April 18th, 2013
Several years ago I visited Lake Como and was given a cookbook “Tales of Risotto, Culinary Adventures from Villa d’ Este”.
Tales of Risotto
It includes 50 risotto recipes typical of northern Italy; and has some worthwhile tips. While most risotto recipes call for Arborio rice, this book recommends Carnaroli rice. Although Carnaroli might have been selected because of geographic preferences, the authors point out that the rice has an advantage. Carnaroli rice doesn’t get mushy as you overcook it; which is a real plus for the home chef because you don’t need to watch it as closely as the more popular Arborio.
Most risotto recipes begin with sauteing onions or shallots in olive oil, but this cookbook suggests using butter. We should not be surprised, because butter is often substituted for olive oil in northern Italy. Although the butter will not make the dish more dietetic, it does make the risotto rich and creamy.
Lastly, while you constantly read how Italians frown on adding cheese to seafood dishes; this cookbook heartily recommends fresh Parmesan cheese be added to seafood risottos.
I made a Shrimp risotto with asparagus; and I added a healthy amount of Parmigiano Reggiano on top.
Risotto with Shrimp & Asparagus
Carnaroli rice, butter, and Parmigiano Reggiano will make your shrimp risotto delizioso.
April 5th, 2013
Where should you eat French food in NYC? Well, all the buzz today is about Lafayette, Andrew Carmellini’s place that will open in a couple weeks. Calliope, Le Philosophe, or a classic like Baltazar also are quite admired, but are very hard to get into. Isn’t there a restaurant that serves good food and that you don’t need to wait 4 weeks for a reservation? Yes, thankfully there are restaurants under the radar.
La Mangeoire is a real gem located on 2nd Avenue and 53rd Street.
La Mangeoire Restaurant
Remember in 1998 the NY Times awarded Christian Delouvrier of Lespinasse 4 Stars? Well, Chef Delouvrier is at the helm at La Mangeoire, and he is turning out some stellar food. This charming restaurant has been around since 1975, and the quaint atmosphere makes you feel like you are eating in Provence. The food is simple, but superbly prepared. Mussels, Roast Chicken, or Coq au Vin all rock. The dish that really captured my attention was the Frisee Salad…the poached egg was breaded and fried and was paired with delicious lardons….heaven.
La Mangeoire was a great every time that I visited it, and I can’t wait to go back. I will seek out other restaurants under the radar and keep you posted.
April 4th, 2013
While we are all anticipating the arrival of Spring vegetables, I think we still have a few more weeks. I suggest that we stick to the classics like carrots. But should we boil, steam or roast them?
I prefer roasted carrots because the caramelization heightens the flavor. Usually I just add olive oil, dill, salt and pepper and roast the carrots at a high temperature. But I have 2 other variations that you might find interesting.
To brighten the flavor of the carrots, while also adding a touch of sweetness, I add a few splashes of pear or fig vinegar (Il Fustino is a good for vinegars)to the above mixture.
Another way to roast your carrots is to add spices; which will add more complexity. I add cumin, coriander, paprika, and a touch cayenne pepper. These Turkish seasonings add an earthiness and a bit of zip.
March 13th, 2013
It’s our last 2 weeks in Sutton Place before we move uptown. Sutton is a nice quiet section of the city, but it’s certainly not a foodie destination. There were very few foodie highlights, but one exception was the butcher…one of the best in NYC.
Leonard “Lenny” Simchick opened L. Simchick in the early ’90s, and after all these years it continues to excel. This is an old school butcher shop that cuts each piece of meat to order. Lenny recently added prepacked meals for his customers that have little time on their hands; but his selection and quality of the meat has changed little over the last 20 years.
Want a ribeye? They will ask how thick. Want ground lamb? They will grind it, but first ask how much fat.
Grilling season is coming, and if I need a killer steak I’m going to Simchick.
February 28th, 2013
I will be moving to a new apartment in a couple weeks, and that’s the perfect excuse to restock the pantry. Although there is no perfect rule on when you should toss out your old herbs and spices, most sources say every 1 -2 years. The bottom line is that if the herb or spice still has good flavor then it’s fine. But we are all guilty of having things sit around for years.
Moving has peaked my interest into tossing out some of the older items; but perhaps Spring cleaning or just needing to add a little spice into your life will get you motivated. There is an upside…you get to buy new herbs and spices, and your meals will come to life!
Have you ever been to Kalustyans on Lex and 28th Street in NYC? It’s amazing. It started in 1944 selling Indian spices, and now it’s a cornucopia of flavors. We are lucky because today there are hundreds of good places around the world to buy herbs and spices, including many Outdoor Food Markets.
With the upcoming move, I’m too busy to shop at specialty stores, so I am going to rely on Penzeys Spices. I have ordered from them for years.
Penzeys Spices Catalog
You can order online or by telephone (800-741-7787). Their 60 page catalog has a huge selection, and I’ve always been impressed with their quality.
I’m going to order: Adobe Seasoning, Aleppo Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Cinnamon, Cumin, Herbes de Provence, Oregano, Sage, Tellicherry Peppercorns, Thyme and Turmeric.
Let’s start cooking!