Archive for August, 2009

Hmmm, Everyone Loves to entertain. Show off their house, yard, etc.  Yet what makes a successful party. Considering, you really don’t know all your guests. Not like sleeping with them personally.  So, one can be kind of in the dark here.

Me thinks .. #1 do not try to set up your single friends. Recipe for disaster.

2) The right amount of booze, wine, beer, cocktails. Each to their own. Just keep a keen eye as to whom is getting loaded, and whom is not. Cut off those bombed boozers, you do not want a tragedy on your hands, and everyone has a guest bed room or a couch floating around. Breakfast the next day being a piece of cake compared to a police or funeral home call.

3) Hire a kitchen slave, for nothing else other than to do the washing up & make a few midnight leftover treats.

4)Music ~ play what you like ! NO exceptions! If u hate Celine Delion, don;t play her! Love Green Day ~ rock it out. You will have a much better time and so will your guests. Get some beautiful flowers. Food~ whatever you love to eat! In tiny , not to messy bites. With lots of options!

Conversation Starters:

Food ~ Wine ~ Weather ~ Travel  ~ Books  ~ always good  openers.

Off Limits:

Religion ~ Politics’s ~ Sports ~ Dating ~ Do not set up any friends with out asking first! Money ~ Stock  Market ~ When you getting married or having children. Verboten.

Do discuss ~ great new books~ movies ~ music ~ wine ~ places to eat ~and just chillax , have a quiet time and enjoy being with your  friends. This is for you and some quality peeps to bond.

De stress about stocks, $$, life . Just eat ~ drink ~ and be  merry! Enjoy your friends while you can. Not everyone is around as long as we want. So take advantage and relax. Here today , gone tomorrow.

Admire You by Kaiser Chiefs

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Now this could very well go on for a long time, given the huge volume of cookbooks I own. Some I never look at, some are good for the photo image, some an idea I want to tweak. So  heres a few more for the foodies to ponder.

Informative Reads:

James Beards ~ Delights and Prejudice. First gay male chef to come out, and actually have talent. I have every volume he has ever written starting with his first, The Fireside Cookbook.  If you can ever get your hands on a copy do so! Immediately.

M.F.K.  Fisher ~ Consider the Oyster~ she had movie star good looks, great writing skills and could cook!

Julia Child’s ~ Appetite for Life  by Noel Riley Fitch ~ who knew she was such a lusty lady! Julia ~ nooners with Paul, wow.

Life and Death In Haute Cuisine ~ The Perfectionist ~ by Rudolph  Chelminski.

A few Cool Brits:

Elizabeth David ~ French Provincial Cooking.

The Elegant Chef’s Guide to Horsd”Oeuvres  & Appetizers by Antony Worral Thompson ~ great ideas! Like the Menage a trois! Or the filo “frying pan” with a duck & vegetable confit.

Fab Frenchies :

Simply French ~ by Joel Roubouchon. Simply Delicious!

Jacques Pepin Celebrates. He is the premiere cooking authority.

Pierre Franey ~ Cooking in America. Kind a cool to die while cooking on a cruise ship! Could be worse ways to go.

The Americans :

Jeremiah  Towers ~ American Classics. What a snob! But the book is well done.

Alfred Portale ~ Gotham Cookbook ~ 20 years later still a great place to eat.

I’m just here for the Food ~ by Alton Brown. A  very smart food geek. Plus he is adorable in person.

The Silver Palate Cookbooks ! 1 & 2, they may hate each other, but were trail blazers in their day. Good food too!

Rockenwagner ~ by Hans Rockenwagner, nice , lovely accessible food. From LA no less!

John Sedlar’s ~ Modern Southwest Cuisine ~ a must for Tex Mex lovers.

Lastly ~ David Rosengarten’s ~ Taste ~ a great book and a great chef who has flown off the radar of late. Wish him well where ever he is.

Okay my foodie peeps. Read, cook, eat, do what ever it is that  makes you happy and live each day to your fullest. Who cares if your souffle falls, can’t make a crepe, bread doesn;t rise, point is you TRIED! And will do so again.  Till next time, peace out. Vic

Red Tide by Foxboro Hot Tubs

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Ah, the humble sea bug. So sweet, so tasty, so freaking cheap right now it’s crazy! $3.99 a pound is like giving them away.  After years of Lobster men taking a beating and the price being in the stratosphere, they are now here for the taking for those willing to put in a little effort. To extract that luscious meat. Believe me, we have been gorging on lobsters at my house all summer.

I have made warm buttered lobster tucked into a griddled potato roll, no other embellishment needed, lobster salad on Bib lettuce, lobster bisque, surf & turf, grilled Ny strip w/ lobster to dip in melted sweet butter, lobster gazpacho, lobster clubs w/ toasted brioche, lemon ~chive mayo, avocado, tomato, red onion & apple wood smoked bacon, a 3 decker! Lobster omelets with creme fraiche and caviar, lobster vietnamese spring rolls. Let me count the ways!

Alas, one can only eat so many lobster rolls before turning to other thoughts. Fall foods. After turning the color of a lobster at the Pilot Pen  Tennis tourney on Wed, and our New England weather supposed to turn cooler ~72%! Yes, I’ll take that any day over 89 degrees and 100% humidity.  So, I began to think of getting a jump on fall~ i.e  comfort foods.

The obvious of course being lobster mac and cheese, only I like to use orichette, the little ears “hold” lots of sauce, topped with a nice drizzle of white truffle oil.  Lobster Risotto with cubes of caramelized butternut squash and nice shaving of fresh Parmesan.  Lobster mashed potatoes, to go with seared filet mingnon.

This last one got me thinking, Lobster Shepherd’sPie. I am not the first one to think of it, nor will I be the last. But me thinks this one is going to knock it out of the park and be a winner.

The Pie:

Make a pie crust, chill dough, roll out , line pie plate ( I prefer clear glass) as you can see that your crust is cooked through. Nothing worse than under cooked pie dough.

Cook the lobsters, just briefly. Cool~ shell~ chunk meat ~ set aside in a bowl. Make a bechamel, when cool add sauteed chantrelles, chopped scallion, lobster meat, splash of vermouth. Set aside in reefer. Make a batch of yukon gold mashed potatoes. When cool stir in tiny amount cowgirl creamery goat cheese.

Take par baked pie crust, fill with lobster filling, top with Yukon gold mash. Bake 350 for about 25-30 mins til spuds getting a little golden. Remove from oven, dot with a few dabs of butter, sprinkle with snipped chives, and to guild the lily, a crumble of crisp minced bacon. Serve w/ side of light greens, arugula, tiny grape tomatoes that have been oven roasted, few cubes of avocado ( if u like) drizzle of balsamic and a crusty sourdough bread.

Damn! When’s dinner? Oh yeah, tomorrow. What to drink?? Why  a lovely white from St. Suprey Vineyards in Napa. ( You can always link to Rick Bakas (Back to Bakas) on my blog to ask what’s best!) Or the wannabe wino, she’s here too, and always  has amazing wine suggestions!

Okay, so even if you don’t live in Ct or New England, go splurge, have your fish guy set you up with some tasty treats, and you can always set aside  some claw & knuckle meat to pop in your mouth while making the pie. Just remember to pour a glass of wine too!

The Stops by Elbow

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Since I am still trying to conquer this horrible “odge” I had a brain storm! I.E. light bulb went off over drug & fog induced state. What do you eat when you are sick, well to quote Homer Simpson, DUH! Chicken Soup. Of Course.

How simple, how brilliant, why did it take me a freaking week to think of it! Existing on Constant Comet tea & Social Tea cookies has not been taking me where I need to go.

So had all ingredients in house, and whipped up a pot of chicken stock & matzo balls. Very simple recipe, 2 versions to follow, one to work on and one for the cheaters. Don’t be ashamed to use the cheater version. We all don’t have as much “free” time as I do! So the Jewish grandmothers penicillin seems to be working. (Even though I am a catholic!)  I have had 2 bowls along with some chopped chicken liver on Ritz crackers. Hey, I may even live! They must know something we  wasps don’t!

Well I confess, it’s not really chopped chicken liver, it is mashed foie gras with butter and chopped egg and sauteed shallot. The “over the top” version of chopped chicken liver! Extreme, maybe~ delicious, absolutely. Mummy loved it! She had me smear it on a buttermilk biscuit I made earlier but she needs the calories.

The Soup:  Version 1

Make stock~ cook a whole chicken covered in water, GENTLY simmering, never boil! Add chopped carrot, onion, garlic & parsley, 1 hour. Remove chicken, let cool, pick off meat, add bones back to pot. Simmer another hour, add peppercorns. A few.  Strain thru cheesecloth, reduce, now I will ” clarify ” my stocks, but that is up to you. Discard all remaining solids. Set aside to cool. There should be very little fat to skim! ( and you can set that aside to use in your chopped chicken liver!)

Now chop 2 carrots. 1/2 onion, 2 cloves garlic, sweat til translucent in 1thsp butter.

Make matzo balls, your own, Granny’s, from the deli..I maybe be persuaded to “give” up my recipe, but not quite yet!

Add stock to veg, cook 20 mins, add chilled matzo balls, cook 40 mins til light and fluffy. A note I make my matzo balls the size of a quarter, they grow to about tennis ball size in the broth. Light~ Fluffy~ Airy~ Ethreal!

Up to u to add shredded chicken  or cooked noodles. I do not. I use the shredded chicken to make chicken salad for lunch later. But that’s another recipe.

The Cheater’s Version ~

Same motions, only College Inn or Swanson’s Chicken Broth, instead of making your own. Go for the lower sodium versions.

So the next time you feel “under the weather” you have no excuse! Get thee to your kitchen and channel some old friends grandma vibe! Trust me, you will be feeling better sooner than you think!

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Here are a few “rare” tomes  to look for the next time you are trolling the local flea market, or an out of the way bookstore. Dark & musty smelling stores always a plus! Even if you have allergies like me! You can always spray the book with febreeze & Ziploc it for a few weeks.  Though, I never actually buy any book that needs quite that much TLC.

So my favourites! Good Luck in your hunt. These are precious reads to be sure. Just a reminder, these are NOT glossy, impractical albeit beautiful coffee table books. This is how the love of food got started. Through a recipe, an idea, actual prose, not an air brushed photo.

1) Le Repertoire  de La Cuisine by Louis Saulnier, look for a copy from the 70’s w/ an intro by Jacques Pepin. Mine is from 1957.

2) A Selection of Dishes &  The Chef’s Reminder by Charles Fellows.  First edition, 1904  mine from 1909! Also, a real rarity: The Culinary Handbook, same author. Good Luck! Took me years, finally unearthed a copy at The Bookstore on Well fleet Harbour. .50 cents.

3) Lady Sarah Lindsey’s Choice Recipes ~ 1883  ( family heirloom) In pristine condition!

4) Esquires : Handbook for Hosts ( sub titled: the worlds best chefs wear pants!) 1949 ~ how sexist was that!

5) The Store Cookbook by Bert Greene & Dennis Vaughan ~1974  ~ The first ever gourmet food store in the Hampton’s.  It was called The Store in Amagansett. I was lucky enough to meet Bert Greene , thanks to Julia Child in San Francisco, on a hiatus  from Aspen,  where we shared maybe one to many  bottles of wine and foodie war stories. He was a big bear of a love. When I moved back east , he invited me to lunch at his townhouse in NYC. What an amazing personality! Always urging me on to get out of my food “comfort” zone. I think he would be proud of what I have become & achieved in those years since. He died to young in 1988 at the tender age of 65.

6) Trader Vic’s ~ Book of Food & Drink 1946.

7) Aromas & Flavours of Past & Present  by Alice B. Toklas 1959.

8 ) Illustrated History of French Cuisine by Christian Guy 1962.

9) The Cordon Bleu Cookbook by Dione Lucas 1947.

10) Artistry in Cold Food  By The General Electric Co. 1954 ( aka how to use your new refrigerator!)

11) Elsie De Wolfe’s  Recipes for Successful Dining 1947 ( and it’s signed!).

12) Culinary Capers  from the Evanston, Ill Infant Welfare Society 1934.

13) Kitchen tested Recipes from your new Sunbeam Mixer~ 1933. Todays version of  the kitchen aid.

14) Frigidaire Recipes  ~ 1923! This book is gorgeous w/ its watercolors for its time.

15) New Delineator Recipes ~ 1929. This was my grandmother’s,every “new ‘ bride was given a copy of this! Mine still remarkably spry after all these years. The chapters on how to look good for your husband and keep house are simply priceless.

16) Cake Secrets ~ 1928. You mixed w/ a fork! On a plate!  Stoked a wood stove! Got the eggs from your back yard chickens,if you were lucky enough to have them! It was published by Swan’s Down Flour’s!

17) Julia Childs special appearance in Westport, Ct ~ Julia presents her favourite French Chef Recipes ~ 1973.

18) Clementine in the Kitchen by Phineas Beck 1943.

19) Adventures in Good Cooking by Duncan Hines  1939.

20) The Complete Cookbook for Entertaining by Jim Beard ( I believe this is the one and only book he ever wrote that he called himself Jim in and only had one printing) . Mine is pristine and a fun read.

I have at least 200 more but these are my all time # ones. I have every book. Sitting right next to me as I type, and will take pictures to share! Only  1 or 2 in poor condition, the rest lovingly maintained by me, over the years. So get out there and on your next adventure where ever it takes you, stop by the local flea market, obscure bookstore, hell even a “tag sale”. Who knows what amazing treasures you will find.

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Since I have not burbled for a few days, and now feel to sick to accomplish much of anything else, figured I may as well write. This will also be easier than emailing countless peeps and risk getting thrown in Twitter jail for an endless stream of tweets!

First a big thank you to my friends in the twitter verse universe. One for all of you being concerned about my being sick. If you are on Twitter ( as I seem to be with more & more  frequency, there are some wonderful people here! I will not reveal “real” names, but in twit speak, please #follow @angellr @jo_jo_ba @Foodieprints @rockingjude @omewan @ BuzzEdition  @linderelli @RickBakas @AlohaArleen ( she’s getting married!!) @Winebratsf @Sonodora @ Zegolf @Bptbtrfly @love2cook @SimplyDecadent @Weeniemobile @ wicksie & way to many more to list, catch you up on #followfriday.

Quick update, past few weeks been busy at home, my lovey got Strep, mum & dad,  well it is just to hot to take them out. So we canceled all dr/s appts. Laid low. Stayed Cool. Watched movies.  I started feeling punky on thursday, figured it was allergies. I am the queen of allergies. But after an outpouring of love & tweets & music & medic advice, awoke Saturday morn, not feeling to crappy (well it was 3pm). So more like sat afternoon. My amazing fish man called me to tell me my $3.99 lobsters would only be around for a few more hours. Helps if you sleep with your iphone like I do! Not the fish guy, although he is hot. But way to young for me. So hauled my self to town, got my lobsters and a beautiful piece of Ahi Tuna. Nice!  Picked up 3 dozen hot house tomatoes. For soup.

I digress, as is my wont, came home started feeling yukky again and I made a move of shear  brain damaged numbness, proceeded to drink about 1/4 cup nyquil, take an alka seltzer sinus pill, and topped it all of with a glass of cab. My bad! Not even close! What an idiot, I got so jacked up, I made fresh Tomato Soup, I cooked & cleaned 6 Lobsters, I made a huge pot of my 3 meat Texas red chili, I made green chili-cheddar-chive -corn muffins. Tweeting all the while, I feel sooo much better. Yeah right, ya think? Who wouldn’t. I even prepped everything for ahi tuna grilled Sammy’s, w/ bacon & avocado mayo to go w/ pops soup for lunch. I might add I was also twit pic’ing.

Getting up this am, after crashing back down to planet earth, with a thud I might add. I simply could not believe that I used to pay good money to feel that way.  Back in the day. The immorality and complete stupidity of youth.

So today I ache everywhere, ears, sinus, raw throat, when I blow my nose water squirts out of my eyes! How strange is that. Also why does one nostril always seem to produce more ick , than the other one? Just pondering one of the great mysteries of life I guess.

So today fever is only 101.3, not to bad BP is 168/o99 its been worse! Just green tea & crackers. They even stayed down. Woo hoo.

I have made an appointment to visit my doctor, to discuss my health issues. For now I just think I’ll go take a nap.

Restless heart Syndrome by Green Day

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Quick update. Well folks it  looks like it is not going to happen for us East Coasters! Not  this season anyway. I am still looking at zip in my garden and on my deck. Nada! Tall stalks yes, fruit nope.

Thankfully I have a very well stocked freezer of fresh corn, blueberries, peaches and now I am going to “jar” up some tomatoes, sadly not mine! Seem as if the local market will have to do.  If I do not want pay through the nose for mealy,pallid sad excuses for tomatoes in the fall.

So, later today going to go get 4 dozen vine ripes, blanch,  peel, seed & preserve w/ some of my basil & garlic. (take that San marazzano!) At least I will have something resembling fresh tomatoes this winter.

And I believe this one is going to kick ass, (winter that is)  judging from the way the spiders are  all making nests around my barn! Damn! They are huge & scary.

Then me thinks I should also go get 2 or 3 dz fresh tomatoes, to chunk & freeze & ziploc. Saving  for a snowy day making pizza Margerhetia. If I wait for my plants to bear fruit, it could very well be like waiting for Prince Charming to arrive!  And I no longer believe in fairy tales.

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Got to thinking what’s my favourite city? Well, hmm that’s not an easy answer. Where to begin?  In no particular order, here goes. ( I am doing this by the way because the  turkey cooking in my oven has 1 more hour!) And if I crash now, he will be toast!  Like me, okay bad joke.

1) Aspen, Co ~ Summer for music festival ~ Winter for skiing and general debauchery.

2) San Francisco ~ Ferry Market ~ Wine Co. ~ Fog ~ Amazing food & chefs.

3) Paris ~ City of Lights! Go at Xmas ~ Midnight mas at Notre Dame. Walk the Seine.

4) London~ Just to say you have been there and see the changing of the guard.

5) New Orleans ~ She’s still there, you just need to find her. Mardi Gras~Voodoo~ Vampires ~Cemeteries ~ Beignets~ Hot night in the big easy.

6) Cape Cod & Boston ~ The Eastern Seaboard ~ Surf ~ Sun ~ Seafood.

7) Chicago ~ The Windy City ~ Dying the  River Green on St. Patty’s day! ~ Deep Dish Pizza! The Cubbies!

8 ) Louisville , Ky ~ The Derby, first sat in may ! (also happens to be my daughters bday, or close enough , give a day or 2), Great Southern Food & Killer Bourbon!

9) Dublin, Ireland ~ Guinness, Hello? Jameson’s ? Baileys? Car Bomb Any one? Thanks Bob..What I would have missed with out you..

10) Sienna & Tuscany ~ Gorgeous, Peaceful, serene, great gelatto.

11) Montreal & Quebec ~ Lovely People! Chateau Frontenac ~ The Funicular ~ Tim Horton’s.

12) Amsterdam ~ Anne Frank~ Hookahs ~ Tulips ~ Hookers (hah) ~ Bikes Abound!

13) New York City ~ The best for Last ~ No need to expound, it is the most amazing city on the planet!  Go and see for yourself!

To those who ask, yes I have lived in or visited every city listed!

Revolution Earth by B52’s

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From the CookBook Shelf

Well considering my longevity in the food industry, it would only come to pass that someone would eventually ask me what my favourite cookbooks are.  Well bugeer. I have a library of over 4,000. Last time I counted. Give or take a few. So this could well spiral in to numerous posts. Be patient, and you will be rewarded.

I think I will break this down into sections, kind of like browsing a bookstore. So, off we go. Remember, this is only the beginning .

Lets get the boring stuff out of the way first.

Coffee Table Decorations:

The French Laundry CookBook by Thomas Kellar, lovely & completely impractical ~ Play with your Food, a Blast! ~ The Wedding Cake Book. Gorgeous Cakes no one will ever bake  ~ Anything by Martha Stewart, pretty but never actually works.

For the Pastry Lover:

Baking with Julia. Enough said. ~ Gale Gands Short & Sweet ( just like me) ~ Dorrie Greenspans  Paris Sweets ~ Jaques Torres  Dessert Circus at Home ~ Nigella Lawson How to be a Domestic Goddess

Highly Recommended:

Charlie Trotters Lessons in Excellence ~ Ming Tsai’s  Blue Ginger ~ Anne Willian  French Regional Cooking  ~ Barbara Tropp The Modern  Art of Chinese Cooking

The Essentials:

Larousse Gastronomique ~ Ma Cuisine ~ The Way to Cook ~ La Technique ~ The Joy of Cooking.

If you can get them:

Remembering Bill Neal ~ Jean Georges  Simple Cuisine ~ Cooking for Madam  Marta Sgubin ( Jackie Kennedy’s private chef) ~ Fanny at Chez Panisse ~ Dean Fearing’s  Southwest Cuisine ~ An  Omelet & a Glass of Wine by Elizabeth David.

Some Interesting Foodie Reads :

Amanda Hesser ~Cooking for Mr. Latte ~ Tony Bourdain (enough said) ~ Jeremiah Tower~ California Dish! A Hoot!  ~ Micheal Rulhman  The making of a Chef ~ and I think I will stop, now save the rest for another day, another blog!

So foodie peeps, read well, eat well, cook well, but always remember that it must come from your soul! Books, recipes, etc are only an idea to get you creative juices flowing.  So pay homage to your inner spirit, an amazing grandmother  or aunt or family friend whom you adored and go to your kitchen put on some great music  whip out that heriloom sautee pan and get inspired! Even if it is only for you.  Though there maybe some loved ones who also benefit from what you are creating.  Nice for them! Even better for you. You have just achieved OHM! Inner peace, tranquilty, nirvana .  See food is the connecting soul to all and everyone on the planet.

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Well some of it’s here~ Finally! Got a decent batch at my local market the other day, was reasonably crisp & sweet, so I immediately went back for more. I only bought 4 ears, ate 3, gave my lovey 1. My bad. Usually by now, I am so saturated from my fresh corn intake that I think you could peel me like a husk off a fresh ear and I would be all golden inside.

Not so this year, we have had corn only twice and both times I threw it out into my pond for the fish to nibble on, even they did not seem interested. Good thing I am buddies with the produce manager at my local market, as he gave me the heads up that it is only going to be good for the next week or so.

Went back for more, and this am made a fresh corn, potato, zucchini, scallion frittata with a romesco sauce and a drizzle of my garden basil oil. Nice light peppery arugula salad with fresh pears, tiny creamy cheddar corn~chive biscuits and brunch was good to go.

Tonight, I am going to make fresh corn timbales ( like a custard) to go with my Osso Bucco with Merlot demi glaze, shitake polenta with shaved Parmesan curls & dollop of sweet cream butter and honey~balsamic roasted cippolini onions. With lots of good crusty french bread to mop everything up with. Dessert has nothing to do with corn, just local raspberries, strawberries & blueberries in a martini glass topped with sabayon and a cinnamon tuille. Yes, she says!

Am going to trot out to the store again tomorrow am, get 24 ears, for the freezer, soup,muffins, etc. I am sure a few golden ears dripping with sweet cream butter and a generous sprinkle of sea salt will be consumed over my kitchen sink in the process, looking out at my deck and savouring the crunchy goodness of natures bounty.

Hey, I may even share the cobs with the deer hanging out in my yard, giving them something to munch on besides the scum on my pond! Why not share the wealth while I can. Enjoy!

Fitz and Dizzyspells by Andrew Bird

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