Thursday, September 24, 2009

End of Summer Tomato Salad

Last night I was with a friend from Italy and we are two of the most different people you can imagine. We had a blast and laughed over the many differences.

I can throw a toothbrush and a razor in a backpack and go anywhere and he travels with an entourage of suitcases.

My closets have been converted to pantries and my wine refrigerator to a meat curing cube and he has more clothes than I can imagine wearing in a year.

The evening just reminded me how much I love the simple pleasures and made me think of one of my favorite meals. Simplicity in itself the base being just sliced tomatoes, but with a crust of bread and a glass of wine it is heaven.

As we soon will leave the season of abundant ripe tomatoes I encourage you to head to your garden or a Farm Market soon and try this for yourself. Reduce the number of anchovies if you must but don't eliminate them from this dressing. They provide a depth of flavor that makes the salad a meal.

I had variations of this all over Rome and Napoli so feel free to vary it yourself. With these good ingredients you can't go wrong.

  • 1 cup pitted green and black olives, roughly chopped
  • a nice handful of chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 20 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • A huge handful or 4 of fresh basil, chopped.
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup really fruity peppery extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes sliced
Stir all the ingredients together save the garlic. Get your cheese grater and grate the fresh garlic into the dressing and give it another stir.

Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a platter and use a spoon to mound this dressing over the slices. Serves two as a meal and 4 as an appetizer.

IF for any reason you have leftovers chop the tomatoes and store in the frig, the next day warm and toss over makes a killer fresh pasta sauce. I will say the only time I had leftovers was when I did 8 large tomatoes for two persons, and even then...not too much left.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Maple Glazed Sausage and more Greenmarket appearances

Maple Glazed Sausage

We were taken to a fast-food cafĂ© where our order was fed into a computer. Our hamburger, made from the flesh of chemically impregnated cattle, had been broiled over counterfeit charcoal, placed between slices of artificially flavored cardboard and served to us by recycle juvenile delinquents…Jean Michel Chapereau

I will be posting a schedule of upcoming Greenmarket Food Demos because these farmer’s mean a lot to me personally. When I first moved to NY I literally worked for food and came to know these and other wonderful, generous hardworking people who toil daily to satisfy our appetites for the best possible food. Our local farmers and artisan vendors feed us so well in NY. To those readers who live elsewhere; seek out your local markets and give your taste buds a treat they won't forget.

This dish is a great breakfast accompaniment on the non-pancake days or savory antipasti that can be served alongside some soft cheese and grilled vegetables. If you are in NY Grazin Angus makes a beautiful beef Italian, but this simple preparation is also good with Tamarak Farms Kilbasa, and Flying Pig Farms pork Andoule. If you have really good sausage made with naturally raised meat and REAL maple syrup you can't go wrong.

1 Link Sausage Per Serving
1 Tablespoon REAL Maple Syrup per Serving
A big handful of Fresh Sage

Full cook sausage links and remove to a board, slice sausage links into thick coin sized pieces and return to the pan. Drizzle with syrup until fully coated and the syrup begins to reduce. Toss in your sage and stir just until the sage sticks to the sausage. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Friday, September 18, 2009

NY Greenmarket Appearance

An announcement and a recipe.

This Sunday the 20th of September beginning at 11 a.m. I will be at the New York Greenmarket with Fusion On The Fly live creating multiple dishes out of fresh market ingredients. Show up at 77th and Columbus and taste some food with me. No reservations required.

We are so lucky that at most Greenmarkets in NY we have such wide choices of food from the freshest vegetables and meats to handmade cheeses and fresh pasta. I will only be adding seasoning and olive oil (both of which are available at the flea market across the street.)

I will be doing a variation of Green Beans Franca and something with her delicious smoked trout.

While I will not be making Ed's 5 pepper tacos I will be using some of his wonderful fruit in another dish.

One of my newest favorite 'Salads' is one of the simplest and most refreshing ways to enjoy summer.

Asian Cucumber Salad

Dipping Sauce
1 tablespoon hot chili oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Whisk together

Cut cucumbers into coin sized slices and using your best chopstick skill dip them in the sauce and eat. This dish will make you grateful for the last vestiges of Summer and there are so few calories you can eat as many cucumbers as you like.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Like Fat; A home cook's chicken confit recipe

I like it a lot. I like pancetta, bacon, pate, liver and all sorts of fatty meats. When confronted with goose or duck I eat the crisp skin and the fat first. Even in it's pure form I can find no fault with it be it butter, lard, or pure olive oil.

I won't touch margarine, hydrogenated versions or the questionable vegetable oil, but all natural fat is pretty much fair game.

There are multitudes of recipes for the classic preparation of duck confit on the web, besides which, I can't improve on Julia Child's step by step instructions. Unfortunately many home cooks don't have sufficient quantity of duck fat laying about but butter, I bet you've got butter.

This dish will wow your dinner guests and you may be surprised you made something so very good. It can be started a few days before the party and is very easy to finish just before serving. In addition you will have a good quantity of flavorful butter left over that will make you very happy for weeks afterward.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as too much butter...

4 chicken thighs with drum attached (recipe can easily be doubled)
2 cups kosher salt (more if needed)
8 cloves garlic
4 tablespoons mixed Italian herbs
1 Jalapeno whole (choose a hotter pepper if you want more heat)
2 tablspoons crushed peppercorns

Mix all the seasoning as well as 4 tablespoons of the salt in the food processor to form a paste. Rub the chicken all over with the past making sure to get some under the skin. Make a bed of the remaining salt in a pan large enough for the chicken to lie flat. Place the chicken on the bed and fully cover with the rest of the salt (use more if needed). Place a plate on top of the chicken and refrigerate for 24 hours.

For the next step you will need 3/4 pound melted butter and 8 heads of garlic split in half as well as 8 strips of fatty bacon.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and rinse under cool water to remove excess salt. Pat dry with paper towels. You will see the salt left in the pan is very wet as the chicken has lost some of it's moisture, this is a good thing as we are replacing it with fat.

Place the open garlic on a casserole and place the dried chicken skin side up on top of the garlic cloves. Layer the bacon on top of the chicken.Pour butter over the chicken until not a bit of skin or chicken does not have a good layer of fat on top of it. The chicken should look like it is drowning in a pool of fat. Place in a 225 oven for 3 hours.

With a spatula carefully remove the chicken and place on a plate to cool. It will be VERY melty and tender so be careful. Strain the fat into a large tall container so that the fat will rise and any broth or solids will pool at the bottom. Cover the chicken and place both in the refrigerator until the next day. Resist the urge to pick.

If you want a real treat you can now crisp the bacon and make the best BLT you have ever had, or cover and save the bacon and use it on a bed of crisp greens. It's a delicious side treat.

Now comes the pleasure part.

You have all this lovely butter filled with flavor and chicken that cannot wait. Place the chicken in a nonstick pan over a low medium flame and warm and crisp it.

How you serve it is up to you. I can be taken off the bone and crisped and served over a bed of lightly dressed greens.

My favorite however is to get some of that lovely fat out and fry cubed new potatoes alongside the chicken. To serve this crisp chicken along with potatoes flavored in the fat is so decadent that you may eat all vegetables for the next few days. It is worth it.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Congee recipe aka Jook, a dieter's best friend

Many Americans if they have any idea of what congee is think of it as some poor gruel, gross and inedible. They could not be more wrong.

Congee is a VERY versatile soup base and because of it's thick texture it tends to fill one up with few calories. It takes almost any addition, you can stir in and becomes rich with flavor.

If adding vegetables it is also a very low calorie choice. 9 cups of the stuff comes in at just over 200 calories and if adding mostly veg you will not get fat.

Basic Recipe
  • 3/4 cup long rice
  • 9 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Cover, bring to a boil, stir, turn down and simmer for about 90 minutes. Stir occasionally. You will have about 8 cups of basic Congee when finished. You can season the whole pot or try some of these stir in's if you want to eat it about two cups at a time.

If you want your basic porridge to have a warmer color throw in a little turmeric and paprika when cooking it. If you want the base to be more flavorful you can use chicken, beef, veal, duck or any other stock you have.

I love to take a couple of cups of the basic, add about a tablespoon of miso paste, a splash of soy sauce and top with a poached egg.

It makes a great lunch with a crushed tomato, fresh basil and a little Parmesan cheese.

Literally any vegetable chopped and added to Congee will taste great. I made a corn/cabbage chowder with shredded cabbage and one ear of fresh corn and a little miso.

For a big meal load it up with vegetables, add some sesame oil, some chili oil and some soy.

Shredded meat, leftover meatballs, onions, garlic can use whatever you have in the frig to give you a flavorful meal.

For a dieter on a budget...Congee. Don't be afraid to go Asian.