Updated: 10/5/2006; 1:06:50 PM.
There's a Chef in My Kitchen
Culinary musings of a passionate gourmand, chef and social sommelier.

Friday, September 29, 2006

When Fall arrives.

My garden is still kicking out herbs (in abundance!), and the tomatoes continue to ripen.  There's still plenty of melon in the markets, but with the arrival of the cooler weather comes the bounty of apples, pears, citrus and, of course, root vegetables. 

I cannot think of a better calling card for Autumn and a preview to the Holiday season than this combination of root vegetables, citrus and sparkle.  Above all else, it may inspire a few to try an overlooked and under-appreciated root!

Recipe:  Mashed Rutabagas with Mascarpone and Pomegranate Syrup

9:49:14 AM    comment []

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Old is New ... again.

Tradition rings through my culinary veins.  My grandfather was a butcher and ran a small butcher shop in Pittsburgh's now famous Strip District.  My grandmothers, both Polish, embraced their Old World traditions and brought the classic rustic-ness of Old World Poland to their kitchens.  When I offered to help my new Mother-in-law with Sunday's dinner celebrating Rosh Hashanna, I couldn't have dreamed the Apple Cake she asked me to make would take me back to Grandmothers' kitchens. 

Those that know me know that baking is the least of my talents in the kitchen.  It usually takes a few tests before I nail a recipe.  Since there was no time to test recipes, or tweak or try something else, I had only one shot for Sunday.  There was no pressure!! (sarcasm fully intended).

My romp through my library of cookbooks led me in surprising directions.  Low cal, low fat, low carb... pies and tarts galore...but nothing that said "traditional" or "classic" cake until I happened through my Treasured Polish Recipes Cookbook.  Inspired by the classic apple pound cake I found there, and the recipes of Joan Nathan in her Jewish Cooking in America and The Foods of Israel Today, I went into my kitchen armed with my version of an old-world apple cake.  Sweet, but not cloying, with just enough spice to evoke thoughts of the harvest season about to begin, this cake is an easy and delicious way to welcome in the Jewish New Year and a harvest season of bounty. 

Recipe:  Old World Apple Cake

1:24:20 PM    comment []

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Young Chef.

Pure souls are rare on this earth.  I have been told that my new 10-year old son is one of them.  I am beginning to believe that he is.  He is inspired, and inspiring.  And for a chef to be inspired by a 10-year old that is something!  To wit we have come include our Pig-Pickin' Bar b que in our family dinner repertoire.  This is the classic he helped me recreate last year for his class "States' Fair". 

We traveled to North Carolina and tested North Carolina Bar b que in order to recreate the very flavor he instantly fell in love with.  (That's the funny thing about children.  If you can get them to eat something, their palates are so sharp and distinctive!).  Naturally, I did what any "mom" would do.  I scoured the internet searching for a North Carolina Pig-Pickin' recipe.  Low and behold we found our recipe, and my new son's "most favorite" meal.   But from this cooking and tasting adventure, my son's curiousity in the kitchen was piqued.  I watch in amazement as he wrestles with the idea that aroma matches flavor, and then sets out to find food combinations that we suddenly are scrambling to test.  A few have become our family favorites. 

We did little to our pig-pickin' pork bar b que recipe other than adapt it for a crock pot.  But, for sure, this Bon Appetit Recipe gets its real kick from the Bart's Bar B Que secret sauce that we picked up during our taste-testing in North Carolina.  The bar b que sauce in the recipe is good, but if you're near Myrtle Beach, Bart's is a must!

Pig-Pickin' Pork Barbque
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, copyright 1999 at epicurious.com
Serves 4 to 6

Photo from Bon Appetit at epicurious.com

For dry rub:
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
2 tablespoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 4 to 6 pound untrimmed boneless pork shoulder (also known as Boston butt!)

For the crock-pot sauce:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Liquid Smoke

1 tablespoon coarse salt
2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Soft hamburger rolls, split
(from Bon Appetit:  
Carolina Red Barbecue Sauce)

Make dry rub:
Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl with a fork to blend.

Place pork on a large piece of cling film on your work surface. Sprinkle dry rub all over pork and massage it into the meat. Cover with the cling film and place in a large bowl.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.

Prepare the crock-pot sauce and slow cook the pork:
Mix first 6 ingredients in a crock pot.  Plug the crock pot in and turn it to high.  Add the pork. Cover and cook on High for about 3 to 4 hours until the mixture is boiling.  Turn the crock pot to low and remove the pork to a casserole dish.  Carefully shred the pork, removing any large pieces of pork fat.  Return the shredded meat to the crock pot.  Cover and continue cooking on low for about 2 more hours.  

Using tongs, carefully serve the shredded pork on soft hamburger rolls.  Drizzle lightly with a vinegar based, spicy barbecue sauce. 

11:52:47 AM    comment []

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Memories transformed.  

Being indulged by the gracious staff at the Penha Longa Spa and Golf Resort in Sintra, Portugal is one of my honeymoon memories I shall cherish.  Each evening we found a small, thoughtful gift placed in our suite for us to enjoy.  Some of the gifts are timeless and have returned to the States with us.  Others, like a bottle of port and a sampling of the local cheeses, were to be enjoyed immediately.   

A particular cookie kept reappearing in our suite after our amazing dinner at the Hotel's restaurant.  Together the flavors of peanut butter, toasted sesame and ginger were transporting.  I sampled every one that appeared so as to memorize the flavor I would have to recreate upon my return home.  

The flavors of Portugal are magical, if nothing less than impossible to recreate State-side.  While I cannot say that I've nailed the recipe, I've created one that is as pleasing to my palate as is the memory of my first taste that memorable night in Portugal. 

Recipe:  Szechuan (Peanut Butter) Snaps

1:39:42 PM    comment []

Monday, September 18, 2006

The genesis of a recipe.

My time in the kitchen is spent working with recipes in one form or another.  Whether I'm working on a dish to fine tune its flavor, or develop my own variation of something marvelous, whether I'm cooking straight through a recipe to understand the style of a chef or author, or simply testing a recipe to see if it works, my life is spent reading and working through recipes.  Most of the time. 

It is the rare and wonderful occasion that I venture into the kitchen with little more than an idea.  Or, a request.  I begin with the vision I have and the flavors I can taste in my mind.  It is the most honest of culinary experiences.  Left with only instinct and my senses as a guide, I can lose myself in my search for knowledge rather than genius.  Sometimes the results are pure perfection.  Other times they are not.  

Sunday was one of those times when a vision of lasagne (or lasagna) evolved into our Sunday supper.  Having trained in contemporary French cuisine, and spent my time studying and cooking gourmet food, lasagne was just something I never got around too.  It wasn't hard, however, to translate what I could see and taste in my mind into a meal.  Thus, a new recipe is born.  A recipe to go into the book our son brought home to me to record our creations.  The book that I will pass down through the generations with our family's favorites and our secrets, our discoveries and the meals we will call our very own. 

Recipe:  Sunday Supper Lasagne

12:58:39 PM    comment []

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Hind sight is 20/20...

For the past 16 months life has done what life so beautifully does.  It has evolved.... changed... manifested....  To have chronicled and logged the events -- especially the food and wine -- along the way to here would have been priceless.  In a sense it is.  It exists in my notes, my planner, my event sheets....  But there is something forever lost in capturing the emotion of the moment.  That I have learned along the way.  So, I am beginning again.  Not a new chapter.  This can only be classified as a whole new "book." 

There's a Chef in my Kitchen, LLC is alive and, actually, despite the 8 month hiatus, doing quite well.  My name has changed, and I have a son (10-years old to boot!), but little else.  My passion, my vision and my commitment to de-mystifying the fundamentals of flavor and understanding taste is as strong as ever. 

Inspired by my honeymoon in Portugal and the magnificent dinner prepared for us by Chef Luis Casinhas at Assa Massa Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton's Penha Longa Hotel and Golf Resort, this mint sorbet arrives at the table as aromatic as it is wafting through the warm summer air.  

The milk used in the preparation coats the palate allowing the refreshing menthol of the mint to cover the palate. 

A simple sorbet; a classic infusion methode.  The results are compelling.

Recipe: Mint Sorbet

12:40:59 PM    comment []

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Seriously Good (Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Nut-Free) Food®  A cookbook for people with food allergies!  This is my first electronic cookbook, and it is a loving tribute to my precious little nephew Luke who has severe food allergies.  The book -- electronic, which is delivered to your email address in an Adobe (pdf) downloadable format -- is available for purchase here.  To see a preview, click here

A portion of the profits from the sale of this book will be donated in my nephews name to the Food Allergy and  Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN).  So, let's get a buzz going around this book -- food allergies or not, this is some Seriously Good Food®

10:29:37 AM    comment []

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