Friday, June 26, 2015

Salmon with quinoa and roasted hazelnuts
6  6-oz. filets of salmon, skin on
2 Tbsp. spice rub of choice
2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2C quinoa
1C chicken stock
1/3C hazelnuts, roasted, peeled and coarsely chopped
2C wild arugula

3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp. raspberry vinegar
2 tsp. honey mustard
7 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. tapenade

For the quinoa:  Sauté quinoa in a dry pan until toasted – about 4 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove the lid and let stand.

For the salmon:  Rub the non skin side of the salmon with spice rub and alittle of the olive oil.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Heat a sauté pan until very hot.  Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and heat.  Add the salmon skin side down and sauté 2 minutes.  Turn over and sauté one minute.  Finish in the oven, i.e. 6 – 7 minutes more. Toss the quinoa with one tablespoon of the vinaigrette and divide among plates.  Toss the arugula with one tablespoon of the vinaigrette and divide among plates.  Add the tapenade to the remaining vinaigrette.  Divide the salmon among plates, spoon the vinaigrette over and garnish the dish with roasted hazelnuts.
MAKES:  6 servings

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

New York – May, 2015
I have been travelling to New York City for years but have never ventured out of the city!!!  This year I spent only a few days in the city and almost a week out in the beautiful Hudson Valley filled with charm and history.

In New York City I stayed at Park79 hotel as it is so close to everything, i.e. central park, metro lines, metropolitan art museum, etc.  I like to start each day with a nice walk around the Jackie Kennedy Onassis Reservoir starting at 79th street, breakfast at some little café, i.e. Birdcage, on Columbus Avenue and then take in a museum or two.  There was a fantastic exhibit at the Met which I spent two days viewing, i.e. “China: Through the looking Glass”, an exhibit about how China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries through its shawls, porcelain, flowers, movies, etc.  A fascinating show.  Lunch at the Little Owl was a creative quinoa salad with arugula, shaved artichokes and chickpeas finished by a warm chocolate cake – divine!!!

After a nice walk around the little streets nearby and a quick rest at the hotel I took the metro to Brooklyn where I had a delightfully delicious dinner at Battersby (  where I had dined a couple years ago.  I opted for the 5 course tasting menu, sat at the bar and so enjoyed each little bite, especially the wide noodles with fava beans and bread crumbs, duck with potatoes, artichokes and olives, mango granite and little rhubarb crumb tart – all excellent!!!

I spent the next morning at the Met visiting the remainder of the China exhibit and then took in the “Sultans of Deccan India:  Opulence and Fantasy” exhibit which explored the paintings, metal works and textiles of India’s Deccan courts during the rule of its sultans in the 16th and 17th centuries.  I walked down Fifth Avenue to Eataly on 23rd Street which is a fun market filled with everything Italian, i.e. cafes, wine bars, markets, bakeries, etc.  I sat at the counter and had a pea sprout salad with radishes and parmesan which came out quickly so I easily caught the 4 p.m. train from Grand Central to Tarrytown en route to an awesome dinner at Blue Hills at Stone Barnes, a food mecca to be sure!!!  The “menu” is whatever is in season so in May it was fiddlehead ferns, stinging nettles, baby beets, pea shoots, etc. etc.  I spent 3 hours eating my way through, among other things, kohlrabi with a spicy dip, fiddlehead fern crostini, chicken pate w/chocolate tuiles, barley soup with fresh flowers, grilled asparagus with beet vinaigrette, soft shell crab burrito, farm raised chicken w/parsnips, grass fed beef with rhubarb, s’more on a stick, chocolate mousse with crunchy grains and honey candies – WOW!!

After my walk and breakfast in the morning, I took the bus to LGA and got off at the Dollar rent a car stop to pick up my little Chevrolet Spark.  Drove to Tarrytown to visit Sunnyside, the cottage like estate along the Hudson River where the famous author of “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip van Winkle”, Washington Irving, lived.  Most of the rooms are open to the public and contain much of their original furnishings.  A guided tour told all about his life which was very interesting.

Down the road a few miles is Lyndhurst, one of America’s finest gothic revival mansions which sits beside the Hudson river within a park.  Unlike later mansions along the Hudson, Lyndhurst’s hallways are narrow, windows small and sharply arched and ceilings peaked, vaulted and ornamented.  With a guided tour, it is always interesting to hear about the residents of such lofty estates!!!  Back to Tarrytown for dinner at the Twisted Oak, i.e. asparagus and nettle soup topped with crispy soft shell crab and angel lemon pudding with meringue on top.  I stayed the night in Hyde Park at a very cut little “inn” called Costello’s ( right off highway 9.

In the morning I walked the grounds of the nearby Vanderbilt Mansion down to the Hudson River – a glorious walk.  Stopped at Cranberry Bakery for a scone and coffee before heading back to Sleepy Hollow for a tour of Kykuit, Dutch for “lockout”, the Rockefeller Estate built in 1908 by J. D. Rockefeller, situated on the highest point in the Pocantico Hills overlooking the Hudson River.  I had about 20 minutes before the tour started so walked around the nearby Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where Washington Irving is buried.

In its classical revival Georgian form, Kykuit is considered rather modest compared to other estates nearby as the Rockefellers are Baptist.  Nelson, former governor of New York, was an avid art collector and his exceptional collection of paintings, sculptures, etc. spill out of the house into the beautiful gardens below. 

Afterwards I drove up to the Union Church known for its famous stained glass windows created by Marc Chagall and the rose window created by Henri Matisse.  The tour explained the story behind each window and enhanced the knowledge of the Rockefeller legacy.

Later in the afternoon I took a tour of the Philipsburg Manor, which, in 1750, was a thriving milling, trading center owned by the Philipses, a family of Anglo-Dutch merchants.  The tour of the 300 year old manor house and quarters where 23 enslaved Africans lived was very enlightening.  Some hands on activities for kids as well, making it a nice family tour.

Dinner at Equus in the Castle Hotel on the Hudson was delicious.  I had a beet salad with goat cheese and nuts and hamachi with asparagus and ponzu before driving back to Hyde Park.  I had brought my TomTom GPS with me and finally figured out how to direct it to New York so the rest of the trip was easy going as I didn’t have to worry about getting lost!!!

After walking down to the Hudson River and breakfasting at Cranberries, I drove to Springwood, birthplace, lifelong home and burial place of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States. The estate remained the center of Roosevelt’s life in all stages of his career and he hosted many famous people there, including King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1939.  After a tour of the home, I spent almost 3 hours in the FDR Memorial Library ajacent, whose permanent exhibits tell the story of the Roosevelt presidency beginning in the depth of the great depression and continuing through the new deal and World War II until his death in 1945.

I took a break for lunch at Cranberries and then visited Val Kill, “valley-stream” in Dutch, the only residence Eleanor Roosevelt personally owned.  After FDR’s death, she became an important Democratic party leader and humanitarian in her own right.  She hosted many world dignitaries such as Winston Churchill, Marshal Tito and Jawaharlal Nehru in her Val Kill cottage until her death in 1975.

I drove up to Hudson, stopping in Rhinebeck to have a look around.  It’s a very cute little town filled with many antique shops and great restaurants where I will return someday!!!

I stayed in Hudson at the Hudson City Bed and Breakfast on Allen Street and, after checking in, wandered down the main street of Warren to Crimson Sparrow (  where I had an outstanding dinner.  The food was very creative and I enjoyed sitting on the patio dining on mackerel sushi, hamachi with watercress and salmon roe, duck breast with crisp cornbread, corn puree and pickled red onions and buckwheat cake with gelato and fresh strawberries – all small plates, exquisitely prepared and beautifully presented!!!

In the morning, I took a walk around town and stopped at Cafe de la Perche for an almond croissant and delicious strong coffee.  Drove to Kinderhook to visit Lindenwald, the estate of Martin Van Buren, eighth president of the United States.  He purchased this estate in 1839 during his one term as president and it became his home and farm after retirement.  On over the Rip Van winkle bridge to Catskill to visit the home and studio of Thomas Cole, a famous Hudson valley landscape artist but had to return the next day as it was closed.  Lastly I visited the Omi outside sculpture gardens with its nearly 80 works of art by internationally recognized contemporary and modern artists set over 60 acres of land. 

Back to Hudson for a quick tuna sandwich and then a leisurely walk along Warren Street, visiting the antique shops and art galleries.  Swoon Kitchenbar (  for dinner, i.e. beet and goat cheese salad with arugula and crispy onions and chocolate crème brulee for dessert before returning to the hotel for the night.

Took a walk to the river and then had a scone at Café de le Perche before visiting Olana, named for a fortress-treasure house in ancient Persia, about 10 minutes away.  An eclectic castle, Olana was built in 1870 by the famous landscape artist Frederic Church with the help of Calvert Vaux.  Frederic and his wife Isabel were impressed by the architecture they saw on their travels to the Middle East and upon their return created a villa with gilt stencilling, Eastern motifs, ceramic tile, etc.  It is so magnificent that it must be seen to be believed!

Back over the bridge to visit Thomas Cole’s house which made more sense now that I had seen the home of his brilliant student.  Cole was not as successful as Church or perhaps he didn’t know how to sell himself as well.  Born in England, Cole emigrated to the U.S. in 1818.  He was the founder of the Hudson River School and known for his realistic and detailed portrayal of American landscape and wilderness.  The “voyage of Life” is one of his outstanding achievements.  It is a series of paintings that represent an allegory of the four stages of human life:  childhood, youth, manhood and old age.  He created two sets of these paintings, one of which is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  Stopped in Hyde Park at Cranberries for lunch and then to Poughkeepsie to walk across the Hudson; however, a storm was brewing and they closed the bridge so I didn’t get to walk across.  I had read mixed reviews about the experience so wasn’t all that disappointed…

Headed on to West Point and the Thayer Hotel where I stayed the night.  I got a really good deal on Groupon and the hotel and my room were gorgeous!!!  Drove to Cold Spring, a cute little town nearby, for dinner at Le Bouchon, a little French restaurant on main street.  I sat on the patio and had a nicoise salad with fresh tuna and vanilla crème brulee after wandering around town a bit.  Back to the Thayer to relax and plan my last day in the Hudson valley… 

In the morning, I took a walk down to the river with a view of West Point.  After breakfast, I drove to the Storm King Art Center,
a 500-acre outdoor art museum filled with more than 100 pieces of sculpture and land art by contemporary artists such as David Smith, Roy Lichtenstein (Mermaid), Zhang Huan (threeleggedbuddha), Maya Lin (Storm King wavefield), etc.  After walking around for about 2 hours, I took the 30 minute tram to view some of the art I couldn’t get to on my own.  Absolutely superb!!!  Had a quick little cookie at the café and then on to Croton on Hudson to visit the Van Constadt house but it was being updated and wouldn’t open until July…. So, nothing for it but to check into the Alexander Hamilton House B&B and walk into town.  

Croton on Hudson is a small but cute little town on the Hudson with a lot of charm.  It started to rain later in the afternoon which cleared away some of the humidity so it was very pleasant when I walked to Hopscotch for dinner later that evening.  A very innovative restaurant with delicious food, Hopscotch didn’t disappoint.  I enjoyed a half glass of wine with the shredded pork shank topped with small lukewarm radicchio cups drizzled with blue cheese foam, pappadella with carrot marinara sprinkled with crunchy pumpkin seed granola, little cheese course and chocolate mousse with strawberries and rhubarb for dessert.  Courses were all small enough to be thoroughly enjoyed and the waiter was great fun!

In the morning after a nice walk to the church, I drove back to LGA and returned the car.  Bus into the city, checked back into Park79 and took the metro to the Spotted Pig where I had an outstanding grilled 4 cheese sandwich with arugula (YES!!!) and a lemon/lime tart.  The new Whitney was just a couple blocks away so viewed the American Art exhibit on four floors.  They had taken the museum’s art and arranged it by time periods, i.e. depression, industrial revolution, Vietnam war, etc.  Really quite interesting.  Afterward I walked the high line, a 1.45 mile long linear park built on an elevated section of a railroad spur complete with trees, benches, cafes, etc.  Quite elegant. 

Wandered through Chelsea Market and then returned to the hotel to regroup.  Dinner at Buddakan on Ninth Avenue, a very popular Asian restaurant with a long menu of small and large plates.  I sat upstairs where the action seemed to be and had spicy tuna spring rolls, pancakes with short ribs and apples and an outrageous “crying chocolate” dessert composed of a warm chocolate tart, ganache, espresso ice cream and caramel.

After my walk and breakfast in the morning, I took the subway to the Bronz/New York City Botanical Gardens.  It was a lovely day and the rose garden was beautiful, the azaleas were in bloom, etc.  Gotham Bar & Grill for a simple fixe lunch, i.e. escarole, snow pea salad with grapes and dried cherries, roasted halibut with fingerling potatoes and a warm chocolate cake with crème fraiche before visiting the Cooper-Hewitt Museum on 91st street where they had a very interesting exhibit on poster art. 

Leisurely walked across central park to my hotel.  Later that evening I had a fun dinner at Beauty and Essez.  There is a jewelry pawnshop as the store front selling jewelry and some of the waitresses also wear jewelry for sale.  At this bustling, lively place with its great vibes,  I had a yummy kale salad with apples, pancetta, candied pecans and grated Parmesan and three spicy tuna wonton tacos – perfect after my hearty lunch.

In the morning I checked out and walked down Columbus, around the park, visited the folk art museum and the McKenzie-Child store.  Lunch nearby at Telepin, i.e. blini with smoked trout, pan roasted fresh trout with spinach salad and chocolate brownie for dessert.  Picked up my luggage and took the metro to the M60 bus which took me to LGA where my flight left at 4:00 p.m. getting me into SNA about 9:30 p.m.  It was a really nice trip, especially the drive up into the Hudson Valley which I will surely do again!!!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Asparagus, snow pea and pea sprouts salad with ricotta
1C ricotta cheese
2 tsp. lemon zest
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. fresh fava beans, shelled (about ½ cup)
½ lb. snap peas, cooked in boiling salted water until crisp-tender,  
  rinsed, drained and halved lengthwise
1 lb. asparagus, tough stalks discarded, cooked in boiling salted
  water until crisp-tender, rinsed and drained, cut in half lengthwise
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp. mint leaves, chopped
1C baby arugula
1C pea shoots
1/3C toasted hazelnuts, skinned and chopped

2 Tbsp. pear vinegar
1 Tbsp. sherry wine vinegar
1 tsp. honey mustard
4 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Shake vinaigrette ingredients together in a jar.  In a medium bowl, whisk ricotta cheese with lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste.  In a medium pan of salted boiling water, cook the fava beans until the skins start to loosen, about 2 minutes.  Drain and cool under cold running water, then squeeze the fava beans from their skins. Toss with herbs and one tablespoon of vinaigrette.

Toss asparagus and snow peas with remaining vinaigrette.  Add the arugula, pea sprouts and hazelnuts and toss again.  Divide among plates and spoon the ricotta and favas over the top.
MAKES:  6 servings