Posts Tagged ‘stephen kolyer’


There were so many radishes in the farmers market that I just had to buy a few bunches.  I had no idea what I was going to do with them, but they were irresistible and only $1 a bunch.  We ate some chilled, with sweet butter and sea salt, tossed some in salads, and then I did the classic French side dish, radishes braised in butter to accompany some grilled chicken breasts.  You never see cooked radishes on menus anymore, but this braise is a very traditional French summer dish.  If you use bright red radishes, they will lose quite a bit of their color when cooked.

2 bunches crisp radishes
3 tablespoons butter
⅓ cup chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth or even water
½ to 1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest

Trim the radishes, leaving just a bit of the stem.  Scrub them well as dirt can often cling around the stem and root end.  If they have stringy rootlets, pull these off and discard them.
Melt the butter in a frying pan large enough to hold the radishes in a single layer over medium heat.  Add the radishes, stock, and sugar and season with salt and pepper.  Cover, lower the heat, and braise for about 20 minutes or until easily pierced with the point of a small sharp knife.
Remove from the heat, stir in the zest, and serve.




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I grab whatever vegetables I have on hand and my trusty 8-inch Global chef’s knife and I chop away until I have a big pile of mixed vegetables (usually red bell pepper, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, green beans, celery, mushrooms) of somewhat equal size to throw in the soup pot for a massive amount of vegetable soup to warm up the kitchen on the first snowy day.  I’ve already placed a can or two of diced tomatoes, a can or two of cannellini or kidney beans, and some frozen lima beans, corn, and okra to the pot.  When I’ve added all the chopped vegetables I add enough water to bring the pot to the brim, season with salt and pepper, and cover just until it all comes to a simmer.  Then, I uncover and let the soup simmer away until the house is filled with sweet vegetal smells, the vegetables are tender, and the broth perfectly seasoned.  It doesn’t take too long and I have enough soup to fill us for days……


©Stephen Kolyer_Carrots

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©Stephen Kolyer_strawberry

You can’t tell from looking at this photo, but here we have the most old-fashioned pie I can think to make in the spring – strawberry-rhubarb.  I only make it when rhubarb is fresh from the yard of my best buddy, Bee.  Her one gigantic plant yields enough rhubarb for quite a few pies and lots of jars of jam.  Steve took the photo of the pie just as it came out of the oven and then we forgot to take another photo once we cut a slice.  It was just so good we ate before we thought!  Will try to do better next time.


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We do love Mexican flavors and often have some version of Tex-Mex burritos, tacos, or enchiladas on the menu.  However, once in awhile I go to my Diana Kennedy cookbooks and do something traditionally Mexican.  And, sometimes, I will see an ingredient that says Mexico and buy it whether I’m putting a Mexican meal on the table or not.  The other day, the market had the freshest, greenest, perky paper skinned tomatillos that were singing “buy us, buy us”.  So, of course, I did.
I had planned to have grilled chicken for dinner – using my trusty grill pan and decided that a lovely Tomatillo Sauce would be just the thing to perk up the chicks.  Not only did it do that very nicely, but it also added some zest to some grilled sandwiches we had for lunch the following day.
I first grilled the tomatillo along with shallots and garlic. Then, I chopped the grilled mix in a food processor along with some cilantro and a jalapeño.  Seasoned it up with lime juice and salt and we had a most delicious charred tomatillo sauce to zest up our dinner.




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About every 3 months or so, Mickey, my son, and his best pal and our on-blog painter, Steve Kolyer (aka Uncle Kol) get together to cook a magnificent feast.  This past weekend we got the benefit of one such feast.
It began with pizza on the grill for all of us to snack on while the guys cooked.  We had a couple of different kinds – the usual margarita, a goat cheese and mushroom, and a fig mix that was delicious.
Then – just to help out, I threw some soft shell crabs on the grill, made some lemon butter, and this gave us another quick snack while more cooking was going on.  Not that we actually needed it!
The star of the day was Uncle Kol’s Lobster Salad with Gazpacho Aspic.  Here is what Kol did to WOW us.
•     Made the aspic ahead of time as follows:
•    To make the juices for the aspics:
•     Cucumber – shredded and mixed with salt and hung in a cheesecloth bag overnite allowing the juices to drain into a clean container.
•    Tomato – cut in half, crosswise, and roasted in the oven until soft; salted and hung in a cheesecloth bag overnite allowing the juices to drain into a clean container.
•    Bell peppers – whole, roasted in the oven until soft, chopped in a food processor and hung in a cheesecloth bag overnite allowing the juices to drain into a clean container.
•    Wine/herb Sauvignon Blanc with mint, basil, thyme, savory, celery leaves, lemon, orange zest, peppercorns.  Placed the herbs in the wine and heated until just hot.  Set aside to cool.  Reserved some of the herb-infused wine for the vinaigrette.  Salted and added a packet of unflavored gelatin to the remainder.  Placed in a cup and chilled.
•    After hanging, all of the vegetable waters were squeezed out of their cheesecloth bags.  Tasted for salt and, if necessary, sugar.  Warmed and individually added unflavored gelatin (1 cup liquid to 1 packet gelatin).  Placed in cups and chilled until set and well-set.
•    When ready to serve, cut the aspic into cubes, keeping each flavor separate.  Kept them well-chilled just until the last minute.
•     Poach the lobster and remove from the shell.  Cut the body, crosswise, into medallions.
•    Make a salad of baby watercress and arugula with sorrel, chives, oregano, basil, and edible flowers and dress with a lemon vinaigrette (extra virgin olive oil, lemon oil, Dijon mustard, herb-infused wine, salt and pepper).  Garnish the salad with heirloom cherry tomatoes and finely diced shallots.
•    To plate:  Place the sliced lobster and a claw on each plate.  Dress with a touch of the vinaigrette and garnish with chopped chives.  Place a little mound of salad to the side along with the tomatoes and a sprinkle of shallots.  Toss the cubes of aspic together and pile an equal portion on each plate.  Decorate each plate with dots of thickened sherry vinegar.
Then Mickey followed up with Grilled Whole Boneless Quail Stuffed with a Whole Fig (that had been wrapped in prosciutto).  This was quite an adventure as I tried to help him bone whole quail without tearing through to the flesh or skin.  We kinda succeeded, but if you really want to know how to do it properly I think you will find a tutorial by Jacques Pepin on YouTube.  Grilled, they were absolutely delicious, if not chef-perfect.  We are determined to practice and get it perfect next time.
And, finally, Mickey made a wonderful Grilled Tuna with White Beans, Olives and Tomatoes with a few sprigs of baby arugula for a touch of color.  Light, but wonderfully reminiscent of the south of France.  I would eat this every day if I could.
Do you think we are spoiled?  I do.



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We’ve all had those moments when we look in the fridge and just know that something’s gotta give – things in plastic containers, plastic baggies, plastic film, and even some things just as they’ve come from the market.  Saturday night was one of those moments for me.  What to do with a bit of chicken stock, a piece of ginger, couple of carrots, half an onion, 2 stalks of broccoli, a couple of pieces of pork filet – not to mention the various jars of “stuff” lining the shelves.  Among those jars I found black bean sauce, hoisin sauce, mushroom soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce (there were others that said Italian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern, too) and together they said “take out Chinese food.”  Checked to make sure I had some long grain rice – there was just a cup, so I was ready to wok it.  I’ll try to give you the gist of what I did and then you, too, can make a clean out your fridge Chinese dinner – not a feast exactly, but a pretty decent meal.

First I cut the veggies, added a couple of cloves of garlic, and grated the ginger.  Measured out some of the black bean sauce and chili garlic sauce.  Then, cut the pork into little pieces and tossed it in cornstarch.  Combined the black bean and chili-garlic sauces and added a good dose of mushroom soy sauce to the bowl.

I put the rice on to cook – it only takes about 20 minutes at most.

Then, I put a tablespoon of corn oil in a large frying pan – I did forget that my wok is in the country – and put it over high heat.  When it was very hot, I added the pork in batches and fried it until golden and crisp.  Took just a couple of minutes.  Drained it on some paper towel.

Poured off most of the oil and added the veggies, garlic, and ginger to the pan, tossing and turning to get them heated through.  Added about ½ cup of chicken stock along with the black bean sauce mixture and when everything was mixed and a little juicy, I tossed the pork back into the pan and gave the whole mess a couple of whirls.

Presto – dinner was ready just as the rice was perfection.  It made so much that we had leftovers for Sunday lunch.


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Some weeks ago I got it in my head to try to find what used to be normal-sized chickens – those about 2 to 2½ pounds.  An impossibility!  You can find a chicken breast half that weighs almost that much but no delicate little birds are to be found anywhere.  So, my best buddy Lynn and I cornered Chrissy Chiacchia from Gaia’s Breath Farm (for mail orders try mtoro@wildblue.net) at the Cooperstown Farmers Market and she agreed to produce 3 small chickens for me to try.

This past weekend the chickens came home to roost and, although by now I had forgotten exactly what I had planned to do with them, they found their way into a spur-of-the-moment on the grill dish.  I had a container of Kalamata olives and a small jar of 3 preserved lemons from Kalustyan’s (www.kalustyans.com). The combination of the smoke from the grill (we only use hardwood charcoal) and the wonderful farm-fresh flavor of the chicken wedded to the punguent, salty lemons and olives made for a very memorable meal.  It didn’t hurt that we had a chilled bottle of Veuve Clicquot to toast our good fortune.

This recipe should serve 6 people unless you are used to giant pieces of chicken – it would then feed 4 amply.  And, if you don’t have a grill handy, it would work just fine in the oven.

            Three 2 to 2½ pound chickens, rinsed and patted dry

3 small fresh spring onions

1 cup white wine

 ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 preserved lemons with their preserving liquid

1 cup Kalamata olives

About 2 to 3 tablespoons torn fresh mint leaves

About 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

About 1 tablespoon torn fresh sage leaves

About 1 tablespoon torn fresh basil leaves

   Whatever chicken giblets that came with the chickens except the livers

About 2 pounds small new potatoes, cut in half

Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the grill.  If using charcoal as we do, build a hot fire on one side of the grill and place the grill racks on.  I don’t have any real experience with gas grills but would imagine you could heat one side of a gas grill as well.

Place an onion in the cavity of each chicken.

Place the chickens in a large baking dish – I used my largest cast iron skillet.  Pour in the wine and olive oil.

Slice the lemons, crosswise, and randomly place the slices around the chickens and into the liquid.  Add the olives and herbs to the pan along with the giblets.

Nestle the potatoes around the chickens.

Pour whatever preserved lemon liquid that remains in the container over the chickens and then liberally sprinkle pepper over all.

Place the pan on the grill away from the fire.  Cover and roast, adding coals to keep the fire at about 400ºF for the first hour.  Continue to roast for about another 30 minutes or until the chickens are golden brown and cooked through.  The fire can be less hot for the final 30 minutes.

Remove from the grill and let rest for a few minutes.  Cut each chicken in half and serve with the potatoes, lemon slices, and olives and any pan juices.


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With the 4th of July weekend on the horizon, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be American, particularly in these rough economic times with wars waging in distant lands and families splintered.  As angry as I get with our politicians and our own inertia to bring about change (can you tell that I was a rabble-rouser in the 60s?), we always conclude that I live in a very extraordinary country – still filled with promise.

One of my not-so-important but irritating peeves comes about when I read about how the populations of other countries are more in touch with the land than we are in America.  Yes, we are, for the most part, an urban society finding our nutrition in supermarkets and fast food restaurants.  But, I can tell you, the rest of the world is not far behind us in this area and the quaint foraging natives that food and travel writers tend to glorify the world over are a dying breed.  I’ll bet that you will find far more American cooks returning to the land for their sustenance than you will find elsewhere in the world.  But don’t use the word “locavore” when talking to me, that irritates me more.

Recently I was surfing the net and came across an old article written by Mark Bittman and sent from Pula, Croatia.  The article states – segueing from his opening about people picking wild asparagus from the roadside – “For many in this section of Croatia, any free nutrition is good nutrition.  And for those who are better off its simply a matter of getting the best food, directly from the land.”  Him and Dick Tracy!   Isn’t this true for all of us?

I grew up in the Midwest picking asparagus from the side of the road and from the edges of the irrigation ditches.  Long after I had grown and left rural life behind my aunt and uncle still went out every spring to collect it.  In upstate New York, where we spend a lot of time, people are still picking wild asparagus, ramps, dandelion greens, and mushrooms in the spring, planting gardens, fishing for perch, trout and other local fishes, hunting for deer and wild birds, supporting farmers, and creating town markets.  For many of them, this is a way of life that has not changed for generations, for most it is a way of eating well while staying within the confines of a very tight budget, for some it is an acquired addiction, and for a few of us, it is an extravagance that we indulge in to allow ourselves the pleasure of truly knowing what we are eating, no matter the cost.

I know that our experience is not unique.  I just know too many people who care deeply about where, what and how they eat.  For some this is simply how it has always been while others might not have begun knowing anything about foraging, gardening, agriculture and/or animal husbandry but they have made it their business to find out.  And you know what it usually comes down to – the food just tastes better when you have some attachment to it.

One of our dearest friends – who happens to also be our physician – supplies us with wild turkey, venison, and whatever wild birds he can catch.  And, sharing a bottle of wine we think of new ways to cook our good fortune.  Another friend – also a doctor – takes me by the hand to carefully forage for wild mushrooms.  Our postal person brings me morels from the abandoned apple orchard on her road.  And, if you are a reader of my ramblings, you know that I dig (a miserably hard job) for ramps every spring and often pickle them for a winter treat.  The farm nearby has meadow-raised lamb and goat.  Another down the road a piece has the same but also adds beef, cheeses, eggs, chickens and turkeys that were in the coop in the morning – along with maple syrup and hand-knit sweaters and mittens.  My good friend, Debbie, is a whiz of a cook with no training and no exposure to 3 star restaurants.  She and her husband take their brief week’s vacation with a drive through the central New York wine region, stopping and tasting at every winery they can get to.  This all occurs just a couple of hours from New York City with a mix of people who run the gamut from MD/PhDs to those who have never cracked a book with any enthusiasm.  We can’t be alone – I know that all over the country there are communities just like ours with a mix of “locals” who really know the lore of the region and transplants who are eager students.  Let me know if you agree!

This, I guess, is my 4th of July rant – after all is said and done I send greetings for a safe holiday – one filled with family, friends, good food, and reflections on peace and prosperity.

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Well, just as we all expected, New York went straight to summer from our long, miserable winter.  No spring to speak of – just rain and cool days – enough warmth to bring May flowers but not much else.  Returning from San Francisco last week we walked off of the plane to 95º and steaming sidewalks.  So, we immediately took to the country where we are usually guaranteed weather at least 10 degrees cooler.  And, of course, it was just as hot there but that meant we could leave the kitchen and get the grill going.

Since the soft shells didn’t know that it was already summer, they were still on the spring menu.  Lynn, my buddy, had ordered up a mess of them and managed to pick enough asparagus before it bolted in the heat.  What a feast we had – soft shells, asparagus and green garlic, and fingerling potatoes – all off the grill.  We finished with some Pierre Robert and La Roche cheese that I had picked up at Zabar’s and a handful of the first strawberries of the year.

You can find hints for grilling soft shells in a June 2010 post.  For the asparagus and garlic, I simply tossed them with olive oil, fresh lemon zest, and salt and pepper.  The potatoes were par-boiled and then doused with evo and cracked black pepper.  So simple and sooooo good!


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