August 22, 2017

Archives for 2011

A Chef On A Diet

I have started a new diet and in order to keep myself accountable it is now a website.  A Chef On A Diet follows my journey of weight loss, diet exploration, recipes and tips on dining out.  My diet of choice is the 4Hr body slow carb diet by Tim Ferriss. Please join me and […]

Not your Bubby’s chopped liver

Some years later while eating at a friend’s restaurant I was introduced to his house special amuse bouche. He was famous for a small ramekin of pate with toast points which appointed every table upon being seated. The pate was delicious and he chuckled when I asked for this obviously expensive secret recipe. It was nothing more than chicken livers (discarded during prep) sauteed with copious amounts of butter and cheap brandy, some onions and yesterdays stale bread for toast points. That’s it. Well that and a chef’s talent for turning bits and pieces into a four star dish. I was hooked! Who knew butter went with everything? Well, the French did and my childhood friend of course but it was new to me. Life was getting better and you weren’t going to get struck dead.

Green market Tuscan vegetable soup

In soup pot, pour in oil to cover bottom of pan. Saute onions to soften. Add garlic and cook till fragrant. Crush tomatoes by hand and add to pot along with juices. Add all remaining ingredients. Stir and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and let cook uncovered one to two hours. The longer the better. This dish is even better the next day. Adjust for seasonings.

Ladle soup into big bowls. Each bowl gets a drizzle of oil and dollop of basil oil (below).

Serve with grilled or toasted good bread slices, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper.

Green market butternut squash soup

The fall harvest is crazy with colors and flavors from dark leafy greens to heavy yellow and orange squash. The green market had it all. I scooped up some butternut squash, carrots, apples and onions. Another farmer inspired me to purchase dark green Tuscan kale, zucchini, basil, celery and garlic. Some canned goods and other items from kitchen pantry rounded out the ideas brewing for the day’s soups.

I spy Astoria & LIC

Wednesday night was the Edible Queens Uncorked event at The Foundry in LIC, NY. So much food, so much wine and so little time. Let’s focus on the highlights and big news from the evening.

The event was hosted by Leah McLaughlin, the wonderfully personable and charming owner of Edible Queens. Leah is a true believer in all things Queens and might be the borough’s biggest booster.

Now for the news.

Scenario: Sicily, it’s snowing, sexy date says yes to dinner at your place.

You frantically yet coolly survey the kitchen pantry. Take a beat, then slow down and think. It’s cold out so a hot dish but nothing too heavy so she, or you, don’t conk out by 9pm on the couch. Something with some spice and a bit exotic. In the pantry I see a tin of skinless, boneless sardines packed in olive oil and a box of pasta. In the fridge we have fennel, a lemon, parsley, garlic cloves and anchovies in oil. In Sicily this classic pasta with sardines dish would also have raisins and Pignoli nuts but for tonight we go with what we have.

I Spy Astoria Food News

There’s a lot going on in the ‘hood these days.

Walking up 30th avenue last week one couldn’t help but notice the smell of smoke in the air. Heavenly meat smoker smoke. Our noses led us to an open door at the still under construction Butcher bar. They were testing recipes and the owner invited us in. Mathew introduced us to the chef and a bunch of guys standing at the counter wolfing down, I mean delicately tasting, a variety of smoked bbq products. We sampled burnt ends that were very juicy and tender, brined turkey which had a gentle deliciousness and finally bbq brisket which made me smile even though the chef was unhappy with this particular test specimen. The house made bbq sauce was pretty darn good too. If you need to know more then I guess you might want to know that the place looks good too. Lots of wood and diamond plate, butcher stuff and a nice backyard. There are seats inside and out back. Honestly, if the meat proves to be as good as the test then who cares about the decor.

Happy Rosh Hashanah

Tonight we spent the holiday at home just the three of us. I wanted my son to experience flavors from my childhood with grandparents long gone. My family comes from the regions of Austria, Hungary and Russia along the Polish border or Poland along the Russian border. It all depends on what era we were looking at. Suffice it to say, we are looking at classic Eastern European Jewish cooking. In the fall that always meant sweet and sour dishes. Both grandmothers were from the Russian Polish border region. They both made perfect yet slightly different versions of sweet and sour cabbage soup with flanken (short rib meat) and raisins. I could eat this stuff forever. It was just that good.

Birthday dinner for your teamster

What a woman, mother and wife really wants for her birthday, after a long day’s work, is to be treated like a teamster. It’s true. When my lovely wife arrives home she gets to put her feet up, hang out with our son and relax. When cooking for your teamster always remember the six main food groups. Meat, fat, starch, veg, sweet and booze. Don’t forget the birthday candles and don’t even think of asking her to clean up. It’s her big day after all. And yes, gifts are important too. I didn’t forget that either.

Most of the ingredients came from the cornucopia of food shopping that is 30th avenue in Astoria. The rest of the goodies came from the farmers market at Socrates sculpture park.

Chef tip: The stick blender


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The stick blender is a powerhouse that conquers everything from smoothies and sauces to soups and salsas. Best of all it’s cheap, sturdy and a fast clean up. What more could you want? Yes, we too have the blender and food processor at home but they tend to sit in the pantry gathering dust while the stick blender gets all the fun.

Chef demo at Socrates sculpture park farmers market


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Come on down to the Socrates Sculpture Park Greenmarket tomorrow, Saturday, from 11:30am to 1pm for a chef’s demo.  I will be preparing two delicious alternatives to your everyday salsa.  Each sauce will feature produce from the market.  Dan at Hudson Valley duck has promised some goodies for the tasting.  We love this guy. For […]

Eating Peru one chicken at a time


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When I need my Rotisserie chicken fix there is only one way to go. Peruvian style with a lot of cilantro sauce on the side. Where to go is another question. Living in Queens, New York offers up many places to find such fare but if you want the mother lode head on over to Jackson Heights. Specifically on Northern blvd. and Roosevelt ave from 76th to 90th streets. There you will find Peruvian restaurants serving up the best ceviche, seafood, whole roast chickens and the most amazingly chartreuse green cilantro sauce poured from large pitchers into glasses and placed on the table along with your meal. This stuff is crack in a cup.

Inside the mind of a dinner party host


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Uh oh, another friend asking to bring someone who will be in town the same night. We already said yes to one friend asking to bring a cousin. How can we say no when we already said yes to another? And what about all the other people we already had to leave off the invite list???

Blueberry mint ice cream and dark blueberry sauce


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Summertime and a new ice cream machine make for lots of fun and adventure. Just last week our family was in Connecticut and did some blueberry picking. Haven’t done that in years and man was it fun. The blueberries were sweet perfection, my son showed us the proper picking technique and some raw cream was gifted to us by some friendly neighbors. Looks like it’s time for ice cream!

The purest strawberry ice cream


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What happens when fresh strawberries hit the farmer’s market and an evil friend offers this lactose-intolerant chef raw cream and her Cuisinart ice cream maker? Fresh strawberry ice cream that even lactose-intolerant foodies can eat, that’s what.