Friday, December 28, 2007


My Christams Holiday on the Indian Ocean in a seaside Hamlet called Varkala has come to a close. I await the overnight train to Trichy where there is a supposedly wonderful Ganesh Temple (the elephant headed Hindu god) I just have to see, plus the food is spoken of very highly there. I must confess to the past few days of being subjected to westernized Indian as I bronzed myslef on the beach and doing very leittle else. The price I have to buy to avoid the northeasters of winter.

I did get a good pineapple and cashew biriyani recipe fom a local chef that I will rewrite and share at a future date. This meandering journey through the southern portion of India is coming to a quick close. Pondicherry, the French colonial town lays ahead from me, and then alas, so does an airplane's seat.

Enjoy the New Year.....

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Have been in Fort Kochi on the Maalabar Coast for a mere two days, and it has revealed a wealth of gifts to me. For one, it is a quiet, dust free corner of this country, albiet rife with mosquitos, that immediately was a welcome respite from the craziness of the bigger cities. But truly this morning's breakfast meeting with a local cook put me where I wanted. Over a stove with a batter for dosas -- those paper thin pancakes I love so much. I got the formula for the concoction as well the procedure for making the batter. I just have to figure out what we call a certain lentil that goes along with rice and i am in. It is a full day process between the soaking, grinding and then fermenting. By alas, I got it. Though I will admitt to needing some practice and making the perfect pancake still eludes me. I got a library of information from her and cannot wait to get back and source out the products locally and cook up some memories. Clearly, once I do I will post the recipes.

For now, dinner with some other travellers await cooked by some unknown kitchen person beckons.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


I just left the Coorg Region of India where I spent the last few days getting intimate with the peppercorn. I had no idea it was a climbing vine that wraps around the bottom half a tree making it look like the trunk is wearing a skirt. I was two months too early for their harvest but I did eat them underipe straight off the vine, and they deliver a punch. When I get back I will publish my "Never Will Make Again Fresh Pepper Chutney" just for the fun of it. Though the coffee was just about ripe for the picking a raw, ripe coffee bean is sweet and delicious...someone has to market Java Juice...Starbucks are you reading this? I am a bit overwhelmed right now for I eat fresh cardamon and got acquainted with my first vanilla orchid. Not to mention the cobra we almost ran over.

Hope everyone gts their holiday gifts as well.....

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bangalore Express

Okay, I ready to admit I am a jaded consumer who was prepared to confornt "Johnny, who may I help you" customer representative dolling out hi-tech remedies from this obscure corner of the earth. I am so angry with him for taking our jobs and draining resources that could otherwise be wasted at home.

Arrived at the Bangalore Cantonment Station, the secondary stop servicing the city, and was immediately concerned that we have entrusted our computers, DVD players, phones to a town void of traffic lights, but not the traffic with Victorian services and cow drawn trucks. It was late and dark and my intitial assessment was informed by what the station light's illuminated. Anxiouly, I stood waiting for my friend Sandeep to fetch me - he ran 20 minutes late! Did I get off at the wrong stationThis could be a definite possiblity for there were no announcements, no station sign to spy as we cruised in - only the pre-warning that the train will not stop long so jump off quickly. Even the fellow passengers, who were locals, questioned the arriving station. I made the leap and not until half way to the exit did I finally get confirmation of my hopefully true destination. At last, my ride arrived with great relief to me for I feared I wouldf never otherwise find a hotel.

Thye Chalins are a loving family living harmoniously under one roof with four separately interwoven lives. Being in a home was a rich reward and made my momentary train terror quickly fade into oblivion.

My next introduction to Bangalore spun on a dime, or should that be a rupee, with cocktails at a hotspot that could exsist in any hip-groovy city -- sleek, contempary design, commanding cityviews from this rooftop watering hole that was jammed with lable obvious consumers. The new wealth of out-sourcing. Though as I looked around there sat but a lone female among the hordes of whiskey throwong young men. i thought prehaps this was a gay bar but I was sure that Sandeep was straight. It was explained while the bar was indeed straight wome go out with less frequency and always in the company of male companions. Never a group of "Sex in teh City" chicks out for a gilr's night. After being up for almost 24 hours a clean bed and pillow welcomed me.

I woke with still too few hous clocked but EST still controls my internal workinhs. Fortunately, Mr. Chatlin offered a traditional south Indian breakfast of curried dalh, coconut chutney and idly (a steamed rice cake) as well as the best cream of wheat I have ever had. Basically, a semolina porridge that was dense and studded with curry leaves, onions, green chilies and mustard seeds - from what I could make out. Then it was off to SVL Chai House to enjoy a local cup of joe. What a delight, and something missing in my day. A strong, yet sweet shot tempered with warmed milk. I quickly knocked two back. Things were seeming okay again. It was off to rendezvous with Sandeep and his mother who had finally greeted the day. We ran to Russel Market, and purchased some foods for the evening meal. Sandeep and I were going to cook - what I still wasn't sure. All I know was that his father was vegetarian; his mother was vegetarian on Mondays and Fridays as part of her religious observations, and his brother, just had food issues.

Dinner ended up being:
Sauteed Banana Flowers with Garlic and Lime
Charred Eggplant with onions, chilies and ginger
Butter Beans Marsala with Tomatoes
Fish Fillets with Pomegrante wrapped in Banana Leaves

It was a success, or at least the politeness of the family made me feel that way. From my point of view I believed it to be so.

As the meal wound down I asked if I would like to go "blanketing" that night. Curious, I asked what it meant and was told there was a trunk full of woolen blankets that they go and distribute to homeless to offer but a touch of comfort during the cool winter nights. I was touched, amazed and immediately a willing volunteer. We piled into the car: Sandeep, his father, an aunt and uncle and a pair of sissors. The latter were for notching the blankets rendering them defected and therefore unable to be sold for a few ruppees. We headed that night for a neighborhood called Richard's Town. No, not in honor of me just an ironic, humbling twist. Finding needy recipients was no trouble though we did seek out childern, people with just a thin cotton covering or a ratty plastic tarpin as their night's protector against the chill. The trunk was reduced to the owner's manual at an unfortunate speed. For me. I ached as I watched a simple, utilitarian cover bring so much joy, surprise and gratitude to thse who receive sp little in life. They were a car full of people who who know were life they were positioned and yet did not forget that they were still citzens of humanity. It was an awesome ripple they are creating in this tempestous sea.

We induldged ourselves with a sweet paan leaf, soft like butter, and redolent with sugared rose petals, and a dark cup of chai (tea). Quiet laughter filled the car as we recounted some of the more precious moments of the night. I was so thankful to have a full belly but even more indebted to this family fpr allowing me to experience a Bangalore I would never get on the phone.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


A just a quick sigh to have landed after 20 hours of travel...but alas my bag decided to spend some extra time in London. Not surprised, I do find it a wonderful city. Though it is warm and humid here a change of clothes will serve me well. Pray, it makes it onto the flight today.

Now, I am going out and about...spied a sweets shop!

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Persimmons are a quintessential fruit of the cooler months. Its color, a brunt orange, is perfectly matched to the floral displays adorning a table-scape. Though there are two main varieties found throughout the markets in the United States and they are complete opposites.

The Hachiya is a large teardrop shape that must be eaten when extremely soft or the tannins contained with this one will remind one of an eraser clouded with chalk. It has a very gelatinous mouth feel, and this is the persimmon I like to use when making bread puddings, jams, or tapioca pudding.

It is very easy to extract the pulp from this one for it over-ripe nature when ready just requires a squeeze, and the seeds are easily found to boot.

Then at the other end of the spectrum is the Fuyu variety the is a squat crab-apple like figure that is eaten hard is and is not nearly as juicy as it larger relative. For me these are snacking persimmons, or if I am making a chutney. When I cook this version I am in the habit of peeling them for it is a bit tough.

Sweet Potato Soufflé - yields 8 servings
3 1/2 pounds of Sweet Potatoes (or yams) - peeled and diced
2 1/2 cups Persimmon Puree - approx. 3 ripe fruits (skin and seeds discarded)
1/4 cup Thyme leaves - chopped
1 teaspoon orange zest - minced
1 1/2 tablespoons Curry Powder
1 teaspoon White Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon Honey
1 Orange - juiced
1 tablespoon Salt
4 Egg Whites - beaten to stiff peaks

Pre heat the oven to 275 degrees.

Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water till soft. While they are still warm mash the potatoes into a smooth mass. Place the potatoes on a baking tray in the oven for 15 minutes to dry them out a bit. In a large bowl thoroughly combine the sweet potato, persimmon puree, thyme,zest, curry powder, cayenne, pepper honey, orange juice and salt together. Gently fold in the egg whites until the whites are completely incorporated. Place in a 2 quart soufflé or casserole dish and bake for 40 minutes. Serve immediately.

Persimmon Bread Pudding - serves 6

2 Eggs
5 Egg Yolks
1 cup Persimmon Puree
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
1/4 cup Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean - split in half
2 cups Milk
2 cups Cream
8 croissants (or any sweet bread) - sliced into 1/4" pieces

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Beat the eggs, yolks, sugar, persimmon puree and nutmeg to together until well combined. Scald the milk and cream with the vanilla. Whisk in a small amount of the milk mixture into the eggs. Then once the eggs feel warm, add the remaining milk. Strain the egg/milk mixture through a fine sieve. In a 12 inch long bread loaf pan place a single layer of the croissant, and pour over a small amount of the egg/milk mixture. Repeat this procedure until the pan is full. You should lightly push down on the layers to make sure the pudding is compressed and the croissant is completely soaked. Cove the pan with aluminum foil put the loaf pan in a water bath, and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. It is done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in the water bath. Then un-mold from the pan, and serve slices with a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Like no other

For about a month now my favorite potato has been seen in the market – but there are few of them and too many know of their exsistence.

I am talking about the Papa Amarilla an Andean native grown in this country by a few adventurous, high altitude farmers. Those of us who know this particular spud covet its meaty taste (actually it tastes like chicken), golden yellow hue (it makes a Yukon golden look sickly) and creamy interior (that seems to be pumped with butter). It is tuber that has no other to compare it to – oh, sure a fingerling, blushing Desiree or tiny new potatoes have their place and satisfy a dish’s execution this denizen of South America’s mountain top markets holds up all by itself.

Now, I am ready to concede that this potato is not as available as its third cousin twice removed, the russet, but well worth the journey to find it. If you ever wondered what a potato could taste like this is the one to sample. After procuring three pounds of these special, starchy gems I am putting up a base soup to take me through the winter. I freeze quarts of this potato soup to which I can later add cheese, avocado or chorizo sausage depending on my mood.

Papa Amarilla Soup – yields approx. 5 quarts

3 pounds papa Amarilla (a South American variety of potato)
2 pounds onion (approximately 3 medium sized)
2 heads of garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Wash the potatoes well to remove any dirt and debris. Then slice the potatoes thinly and place them in at least a 16 quart soup pot. Peel and quarter the onions. Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Place them in the pot along with the potatoes. Pour over 3 quarts of water (12 cups), and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the flame to a simmer. Cook the soup for 1 hour. Puree the soup, and then return to the pot and correct the seasoning.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007



Thanksgiving Week Soup
1 Turkey carcass – well picked over
1 large Carrot - peeled and diced
4 Celery stalks - diced
3 Russet Potatoes - peeled and diced
2 cups Corn - (fresh or frozen)
2 large Onions - peeled and diced
3 Garlic cloves - crushed
2 Jalapeno Chilies - seeded and diced
2 large Tomatoes - seeds and diced
1/2 bunch Cilantro
1 teaspoon Cumin - ground
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Lime - juiced

Break up the carcass so it will fit in your soup pot. Then cover it with either water, vegetable or chicken stock to come a few inches over the bones.. Bring the stock to a boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 1 hour- occasionally skimming off any scum that might float to the top. Remove the carcass from the pot, and add to the simmering turkey stock the onion, potato, celery, chili, garlic, corn, cumin, and carrots. Simmer the soup for another 45 minutes. Then add remaining ingredients, and simmer for an additional 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's a bird

So, you are going to make the turkey this year. Apprehensive that it might come out dry? There are a few things you can to do to ensure a moist, flavorful bird.

I am a firm believer in smaller is better. While that 30-pound gargantuan looks impressive dominating the table its meat is sinewy and tough to me. I am more apt to have two smaller creatures positioned as sentinels ensuring that I have cooked a turkey that is more within its natural size. If possible buy a fresh bird, but it you must use a frozen one, make sure you defrost it slowly in the refrigerator over a 24 to 48 hour period.

In order to protect the breast meat of the bird from over-cooking while dark meat finishes cooking I like to blanket the breast with strips of bacon. Lay down some fresh sage or thyme leaves on the breast and fresh pepper, and then cover that with the bacon. The saltiness of the bacon should preclude your need to salt it. Shove two lemons cut in half and a head of garlic broken-up into the cavity of the turkey.

Then place the turkey in a roasting pan that is about 3 to 4 inches high. Pre-heat the oven to 450-degrees. Cook the turkey for the first 30 minutes at 450 and then lower the temperature to 350-dgrees. Baste the bird every 30 to 45 minutes. Figure your cooking time based upon the formula of 12 minutes for every pound. An instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the drumstick (not touching the bone) should read 175 to 180- degrees. Remove from the oven, and let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving.

I like to take the drippings along with some white wine and simmer it for 15 minutes, and serve a jus (un-thickened sauce).

Good luck and enjoy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Getting Readied...

Tens days left before we feast as a nation. Are you prepared? As you decide on your menu for the day there are things you can do in advance to make the day a pleasurable cooking experience verses the stress-filled wreck that ruins many attempts.

Tomorrow take your knives in to be sharpened. A well hone blade makes cutting, slicing and dicing so much easier as you no longer have to fight with the knife to do the job it was designed for. If you do not know a reputable knife sharpener in your area go to the butcher and ask them for a recommendation.

Now, it is time to decide on a menu. Of course, the turkey will be there but what is going around it – stuffing, sides, sauces. Are you like me and enjoy changing it up almost annually. I tend to chose a culture and apply their flavors to my table. I did a Moroccan year and I made a couscous stuffing; sweet potato puree with cinnamon; cranberry sauce with slivers of dried apricot. Since every American celebrates at this table I feel free to beg, borrow and even, steal ideas from everyone. Not that there is any problem with a traditional set-up either. Read M.F.K. Fisher’s “Consider the Oyster” for an old fashion stuffing.

It is paramount that you organize yourself. What must be cooked last minute; what can you do four days in advance and gently work up to the day. I always do a mix of room temperature and hot for the table. This allows me to do plenty of my recipes a day or two in advance. Plus, there is the honest assessment of how much oven space do you, and how much do you really need. Remember the turkey is going to hold court in that hot box for much of the day.

So, have a great day, and over-eat.

Onions Braised in Balsamic Vinegar - yields 6 to 8 servings

1 pound small spring onions or Vidalia onions - peeled and root trimmed
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup red wine
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 pound unsalted Butter

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a 9x4 shallow Pyrex or ceramic baking pan lay the onion in a single layer. Pour over the vinegar, wine, thyme, salt and pepper. Dot the onions with the butter and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Bake for 30 to 40 or until very tender. Serve hot or room temperature.

Fennel Orange Salad – yields 6 to 8 servings

2 fennel bulbs (approx. 1/2 pound)
4 oranges – peeled
1 small red onion – sliced very thinly
1/2 cup walnuts – lightly toasted
1/4 cup chopped chives
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cut the fennel in half and then slice the fennel into paper thin half moon shaped slices. After peeling the orange cut in half and discard any pithy membrane and seeds. Then cut the oranges into 1/4 inch thick half moon shaped slices. Place everything in a bowl and gently toss to combine. Serve at room temperature.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


It is one of the fragrances and tastes I seek out during the autumn. Its nose is pungent with a rosy-nose and an apple/pear-like texture. I am referring to the quince. A somewhat obscure fruit that comes to us via the Middle East and visually could be confused with an apple variety – perhaps that is the mistake Adam made. Though unlike its iconic cousin the quince is not edible raw. It must be sautéed, stewed or steamed in order to make it palatable.

They are ripe when yellow, and it releases a potent redolence that is quite floral. It also has a felty-fuzzy covering its outer skin, which inevitably tickles my nasal cavity as I drink up its smell. It is a small prize to pay for such an exotically delicate flavor.

If you have ever made apple butter you now have the opportunity to make another fabulous paste from the quince. The English and Spanish have a long tradition of using this paste as an accompaniment to a cheddar or manchego cheese – along with some Port and crusty bread I am having a heavenly afternoon.

Quince Upside Down Cake – yields 12
2 quince – peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1-cup sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter – at room temerpature
2 eggs
8 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4-cup cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups chickpea flour
1-cup sugar
1-teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a 9-inch cake pan or 12 individual 3/4 ounce ramekins evenly distribute the sliced quince – gently packing them in.

In a 2-cup saucepan add the sugar and 1/4-cup of water. Over a high heat melt the sugar and water together, and cook until the sugar turns a light amber. Pour the caramelized sugar over the quince.

In a work bowl beat the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs and the ricotta cheese to thoroughly combine with the butter. Mix in the cream and vanilla extract.

Sift the chickpea flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Then mix the flour mixture into the butter-base. Pour the cake batter over the quince, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes (for individual cakes15 to 20 minutes), or until cake tester inserted comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. While still warm invert the cake and remove the pan. If any quince has stuck to the bottom gently remove to the cake. Cool the cake completely.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Have you?

Has a hard-skinned, seed-filled pumpkin seduced you yet yet? Or, are you still fighting the terrors of a ghoulishly carved Halloween prop? The market is abundant with possibilities and you should take the plunge. It does not have to say, Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s on the label for you to decide to work with pumpkin meat. Yes, I will agree that there is a tad more work involved with getting a fresh, whole specimen that needs to be peeled and further dealt with. Though the flavor rewards leaves commercially dealt products in the dust. You will most likely get more from one tough-skin then you will probably use in that recipe – don’t fret it. Freeze the remaining. I like to freeze the pumpkin meat pureed so it can be easily applied to soups, stews, or baked goods lately on.

Just make sure when you buy the pumpkin it is heavy for its size, and use a chef’s knife when cutting it open. I always wash the seeds free of any fibrous material and pat them dry, and then, I must confess, fry them in olive oil until golden brown. A little sprinkle of salt, and I have a snack or garnish for the finished dish.

Take home a Hubbard Blue, Banana or Kuri – everyone needs a good home.

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce- serves 8 to 10
3 cups cooked Pumpkin meat (approx. 3 pound pumpkin or canned)
2 - 3 cups all purpose Flour
3 large Eggs
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 tsp Nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Salt

If you are using a fresh pumpkin, slice the top off and remove the seeds. Bake the pumpkin in a 350 oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until fork tender. Scoop out the pumpkin meat and mashed to a smooth mixture. Lay it out on a baking tray and return in to the oven for 15 minutes to evaporate any excessive moisture. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool slightly.

Place the pumpkin meat on a clean work surface and make a large well in the middle. Sprinkle about 1 and 1/4 cups of the flour over the pumpkin. In the well add the eggs, oil, nutmeg and salt and gently beat it to combine. Start mixing in the pumpkin/flour into the egg mixture and working to combine it all together. If the gnocchi mixture feels wet and tacky continue to work in additional flour until the dough mass is not tacky to the touch.

Divide the pumpkin dough mass into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a log approximately 1 inch round. Cut the log into 1/2-inch pieces. You can either lightly pinch the gnocchi or you may lightly roll the piece up the back of a fork to create some ridges. Hold the
gnocchi on a clean, well floured kitchen towel as you make them so they don’t end up sticking your work surface. Freeze, or cook the gnocchi in a large quantity of boiling water until it floats to the surface, about 4 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.

Gorgonzola Cream Sauce- yields 2 cups

3 cups Cream
1/8 cup Brandy
1 Tblsp Thyme Leaves - roughly chopped
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/8 pound Gorgonzola Cheese - crumbled
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

In a sauce pan bring the cream, brandy, thyme and mustard to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced by half in volume. Whisk in the gorgonzola and add the salt and pepper. Spoon over the gnocchi as soon as it comes out the water and serve.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dawn has yet to break

Yeasty aromas dance
Heralding the new day

Parmesan Focaccia - yields 1 12x18 bread

5 cups all-purpose flour
1-tablsepoon salt
2 cups warm water
1 packet dry active yeast
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
Black Pepper

12"x17" Baking Tray

Combine the flour and salt together to mix well. Measure the water into a work bowl and whisk in the sugar and yeast. Let stand for 5 minutes. If using a standing mixer place the flour, into the yeast mixture along with 1/4 cup of oil, and work until combined and smooth using the dough hook attachment on the lowest speed – mixing about 5 to 10 minutes. Then add in the parmesan cheese and knead to thoroughly distribute the cheese.

If by hand -- mix all the ingredients together, holding back 1 1/2 cups of the flour, and knead the dough until smooth to the touch. You will need to add in the remaining flour in small amounts while you knead the dough. The dough should not be tacky to the touch.
Gather the dough into a ball, and cover with a dampened kitchen towel, and place in a warm spot. Let the dough double in size -- about 45 minutes.

Oil the baking tray with the remaining oil. Oil your hands and punch the dough down. Press and stretch the dough into the baking tray. The dough will not fill the entire tray at this point. If a hole occurs pinch the dough back together. Let the dough rest again for 20 minutes, covered loosely with oiled plastic wrap.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake the focaccia for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown and baked through. Cool before cutting.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Come Sunday morning....

I woke up yesterday morning and immediately wrapped myself tighter around my comforter. Yes, finally the cold hit and my heat had not yet been turned on. Anyone who knows me will attest to my low threshold for the cold – so for me anything below 70-degrees starts a cooling trend. Why I don’t live in a more temperate climate is another conversation.

As I rallied myself to get up, and run to a hot shower I knew this was a day for cooking. Especially, since my heat was not yet rattling its way through the pipes I knew a long simmering “something” would warm more than a carving. Sipping my coffee wearing socks, for the first since last winter, I started to take stock of the kitchen larder. I was not quite ready to break into any of the items I’d put-up over the summer – not while the market still supplies plenty of foods. But I did have garlic and onions in ample reserve in the refrigerator and I just happen to have bought some yucca – why? They looked to good to pass up.

If you are not familiar with yucca you might know it as cassava or manioc a tuber coming out of the Amazonian Basin that is a staple throughout the tropical parts of the world. It is also the vegetable that we derive tapioca from – everyone has eaten a version at sometime. Be warned that one pound of yucca packs about 650 calories – an energy rich food store. Keep in mind it does take more calories to stay warm, so I had no problems with a potent pot cooking away. After the gym I stopped at the store to consider what meat will inform my yucca. It’s me, whom are we kidding? I bought a piece of boneless pork shoulder and a bunch of celery – that is all I would need.

A few hours later I had a braise of broken-down pork and chunks of yucca spiked with a squeeze of lime. I rested bowl on my chest warming both my outer and inner selves.

I woke this morning to the clang and hiss of winter’s soundtrack – my heat was on its way.

Pork and Yucca – yields 6 to 8 servings

1/4-cup olive oil
3 pounds boneless pork shoulder – trimmed of excess fat
3 onions – cut into large chunks
1-bunch celery – cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 head garlic – peeled and roughly chopped
1 chili pepper – such as habanero or jalapeno; minced
1-teaspoon whole cumin seed
1-teaspoon whole coriander seed
1-tablespoon smoked paprika
2 whole black cardamom pods
1/4-cup fresh thyme leaves
1 pound yucca – peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 10-quart Dutch oven or casserole dish over a high heat. Add the oil, and pork shoulder. Sear the shoulder on all sides to very brown and crisp. Remove from the pot, and hold in a clean bowl.

Add the onion, celery and chili to the pot. Lower then heat to medium and cook the onion mixture for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every so often. Return the pork to the pot along with the thyme. Season with salt and pepper, and pour in a cup of water. Reduce the heat to low, and cover. Cook the pork for 2 hours. Checking to make sure it is not to dry – add some water if necessary.

After 2 hours add the yucca and cook for an hour longer. Correct seasoning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Born in the depths of the ancient Fertile Crescent is more than the legacy of civilization but also a fruit perhaps wrongfully interpreted for an apple. The pomegranate is a plump, round, red-skinned fruit that if bitten directly into would cause a rather distasteful experience. However, unwrapped and within is reveal a case filled with crimson jewels explosively juicy with a sweet/sour satisfaction. The seeds themselves can be taken straight from the fruit with the additional taste of bitter nuttiness. Or, scooped into a sieve and pressed to extract the rosy libation that engulfs the seed kernel.

The pomegranate sings a versatile note in so far as it is content to be employed for both savory and sweet applications not to mention the faddish splash with vodka.

Buy pomegranates that are firm to the touch and a deep red hue. If store at room temperature were there is little humidity the fruit will dry up leaving a lovely table-scape décor. Though now on the market is a proliferation of bottled juices that can be used though I highly recommend you make sure they are un-sweetened. And, for a curious and delicious culinary adventure find pomegranate molasses which is a syrupy reduction of the juice.

Apple Pear Salsa - yields approx. 4 cups

2 Granny Smith Apples - peeled and cored
2 Pears - peeled and cored
1 Pomegranate - juice only (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup fresh Lime juice
1 small Red Onion - diced fine
2” long piece of Ginger - peeled and diced fine
1 tablespoon fresh Thyme - chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Italian Parsley - chopped
2 tablespoon fresh Chives - chopped
White pepper and salt to taste

Cut the apples and pears in to a small dice and toss with the pomegranate, and lime juice. Toss together with all other ingredients, and let sit one hour before using.

Lamb Tenderloin with Dried Fruit Strudel - yields 12 servings
1 cup dried apricot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1 cup dried cranberries
1cup red wine (preferably Pinot Noir or Zinfadel)
1-cup pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons dried Rose petals (prepared for making tea)
1/2-teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1-teaspoon salt
2 cups pistachio nuts - ground to a coarse meal
1-pound phyllo dough
1-pound butter – melted

Rough chop the apricots. Mix with blueberries raisins and cranberries in a large bowl.

In a 3-cup saucepan combine the red wine, pomegranate juice, rose petals, black pepper and salt. Bring to the mixture just to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes covered. Shut off the heat, and let the mixture steep for 10 more minutes.

Strain the mixture directly over the dried fruits. Cover the bowl and let sit, at room temperature for 12 t 24 hours.

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Strain the dried fruit reserving the soaking liquid in a small saucepan. Reserve the soaking liquid. Toss the dried fruit and the pistachio nuts together.

Lay a sheet of phyllo out on a clean work-surface and lightly brush the entire sheet with melted butter. Repeat this process three more times so that it is four layers of phyllo. Spread a third of the fruit mixture across the bottom third of the phyllo leaving a 2 inch boarder at the very bottom. Carefully roll phyllo, but tightly, around the dried fruit. Paint with rolled strudel with a bit of melted butter, and cut three vent holes into the strudel. Repeat with the remaining fruit mixture.

Place the strudels on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve slices drizzled with reserved soaking liquid.

Lamb Tenderloin Fillet
3 pounds lamb tenderloin fillets
1-teaspoon ground cumin
1/2-teaspoon ground coriander
1/4-teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8-teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4-teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-tablespoons Dijon mustard

Trim the lamb of the fat and sinew.

In a small bowl mix the spice and mustard to together, and then rub the lamb with the spice mix. Refrigerate the lamb for 8 to 24 hours.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator, and season with salt. Grill the lamb for about 10 minutes over a moderate direct heat. Remove from the grill, and rest the lamb for 10 minutes at room temperature. Slice the lamb on an angle and serve accompanied with the dried fruit strudel and a drizzle of mint oil.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A sprout by any other name

Why oh, why do so many of us find the Brussels Sprout so repulsive? Their miniature, compact heads are just prefect for peeling – at least that is how I would eat them as a kid. Purchased still en-branch they make a superb element in a floral display. Though if you only have experienced this shrunken cabbage cousin boiled away I don’t wonder why you might despise them.

Fresh from the market and snapped from its stalk they cook within fives in water, or charred in the oven to rid it any “cabbage-y” remnant. It is time to caste off that old, outdated perception and try this autumn vegetable anew.

Buy tight heads that a pale to rich green coloration that are not bruised. If you must buy them snugly packed in basket with a cellophane roof remove the wrapping upon getting home to allow them to breath to avoid moisture from collecting, and starting them to decompose. They great part of the Brussels Sprout is that is will be with us through the first cold snap – like it or not.

Braised Brussels Sprouts and Pearl Onions - serves 6

1 pound Brussels Sprouts
1 pint pearl onions
1-cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons butter
1/8-teaspoon nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste

Trim the Brussels sprouts by discarding the outer leaves and placing an “x” on the bottom of the Brussels sprouts. This “x” allows an even cooking of the them.

Cut the top and bottom of the pearl onion and place in boiling water for 3 minutes. Then drain and remove the outer skin of the onion.

In a high sided sauté pan place all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts - yields 4 to 6 servings

2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1/2 pound oyster mushroom
6 scallions
1/2-cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Trim the Brussels sprouts by cutting off the bottom and cutting them in half. Discard any bruised and unattractive leaves. Wash the Brussels sprouts well and let them sit in the colander. You don not have to be concerned about the water clinging to them. It will actually help them cook.

Trim the base of the oyster mushrooms and cut into a rough chop. Trim the root base from the scallion and the tops of the green. Wash the scallions well to dislodge any dirt. Cut the scallion into 1 1/2” long pieces, and then cut the white pieces in half length wise. Toss everything together with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the Brussels sprout mixture onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sprouts are slightly charred and tender. Serve warm.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

March of the Hard Skins


Solid yellow flesh; well flavored
Boiled, Baked, Casseroles, Excellent for pies

Intense orange color & highest Vitamin C and carotene.
Boiled, baked content of all squashes plus high in soups. purees.
Developed especially for baby food. Excellent for pies

Dark orange flesh
Ultimate pumpkin pie

Extra rich and sweet in flavor.
Baked, pureed, orange flesh is firm, smooth & fiber-less stuffed, casseroles. High in Carotene. .
Pale yellow flesh is very smooth.
Baked, stuffed, boiled with a delicate sweet flavor free of pumpkin taste. High in Calcium

Thick, bright orange flesh is smooth
Baked, stuffed and delicious. boiled.

Bright orange flesh, very delicious
Baked, stuffed, boiled

Cross between Delicata and Spaghetti Squash.
Excellent Flavor stuffed, Baked, boiled

Firm high quality sweet flesh
Excellent for pies, cookies cakes, breads and soups
Very sweet, tender, orange flesh
Excellent for baking and stuffing. Ideal as a single serving.

Very sweet, orange flesh
Excellent for baking and stuffing

Delicata type winter squash
Stuffing and Baking

miniture sized pumpkins either orange, white or mottled green
Prefect for stuffing and serving as an individual portion.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A chill in the air

Walking through the park
.........another seaon falls

Tomorrow, I'll cook a stew

Red Kidney Beans with Fire Roasted Chili Peppers - yields 6 to 8 servings

1 jalapeno chili - roasted, peeled and seeded
2 Anaheim chilies - roasted, peeled and seeded
2 pablano chili - roasted, peeled and seeded
1 serrano chili – roasted, peeled and seeded
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound bacon – cut into thick strips
1 large onion - thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 cup red wine
32 ounces canned, chopped tomatoes
1 cup chopped pumpkin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon thyme leaves - chopped
3” by 1” strip of orange zest
3 cups cooked red kidney beans
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Roughly chop all the chilies and hold to the side.

Heat a 6 quart casserole dish and add the oil, bacon and onion. As the bacon releases its fat let the onions sauté until golden brown. Then add in the garlic and cumin seeds and continue cooking the mixture for two minutes. Pour in the red wine and reduce the liquid by more than half. Mix in the tomatoes, pumpkin, oregano, thyme, orange zest, kidney beans and reserved chopped roasted chilies. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cook the stew, covered, for 1 hour. Correct seasoning and serve hot. If the mixture gets too dry add some water to prevent scorching.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Knobby Celery

Sitting in the market during these shortened days is a root vegetable so homely and seemingly inhospitable many give it a cursory, pitiful glance. Granted the celery root, or celeriac as the French refer to it, is not as coquettish as a brunch of grapes or alluring as Pink Lady apple or practical as a carrot, however, this vegetable is for me a foundation vegetable for the many soups, stews and salads I make all winter long. Ask this dear wall-flower to dance…..

A cousin the celery the celery root produces a very fibrous, bitter stalk and is therefore not eaten. Rather it is its swollen root stem that contains an earthy, celery flavor, which happily plays well with others. Visually the root base is not attraction by popular standards I give you that but once you peel away the knobby, browned skin a creamy, aromatic, white flesh awaits. Now a typical peel will break under the pressure of peeling so I highly recommend you use your chef’s knife to reveal the treasure that is hidden.

Buy celery root that is dense to the touch, and not wet. I try to find the most round examples nature has produced, as they are a tad easier to peel. Be warned that the meat of the vegetable once exposed to the air will start to oxidize so have a little bowl of water at the ready to drop the cut pieces in. In stews and soups the celery will survive nice long cooking periods leaving flavorful texture in your bowl. Try it as a appetizing additional to mashed potatoes.

Celery Root and Green Apple Salad - yields 6 to 8 servings
1 medium Red Onion
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 pound Celery Root
2 tart Apples such as Granny Smith, Mutsu
1/4 cup chopped Chives
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1/4 pound blue cheese - crumbled
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Slice the onion in half through its root base – by cutting the onion in this way you prevent it from falling apart on you as all the leaves of the onion attach at the root end. Trim off the stem and peel away its outer layer. Slice the onion into a very thin julienne, which will actually be a half moon shape. Toss the onions with vinegar in a work bowl and let sit for 20 minutes. In the meantime, peel the celery root by cutting off the root and stem portions to create a flat, stable surface. Using a pairing or chef knife peel the skin from the celery root. Given the thickness of the vegetable’s skin I find it much easier to use a knife than a vegetable peeler. Slice the celery root into 1/4 inch panels and then cut those panels into 1/8 inch wide julienne strips. Place in with the onions and toss. Core the apples and slice into 1/8 inch thick julienne strips and toss with the onion mixture along with the chives, mustard, blue cheese, oil, salt and pepper.

Serve this salad cold or, I like to warm it before serving.

Split Pea Soup – serves 10 to 12

1 cup split green peas
3 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onion – diced
1 leek – whites only, diced
3 cloves garlic - minced
2 celery stalks – diced
1 large carrot – diced
1/2 pound turnip – peeled and diced
1/2 pound rutabaga – peeled and diced
1/2 pound celery root – peeled and diced
1/2 pound smoked ham hock
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves - chopped
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley leaves - chopped
3 quarts chicken stock
2 tablespoons chopped dill
Salt and pepper to taste

Soak the peas in 2 cups of cold water for 1 hour, and then drain.

Heat a 6 quart pot over a medium flame and add the oil, onion and leeks. Cook until the onions and leeks lose their raw look and are translucent.

Add in the garlic, celery, carrot, turnip, rutabaga, and celery root and cook for five minutes stirring occasionally. Add in the peas, ham hock, thyme, parsley and stock. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the soup for a minimum of 1-1/2 hour. Add addiiotnal water for the soup sarts to get too thick. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper, and dill. Serve hot.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A new day

While I was watching a cooking segment on the local news the on-air chef referred to a food he was using as “ethnic.” I must confess that this raises the hairs on the back of my neck. The term ethnic encompasses a whole set of characteristics of a society including their language, religion, and race. I am committed to redirecting our thought to realize it is culturally distinctive foods we are playing. Culture includes the expression of art, manners and scholarly pursuits. Food and cooking is a cultural influence allowing me to further expand on an artistic expression and forge new avenues of creation.

I find ethnic to be “an us and them” conversation while the experience of culture allows us all to view it, participate in it and enjoy it (or not). All foods deserve my attention and possible incorporation into my culinary repertoire. Nothing should be relegated to the International Aisle of the grocery store – what does that really mean? Only foods indigenous to the North American continent are found throughout the rest of the store? Or, do we elevate certain foodstuffs to acceptable to our culture? Yet, our culture is comprised of many different ethnic tones all worthy of our attention and understanding.

Moving forward don’t view new items as belonging to an aisle that makes us think it is unusable, specific or too far from your ethnic identity – for in realty it is now part of out cultural fabric.

Salmon Fillet encrusted with Pistachio – yields 6 servings
6-4oz salmon fillets
1 cup ground pistachio nuts
2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 egg whites

Pre heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together all the dry ingredients.

In a bowl lightly beat the egg white to just frothy.

Dip the salmon fillets into the egg whites to completely wet the fillets. Then remove the fillets to the spiced pistachio mix, and roll the salmon in it.

Place the salmon a parchment lined baking tray that has been lightly greased with olive oil. Bake the salmon for 12 to15 min. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

An apple a day

Yes, there actually was a 19th century figure planting apple orchards throughout the mid-west, which inspired the story of Johnny Appleseed. Though the history of this fruit-baring tree goes back to its origins in north-central Asia, and perhaps had its greatest role in the Garden of Eden.

For us today, the apple is one of the fruits that starting showing up in late summer, and carries us through the winter – be it fresh, dried or juiced. It has become the iconic fruit of the United States and no wonder for apples are grown all in fifty states -- though an apple pie on the 4th of July would never do for me. The first apples that come to market are always a sour variety like the Lodi then cooling nights of autumn brings on a legion of apples – in fact there are over 2500 different varieties grown in the US alone. My personal favorite s a Black Twig – it is on the smallish side, a mottled red with a rock-candy hardness and sweetness that I covet. It is however, elusive showing up in the market sometime in October and in very limited quantities. I am patience and diligent, and refuse not to have my annual fix.

I personally do not prescribe to certain apples are used for baking and others just eating – if you find a variety you like employ in every corner of the kitchen. Store the apples at room temperature for a week, and if holding on to them any longer store them in the refrigerator. Be aware that the apple gives off prodigious amounts of ethylene gas, which is naturally occurring and facilitates ripening. This is fantastic if you want that avocado to soften, but if you don’t want your bananas to brown so quickly store them in separate bowls.

Smoked Trout Salad - yields 4 servings

1/2 pound smoked trout
1 head frissee lettuce (Chicory)
1 Mastu apple (or other tart apple)
1 small celery root – peeled
1/8-cup apple cider vinegar
1 red pepper - roasted, skinned and julienne

For Dressing
1/8-pound blue cheese
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4-cup sherry vinegar
1/8-cup chives - chopped
1/4 cup walnut oil
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper to taste

Wash the head of lettuce, but keep the leaves intact. Flake the smoked trout. Slice the celery root a very fine julienne, and then toss in apple cider vinegar to prevent it from turning brown. Slice the apple into thin slices, and hold in some water also to prevent them from browning.

Make the dressing by placing all the dressing ingredients in the food processor and blending until smooth and incorporated. Correct seasoning.

Assemble the salad by placing some of the frissee greens on a plate sprinkle some trout along with some celery root and red pepper. Fan the apples on the side of the plate. Drizzle with dressing. Serve.

Apple Crisp Towers - serves 6

2 cups sugar
1-tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-teaspoon ground allspice
1/2-teaspoon ground nutmeg
5 medium size apples (such as Cortland, Jonagold, Empire)
1-pound phyllo dough
1/2-pound butter - melted

3-inch cookie cutters
pastry brush

1 pint vanilla ice cream

Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice together.

Peel the apples and using an apple corer remove the seed center. Cut the apples into rings 1/2-inch thick - wanting to get five rings from each apple. Toss the rings with the spice mixture to coat well.

Lay the phyllo out on a clean work surface and cover with a damp kitchen towel (when phyllo dries out it gets very brittle and can not be successfully worked with).

Take a sheet of phyllo, and lay it out separately. Brush with some butter starting at the edges as they tend to dry out first. Then lay another sheet on top of the buttered one, and still a third. Brushing each addition with butter. Cut out disks that are just slightly larger then the apple rings, approximately 3 inches in diameter. Use a cookie cutter or a wide enough glass as your template.

On a baking sheet place one disk with an apple ring on top, then cover with a second phyllo disk. Sprinkle with some of the left over spiced sugar, and drizzle with a little butter. Lay out the phyllo and in this manner until you’ve used them all.

Cover the phyllo-apple disks with a piece of parchment paper and place another baking tray right on top of the parchment paper to lightly weight down the phyllo-apple disks. This will help prevent the phyllo from curling while being baked. Place in the oven and bake golden and crisp 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the baking sheet while still warm as the caramelized sugar tends to stick as it cools on to a cooling rack. Cool completely.

Assemble by sandwiching two to three layers of the phyllo-apples together with ice cream between each layer.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Just another day

Canvas bag in hand

strolling stands being seduced...........................

tonight, a potluck

Coconut Chicken Stew – yields 6 servings

2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 medium red onion
3 cloves garlic
1 red pepper
1 small red Thai chili
1/4-pound shiitake mushrooms – caps only, thinly sliced
2 Japanese eggplant – sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
3 small carrots – cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1-pint cherry tomatoes
1-can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1-pound boneless/skinless chicken breast – cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ear of corn – kernels only
1 English cucumber – cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1/4-cup Thai Basil leaves - torn
1/4-cup cilantro leaves
Salt tot taste

Heat a wok and add the sesame oil, onion, garlic, pepper and chili and cook until the onions brown. Then add in the eggplant, carrots, cherry tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the flame to low. Cook covered for 15 minutes. Stir in the chicken, corn and cucumber and cook for 10 minutes. Add the bail and cilantro and salt. Serve over rice.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

By the light of the silvery moon.....

So, as the sun quietly settled in for the night yesterday a large, bright moon illuminated our darken path. Though it was no ordinary moon; it was the first full moon after the autumnal equinox otherwise referred to as the Harvest Moon. In songs and poems this lunar occurrence has been rhapsodized and romanticized for eons.

For me, I am in the fields staring off into the distance after a laborious day of hauling weighty tough-skinned squashes from their summer rows – perhaps a future jack-o-lantern or holiday pie. Or, maybe I spent the day cutting the stalks of a minute cabbage bejeweled with mouth-size heads that tend to give some a visceral reaction but one that we all know. Now, don’t fear the laborers of the earth are not out reaping every last vegetable in the fields. Fortunately, we still have a few months ahead of us of hearty, warming foods requiring a good washing and an eager mouth to fulfill its potential.

Acorn Squash
Brussels Sprouts
Broccoli Rabe
Celery Root
Shelling Beans
Soy Beans
Squash (hard skinned)
Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard

Asian Pears


Monday, September 24, 2007

Go for it

Standing at the stove is a five-year old boy on an unmarked Saturday morning. Johnny Quest is heard calling for his dog Bandit from the small television that sits on the kitchen counter that on any other day of the week would be tuned in to his mother’s favorite soap operas. It is the weekend, and Mom and Dad are sleeping in and hungry interrupts the mesmerizing cartoon block. Pulling down the oven door this future chef climbs up to reach the stove top in order to make scrambled eggs with copious amounts of American singles melted through out. This is my beginning with cooking.

Today, as a chef and instructor who teaches classes, for both adults and teenagers, I see subsequent generations taking spoon in hand, and enthusiastically stepping up the counter.

What has changed since those early days of mine is the quantity and availability of ingredients to play with. No longer is a leek considered esoteric or curly parsley the only herb to consider when perfuming a fancy. The accessibility to the world through cooking has never been greater, and we should unleash culinary warrior within and dare yourselves to try the plethora of possibilities that now is within arms reach.

Star Fruit and Jicama Salad - serves 6

2 star fruit
1 pound jicama - peeled
2 bunch arugula- washed and chopped
3-tablespoons cider vinegar
1-tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1/2-teaspoon cumin seed - ground
1/2-cup canola oil
salt and pepper to taste

Slice the star fruit into 1/4 inch thick rounds, and the jicama into 1/4 inch thick julienne. Then toss with the vinegar, fish sauce and cumin. Just prior to serving add the arugula, oil and salt pepper to the star fruit and jicama. Toss well and serve immediately.

Dhal with Coconut and Spinach - serves 6 to 8

8 ounces red lentils
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion - diced
2 garlic cloves - minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger - grated
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound spinach - washed and roughly chopped
1-can coconut milk
1-cup hot water
1 teaspoon salt

Pick through the lentils to remove any stones or other debris. Soak the lentil in a pot of cold water for 10 minutes discarding anything that floats to the top. Drain. In a sauce pan heat the oil then add the onions, ginger, and garlic cooking until golden. Add the lentils and ground spices and cook for a minute, stirring constantly. Add the coconut milk and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover cooking for 15 to 20 minutes. Add the spinach and salt continue cooking covered until the dhal looks like porridge. If there is too much liquid cook uncovered to help evaporate excess liquid.

Friday, September 21, 2007

An Equinox

On September 23, 2007 at 5.51 am the earth will shift on its axis officially marking the start of autumn, and for me the long trek into spring. Yes, I admit it I am not that sophisticated I really only need two seasons. Perhaps that is why I am gorging on tomatoes, corn, plums and watermelon while they offer a moment’s pleasure. It would also explain the 30 pounds of frozen heirloom tomatoes and gallon-size freezer bag filled with corn kernels not to mention the various jars of pickles in my refrigerator. I know there are days ahead when arctic air will sweep aggressively through the seams of my windowpanes and I will reach for a memory.

All that is tomorrow for now I feast on the juiciest, sweetest, most succulent August-hanger-ons I can find. That is right for today I refuse that apple or pumpkin because next week they will be my only options.

Beans, Corn and Potato Chowder – yields 6 to 8 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion - diced
1 red pepper - diced
3 garlic cloves – diced
1 jalapeno chili – seeds removed to lower heat
1/4-pound fingerling potato
1/2 cup shelled fresh shelling beans (such as black eyed, cranberry or lima)
1-pint cherry tomatoes
1-tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 ears of corn – kernels removed from the cob
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 2-1/2 quart saucepan over a medium heat, and the onion, red pepper, garlic and jalapeno. Cook the onion mixture for ten minutes stirring occasionally in order to prevent the onions from sticking. Once the onions brown add the potatoes, beans, tomatoes and thyme. Lower the heat to low, and cover. Cook the vegetables for 15 to 20 minutes until the beans and potatoes are soft. Add in the corn kernels, salt and pepper – cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Serve with a lime wedge or a dollop of sour cream.

Caribbean Tomato Cruda - yields approx. 2 cups

2 pounds tomatoes - seeded
1 small red onion
6 scallions
3-garlic cloves - crushed to a paste
1/4 cup parsley leaves – chopped
2 teaspoons oregano leaves
2 lemons - juiced
1/4-cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and black pepper

Dice the tomato into a 1/4 inch dice. Dice the red onion and scallions as fine as possible.
Toss with all remaining ingredients. Refrigerate 1 hour before using.