Archive for the ‘1’ Category

Lake Shore Dreamin ~ An Amendum

I almost forgot about this but when I was telling my dad about the pike blog he was like and you didn’t include your fish tale?  So it goes like this, when I was 9 we went on vacation to the most palatial lake “cabin” and  I use that term loosely, that I have ever seen deep  in the wilds of Minnesota. My parents friends owned this gorgeous retreat right on a huge lake. We called it “Deutsch’s ” cabin, after the owners of course. It had 3 stories, 8 bedrooms, 5 baths, 4 fireplaces, and  the  biggest kitchen I had  ever laid eyes on & a magnificent “great room”with huge windows and beautiful views of the lake and surrounding woods. Nary another house nor soul in sight. Of course there was a private dock, boat house, canoe, motor boat, long boat, pontoon, you name it . Just a cozy little summer house, we should all be so lucky.

Now we were up here with not only my parents and siblings but also family from dads side of the family tree, my grandparents & aunt, uncle and my 3 cousins. One big happy family! Uh huh. The positive factor was the cabin was so big you could wander around or just hang without getting in any one’s way.

So one day Dad, Uncle Hank, Chris, Steve & Tom were going fishing ( my other cousin was a teenager and wanted nothing to do with me) I begged to go with them plenty of room on the pontoon, Dad said no, go inside and help your mum. Phooey on them I thought, I’ll go bake something. But my Mum & Auntie shooed me out of the kitchen.

Dang what to do. Bored doesn’t even begin to cover it, one can only read so much Nancy Drew or  Betsy, Tacy & Tib books. Tv reception poor to say the least and nature girl I am most certainly not. Figured I would walk down to the dock. On the path I found a long sturdy walking stick. Idea!! I would make my own fishing poll. Went into the house got some thick twine & some velveeta cheese from the kitchen & from the boat house got a hook ( fishing lure)  a bucket &  fishing net. Tied the string to my “poll” looped the string around the hook, stuck a piece of cheese on it and sat down on the dock & tossed it in!

Now I did not really expect to actually catch anything so imagine my surprise when I felt a tug. I pulled my makeshift rod up out of the water got the net, and lo and behold a little perch. Now this went on until I was out of cheese. At least 2 hours.  The pontoon  approached  & they see me sitting on the dock with my stick and started to laugh. The cool part? I had caught about 10 fish. Perch, trout, bass, I believe the smallest weighed 2 lbs, the biggest was 6 lbs. Imagine my father’s and uncles surprise when they looked in my bucket!  Even better was the fact that they came home empty handed, no fish, nary a one, nada, zip.

Since it was almost dark dad strung them together tied it to the pilings and put them back in the water where they would stay alive until the next day. When we could clean them and cook them for lunch.

Now for the sad part. I ran to the dock in the morning and oh my god! All over were fish skeleton’s, still attached to the line. Just no more fish. Dad & my Uncle figured that a bear had come out of the woods and had a midnight snack. Lucky him. I cried like a baby. They offered to take me out on the lake but the stubborn Scorpio that I am refused be consoled. I prefered my favourite stance, pouting.

On an up note  somewhere I have a picture of myself  standing on the dock holding my catch and grinning from ear to ear. When I find it will post it with this blog. Alas, that  my friends was the beginning and end of my illustrious fishing career. Now about some of the desserts & salads I whipped up in that kitchen are another story, and started me on my culinary journey. I have never looked back.

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Farm Stand News ~ Fall Harvest

Woo hoo my all time favourite  season is about to be upon us!  Already arriving at my local farms ~ squashs ~ pumpkins ~ apples! To name a few.

Butternut squash ~ Oh sweet biscuits! I have an idea for butternut squash yeast rolls, will post when I perfect it. Turn it into Bisque ~ Rissotto ~ Chunked, roasted, carmelized tossed w/ sauteed red onions  and dried cranberries or cherries plumped in cognac. Some sliced fennel and orange zest. Maybe sprinkle some snipped garden chives. Ya think.

Though I am known to take butternut squash and make a pie w/ currants, shallots and creme fraiche. Incredible does not even begin to cover it!  A very savory and tasty side dish for thanksgiving dinner.

Me thinks, keep this short and sweet and  fill in later with fall foodie ideas. From the Farm Stand. Upcoming, Apples. What was that song/ Apples, apples, apples are good to eat, for breakfast, lunch and dinner and for treats, apples for everyone, and by gosh ~ golden delicious and macintosh! I make an apple & curry soup which is sweet and spicy at the same time.  The obvious, cobblers, baked stuffed, turnovers, my favourite ~ my  mile high apple pie with golden cheddar pie crust  and tiny scoop of caramel swirl ice cream, with walnut sprinkle.

Okay, not one of my better posts, but hey!  I can’t be brilliant with my prose all the time, right.

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Reality Food TV ~ Talent or Trash

Couldn’t decide whether to write about the abysmal lack of talent on reality television, or about living in a Paris garret while attending culinary school! Woohoo some tales to tell there.

Think since tonight is Top Chef, I will start with reality TV. This idea got forming in my head while the lobsters I cooked for  mum and pops dinner were cooling. Even at $5.99 a lb, still a bargain! My hot ( meaning he is very cute) fish guy told me this Sunday and Monday only $3.99. So you can well imagine what I will be cooking later this week, even if only to get the meat into the freezer for those dark days of winter. Coming sooner than I want. Believe daylight savings time ends in 2 weeks? She shudders.

Mind wandering, I come back to earth. Had the TV on, and Bravo was replaying the last 2 episodes of season 1 of Top Chef. Harold ~ Tiffany ~ Dave. Back when they were civilized  and let them sit down during the critique. Now they make them stand like they are in front of a firing squad. Not nice. It was also Kathie Lee Joel’s one and only season, now she was not bad, from what I understand a far more accomplished cook than Padama, just not quite the eye candy. I mean do you really think Salomon Rushdie married her for intellectual conversation. Now I could be wrong here, so take it with a grain of salt.  It is my blog, and I am free to speak my mind.

Believe the first 2 seasons of Top Chef had a much higher caliber of chefly talent Certainly “cleaner” looking, less whiny, and hey where are the hair or beard nets on some of these dudes & doo rag for the chicks. I would not want to taste some sweaty persons food, without their hair being covered, and a bandana around the forehead. Tats and piercings, fine as long as I don’t have to look at them. Though I am rooting for the 2 brothers, they actually seem to have some modicum of cooking knowledge and taste. May the best brother win!

Certainly on Top Chef Masters, first thing Anita Lo did was wrap that head scarf on. Kudos to her! I will go eat at her next restaurant.

Don’t even get me started on Hells Kitchen. Not one of them are chefs, chimney sweeps maybe, and why would you drink like that on national television. That show is baked, cooked, fried, stick a fork in it! It is done.

My favourite foodie shows ~ Iron Chef ~ Bobby Flays “ThrowDown” he is always gracious when he loses ~ Alton Brown ~ Robert Irvines :Dinner Impossible” ~ and of course Guy Fieri  Triple D. Also ~ Ina Garten ~ Lidia B. ~ and any or all of the shows with Julia and Jaques!

My guilty pleasures!

Weeds, well it may be up in smoke ~ True Blood, though Alan Ball should hire the writer Charlaine Harris as a consultant ~ GLEE!! I am in love with show, and it will be on in 30 mins, so I must wrap this up. Fox has a winner with this one.  Just watched one episode of The Vampire Diaries, so the jury is still out on this one.  Next up Survivor! Though have to wait til next year for LOST. Bummer. Hopefully will not have “lost” interest by then! Hahah. Bad Joke.  That my friends is about the extent of my television viewing. If Dr. Who or BBC america ever came to CT I would be in heaven. As is, have to down load those shows. No Mighty Boosch, Flight of the Concords, ah the cultural wasteland cable tv has become.  Til then. Off to get to some Glee.

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Couldn’t bring myself to write this the other day as it is still a mental mind fuck, if I think to long about what might have been. I live in Fairfield County, CT. About a 50 min drive to mid town Manhattan.  The train is about 1 hour, unless you take the express to Grand Central Terminal. I spent the summer of 2001 working in The World Trade Center bldg. Downstairs in the  grand concourse right by the path trains  as Executive Chef of The GreenHouse Cafe not a prestigious job, but the owner Mike H. had like 12 restaurants in NYC! And he was building one for me! At 18 Waverly Place in the Village.  We started in November 2000.  It was going to be called “All About Food”, with a nightclub attached.  Shit my dream come true! Great location! NYU across the street, my vision, creation, my food, kitchen! With someone elses money, how cool was that!

But, we were stymied by building codes,so while AAF languished, I went to work in the  WTC at a  cafe/ restaurant/ glorified food court Mike owned and had just opened. His chef was shite, and sanitation was in the toilet, food costs were skyrocketing.  So Mike was like please come work here til we get set. I figured why not, the money was amazing! Though I loathed the bank of escalators going down. Scared the crap out of me. I hate them! Not so much going down, but coming back up! Adored being in the WTC, knowing the sheer volume of people going through the place thought  I could “talk” up my new venue. Didn’t happen. Give me my coffee, NYTimes and lunch sushi, now! Ah, commuters.

I did learn alot about NYC and permits, etc. How you need tons of $$. Any way, I told Mike when AAF looked liked it might not happen (due to a plumbing issue & NYU) that I was going to take a low key job in CT.

20 mins from my house, cute little cafe/tea shop . Huge mistake. I worked longer hours for about a 3rd of the pay. Now in this industry one knows immediately if a job is going to be great, or if it is going to suck. This one was the latter.  So Sept 6 th 2 days later called Mike said lets talk!  He said meet me at the greenhouse, on the  11th at 9am. Since AAF had been in limbo it wasn’t like it would be to much trouble to reinstate me. Just, that I  had taken a vacation.

Tues pm, Mike calls says his  daughter is super sick, you know I will hire  you back, so lets meet Thurs. Me, okay. My parents were still healthy at the time and just arriving in London for a rather extended stay.

So, I did NOT go to Manhattan that day, what would have been WED, instead driving to my crappy cafe job to quit, heard the news on the radio.  If not for a phone call the nite before, I would have been there. Ground Zero

I talked to my best bud who lives in midtown, she was standing on the roof of her building watching everything burn. Trying to reach her cousin, who happens to be Michael Lomanaco, at the time the Executive Chef of Windows on the World.  Whose life was saved by stopping to buy a new pair of reading glasses before going to work.

At home I waited to hear from my parents  in London. I lost some good friends that day, and scared the proverbial crap out of a few others. Well we are here now so say  a prayer for those who did not make it , and be glad u are here to live life with your loved ones.

Just a footnote, All About Food did eventually open, the following spring! 2oo2. We had a gala grand opening in Trump Tower at the Avon Center on 5th avenue. It was very successful. I went on to be Executive Chef for some of New York Cities finest catering companies! Two of the top three.

For now I am grateful for my daughter, my parents, siblings, and circle of friends. My restaurant ship will come in again, I have no doubt.

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Farm Stand News ~ Tomatoes

Okay start thinking of the song “we have no bananas today”. Sort of the same thing with this summers tomato crop. Total bust ~ a wash out ~ pipe dream! I have plants on my deck looking all leafy and green, may as well hang a “for sale” sign on them. Or better yet, deer here’s your afternoon snack. Come and get it. It’s for free. Yours for the taking.

We have hot house varieties available yes. Something warm and succulent from your backyard garden, sadly no.  Boo Hoo. Ah well it  has been a very wet summer for New England. An judging from the squirrels hoarding, mice in one of my fireplaces, webs everywhere oh ick I hate the creepy crawlies with a passion, I think this winter is going to kick ass. Meaning snow, ice, snow. etc blizzards. Oh I shudder to even think of that. But I am already getting ready, candles, batteries, bottled water et all so I say bring it! That’s the girl scout in me. With 2 house bound parents, I have to be prepared. Forge onward!

Just totally bummed I did not get my summer tomato sandwich. From my garden. Warm flesh. Garlicky baguette. Fresh Basil. EVO. Kosher salt. Fresh ground black pepper. Luscious fruit squirting tomato goodness into my mouth. Fresh mozzarella or goat cheese completely optional. Guild the lily with fresh grilled shrimp or jumbo lump crab meat, save the butter poached lobster for another day.

Obviously you can make this sandwich with a hot house tomato and maybe convince yourself you are enjoying summers bounty from your backyard garden. Nice try. Won’t happen. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for next year!

This will be the first year I will not be canning tomatoes from my garden or oven roasting “my own” for the pantry. You can still do these things, it just won’t be the same. Certainly will not taste the same.

Although my very favourite season is about to be upon us! FALL.  The best of the best. Pumpkins, apples, squashes,homemade breads, cobblers,soups, pies, woohoo! As Arnold once said..I’ll be back.

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This being a Holiday weekend here in Ct ~ The town of Redding always has a once a year book fair. It’s is hosted by the Mark Twain Library, and I inevitably find wonderful old cookbooks! Came home today with a trove of at least 10! Going back tomorrow, as it will be half price day!

Now when I go to these book fairs, I always have with me a printed list of what I am searching for, and those that I already own! So not to “double” up ~ but when I do they usually become a present . Trust me, being my friend is a good thing!

Today’s catch was spectacular!

I landed:

1) The Village Cookbook ~ by the Methodist Church of South Orange, NJ 1947 the illustrations are mind boggling! will pic this one!

2) How to Eat & Drink  Your Way Through a French Menu ~ James Beard  ~1971

3) Wines of France ~ by Alex Lichine ~ 1951 The most comprehensive volume of its day!

4) Betty Crockers ~ Good and Easy Cookbook~ first edition 1954! Score!

5) The Spice Islands Cookbook ~ 1961  A companion piece to their line of spices! Out  of print forever!

6) A Series of French Cooking Lessons  from La Bonne Femme  ~ 1970

7) The ABC of Gourmet Cookery ~ 1946 very slim volume but soo cool.

8 ) Basic Elements  of Fine Cookery ~  Auguste Escoffier

9) The 60 Minute Chef ~ 1947!  By Lillian McCue & Carol Traux ~ mines signed!

10) Sunset’s Barbecue Book ~ 1933 ~ It is priceless!

I spent a total of $5.00 , Yup count em $5! that’s all she wrote, and I have already googled one of my books, and its market value is $150..no bad for a >.50 cent pay out!

I know this blog is not as much fun as I usually am, but wil be back in fighting form tomorrow.

Eleanor Put Your Boots Back On by Franz Ferdinand

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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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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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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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