Monday, February 21, 2011

Looking for change

I am no sure what is more difficult – change or commitment. I would endeavor to say, that when undertaking any new venture there needs to be a willingness to wrestle with both. We prepare ourselves for days, weeks sometimes years in advance, and then the mysterious tipping point presents its self, and we leap.

Be it a new business; saying good ridden to a toxic relationship or starting a new food program it seems change and commitment must be part of our internal conversation and belief system, or else success will never come into the equation.

The unknown is frightening but the new is exhilarating. As we all embark on new journeys we need to have planned a course, set-down benchmarks to hit, and build in permission to digress a bit while traversing this new path. Once upon our trek the hardest thing to maintain is a mantra of victory as we tire and only see the stretch of open road laid out in front of us. Inner strength and conviction to the goal and simply relying upon the phrase, fake it to you make it needs to be holding your hand.

Dream a dream…plot a course…walk into a new beginning.

Vegetable-Turkey Soup – yields approx. 12 servings
1-pound boneless-skinless turkey thigh meat
2-turkey drumsticks (on the bone)
1-medium sweet onion (such as Vidalia) - diced
3/4-pound carrots – cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-pound parsnips – cut into 1/2-inch pieces
5-stalks celery – cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-pound celery root – cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-pound rutabaga – cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1-pound crimini mushrooms – halved
1-tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1-cup parsley leaves
1-cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
1-teaspoon fenugreek
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a 10-quart soup pot over a high heat, and then place the turkey to brown. Once the turkey has browned remove to a work-bowl and immediately add the onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, celery root and rutabaga. Stir the vegetables to coat with the bit of fat released by the browning turkey. Lower to the heat to medium, and cook the vegetables until they are wilted down – approximately 10 minutes.

Once the vegetables have wilted add the turkey back to the pot along with the mushrooms, thyme, parsley, fenugreek and sun dried tomatoes. As well as some salt and pepper.
Pour over 5 to 6 cups of cold water. Bring to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Place a lid on the pot that is slightly askew, and simmer the soup for 3 hours.

Retrieve the turkey meat from the pot, and shred the thigh meat and drumsticks (discarding the skin and bone). Return the meat to the pot, and correct seasoning.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Love stained Valentine
A box filled with passion
warm breath melts the day

Love Potion 214 – yields approx. 4 cocktails
2 cups blood orange juice (from approximately 6)
1/4-cup pomegranate molasses
4 whole clove
1/4-cup dried Rose petals
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
1-teaspoon whole fennel seed
1/2-inch piece sliced, fresh ginger root
1/2-cup sugar
1-cup vodka

Place the clove, rose petals, hibiscus, fennel seed and ginger root in a 1-1/2 quart saucepan and pour over the blood orange juice, pomegranate syrup, sugar and 1-cup water. Over a medium heat warm the mixture for 20 minutes covered with a tight fitting lid. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep for 15 minutes. Then pass the ingredients through a fine sieve. Cool the infused orange juice mixture completely.

Fill a martini shaker with ice and pour over 1/2-cup of the blood orange mixture and 1/4-cup of vodka. Place the lid on it and shake. Pour into martini glass and serve straight up.

Friday, February 11, 2011

True Love

With all is this talk of Valentine’s Day coming up lets talk about something I love – my pots and pans. And they are specific. Of course, my knives are extremely important to me and I have quite a collection of slicing, dicing, chopping options, but sooner or later they fail requiring a trip to the sharpener.

My number one partner in the kitchen has been from the start of my adult-life is a wok I purchased while in college down in Chinatown which has managed living around with world with me. If I had to give up all but one of my pots and pans, it would be that wok coated with years of experimenting and serving meals that would remain with me, I always say. It wilted the first bok choy I had ever eaten, presented years of paellas before a traditional container found its way into the kitchen. There were occasions when that bowled pot allowed chunks of pork to sizzle and crisp in deep fat.

Like an episode of Sister Wives I have brought others into the mix. An old, rust encrusted cast iron skillet was found on a table at a Pennsylvania flea market. Scrubbed with fine steel wool to rid it of its years of neglect its potential was once again recognized and requested. Now, mind you rescuing this pan came with living instructions. After scouring it was dried over an open flame to bone dry. Then I lightly oiled it, and heated over a high flame until it smoked. Then for the first twenty years that we were together I have never cleaned it with more than a soft sponge, a suspicion of soap and hot water. Then over a flame to dry – airing drying it would surely start it onto its previous path of corroded despair. I will admit that this pan that can easily pass through generations and found a fallow period when a Teflon clad interloper worked to usurp its power. Today, no flecks of that technical wonder can be found. As a disclaimer, be aware that cast iron skillets are heavy, so stop carrying them around the house.

Then there is the field of stainless cooking vessels from everyone and their promoter. They are our modern day workhorses. Though not all is equal. I am a fan of All-clad and am smitten by a new pan I received from a company called 360 Cookware, a eco-friendly production facility based in Wisconsin. They promote a vapor technology due to their rimmed pan and tight fitting lids that allows cooking to be done in a steaming like state. But I am a creature that craves brunt edges and needs to brown things than having a majority of my foods steamed – regardless of how healthy it is. So, I tried the pan as encouraged, heated over a medium flame, and not my usual blast. I laid down a filet of hamachi and allowed it to sear. Then I placed a few baby bok choys on top with some ginger and scallions and secured the lid. So far, no oil in the pan – I lowered my heat and cooked it for 10 minutes. To my pleasure the bok choy was cooked and fish lifted off crisped bottom in tact.

With a drizzle of ponzu sauce and sesame oil I was feeling love.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super prep

I guess I am clueless in regards to certain events. Living in New York City I became aware that the Jets almost made it to the Super Bowl. I heard of the pots of competing chili my nephews concocted as hosts of the don’t-let-us-down game. Unfortunately, like another rhyming New York sport’s franchise a victorious moment was not to be witnessed by Gotham’s optimistic fans. Apparently that is old news.

Yes, I knew that there were other teams that won and they would be off to the Super Bowl and the colors green and yellow in their uniforms. I just had no idea when it would be, and honestly I did not care. The only time I saw a football game in its entirety would have been when I was about twelve years of age. I do remember it being a Jets game when they actually played in the State they were associated with. I cannot say I recall a single minute of a single quarter; I do have absolute recollection of the frigid chill that caused my bum to freeze off and the hot chocolate my father plied me with in the hopes of melting the creeping hatred for the day that was all over my face. Indoors or outdoors I never witnessed a game again. I am also somewhat adverse to the greasy spread that litters many a den. That is why the one Super Bowl party I catered sushi was on the menu.

I don’t believe this weekend is going to mark any change in my viewing or eating habits – with or without the Jets. Maybe I will go to the movies with my own popcorn.

Green Apple and White Cabbage Salad – yields 10 servings
2 Granny Smith apples
1 lime - juiced
1 small head white cabbage – core removed; thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb – white bottom only; sliced julienne
1 medium red onion – sliced thinly onto julienne
4 stalks celery – sliced thin julienne
1 carrot – peeled; sliced thin julienne

Cut the apples into quarters and remove the core.

Then slice the apple into thin julienne and toss with the limejuice. Toss all the ingredients together along with the caraway dressing (see below).

Let the salad sit 1 to 6 hours before serving.

Caraway Dressing
1-pound silken tofu
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2-cup cider vinegar
1/4-cup olive oil
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black to taste
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

In a blender process the tofu, mustard vinegar, oil, caraway seeds, salt and black together to thoroughly combine. Transfer to a clean work bowl and stir in the poppy seeds. Correct with salt and pepper.

The Farmer's Market Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes Using the Freshest Ingredients