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Clara_Thankful

 

This is the day when we should all take the time to remember the blessings in our lives.  I know that many people begin their Thanksgiving dinners by asking everyone around the table to express their gratitude for the goodness in their lives – a wonderful way to acknowledge what we often forget.  I love Thanksgiving not only for the warmth and hearty meal that it brings but because it is not specific to any religion so it can be embraced by people of all faiths, races, and ethnic backgrounds.  This year with so much conflict in the world and so much divisiveness in the United States it is more important than ever that we take the time to convey our thanks for any evidence of goodness that we see in the world.  Gratitude uplifts our thoughts, encourages a new outlook, enables friendships to grow, and enriches our lives in ways we don’t expect.  It is about kindness – it is an unselfish act of grace that we should all be willing to share.  Happy Thanksgiving.

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Flavored Vinegar_DSC_5804

 

If you have a bottle of fine quality vinegar that is just hanging around the kitchen, take a few minutes of a lazy afternoon and turn it into a flavored brew. I often do this when I have extra herbs, very ripe fruit, or am just in the mood to fancy up that bottle of white wine vinegar on the shelf. Fruit-flavored vinegars make delicious shrubs and switchels, both early American thirst quenchers that are rarely made today, but if you decide to do so, I think you will find them extremely refreshing on a hot summer day. More about those later.

To make flavored vinegar you will need the following for every 2 cups of white wine, champagne, or rice wine vinegar.

For berry-flavored:

2 cups crushed berries, ¼ cup sugar, 1 strip of orange peel, and a few whole berries to put into the finished bottle

For garlic- or shallot-flavored:

5 cloves garlic, crushed, or ½ cup chopped shallots, ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, a couple of garlic cloves or large pieces of shallot to put into the finished bottle

For herb-flavored:

½ cup chopped fresh tarragon, sage, thyme, basil, or chives or a combination of fresh herbs that you prefer along with a few sprigs of the fresh herbs to put into the finished bottle

 

Place the vinegar into a medium non-reactive saucepan. Add the fruit, sugar, and orange peel OR the garlic or shallots and red pepper flakes, OR the herbs. Place over medium heat and bring to just a simmer. Lower the heat and cook gently for about 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to come to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside for 24 hours.

After 24 hours, strain the vinegar through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth into a clean nonreative saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.

Immediately pour the vinegar into a sterilized bottle, add the berries OR garlic/shallot OR herbs. Cover and set aside to cool before storing in a cool spot.

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PIE©StephenKolyer

 

I have been writing cookbooks for 45 years and I rarely hear from anyone who has cooked from any one of the many, many books I have written, co-authored, or ghosted.  However, the other day I got the following note posted on Facebook from a very nice lady named Elaine Grahame-Dunn.  I wanted to share it as just simple graciousness doesn’t come my way very often.  The book about which she is commenting was published in 1992 in the States and in England and Australia somewhat later.  How nice that it is still being used.

 

June 16th, 6:19am

Just wanted to say how much I use your wonderful book ‘The Great American Pie Book’. I am a British woman living near Seville in Spain and own a bed and breakfast establishment. It is a great book to go to for inspiration when I feel a little jaded with my menu choices. Thank you. It isn’t said enough in this World nowadays. X

 

And after my response to her I received the following:

Just wanted to make contact and I think it’s important to let people know when they do a good job. Some recipe books are nice you look at but not practical. Few and far between are those that make life easier as a cook! Thanks again for a job well done. You are welcome here any time. X

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

 

chicken-soup_p4206688

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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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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.

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AFC_Turkey

 

I send wishes that your Thanksgiving be filled with great food, loving family, and wonderful friends.  So many of us have so much and so many more have so little; this is the time to cherish our blessings and share our bounty.  Happy Thanksgiving from all of us!

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