Thursday, March 28, 2013

New York City – March, 2013
I took the red eye from the Orange County airport to Newark as it was a direct flight.  Upon arriving at Newark airport I took the AirTrain to Newark Penn Station and then the train to NYC Penn Station which takes about one hour and costs $12.50.  I stayed at Park79 hotel ( on the upper west side which is reasonably priced, quiet and 10 minutes from central park and the subway stations.  After checking in and storing my suitcase I walked down Columbus Avenue to Muffins Café.  There are only four tables but by the time your bran muffin and coffee are ready there is a place to sit. 

I took a walk around the Jacqueline Kennedy reservoir in central park amidst snow flurries and rather cold weather and then walked down to the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue/42nd Street.  Built in 1911 and declared a national monument in 1965, this beautiful Beaux-Arts Building contains a most impressive main reading room.  It has long oak tables lit by elegant bronze lamps with 52 foot tall ceilings filled with murals of vast skies.   A quick walk over to the Morgan Library to view its vast art treasures collected by J. P. Morgan’s father and donated to the public in 1924.

Lunch at the little owl (, a cute restaurant in Greenwich village.  I had a delicious sunflower sprout salad with golden beets and shaved parmesan ending with a flourless chocolate cake with espresso gelato. 

Later in the afternoon I took the subway to the Brooklyn Museum as it is open late on Thursday nights.   The most impression exhibition was “Gravity and Grace: monumental works by El Anatsui”.  Born in Ghana, Anatsui creates enormous metal wall works using bottle caps.  Dinner nearby at Battersby (, a small, funky restaurant just recently opened.  Brooklyn has become quite a food mecca.  I dined at the counter as there are very few tables and enjoyed an absolutely delicious 5 course meal.  Celery root chestnut soup was the “amuse” followed by hamachi with green ginger and yuzu, pork tortellini with crisp artichoke chips, kale, lobster and sweetbreads with fingerling potatoes, wild Scottish salmon with artichoke puree, thin slices and hearts, orange sorbet with pomegranate granite to cleanse my palate and little triangles of black forest cake with cherries for dessert.  The food was outstanding, not terribly expensive and the setting was so comfortable and casual – I had a wonderful time!!!

The following morning it was actually snowing!!!  The streets and buildings were covered in a layer of snow and it continued until the early evening.  I had brought enough warm clothes along so it was quite lovely and only 32 degrees – not terribly cold.  After breakfast I walked to MOMA ( to see “Inventing Abstraction, 1910 – 1925” which highlighted some of the works of Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Robert Delaunay among others and was very interesting.  New York City is used to the snow and by the time I left, the streets had been salted and walking was easy.  Lunch at Del Posto (, one of Mario Batali’s restaurants on Tenth Avenue.  In elegant surroundings I chose the prix fixe menu which started with several delicious little “amuse” served on a cake stand, i.e. potato leek soup, lentil croquette in lemon sauce and tuna tartar wrapped in a thin daikon slice.  First course was a beautiful vegetable salad with raw, pickled and cooked miniature vegetables with creamy rubiola cheese.  Second course were porcini mushroom and chestnut filled ravioli with creamy chestnut sauce.  Dessert was huckleberry sorbet, puree and berries on crisp cookies with cream.  A cheese grater box filled with tiny petits fours was the perfect ending. 

Afterwards I visited the Whitney Museum which is open late on Fridays and you can pay whatever you want after 6 p.m. - a great deal.  I viewed some of the Georgia O’keeffe’s and Hopper’s paintings and then went downstairs to watch a video of the Calder Circus, something I have been wanting to see for ages.  He crafted miniature circus lions, seals, trapeze artists, etc. out of wire, cork, string, etc. and in the video pulls strings, activates levers and turn cranks as he manipulates his miniature performers – it is awesome!!

Dinner at Boulud Sud ( near the Lincoln Center.  I chose the Mediterranean Mezze which was composed of herb falafel, Meyer lemon hummus, babaganoush and lavash bread and also ordered the organic farrotto with wild mushrooms – both were delicious.  Dessert was a thin sliver of light chocolate “cake” with tangerine sorbet.  I leisurely walked back to the hotel as the snow melted around my feet…

Saturday morning I walked down Seventh Avenue to the Fashion Institute of Technology ( to see the “shoe obsession” exhibit.  The exhibition featured over 150 examples of the most extraordinary shoe styles of the twenty-first century, using the new concepts, constructions and materials by top end designers such as Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin.  The heels were at least 5 to 6-inches high and so much fun to see!!  Lunch at the Spotted Pig ( in West Village.  It is an adorable little two story house filled with pig memorabilia and great food!!  I had a ricotta cheese and prosciutto tart topped with arugula and the flourless chocolate cake and vanilla cream for dessert.  I spent the rest of the afternoon at the Frick Collection on E. 70th Street where a free audio guide introduces you to some incredible art….

Dinner at Mas la grillade ( was more casual than Mas Farmhouse where I have eaten in the past.  The flavor of the food comes from the wood it is grilled over.  I ordered a grilled beet and Asian pear salad with goat cheese and candied pecans and followed with grilled scallops with fennel and cauliflower.  The scallops had a rich smoky flavor but were only complimented with some anchovy butter.  Dessert was the star – a luscious lemon tart with huckleberry puree!!!

Sunday morning I spent at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the “Impressionism, fashion and modernity” exhibition which presented a revealing look at the role of fashions in the works of the impressionists.  Also on display were period costumes, accessories, etc. shown in the paintings.  Lunch at Tavern ( , the casual side of Gramercy Tavern, was a warm Brussels sprouts salad with goat cheese, parsnip crisps and pickled red onions and chocolate pudding with salted caramel sauce for dessert. 

Afterwards I walked up to Grand Central Station where I took the train to Tarrytown and a taxi to Blue Hills at Stone Barnes (  where I had the most imaginative and delicious meal of my trip.  I got there early and wandered through the greenhouse and out to the barns where the sheep, pigs and chickens are raised.  Dining is in a large “barn” but it has an elegant feel and you know you are in for a treat.  It would takes pages and pages to describe all the courses I had so I will just mention a few of them, i.e. little “kale” tree in a planter, scissors to cut off the leaves and a warm dip to dip them in; an artist’s “palate” filled with little sauces and topped with crisp chicarones to dip in them; mini “beet” burger; a marrow bone filled with delicious marrow topped with caviar; a large wooden turntable topped with shredded vegetables, micro greens, watermelon molasses and shrimp to put in thin radish “taco” shells; mini brioche with Swiss chard marmalade; enormous piece of slate topped with spinach sprigs, underneath a thick vinaigrette and underneath that a large square composed of bread crumbs, hazelnuts, finely diced egg, parmesan cheese – the idea is the take a spinach leaf and drag it through the vinaigrette into the bread crumb mixture to make a “salad”; whole perfectly cooked codfish head, chopsticks to pull out the delicious cheek “meat” and spinach leaves salted and lightly dressed to eat it with; slow roasted thick cabbage slice topped with prosciutto and served with apple puree; roast large parsnip served on a trolley and sliced as it if were a piece of beef, served with creamed spinach; chocolate brioche and little cookies.  I spent 4 hours dining and it was really fun!!!

In the morning I visited the “Our Global Kitchen” exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History which featured the growing, trading, transporting, cooking and eating of different food from all over the world.  Lunch at Gotham Bar and Grill ( was a roasted cauliflower salad with lentils, golden raisins and grapes, pumpkin ravioli with mushrooms and leeks and warm chocolate cake with chocolate shavings.  The Train from Penn station took me back to the Newark airport where I caught the 6:30 p.m. flight to Orange County which landed instead at LAX because of a fog bank.  After a taxi ride to the Orange County airport where there was not a taxi to be found a wonderful friend picked me up at 12 midnight and brought me home as another great trip came to an end…

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Cheese Roulade filled with mushrooms
1-3/4C shredded Gruyere cheese
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
7-1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter (6 Tbsp., 1-1/2 Tbsp.)
4-1/2 Tbsp. flour
1-1/2C whole milk, heated
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch spice rub of choice
6 yolks
6 whites, beaten until almost stiff peaks

mushroom filling
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1-1/2 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1/3C cream
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4C Italian parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2C Gruyere cheese

For the mushroom filling:  Heat the butter in a large sauté pan until hot, add the mushrooms and sauté until crisp – about 10 minutes.  Add the cream and bring to a boil.  Cook until the sauce it thick.  Season with salt and pepper and fold in the parsley leaves. 

For the roulade:  butter a 12 x 16-inch jelly roll pan and line with parchment paper.  Butter again.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, add the flour and cook until smooth.  Gradually add the milk, ½ cup at a time, whisking in and letting it cook before adding more.  Season with salt, pepper and spice rub to taste.  Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens.  Add the remaining butter off the heat.  Let cool slightly before adding the yolks, one by one, stirring well after each addition.  Add the Gruyere cheese.  Gently fold in the whites.

Turn the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake
for 10 – 15 minutes or until puffy and lightly golden.  Let cool 5 minutes on a rack.  Loosen the sides of the pan and turn the roulade out onto a towel.  Remove the parchment and spread with mushroom filling.  Sprinkle with cheese and roll up, using the towel to apply uniform pressure along the rolling edge.  Transfer roulade onto a cookie sheet and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

Return the roulade to the oven to heat until the filling is hot and a light crust has formed on the top.  Let cool slightly.  Cut into slices and serve.
MAKES:  8 servings

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spaghetti Squash with wild rice
1-1/2 – 2 lb. spaghetti squash, cut in half lengthwise
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 - 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4C wild rice, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
1C baby arugula or baby spinach leaves (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2C grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.  Scoop out the seeds from the spaghetti squash and discard.  Coat a baking dish with oil, lay the squash halves cut sides down and roast until tender – about 35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and scrape crosswise to pull the strands from the shells, leaving the shells intact.  Meanwhile, drain the wild rice and place in a pan.  Cover with chicken stock and simmer uncovered until tender – about 20 minutes.  Drain.  Heat a sauté pan; add one tablespoon butter, salt and pepper.  Add the onion slices and sauté until tender.

Mix the squash strands with wild rice, onion slices, arugula (or spinach), salt and pepper to taste and spoon filling into the shells.  Dot with butter and place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and roast uncovered until heated through – about 20 minutes.  Cut each half in half or in thirds crosswise and serve.
MAKES:  4 – 6 servings

Friday, March 1, 2013

Salmon Burgers with sun-dried tomato pesto on pita chips
3 slices pita bread, cut into 24 triangles
olive oil (for the pita bread and for sautéing the burgers)
spice rub of choice
1-1/2 lb. skinless salmon, finely chopped by hand
1C finely diced red and yellow peppers
1/4C finely chopped scallions
3 Tbsp. chopped arugula leaves
1/4C cream
2 tsp. Tabasco or other hot sauce
2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper
1 large egg white

sun-dried tomato pesto
micro greens (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.  Toss the pita bread triangles with olive oil and spice rub and bake until crisp – 2 – 3 minutes per side.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the salmon with the remaining ingredients, except the egg white and olive oil.  Mix lightly but thoroughly.  In a small bowl, beat the egg white until stiff.  Using a spatula, gently fold the egg white into the salmon mixture.  Form the mixture into 24 little patties, ½-inch thick.  Turn oven down to 300F.  In a sauté pan, heat one tablespoon of the oil until hot.  Add half of the burgers and sauté until golden on each side.  Transfer to the oven to finish cooking.  Sauté the remaining burgers and transfer to the oven.  Take the first bunch out of the oven and dab with paper towels to remove any excess oil.  Spread each triangle with some of the pesto and top with a salmon burger.  If desired sprinkle with micro greens.  Continue with remaining burgers.
MAKES:  24 appetizer salmon burgers