Cooking and eating
For some people, to live is to eat. I am one of those people.
I live a "food centered life". So, I have
written down my Cookbook reviews and a few
menus from past meals.
And, I have written down a few creations .
First, a quote from Roger Vergé:
"To cook well, one need only be a gourmand, a hungry
appreciator of flavors. Rather, I should probably say, one
must be a gourmand to be a good cook. A recipe is like
written music. One can follow it very exactly and yet
achieve an unintelligent, mechanical, or mediocre
result... The recipe is only music on the page it is you
who will make it sing. To cook is to create, to marry ingredients
as poets marry words, to play chords with flavors, to invent new and
subtle harmonies." Roger Vergé, translated from "Ma Cuisine du Soleil"
Pictures of feasts
This was cooked at the end of January, 1999 while fluffy snow
was falling outside.
The wine was a California sparkler, not too bad.
This is a meal I cooked in early June of 1999 (before it really
- Oyster soup (Picoline)
- Home made olive bread (Maglieri)
- Veal with capers and horseradish (Senderens)
- Three grain pilaf (Union Square, Michael Romano)
- Steamed Asparagus
- Vanilla Ice cream in a tuile with Strawberry and Rhubarb sauces
Wines were a Babcock Sauvignon Blanc and Sean Thackery's Pleaides VI
Here's a meal from the Union Square Cookbook (I recommend it
without hesitation and enthusiastically). Here is the menu:
- Soft Shell Crabs with a spicy carrot sauce (Union Square)
- Lamb tenderloin with a parsley cream and sauteed garlic mushrooms (Giradet)
- Tossed green salad with mustard vinagrette and garlic croutons
- Carmelized berries with a lemon creme (Senderens)
Wines were a Ridge Zin meritage and a Belvedere dessert wine.
For Thanksgiving 1995, we had:
- Home baked Italian style bread
- Roast duck with lemon and thyme (accompanied by a wine vinegar sauce)
- Parsnip pancakes
- Pear crisp with vanilla ice cream
Wines were: Pol Roger (N.V.) champagne, Foxen 1992 Chardonnary and
New Year's, 1997 (served 28 December)
All dishes from Charlie Palmer (Aureole)
- Fresh Turkey
- Cornbread stuffing with pancetta and pine nuts
- Oyster bread stuffing
- Yeast biscuits
- Peanut soup
- Carrot and parsnip puree
- Broccoli and leek puree
- Cranberry orange relish
- Pumpkin custard pie
- Chocolate cake
The Ides of March, 1998
All recipes from "Cuisine of Venice and surrounding Northern regions"
- Butternut Squash Soup ( 1992 Cronin Chard - wine of the evening )
- Composed Salad of Shrimp and Couscous (1996 St. Clair Sauv. Blanc (NZ) )
- Roasted Cod with Parma Ham and fresh Sage (1995 Martinborough Chard (NZ) )
- Grilled and Roasted Vegetable Terrine (1992 Whitehall Lane Cab Reserve)
- Warm Apple Pudding (1994 Selaks Ice Wine (Reisling), NZ )
- Crunchy flourless Chocolate Cake (1988 Coturri Zin - completely corked)
- Assorted cheeses
- 1990 Mountadam Pinot Noir Chardonnay Sparkling Wine
- Primo: Gnocchi alla Romana
- Secondo: Fettine di Manzo Saporite ("Tasty slices of beef")
- Dolce: Budino di Savoiardi e Cioccolato (Chocolate and Ladyfingers pudding)
- Vino: Maculan Brentino 1988 (Breganze)
The following recipe was designed to use up left over Thanksgiving Turkey.
It follows in a great northern Italian tradition of using a white sauce
(the famous Bechamel in French, Salsa Besciamella in Italian) as the binder.
The preparation proceeds as follows: first, you need left over turkey,
removed from the bone white or dark doesn't matter. Then prepare the
Put the milk in a saucepan and heat almost to boiling (not quite!!);
meanwhile heat the oil/butter... When it is melted, add the flour
stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook about 2 minutes (this is necessary
to eliminate the flour taste... but don't let burn). Remove
from the heat. Then add the hot milk, SLOWLY at first (say 2 T
at a time) and stir stir stir. When you have added 1/2 c then you can
be a bit more cavalier about it. Now add the salt and cook until it
is the thickness of cream.
In the meantime, you can also cook the lasagne noodles. So, you have
sauce, turkey and noodles. I also cook some onions in oil which I
season with thyme and oregano.
Then, choosing a nice pan, put a layer of sauce on the bottom, then
noodles, sauce, onions, turkey (in that order). Repeat until you
run out of time, ingredients or pan. If you want, you can put
grated parmesan on top. Bake at 400 for about 10-15
minutes; let rest for 5-10 minutes after removing from the oven.
- 4 cups milk
- 1 stick of butter (ouch, you can use a mix of oil and butter)
- 6 T flour
- 1/2 t salt
Swiss Chard Risotto
Start by heating the broth (5 cups); you'll also need some parmesan
and romano cheese. Before starting the soffrito, separate
the ribs from the leaves. Then saute the onion in oil and a little
butter; then add the chopped ribs. Continue sauteing them until they
turn soft, about 4-5 minutes (test them with a fork). Then, add
1.5 cups arborio rice and begin adding the broth in the usual fashion.
At the very end, add the leaves and the cheese. The leaves will melt
and so will the cheese. Finito.
Turkey Shepherd's pie
The concept here is simple enough: take the leftover turkey and the
leftover mashed spud and put them together. Here's what you need to do:
first, butter a large pan. Then prepare the sauce. I used a generic
tomato sauce: onions, thyme, tomatoes, pepper and a bit of red wine.
After simmering "until the oil separates" (as Marcella would say),
then add the turkey (off the bone of course). Layer it in the bottom of
the pan. Then layer the mashed sputs on top. Use a trowel to even it out.
Bake at 375 until done. Done is when the sauce is boiling and the top
is lightly toasted.
Tired of making banana bread with black bananas? Why not turn them
into a soufflé?
You can use any soufflé basis. I used Lenotre's which involves the
construction of a roux and then the eggs and finally
the addition of milk. The only caution
I have is to not add the sugar called for; the black bananas
have more than enough. Then stir in the mashed bananas and fold in
the whites. I suggest serving with a chocolate sauce.
Scallops with a yellow tomato coulis
Prepare a schiffonade of basil; start some butter and olive oil in a small
pot, then add sliced tomatoes (I used yellow because they have a nice color
and are sweet like cherry tomatoes; ambitious cooks would remove the skins,
I didn't). The tomatoes will cook down. When you are satisfied with the
texture, add the basil. Then add
about a half pound of scallops (either kind, your choice). Cook until the
scallops are done to your taste.
Chicken with baby artichokes
Start by cutting the chicken into pieces; then heat some oil in a pan.
When hot, add the chicken turning and browning. Meanwhile, remove the
outer leaves of the baby artichokes. Keep going until the inner leaves
are exposed (note: it's hard to know when to stop pulling, only experience
will tell you when). Then, cut them down the long axis into, say, 8 pieces.
You could put them into acidulated water, but why bother? When the
chicken is done, remove from
the pan and add some garlic. When it yellows but not browns, add
1/2 c of white wine. Add some rosemary (a sprig will do) and the chicken.
Now add the artichoke slices and
cover. Cook until done.
Julia Child's Soupe de Poisson
This is my informal rendering of her recipe from the classic set. I have changed some
timing to reflect reality.
Start a pot with some olive oil, then several onions. Fry until
transparent. The add several cloves of garlic, chopped whole tomatoes
(I often use canned in the winter), parsley springs, a bay leaf,
thyme/basil (about 1/2 t), a large pinch of saffron, an orange peel
some black pepper and a lot of water, say 8-10 cups. Add one peeled
potato. Bring to a boil, and let it cook for 30 minutes at a
Remove the cooked potato. Next, add either chopped potatoes or pasta. I
cube the potatoes so that the cooking time is reduced. For pasta, I prefer
the smaller, orzo type. You should now add the fish, with adjustments for
cooking time. The fish should be firm, I like tilapia, monkfish and
scallops. Just cook the fish, do not use the times according to Julia!
Meanwhile, you can simmer some chopped red pepper together with a hot
pepper. Put the cooked potato in a blender with the above. Add
4 cloves of garlic, basil and some stock and grind. You should add enough
to grind it into a smooth paste. Then add olive oil until it's the right
texture (resembles mayonnaise).
Serve by having toasted bread slices, coat with rouille and put the fish
soup on top. Serve with a cold Sauvignon Blanc.
Cookbooks can be great fun if the writer has a sense of humor and
an unerring sense of what is required and what is not. Be that as it
may, the overall quality of cookbooks varies from dreadful to superb.
Here are some review of cookbooks at home:
The published Morrow once had a series entitles "The 3 Star
Crefs of France"; these were translations from the French series
published by Lafont. I own all but one. They are quirky books
lacking in structure but they have many ideas. Here is a list
of the titles:
- Julia Child - The Art of French Cooking
- This is truly a classic and what's more, it's surprisingly easy to
cook out of. Of course, Julia's droll humor is found throughout and it
comes complete with wine recommendations. I find the simple recipes
to be delightful.
- Jean George VanGerichten
- In spite of the fact that Jo-Jo is one of my favorite chefs alive,
his cookbook leaves much to be desired. The recipes can yield fabulous
results and yet others are fundamentally lacking in needed instructions.
If you watch him live, you will see how much he leaves out.
- Michael Romano - The Union Square Cookbook
- What a pleasure it is to cook from this tome. Every dish has been
tested and what's more, easily yields fine results. So easy to please
and yet so delicious. I recommend this book without hesitation as
a way to taste what's in New York's most popular restuarant.
This book is now being remaindered, so don't pay full price.
- Michael Romano - The Union Square Cookbook #2
- It's a hard act to follow volume one (above). And so, I regret to say
the recipes here just aren't quite up to the usual Union Square quality.
That doesn't say they're not good, but it's not as failsafe as the first edition.
- Marcella Hazan - Classic Italian Cooking
- Marcella Hazan is our doyen of Italian cooking; mind you, she
is from Venezia, so her emphasis is not on red sauces but on white
and other sauces. Her recipes are concise, easy to follow and
produce great results. All of her cookbooks are highly
- Nick Maglieri - How to Bake
- An amazing book - so far every recipe just works. Easy,
simple to follow and it works. He has a new chocolate book too.
I'm not sure the title is accurate it's not so much how to as
- The Nouvelle Cuisine of Jean and Pierre Troisgros
- Surprisingly classical.
- The Cuisine of Freddy Giradet
- I like Giradet's cooking; he has a certain adventure that comes
through. FYI: he is retired.
- Michel Guèrard's Cuisine Gourmande
- It's hard to believe that Gue'rard did a gourmand cookbook.
But he did.
- Michel Guèrard's Cuisine Minceur
- I have tried a number of recipes in this book and they were terrible.
Of course, maybe it's just Cuisine Minceaur. Best recipe I found
was for a salad dressing.
- The Three-star Recipes of Alain Senderens
- Senderens is also an interesting cook with varying takes on classic
- Roger Vergé's Cuisine of the South of France
- Vergé had a 3* (was demoted, gasp) and this reflects him at
his peak. There is a much more glossy book ... but this isn't it.
File last written on 2009-05-03 at 12:36
e-mail: mark.kahrs at gmail daht com