January 2009

Cold Weather Lunches in N.Y.C. (Setagaya & Pearl)

There are cold days and then there are really cold days and on those really cold days you probably want to stay at home, under the covers, and never get out of bed. But then you have to get out of bed and, more importantly, you have to eat and if you’re in Manhattan running errands, you may find it difficult to find the cold weather comfort food you crave. Sure you could snarf a burrito, you could scarf a sandwich, but will that really warm you up? No, it will not. But here are two N.Y.C. dishes that will.

My Top Chef Season 5 Prediction

[Spoilers ahead, kinda, if you don’t know who’s left.]

In the next two weeks, Carla and Fabio will both go.

After that, either Leah or Hoseah.

Final three: Jamie, Stefan, Leah or Hoseah.

Final two: Jamie & Stefan.

Winner: Jamie.

What do you guys think?

My Favorite Way To Use Homemade Chicken Stock

I can imagine many of you who read the last post about homemade chicken stock were probably thinking, “What’s the point?”

You were probably thinking that in far less time and with far fewer dirty dishes, you could just buy a carton of the boxed stuff, squeeze it into your braise or your soup and be done with it. And though I’d urge you, if you insist on using pre-packaged stock, to follow Michael Ruhlman’s advice to use water instead, I have a compelling dish for you to try on the day you do finally make your own chicken stock; that dish is risotto.

Risotto, more than any other dish (except maybe soup), becomes an entirely different entity when you use homemade stock. The Arborio rice acts like a sponge and sucks up all the wholesome goodness of your stock; the resulting risotto is richer and way more intense than any risotto you could make with a boxed stock. So do this: make your own stock, whenever you get the chance, and then make my citrus risotto with seared scallops. It’s a really simple process: just cook an onion (I used a red onion this time) in butter, add the rice for a minute and then start ladling in stock. At the very end you add the supremed fruit, its zest and its juices. This time, as you can see in the picture above, I had a beautiful result using two Meyer lemons and–this was the kicker–two blood oranges.

Make stock then make risotto and I guarantee you’ll never make risotto with a boxed stock again.

Chicken Stock, 1 2 3

It’s cheap and easy to have homemade chicken stock on hand: all you really need is time. And thyme. But mostly time.

Sure, it can be expensive–I still can’t get over The Barefoot Contessa’s recipe which calls for not one, not two, but THREE whole chickens that you boil for three hours and discard. That seems extraordinarily wasteful, don’t you think?

I’ve played around with lots of stock recipes, but my latest foray into stock making was a pretty happy one. The recipe comes from Molly Stevens and it’s simple and straightforward and cheap, cheap, cheap.

Easy Homemade Granola

Now that I’m a health guru you might suspect that I made granola last week because of my new fitness regimen. But you’d be wrong, very wrong indeed; I made granola last week because of the newest cookbook in my collection, a gorgeous cookbook that I bought for my friend Lisa’s 30th birthday and that I secretly wished I’d kept for myself. But then the publisher offered to send me a review copy and I was in heaven. The book in question is “Baked: New Frontiers in Baking” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito of the Baked Bakery in Red Hook and next to Martha Stewart’s Baking Book this may quickly become my favorite baking book in my collection.



Dinner parties are rarely life changing events. Usually, you sit around a table with friends, drink wine, eat cheese, and talk about light subjects like abortion and torture and then you all head home. At least, that’s always how it’s been for me until this past weekend when our friends Dara and Kieran–who’ve kindly hosted us before— invited us to dinner.

Mustard Chicken with Bacon and Cream

This is not a recipe for the faint of heart. It’s a recipe you can only get away with in cold weather–VERY cold weather–and even then you may hear that spiky haired fitness guru from the 90s, Susan Powter, in your head screaming: “Stop the insanity!”

Susan Powter has a point: you’re about to bake chicken with cream (almost 2 cups) and bacon (1/2 a pound). The recipe, like the recipe below this, also comes from David Tanis’s “A Platter of Figs” only I substituted chicken for the originally intended protein: rabbit.

Roasted Parsnips

Easy. Shockingly easy. Are you ready? In one paragraph, here we go (courtesy of David Tanis and his marvelous book, “A Platter of Figs.”) Buy parsnips (4 to 5 pounds). Heat the oven to 375. Peel the parsnips. Quarter them lengthwise; remove the central core. If they’re large, cut them into 3-inch lengths. Toss with olive oil (appx. 3 Tablespoons), salt and pepper and roast in a small baking dish for 45 minutes until they’re tender and brown. They’re sweet and earthy and delicious and go great with roast chicken, pork, or other roasted root vegetables. And they take less than one paragraph to make.

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