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For the same DeGustibus Cooking School by Miele at Macy’s Herald Square I featured pans and knives from ScanpanUSA and Global Knives, two of my most favorite culinary aids. Scanpan makes superb nonstick cookware that I couldn’t live without. To make one of the tidbits to be served with the sparkling wine, we used the Scanpan blini pan to make the following shallot cakes. In the photo you see Amaral and I, cheering on my biggest supporter, Sarah Afana, as she makes the cakes. You can see how perfectly found they are going to be.

For the class, we also made the tapenade, but you could easily substitute a fine quality commercial tapenade. Each guest just had one cake, but you could do 3 slightly overlapping on an appetizer plate.

 

Shallot Cakes with Green Olive Tapenade

Serves 6

 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 large shallots, peeled and chopped

1 large egg, at room temperature

⅓ cup milk

¾ cup self rising flour

Green Olive Tapenade (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Herb sprigs or toasted almonds for garnish, optional

 

Place the butter in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When melted, add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Combine the egg and milk in a small bowl, whisking to blend. Place the flour and salt in a medium mixing bowl and whisking constantly, add the egg mixture along with the cooled shallots.

Place either a blini pan or a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the blini indentations or into the frying pan. You want pancakes no larger than 3-inches. Cook , turning once, for about 2 minutes or until the golden on both sides. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. Add the tapenade and cook, stirring frequently, for about 1 minute or just until heated through.

Top each warm pancake with a small spoonful of the warm tapenade. Garnish with an herb sprig or toasted slivered almonds, if desired.

 

Green Olive Tapenade

Makes about 1½ cups

8 toasted almonds

3 cloves garlic, peeled

7 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) chopped pitted green olives, such as Cerignola

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped Italian parsley

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon well-drained capers

2 tablespoons white balsamic or moscato vinegar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

Pepper

 

 

Combine the almonds, garlic, olives, parsley, thyme, and capers in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process just until coarsely chopped. Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl and stir in the vinegar and lemon zest. Season with pepper.

Serve at room temperature or slightly warm.

amaral-asparagus

 

Recently I did a hands-on cooking class at DeGustibus Cooking School by Miele at Macy’s Herald Square in New York City. Hands-on means that the paying guests, working with the chef and assistants, prepare the evening’s meal which they will then sit down and enjoy along with accompanying wines. Although I never refer to myself as a chef, for this class I was so designated (I guess it sounds better than chief cook and bottle washer) and Amaral, the long-time general manager of the school, was in charge of his group making an asparagus salad. Amaral and I have worked together for many years and we always have more fun that we probably should. He is a great cook in his own right, but his sense of humor and support of the starred chefs make him a very special person. In this photo, you see Amaral guarding the asparagus that is going to be used to make the following salad.

Grilled Asparagus Salad with Warm Guanciale Vinaigrette and Pecorino

Serves 6

 

30 asparagus stalks of the same size

3 tablespoons olive oil

Zest of 1 orange

Salt and pepper

Guanciale Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

2 hard-boiled egg yolks, sieved

Shaved Pecorino Romano for garnish

 

Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, using a vegetable peeler, trim about 1-inch of the outer skin off of the bottom of each stalk. As peeled, place the asparagus on a baking sheet with sides. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle on the orange zest. Season with salt and pepper and, using your hands, gently roll the stalks around to season evenly.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus, a few stalks at a time, and grill, turning occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until just barely cooked through and nicely marked. Remove from the pan set aside while you continue grilling the remaining stalks.

Place 5 stalks on each of six luncheon plates. Spoon an equal portion of the vinaigrette over the asparagus, sprinkle with sieved egg yolks, and garnish with a couple of shavings of Pecorino.

 

Guanciale Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ pound guanciale, finely diced

1 shallot, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon minced garlic

½ cup moscato or white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

 

Place 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until nicely browned and slightly crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked meat to a double layer of paper towel to drain.

Keeping the frying pan on low heat, add the shallot and garlic and fry, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Whisk in the vinegar and mustard.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil, whisking in just enough to make a slightly thick dressing. You may not need all of it, depending upon how much fat was released by the guanciale.

Stir the reserved guanciale into the dressing, season with salt and pepper, and use as a dressing for grilled vegetables, wilted greens (such as kale, spinach, or butter lettuce) or other salads.

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Since there are just two of us when I roast a chicken I am faced with quite a lot of leftovers which translates to extra meals without a lot of cooking.  My first go-to is a chicken club sandwich – Steve, my dear husband is a lover of sandwich dinners.  At this time of the year the sandwich is not quite as delicious as it is in the summer with ripe juicy tomatoes on hand, but I chop up some of those sweet Sun Gold cherry tomatoes and they do the job quite nicely.

Even after making our sandwiches, there is still meat on the bones so I put the meaty carcass in a pot with cold water, onion, carrot, celery stalk (if I have it), herbs, and any leftover chicken stock or “jus” I have and simmer up a rich, chickeny broth.  I strain it, discarding everything but any meat floating about and the carcass.  I pull off the meat left on the bones and make a soup that will be dinner one night and a couple of lunches during the week.  For this particular broth, I added some diced carrots and onions along with a bag of chopped organic kale that was lurking in the freezer and some terrific Italian pasta from a brand called Rummo, a family-owned company in Campagna, Italy.  The pasta is what made the soup – it is extremely flavorful and stays al dente so you get that wonderful chewiness that great dried pasta reflects.  I was introduced to this brand by Rita, one of my favorite Italian baristas.  Although I haven’t seen this brand in many stores, Rita purchases it somewhere uptown in Manhattan.  I went on line and checked its availability and found an old review from New York Magazine where 3 NYC chefs rated it extremely low.  I can only assume that the company has changed its process because there is no way I’d rate it at the bottom of a list of dried pastas.  I find it has great flavor and cooks to the perfect “al dente” texture.

 

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Dean Leg of Lamb 1

 

This time it’s not an Aussie but a Kiwi who is introducing us to a favorite dish from down under. We had our Easter celebration with our dear friends Daniella (Australia), Stuart (Australia via England), and Dean (New Zealand). Daniella supplied a copious amount of delicious wines and Dean and Stuart prepared a glorious late lunch. I feel very spoiled when I visit as I get to sit up on a stool at their kitchen counter and sip a glass of wine as I watch them do all the work. The dinner was lovely with two stand-outs, Dean’s leg of lamb and Stuart’s pavlova. I asked Dean how he prepared the lamb and this is what he told me:

 

“I made a paste of garlic, rosemary, olive oil and a whole jar of anchovies packed in oil. I scored the leg and massaged in the paste and then wrapped it in plastic film for 24 hrs. I roasted it on high heat on a roasting rack for about 1¾ hours. I added some homemade stock (made with lamb shank bones and chicken necks) to the roasting pan along with a bottle of sancerre. I let the liquid reduce down to make the sauce”.

 

The lamb was superbly roasted and the sauce was divine. See how lucky we are to have bought Oz into our lives!

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!

 

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