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Avocado Toast

In the last few years we have somehow become best buddies with quite a few Australians who along with great friendship have introduced us to their favorite breakfast, avocado toast and a flat white. Avocado toast became an immediate choice for me as my most memorable childhood treat was mashed avocado on a saltine and avocado toast is about as close a relative of that simple snack as you can get. For the easiest version you toast some great bread – I like to do ciabatta or baguette on the grill pan – and then simply slice some avocado over the top, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle on some sea salt. There are other versions calling for mashed avocado seasoned with chilies or dukka (also spelled duqqa), an Egyptian spice mix comprised of ground spices, nuts, and herbs or with Mexican seasonings and chopped cilantro. Lots of New York restaurants are now featuring unusual “cheffy” versions and you can find any number of interesting takes on this simple and quite healthy breakfast on the web and in food magazines.

And should you want to do the whole Aussie breakfast, a flat white is a coffee similar to an Italian cortado, but the milk is softer and thicker and the coffee flavor more pronounced than it is in any of the milky Italian espresso beverages. I think that Starbucks now features a flat white which gives you a further sense of the Australian influence in our culture.

Krumville

 

I happened on the Facebook page of my young friend Antonella who was doing a pop-up for her gluten-free bakery, Krumville Bake Shop (www.krumvillebakeshop.com), at a Soho (a trendy Manhattan neighborhood) store. For the occasion, Anto had done a trial strawberry cake which she had featured on her page. It was so invitingly beautiful that I jokingly posted “can you bring me a slice?” And, sure enough at the end of the day our doorbell rang and there was Antonella cake slice in hand. I will tell you that the cake was even more delicious than it looked….and absolutely impossible to identify as being “gluten-free.” She ships all over so should you need or know someone who needs spectacular gluten-free treats, Krumville is the go-to bakery. And, even if you aren’t gluten-free, I still recommend Antonella’s products – they are all delicious.

Judie

 

On Thursday, April 23. 2015 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. I will be doing a Hands-On cooking class entitled “Creating a Seamless Meal” at DeGustibus Cooking School at Macy’s Herald Square in New York City.  It is $150.00 per person and will include dinner, wine, a surprise gift, and lots of laughs.

The class is described as follows:

Join multiple James Beard Award-winning author JUDITH CHOATE as she brings her unparalled cooking to the DeGustibus kitchen.   You’ll have the time of your life as Judie embraces you in the true spirit of what cooking should be – sharing, caring, passion, and tradition – as she educates us on how to create an impeccable dinner party.  Learn the cooking techniques and equipment necessary to easily make the perfect meal and how to design a tempting plate and set a beautiful table.

 

I know it’s a wee bit expensive but I can guarantee some good eats and great wines.  In addition, I will be joined in the kitchen by Chef Ben Lee (recently of A Voce), one of the top young chefs in America today as well as representatives from Scanpan cookware and Global knives.  Together we hope to give you all the skill you need to be a star in your own kitchen.  If you can’t join us, I would appreciate it if you send this along to anyone that you think might like to cook along with us in the beautiful new DeGustibus kitchen located on the 8th floor of Macy’s Herald Square.  You can reserve a seat by calling 212-239-1652 or by visiting the DeGustibus at Macy’s website, http://www.degustibusnyc.com.  Hope to see you there!

 

Rhubarb

 

The other day Steve, my photographer husband, had to shoot some rhubarb for a client. Since winter was still in the air, I wasn’t sure that I could find it. But, lo and behold, I found bright pink stalks stacked up at my local Whole Foods. Once he photographed it, I couldn’t let it go to waste. So, what does rhubarb say to me? Spring! Strawberries! Pie! But there really has been no sign of spring here in New York City – as March stilled its winds we still had snow in the air.

Besides, I really didn’t have enough rhubarb or strawberries to make anything significant. I cut what I did have into small pieces, added maybe a cup of sugar, a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, and grated a bit of fresh ginger into the mix. I popped it on the stove while we ate dinner and ended up with a lovely 10 ounce jar of rhubarb/strawberry compote that will be delicious over ice cream or yogurt, drizzled on roast pork or even on a slice of whole grain toast. But, most of all I had a taste of spring!

MickeyChoate

 

It is with deep sadness that I share with you the loss of our son, Mickey. His joy and enthusiasm in the kitchen filled our lives with great meals, stimulating conversation, and engaging laughter. He was diagnosed with 4th stage lung cancer in June and passed away in February after a valiant struggle that he (and his family) thought he could win. He was a runner, life-time non-smoker, and in perfect health when the cancer struck. For those of you who have read our recent cookbook, An American Family Cooks, I hope that I was able to share his grace in the kitchen and his love of cooking in a way that will keep him alive for generations. He is deeply, deeply missed.

Chard

 

With the recent mad embrace of kale, other greens are getting lost in the fray.  I, personally, prefer Swiss chard to kale or any other green.  I find it sweeter with less mineral flavor and I cook it at least once a week sometimes with pasta or grains but most often in the following fashion –
I generally use 2 bunches organic chard which I chop into pieces.  I always use the stems too.  I heat about a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil with a couple of mashed garlic cloves over low heat.  I add the zest of an orange and a couple of tablespoons of orange juice.  Then, I add the chard, cover, and steam for a few minutes.  Then, I uncover, raise the heat, and, using tongs, toss the greens until just barely cooked through.  You can also cook them until very dark green and soft but I prefer the chard to still be a bit fresh looking.

beef-vegetable-soup
All during the NY winter months soup is often on the dinner table.  There is nothing better with a tossed green salad, some homemade bread or a crusty baguette, and, of course, a glass of red.  I normally make a non-meat vegetable soup, but I had just one beef shank in the freezer so thought I’d use it to add some oomph to the vegetables.  Beef shanks are less expensive than many other cuts of beef and, because they are a cross cut from the leg which is well-used muscle, shanks need a long slow braise to melt the connective tissue and tenderize the meat.  Whole shanks are often braised in red wine rather like boeuf bourguignon or cut into pieces for use in all types of stews.  For my soup, I first cooked the shank in a combination of water and stock seasoned with leek greens, a couple of cloves of garlic, and salt and pepper until it was beginning to pull away from the bone.  I used a fairly large soup pot so I can make a big batch, part of which can be frozen for another day. I lifted the cooked meat from the broth and then stained the broth, discarding the solids.  I returned the broth to the pot and added the following with enough extra water to cover the mix by at least an inch, but you can add or subtract anything and still have a terrific pot to feed your body and your soul.  The soup needs to cook for about an hour to allow the flavors to be extracted from the vegetables.

Makes a big pot

One 28 ounce can chopped plum tomatoes
4 large button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced into small pieces
¼ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, trimmed and diced
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 cup frozen peas
A few large handfuls of baby spinach I had leftover from a salad
Salt and pepper

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