dedicated chef Abigail Hitchcock of CamaJe in NYC and her flawless dinner execution. As one of my cousin Va-Vooms oldest and dearest friends, she insisted on pulling out all the stops and making it an evening to remember. I so worship Ms. Abby, that I am usually tongue tied in her luminous presence and am only able to devour my food and stare in wonder. We feasted (and I mean that in the most Pasha in his silken tent sort of way) on Filet Mignon, Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Shrimp with Asian Dipping Sauce, Roasted Baby Beets, Roasted Baby Carrots, an Isreali Couscous salad and I cannot forget the topper, an enormous Mocha Cream Cake that made people fall out of their chairs. Outrageously good.

So you get the feeling it was a good evening, eh? Well, it was. And it will live on in my memory for ever.

To get your own slice of the action, either make a reservation at CamaJe next time you are in NYC, (Darling Abby also gives cooking lessons, so if that is of interest, make sure to check out their website) or buy some of DuFours insanely good appetizers. You will thank me, Im sure.

Simple roast beets

2 pounds baby beets (red or gold or candy striped)
olive oil
several sprigs of thyme

Toss the beets with enough olive oil to coat. Spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and add the thyme sprigs. Roast, covered, at 375F until easily pierced with a knife (about 50 minutes, depending on size of beets) Remove from the oven and keep covered while they cool. When warm to the touch, slip off the skins and toss with another touch of salt. Serve warm or cold.


85 MacDougal St.
(bet. Bleecker & Houston Sts.)
Manhattan, NY 10012

Review from Zagats:
“Outstanding” French bistro fare “made with care” keeps cost-conscious fans returning to this “quiet” Village “oasis” where a “homey” setting helps distract from the “molasses”-speed service; P.S. the chef hosts “great cooking classes” three days a week.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Pickled Turnips

Ever wonder what would happen if you were invited to a chefs house for a dinner party? This is an exerpt from an email I got from one of my dearest friends, a chef extraordiaire, when I asked her what she was serving for dinner that night.

"What's wrong with a little extra food? That's my motto. Or at least, it should be based on the way I cook. I was going for a Mediteranean feel so i made some spreads, made my new favorite pita crisps, and then roasted favas, put out olives,and pickled turnips (weird, but delicious). Then I made deconstructed chicken shish kabobs, grilled flank steak, lamburgers, tabouleh, greek orzo salad, potato salad (heck they were sitting around going bad), spanikopita, a tart of summer greens and fontina, chickpea salad with cuke/radish/mint, i feel like i'm forgetting something but oh well. dessert was (relatively) low key: pound cake from Chez Panisse Cookbook, fresh berries that I had picked in my garden, lemon tart, malted milk ball ice cream that i had been given from Christina's ice cream shop (delicious!), and my friend brought her trial run white cake with chocolate ganache frosting. She's working on a wedding cake. Good thing that my numbers increased from 12 to 18 at the last minute. I was joking that the next time I have a party, my friends should invite another 10 people without telling me just to make up for how much I tend to overcook."

Pickled Turnips

2 pounds small turnips
2 large beets
2 jalapeno peppers
1 gallon water
2 tablespoons salt
4 cloves garlic, peeled

Blanch turnips in a large pot of boiling water, remove and peel. Peel the beet and slice into quarters. Place in a large sterile glass jar with the peppers. Combine the water, salt and garlic and simmer until the salt is dissolved. Cover the turnips with the pickling solution and seal with an airtight lid. Let set at least 10 days before using.


"At a dinner party one should eat wisely but not too well, and talk well but not too wisely."
W. Somerset Maugham


Monday, July 25, 2005


Food of the Ozarks, a Quick Overview

I am back from my whirlwind tour of US vacation spots. (And by spots I mean, two places. The Ozarks and The Hamptons. Can you say spectrum?) I laughed, ate, drank, visited, reveled, stood in awe, waited, shrieked, sighed, and saw and experienced things I may never come across again. But now I am home, (sweet, sweet home) and am ready to get back to my normal (normal? says who?) life, and back to posting on this blog!

The first stop on my trip was Lake of The Ozarks, Missouri, a beautiful spot, splat in the heartland of America. I was invited to stay with some family friends from St. Louis who recently built a flawless, (gigantic?) house on the lake, sparing no expense. The town itself I could have lived without (and thankfully, mostly did), but the lake (Created when General Electric dammed up a river in the 50's), the picture postcard weather and the thrill of spending days out on the boat, and evenings in the hot tub with a chilled beverage was beyond compare. I was even able to find great ingredients, and make some lovely meals. (Couldn't resist that million dollar kitchen!)

What I wasn't able to avoid was the fried food. My goodness. The Missouri state motto should be "Have fryer, will fry. Anything." My favorite was (get THIS) deep fried pickles (which I hear are also available in LA, but somewhere in the Valley, so it doesn't really count, now does it.) a crunch, salty, delicious treat. Mmm. Pickles. My least favorite was, well, pretty much everything else. The trouble wasn't the fried (which is my favorite food group, right after fermented liquids, of course) it was that the things that they fried were so darn generic. Everything was pre-processed and just bland tasting. Flawlessly executed blah. Hush puppies, french fries, fish and mushroom caps all had the exact same batter, and distinct lack of flavor! Even at the places where people were throwing peanut shells on the floor, right on the lake (where the freshest fish should have been) the food was all from some nameless, faceless, commissary slop. Oh well. Its not like I was there for the food. If you happen to live in that area, or have ever been, could you please open a nice, authentic fish house? Take advantage of those resources kids! Thanks!

On the other hand, the Frozen Custard (a sort of soft serve ice cream) was really amazing. Creamy, dreamy, rich and flavorful. (Though, the only flavors are chocolate and vanilla. You can add in toppings though to jazz it up, but I didn't see any reason to bother) In the reasonably small town, there must have been six custard stands (I guess thats part of knowing your audience. Gulp) and a fast food place called Culvers, home of the Butter Burger, which it turns out, is NOT a burger deep fried in butter, or, a slab of butter on a bun, both of which the idea of sort of made me giddy. What it is, is a burger grilled with butter, and served on a butter saturated bun. Tasty indeed, and interestingly not available on the West Coast (beacuase Im pretty sure declaring your beef is also dripping in butter wouldnt lure in the customers in quite the same way as in MO.) Really and truly recommended if fast food is up your alley. (And bonus. A family run chain. So nice, don't you think?)

OK kids, thats all for now. Must dash to my mani-pedi appointment! Tomorrow, a quick overview of food in East Hampton!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Hello from Here

Wow. I bet you are going to be pea green with envy when I tell you where I have been for the last four days! Seriously. It's just so darn glamorous! Ready? Brace yourselves. Lake of the Ozarks, MO! Home of fried/fried and fried. I saw a restaurant that serves something called ButterBurgers yesterday, and today am off to try frozen custard. From this lovely locale I am off to see my family for a few days of frolicking in East Hampton (so much more my style). Then, ta-dum, back to LA. See you all in a week or so!

In the mean time, here is a great sweepstakes to enter. If you win, let me know!

Friday, July 08, 2005


Spinach Souffle and Tapanade-Whipped Potato Timbale with Red Olive Relish*

*AKA: Vintage Irish Cheddar and Fresh Spinach Souffle, and Nyon Olive Tapanade-Whipped Potato Timbale On a Potato Galette, Topped with Spicy Red Olive-Hazelnut Relish, and Garnished with a White Cheddar Frica and Fried Spinach Leaves. (My goodness. Does that title not sound like the writing of a girl who just graduated from cooking school last week, or what! I can't believe Neiman Ranch beef, Fennel Pollen or Maytag Blue Cheese weren't included! That would have perfected the absurdity.)

Considering the choices for the
Paper Chef #8 contest this month, (hosted by Sensational Sarah, the blogger with the mostest,) I really should have made something Tex-Mex. I mean, the ingredients were spinach, cheddar, olives and either potato or cream (but not both.) What kind of girl am I that a spinach tortilla burrito did not immediately come to mind? There could have been a zillion choices had I only thought a little further South! Der. I guess I was just trying to be extra fancy. Still, it would have been the obvious choice for certain.

Actually, I've been pondering what to do with those four things for days, and what I did come up with was outrageously tasty. That, despite the fact I'm prone to think very few things hold a candle to the simple brilliance of a stuffed and rolled tortilla. As a matter of fact, I think I will make that tomorrow, just for kicks, and let you know how it comes out. I've been wanting to make homemade tortillas forever anyway...

What I did create was based entirely on some crazy-vibrant red olives I saw at the olive bar (when did that become a thing in markets? I love it, but it does seem a tad weird to me) in the market a few days ago. Enigmatically titled "French Olives," there was no other description, so it was up to me to snatch a sample and learn they were actually Italian Cerignola olives (huge and meaty, not salty or oily) that were dyed red a la 70's era pistachio nuts. Remember those? Despite the olives actually being a touch bland, they were just so happy and festive, I had to take some home.

So what did I make? A full meal is what I made. Seriously, it was hearty. A delicious tower of, well, let's see, from the bottom up, it was a crispy Yukon gold potato galette, spinach and white cheddar custard (I used something called Irish Vintage Cheddar. Who knows what that is, but it was nice and crumbly, sharp but not overwhelming and was a beautiful pale white), fresh spinach leaves, black olive tapanade whipped potatoes topped with a red olive and hazelnut relish, (well, it was more like a tapande too, but I didn't really want to say that twice. Then again, I just did, didn't I? Whoops.) a cheddar and pecorino frica (lace like cheese crisp) and deep fried spinach leaves (not a recommended treatment for such a watery veg. Quite dangerous actually what with all the sputtering and splattering and hot oil and all) It was a tour de force, a warm and satisfying vegetarian meal, a fancy as can be supper and overall, well, lets just say, I proudly retained my good standing in the clean plate club for one more day.

My overall idea was to have the main four ingredients show up at least twice in the dish, to highlight different textures and techniques. That and I got a little carried away with the deep frying (giggle). I loved the combination of the shattering crispiness of the fried spinach on the top and the potatoes on the bottom. The red olives, being somewhat mild were a perfect compliment adding flavor and texture without introducing overpowering saltiness, while the tapanade added a great burst of flavor to the creamy potatoes.

It was a little over the top in terms of preparation (It took 1.5 hours. Although, a lot of that was just waiting for the custard to cook) but it was great fun and worth every step. This recipe is a great time to practice mise en place. Have all your ingredients and tools out and ready from the start and it will come together much more smoothly. Try it, and enjoy!

2 pounds fresh spinach, rinsed, a few leaves set aside
1 large onion, minced fine
2 teaspoons butter
5 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
pinch of salt and pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup white flour

4 tablespoons finely grated cheese and a large pinch of flour, mixed

1/2 cup dry cured black olives, pitted (I used Nyon olives)
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon capers, rinsed
1 large anchovy filet
black pepper
a small fist full of parsley (hows that for an accurate measurement!)
1 clove of garlic, rough chopped

4 large Idaho potatoes, peeled and rough chopped
2 teaspoons butter

1/2 cup red "French Olives", pitted
teaspoons olive oil
large fistful of parsley
small pinch of red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, rough chopped

oil for frying (I used peanut oil)

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a large pan over medium low heat, sweat the onion in the butter until translucent. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool, squeeze out any excess liquid and rough chop. (You could also chop the spinach before wilting it. Whatever your preference.)

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cheese, milk, flour, salt and pepper, then add the spinach. Pour it all into a oiled dish and bake until set, about 55 minutes. When done, remove from oven and let cool slightly to set.

Add the potatoes to a large pot of salted water, over high heat.

While the potatoes are cooking, make the tapanades. Either rough chop all the ingredients or add them all to a food processor. Adjust seasoning to taste and refrigerate until assembly.

On a non-stick baking mat create the frica by just making little mounds of the cheese/flour mixture then pressing down slightly. They don't spread too much but the piles shouldnt be too tall or too close together. Bake at 450 F for ten minutes. They are extremely delicate, so after letting them cool for a minute or two on the mat, remove with a spatula, using the utmost care, unto a piece of wax paper until you are ready to use them.

If you want to create the galette (a few incredibly thin potato slices overlapping to create a rough circle shape) and the fried spinach leaves (again, not recommended, but they sure do taste good!) go ahead and deep fry them at this point in 1 inch of hot vegetable oil. Remove when crispy and blot on paper towels. Salt liberally and set aside.

To compose:

Place the potato chip galette on the plate. Place a lightly oiled metal ring on top (I used a Heinz brand Spotted Dick can, with both ends removed. It was the perfect size and kind of tasty!), add the spinach custard, a layer of spinach leaves, a small pinch of salt and pepper, then the potatoes. Smoosh down gently (and yes, smoosh is a technical term. Im sure of it.) and remove the ring by gently lifting upwards. Top with the olive relish, custard and spinach leaves, and serve!

Enough for four


Because of their higher starch content, Idaho and Russett potatoes are better for mashing than creamer potatoes.

The conventional canned "Black Mission" olives are actually green olives that have been cured with lye, which changes the color to black.

Anti-cancer compounds found in sauerkraut -- You might want to add a little more sauerkraut to your hot dog: The tangy topping, made from fermented cabbage, contains a class of compounds called isothiocyanates which were previously identified in other studies as potential cancer-fighting agents, researchers say. -Science

I am deeply saddened that once again, terrorism has affected people and places I know and love. London and the whole of the UK are in my thoughts and I hope we all take a moment today to reflect on our lives and good fortunes and say a prayer (or whatever works best for you) for peace and understanding.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2005


White Peach and Candied Ginger Ice Cream

Gadgetry is great, I mean, what food lover doesn't think a sleek stand mixer or a flashy food processor are the pinnacle of fab, right? I personally adore all of the sensationally time saving (and not so time saving) devices I have accumulated over the years. Of course, I was listening to NPR this morning (as I am prone to do. I just love NPR) and a decidedly scholarly gentleman was talking about Buddhism and how longing and desire create suffering, so we should all just be zen and yearn for inner happiness, and not more stuff, or some such. That is really is the only way to go, and I say we all start in on that first thing tomorrow (along with a low-fat, low-carb, fruit and veggie, organic diet) but when then again, when I want summertime treats, well, I just have to be a little less than meditative and bust out my adorable little ice cream maker to whip up a frozen dream. It just plain makes me smile, no matter how fleeting it all may seem.

The recent meme (on oh heavens, I don't know, history and preferences?) asked what our favorite ice cream is, and for no known reason (at least, not known to moi) I forgot to mention the all time bestest flavor in the ice cream pantheon, White Peach and Candied Ginger. It's so durned tasty I dream about it all winter long.

The magnificent Dessert Diva D. and I first concocted this masterpiece in cooking school, using the most fantastically industrial frozen treat machine I have ever laid my capitalistic eyes on. All chrome and whiz-bang one-button gloriousness. (Now that is an item I couldn't exactly have at home, but would go nutty with in a professional environment, since you have no wait time between batches.) After perfecting (well, D. perfected, I just loitered around waiting for samples) Vanilla and Chocolate, the mix and match began. Coffee bean and mocha chip, malted milk ball and marshmallow, (which we made. have you ever tried to make marshmallow? Now that's a challenge.) and key lime pie were all tasty treats, but it was the white peach and candied ginger that won out. So much so that a boy in our class at that fine institution who is now the executive chef at an embarrassing (thematic!) chain-restaurant has it on their menu and it is a best seller (how could it not be?). Well my sweet peach, (what can I say, not only are peaches my favorite food, its my favorite term of endearment) for you, I'll reprint it. Just promise me you'll use only the best quality ingredients. Anything less and it will be pedestrian. Try it, and enjoy.

2 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup white sugar
3 egg yolks
6 large, fresh, juicy peaches
2 teaspoons white sugar
1 teaspoon white rum (just enough to break down the peaches a little bit)
1/4 cup candied ginger, minced (more if you want)
4 heaping tablespoons turbinado sugar (you know, the sugar in the brown packet)

In a large sauce pan, gently heat the cream, milk and sugar, stirring until the sugar is melted. You want it to simmer a little, but not to boil.
Meanwhile, have the yolks in a large bowl. Slowly add a ladle full of the warm cream mixture to the yolks, whisking constantly. Add a second ladle full. Slowly pour the egg mixture that has now been tempered (you do this so the shock of the heat in the pan doesn't scramble the eggs) back into the pan, whisk until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes over very low, gentle heat. Remove from heat and pour back into the bowl. Put the bowl into an ice bath to quickly chill it. (Ice bath: Larger bowl, filled with ice water.) This is your anglaise.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Using a paring knife, cut a shallow "X"into the tip of the peaches. Boil for a scant minute and remove. Peel the skin off of the peaches then rough chop and add to a bowl with the 2 teaspoons of sugar (more or less, depending on the tartness of the peaches) and rum. Stir and set aside while the anglaise chills.

Following the directions on your ice cream maker, add the anglaise and begin to chill. 1/2 way through, add the peaches, turbanado and ginger.

Makes about a quart


More ice cream is sold on Sunday than any other day of the week.

Here are the top 5 Ice Cream Consuming Countries in the World 1) United States 2) New Zealand 3) Denmark 4) Australia 5) Belgium / Luxembourg

Dolly Madison created a sensation when she served ice cream as a dessert in the White House at the second inaugural ball in 1812.



White Peach and Candied Ginger Ice Cream - Photo


Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Grilled Salmon with Dill

Summer is so fleeting! Sweet little peas are already dwindling from the market, puckery sour cherries are getting harder to find. Thankfully, peaches have yet to hit their zenith, so I know there are still warm days ahead. For now though, the one thing I am so happy is in abundance is fresh feathery dill. I love dill. I sometimes wonder if it isn't that little bit of my Swedish heritage popping up, since I just crave it in so many ways. It makes amazing pesto, adds a wonderful flavor to dips, is a classic addition for cucumbers, and of course, is a match made in heaven with salmon. I made this recipe late last week for a quick outdoor meal, and was super pleased with the results. Try it, and enjoy!

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and
2 tablespoons lemon zest (one for marinade, one for couscous)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced dill
Pinch of salt and pepper
4 6-ounce salmon steaks, rinse and pat dry
2/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup couscous
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped

In a shallow dish, combine the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic, dill, salt, pepper and the fish. Turn to coat, cover and refrigerate one hour (not much more, since the acid in the marinade will start to chemically cook the fish)

Bring the water for couscous to boil in small saucepan and add a large pinch of salt. Stir in couscous and cover pan. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with fork then gently stir in the dill and additional lemon zest.

Grill the fish over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes per side. Serve with couscous

Serves four


One tablespoon of dill seeds contains more calcium than a cup of milk

The worlds longest sandwich measured 2,081 ft and was created by Pietro Catucci and Antonio Latte of EuroSpin in Mottola, Taranto, Italy, on August 7, 2004. The ingredients included 2,028.25 lb of flour, 112.6 gal of water and 55.11 lb of salt.

The bread was left to rise naturally for over 24 hours without the use of yeast. The bread was transported half cooked from the oven onto the tables by means of two cranes. On the tables it was further baked using a specially created movable oven and, once cooled, it was filled with 547 kg of salami and mortadella and decorated on top with mayonnaise and tuna.

The sandwich weighted 34,275.22 lb and was consumed by 19,000 people together with 109.98 gal of wine, helping raise money for the Food Bank, which had earlier been destroyed by a fire.

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Monday, July 04, 2005


Fourth of July BBQ Sauce

I feel like shouting from the rooftops (if that were only acceptible behavior) about how much I L-O-V-E the 4th of July. Let me just say it loud and clear, I LOVE the 4th of July. And now, for your reading pleasure (bemusement and merriment) here is why:

It's non-denominational, and everyone can participate.
All you have to do is say you are celebrating, and you are.
No gifts required (A la Christmas)
No special outfits (Halloween)
Its really the only official (American anyway) holiday in the (warm) summer
Its celebrated outdoors (It can snow on Easter)
You are not obligated to be with anyone in particular (Valentines Day)
No traveling required or expected (Thanksgiving)
Its not a holiday you fret about making sure you do something extra cool (New Years Eve)
You can eat what you want (while grilling is common, its not like you are shunned if there is no turkey or something) and all the best food is in season
It culminates in FIREWORKS. Fireworks! I love fireworks.

Now go 4th and enjoy!

Rachael's Favorite B-B-Q sauce

1 large onion, rough chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 small red chile pepper (thai bird works well)
1/4 cup raisins soaked in
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup molassas
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
large pinch of cumin

In a food processor, combine the onion, garlic, chile and mince fine. Add the raisins and puree until smooth. Remove all and add to a saute pan to simmer with the rest of the ingredients for about 1 hour, add water as needed to keep it thick. Stirring often. Taste to adjust seasonings.

Will keep for up to one month in the refrigerator.


The first hamburgers in U.S. history were served in New Haven, Connecticut, at Louis' Lunch sandwich shop in 1895.

Three-quarters of the lettuce in the United States comes from California

Five states -- California, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Arizona -- combined for almost three-quarters of the value of watermelon production

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Another Cooking Meme

Well, it took a few days, but here are my answers to the latest fun little food blog meme. I may be the last person to answer these questions, so I am not tagging anyone else, but feel free to play along if you want! A huge thank you to the awesome J at Kuidoare for tagging me!

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?

I have lots of snapshot memories of making all sorts of interesting dishes and whatnot from about 8 on. My earliest memory of a full meal is the time I was visiting my (also 8 year old) cousin Va-Voom (at the time she was more adorable than Va-Voom, but you get the idea) and we made a meal that started with the extra exotic Bean-Curd and Beef Ball Soup. (I do wonder where we got that recipe. And how we procured tofu in East Hampton circa 1982) That meal also included filet mignon (which my Uncle went apoplectic over the cost of) Needless to say, we hadn't exactly mastered clean as you go, so there were pots and pans on every available surface and a few on the floor. Of course the best part was us blithely flambeing cognac wearing our idea of safety outfits: bikinis, wet towels on our heads and large rubber boots all while trying not to pass out from fear of getting caught/laughing so hard.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?

The last woman in my family to even find the kitchen was my great-great grandmother. The story goes that on return from her honeymoon tour, she roasted a chicken, feathers, innards and all. Her husband came home to the charred mess, a lock was installed, a chef was hired, and no one ever looked back.

The benefit of that was that I was incredibly lucky to have been exposed to amazing, fresh, seasonal foods as a child at home, in restaurants and in far flung cities across the globe. I developed a love of cooking very early on, and lots of people (family and friends, housekeeping/chef/nannies) encouraged and indulged my passion and I am thankful to them all.

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadget was the biggest letdown?

Well, my knives travel with me, so I would say those are the most valued. I have a healthy respect for them and treat them accordingly. The worst is, hands down, a corn kernel remover/creamed corn maker thingy I just can't help laughing at. What a silly and useless contraption, that I cannot seem to part with (and its mate, the plastic yellow hairbrush looking "corn silk" remover.)

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else!

I like to put seasoned croutons into my last few sips of champagne. I must be tipsy by that point, because I think they taste pretty good!

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don’t want to live without?

Artisan bread, caviar and sweet, fresh fruit

Your favorite ice-cream?

I love Ciao Bella Valrhona Chocolate, and Swiss Gourmet Brown Sugar Cinnamon. For other frozen treats, Out of a Flower sorbets rock my world.

Your own signature dish?

How funny am I? My signature is that I try not to ever offer the same meal/dish twice. (At least, for anyone other than me) I do make an outstanding martini though and try to make sure everyone who comes into my home gets one (who wants one)

You will probably never eat?

I am perfectly happy to admit I am a picky eater, there are lots of things I wouldn't try. Malto Mario I am not. I am also just as happy to admit there are lots of foods I will eat with varying degrees of success.

A common ingredient you just can't bring yourself to stomach?

Cilantro (shudder). Please refrain from adding a comment about how much you love it. I know you love. You LOVE it, you salivate over it and you would shout it from the rooftops if you could. The thing is, I don't. Thanks. :-)

Any signs that this passion is going slightly over the edge and may need intervention?

Not really. I mean, I'm a chef, so it would be odd if it weren't my passion. Right?

Who would you want to come into your kitchen to cook dinner for you?

Oh wow. Anyone? Does anyone know if Ira Glass can cook?

Which one culture's food would you most like to sample on its home turf?

Japanese. I would love to go to Japan with my father who lived there for a few years in the early 50's and picked up quite a bit of Japanese. Can you imagine? That is my current dream. I wonder what it will take to make it come true? Daddy?

That's all for now kids, tomorrow, it's back to cooking!

For information about where to buy Out of a Flower products, call (800) 743-5696


Friday, July 01, 2005



The word of the day is Pissaladière. So chic! So French! And we all need a little continental in our lives sometimes, don't we? Mais oui! We do. (Which is why some of us still shop at E. Dehillerin, when most everything they sell can be found much closer to home. Oops.)

What it is exactly, is a take off on the pizza with caramelized onions, olives and anchovies. So let's see...deeply rich and savory onions, with the plump and sumptuous olives and scrumptious salty anchovies. Could this be more divine? I doubt it. And bonus! It tastes just as good room temperature too. (It's never made it quite to cold in my house, but I'm sure it is magnifique that way too.) Sure, sure, the picture isnt exactly glamour, but it was taken at night, so there.

You know what this is leading up to right? And you ARE right. I had a little time (about three hours to be exact) and I made pissaladière last night for cocktail hour (see earlier posts if you are unclear as to why I care so much about cocktail hour.), and it was a fete to be remembered. Salty, savory goodness. Served with Campari and soda, it is a perfect aperitif. Try it, and enjoy!

1/2 teaspoon molasses
1 packet instant yeast
1/4 cup warm water
2 teaspoons cornmeal (optional. I like it for texture. Some black pepper works nicely too)
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup warm water
Olive oil
2 cups caramelized onions
1/4 cup minced herbs (I use thyme, parsley and rosemary)
1/4 cup nicoise olives, pitted and rough chopped
Minced anchovies to taste
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper

In a small bowl, combine the molasses, yeast and warm water, stir slightly to combine and let sit until the yeast foams, if the yeast does not foam, it is old and you should start again.

In your food processor (or stand mixer, or by hand if you are the type), combine the flours and cornmeal. Pulse once or twice to combine. Add the olive oil and pulse again. Slowly add the yeast then the water until the dough forms a ball. Continue to mix for 3 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. When done, remove the dough and coat it lightly with olive oil, put in a bowl and set aside (covered, and someplace warm) to rise, 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, punch down the dough. Preheat your oven to 550F (or as high as it will go) with your pizza stone on the lowest rack. This recipe works best with a pizza stone, pre-heated at least 20 minutes. If you don't have one, use a cookie sheet, or try this in a cast iron pan for pan pizza style.

Sprinkle a pizza peel (or a flat wooden cutting board, or a baking sheet with no sides) with coarse salt, pepper and some corn meal (this will help the pissaladière come off later) Form the dough into a disk, and place on the peel. Top with the herbs, onions, olives and anchovies. Drizzle with olive oil, paying particular attention to the exposed crust, then slide it into the oven. Bake until the crust is golden, about 15 minutes. Remove, slice and enjoy.

Serves four to six


The best anchovies are from the Collioure region of France.

If your radishes are tied with a rubber band, remove it before you store them. They will last longer

Fact: After you overeat, your hearing becomes slightly impared

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