Monthly Archives: February 2011

Valentine’s Day Blogger Round Robin

This year, we’re spreading the love around a little bit on the blog-o-sphere.  Friend and local market expert, Karen of Markets of New York City rounded up some of her blogger colleagues, including me, to co-post our write-ups for Valentine’s Day.  Here are the links below to connect with some other great writers and hopefully discover some new favorites to follow!

Andrea Davis: Pure Food Nutrition: Valentine’s Day Chocolate: Good & Good for You?
The Bitchy Waiter:  Fuck Cupid
Brooklyn Flea:  You Gotta Have Heart
The Experimental Gourmand: :  Valentine’s Day Special Dinner
Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market  A Blog Affair to Remember  

Kumquat Cupcakery:  My Messy Pink Kitchen  

Markets of New York City :  Love is in the Air: Three Great Valentine’s Dates at the Markets

Metalicious Jewelry:  Well Hello February 

Valentine’s Day Special Dinner – Roast Chicken, Potato Gratin, and Apple Tart

Sometimes I wonder if we are so focused on Valentine’s Day as a particular day that we forget to recognize all those little things that we do throughout the year to show our affection and regard for the people whom welove.  Because I talk about on food and eating in my blog, this usually manifests itself in cooking a special meal or baking a little treat that you know someone likes.  It can even be about fixing dinner and cleaning upafterwards some evening when you know that your sweetie has had a roughday.  When I lived in the UK many years ago, having a roommate make an extra mug of very strong, sweet, milky teafor you when he/she was making his/her own mug was akin to saying, “I know today was a bad one, but it will get better.”

These are the sorts of pick-me-ups that keep us going in life, especially during the harder moments.  When folks ask me, then, what I think is a good meal for Valentine’s Day, I often recommend the straightforward, simpler dishes, in keeping with the wintry season during which the day falls.  A hearty roast chicken can make a house smell like home.  For my tastebuds and stomach, nothing is better than serving a gooey, cheesy, creamy potato dish alongside it.  Then, have something green (broccoli, broccolini, spinach, kale, it doesn’t really matter).  For dessert, I like to pick something that I can make, preferably in advance, that doesn’t take a lot of time.
One of these no-fail, family-favorite desserts is an AppleTart Tatin recipe that I found in an English cooking magazine years ago. When my sister was pregnant with my niece, all she wanted was rich, dairy-laden food.  She isn’t generally one of those folks who craves much of anything, that I’ve ever known.  In fact, she isn’t one of those folks who really lives to eat or who focuses all that much on food things.  In addition, her husband is lactose intolerant so they don’t keep very much diary in the house, and she doesn’t often get to eat some of the cream- or milk-based dishes that our mother used to make.
The other question I’m often asked is how I time things to all come out together.  I have to confess that some if it is really just practice and having made the same dishes over and over again.  Some of it is reading through all the recipes and actually mapping out the sequence of events,like with our family holiday dinner. With a little bit of pre-planning and timing, this can be pulled together on a weeknight, whether it is Valentine’s Day or not.  I’ve added a possible sequence of events (single oven version) as this post’s Kitchen Witch Tip.
My exact recollection is a little bit fuzzy, but I think that I managed to swing it perfectly that evening when my sister came to visit my apartment, despite the fact that I had been at work all day.  It must have been a particularly delicious memory because this meal came up in a conversation between the two of us just the other week.  It is still a sentimental remembrance for both of us: of affection and caring between two siblings and love and happiness for the life that was about to come into the world.
Buon appetito!
Thyme Roasted Chicken with Gravy
For chicken:
3.5 lb. chicken, preferably organic
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
½ tsp. olive oil, plus more for outside of chicken
1 tsp. thyme leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
¼ whole lemon
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
2 thyme springs
For gravy:
drippings from roasted chicken
¼ c. onion, finely chopped
garlic cloves from roasted chicken, peeled
2 sprigs thyme (fresh)
¼ c. dry white wine
juice of ¼ lemon
2 tsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. flour
1 c. chicken stock
¼ tsp. salt
1 pinch black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  Remove gizzards, etc. from inside of chicken.  Place chicken on a rack in a roasting pan.  Put lemon,garlic cloves, and whole thyme springs into the cavity of the chicken.
An improvised rack, made out of aluminum foil
Mix together (mash) minced garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil,thyme, and butter.  Gently lift up the skin of the chicken breasts and slather the butter mixture between the skin and the meat.  Make a small cut in the skin on the legs and put butter between the skin and the meat of the legs.
Rub olive oil into the outside of the skin of the chicken.  Make sure to coat the whole exterior of the bird with the oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Put in the oven for 10 minutes.  After that, turn the oven temperature down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and cook for about 1 hour more, until a meat thermometer registers on the poultry setting (consult All Recipes for additional cooking times for larger chickens).  You might need to cook it for another 10-15 minutes after the hour mark, but let the thermometer guide you on that.
Remove chicken from the roasting pan, set on serving platter, and cover with foil. Roasting pan should be the type that can be placed on a stovetop burner.  Put pan on burner over low heat.  Add onion and garlic to the pan and mash the garlic into small pieces with the back of a fork.  Cook for 2 minutes.
Lots of great drippings to make gravy
Add in thyme sprigs and wine and let cook until the wine has reduced by one-half.  Add lemon juice and stir together.  Mash together butter and flour and whisk into the liquid in the pan until it is combined thoroughly.  Gradually add in chicken stock and cook until the mixture is rich and thick.  Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning to taste.  Strain gravy(or not, depending upon your taste) and serve hot with the chicken (see photo above of plated meal).
Cheesy Potato Gratin
Butter (or butter wrapper), to grease the baking pan
½ c. whole milk
½ c. heavy cream
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 thyme springs
2 large Russet potatoes, sliced thinly (I use a mandoline)
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. thyme leaves
¼ c. grated Gruyère or Comté cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter small casserole dish (9 x5.5-inches or smaller).  In microwaveable measuring cup, combine the milk, cream nutmeg, salt, pepper, garlic, and thyme springs (i.e., the next 7 ingredients), and heat in microwave oven on high for a minute or on the beverage setting.  Remove from oven and cover to let mixture steep for a few minutes.
In the meantime, start layering the potatoes into the buttered baking dish.  They should overlap slightly at the edges.  Putabout ¼ of the potatoes in the dish. Then, pour about ¼ c. of the liquid through a strainer or sieve over the potatoes.  The liquid should just come up to just below the top layer of potatoes.  Sprinkle top layer of potatoes with 1 pinch each of nutmeg, salt, and pepper.
Continue to layer the potatoes and to pour the liquid into the dish in the same manner for two more times, seasoning each layer with 1 pinch each of nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Put one more layer of potatoes in the dish and season with 1 pinch each of nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Then, sprinkle the thyme leaves over the top of the potatoes and cover it with the grated cheese.  For this layer, delicately spoon over the strained liquid until it comes just below the cheese layer of the dish.  You might still have some liquid left, which you can discard or save for another use.
Cover dish with aluminum foil.  Place in oven to cook for 30 minutes.  Uncover the dish, place it on the top rack of the oven (if not already there), and cook for 15 minutes more to allow the top to get bubbly and golden brown. Remove from oven.  Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes before trying to cut it into wedges toserve.  Be careful, as this dish will be piping hot.
This recipe hasn’t been uploaded online as far as I cantell, so this is the link to where it was first published on my website.  I have used MacIntosh and Jonagold apples, both with great success. Granny Smiths would be too tart and Golden and Red Delicious just don’t really stand up in this recipe.  It is also definitely worth it to indulge in real butter puff pastry if you have access to it.
Kitchen Witch Tip
The best thing to do is to make the Apple Tarte Tatin in advance.  That way, it can be put back in the oven to reheat while you are eating dinner.  The first task is to prep and cook the Chicken.  While the Chicken is cooking, prep the Potato Gratin. Thirty minutes before the Chicken is due to come out of the oven, put the Potato Gratin in on a bottom rack to cook, covered.
After you remove the Chicken from the oven, uncover the Potatoes and move them to the top oven rack to continue cooking and so that the top can brown.  While the Potatoes finish cooking, make the Gravy and put the Vegetables on the stovetop to cook.  The Gravy, Vegetables, and Potatoes should all finish at about the same time.  The resting time for the Potatoes can take place while you are plating up the Chicken and the rest of the food.  Turn the oven off and put the Apple Tarte Tatin in the ovento warm up for dessert (this doesn’t have to be served hot, but it is nice to have it a bit warm).
Buon appetito!

We Have a Fine & Raw Chocolate Giveaway Winner!!!

Congratulations to GANDORF57 whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!!!  Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this giveaway.  The feedback on my article regarding this product was very interesting to read.  
This is indeed a unique take on chocolate and on the tastes that we normally associate with it.  If you would like to try some for yourself to test out your own impressions of it, please click on Fine & Raw Chocolate to order some directly from Daniel.  I recommend picking up the two-piece Bonbon as a Valentine’s Day present to yourself!
Buon appetito!

Eats+Apps at Social Media Week NYC

Last night, at 4Food, whose goal is to introduce healthier fast food to us burger-lovers, food media folks engaged their inner tech geeks and got together for Eats+Apps as part of Social Media Week NYC.  The event was sold out, which just highlights that connection between new technology ideas and those of us who love food and cooking and that many of us are looking for ways to communicate that to a broader audience.  While the internet is fantastic and has, for many people, like myself, been a way to explore recipes and menu ideas, the navigation of all of that information can sometimes be daunting and frustrating.

This event was an opportunity for food community networking as well as for those of us who write about food topics to preview some interesting new apps (iPadiPhone, and Android) that might be valuable additions to anyone’s media library.  As someone who test-drove the iPad for about a week and who is in the market for an iPhone now that Verizon is a carrier, I am just the kind of candidate for several of these products.  It was great to have an opportunity to talk to their creators in person last night.  Some of these are definitely on my must-have list.

Gojee (

I’d met co-founder Mike LaValle at the Feast.up picnic in September of last year, so it was great to see his concept in action last night.  A collaboration between technology, food information, and D’Agostino’s grocery stores, this site, with the aid of your rewards card number and a logon, will help you to track your spending and create a budget, assist you with nutritional details about your purchases, and even give you recipe suggestions and food tips based upon the items that you do buy.  This is an amazing integration of the kind of information that most of us try to cobble together every week.  The only downside for me, however, is that there’s no D’Ag in my neighborhood, so I’m hoping that this is picked up by other stores sometime in the near future so more folks can have access to this terrific resource.

Bread Baking Basics (Apple Store)

This is already available as an iPad app.  Baking bread is one of those things that I wish I could do better.  I have taken a cooking course on it and have a great book on the subject.  Still, I feel as though I can never quite get it right.  Perhaps this is just what I need to download, as the cost of it is cheaper than buying an artisanal loaf from my local bakery.  What is appealing is not only are there detailed instructions and photos of every step of the process but that there are also hints about the theory part as to how to make great-tasting bread in your home kitchen.

Ratio (Apple Store)

The cookbook by renowned food-writer Michael Ruhlman is now an app.  The concept behind this is that by understanding some of the fundamental ratios of basic cooking inputs (like butter to flour in baking cookies), those of us who want to move behind our recipe files can gain the tools to create and develop our own culinary ideas.  Having this on an iPadiPhone, or iPod Touch is a great way to figure out how to work with the ingredients you have or, more likely, what to do if you’ve run short on something and need to adjust a recipe on the fly.  This app is also available for the Android.

Food Network – In The Kitchen (FN website)

This app is designed to give you a personal helping hand from some of your favorite television chefs.  Having access at your fingertips to shows and recipes is a huge help for someone like me, who cooks from things I’ve seen on some of the programs I’ve watched on this network.  It would save me hours of time not to have to run back and forth to the computer (or to draw upon my fading memory) to be able to bring up a show for that, “Now, how did he/she do that again?” moment that usually happens when I’m trying to recreate a recipe.  Another very useful aspect of this app is that you can also build your shopping list from it, and there is a feature to share your list in case other folks are chipping in with the shopping and prep work.  It’s like having a virtual supper club, except that you really get to eat the results.  This is available for the iPadiPhone, and Android.

Foodspotting (

For those who enjoy eating out, here is an app that can help you make your food choices.  You can share dishes that you’ve eaten at various restaurants, get tips on what other folks have enjoyed at their favorite haunts, and see what might be some options for dining wherever you might be.  This is a great way to get some suggestions for cities and neighborhoods where you might not be as familiar with the dining options.  They also pull together recommendations from some of the top food guides, including Tasting Table, Anthony Bourdain, and Zagat, so you can get opinions from a variety of resources to help you decide what you will do for your next meal away from home.  This is available on iPhone and Android

Dinevore (

Another resource for tracking your restaurant reviews and resource lists to create mini dining guides is this site.  You can type in a wide range of criteria (I like the one about number of subway lines you want to take.) to come up with a list of choices that match and then see what other folks have had to say about dining at them.  Additional lists that have been created by magazines and other guides are also available for viewing.

Snooth (

This is a great wine app for the iPhone, so I’m glad that I’m soon going to be getting one of these devices.  Have you ever been at a wine tasting or restaurant and wanted to remember what was that fabulous vintage that you sampled?  In those settings, it’s probably a bit gauche to tear off the label for your files.  After a few glasses, those photos you took with your camera phone are also a bit blurry.  If you’re like me, the other way you handle this is to write down the information on some piece of paper, never to remember where it is or what you did with it.  This will take care of all of that for you.  This will help you browse for selections, find a store where you can buy it, and help you manage your own personal wine library.

Gourmet Live (

Along with many other members of the food-lovers community, I was sad when Gourmet magazine folded its print edition in 2009.  I have so many fond memories and great recipes from this publication.  I’d heard a while back that all was not lost for this iconic brand, however, as it was going to be re-born in an on-line version.  As the representative at last night’s event put it, this is the digital re-imagining of the magazine.  I actually think that she was being modest, as to me this is the one app that would have made me keep the iPad that I ended up returning (too expensive, didn’t really do what I needed it to do).  I love this app.  It is flexible, timely, and combines great stories with useful tips and menu ideas, as well as the ability to get more information at your fingertips.  Content is updated weekly with new stories and recipes as well as old favorites pulled from the print magazine’s archive.

Overall, this was a fantastic event.  I got to see some people with whom I hadn’t caught up in a while, get to know some newer contacts, and to meet some new food media folks.  I love seeing what new technology can bring to the world of recipes and ingredient resources, so this was a perfect fit for my areas of interest.  Thanks so much to 4Food for hosting it (I need to get over there for lunch someday.) and to Danielle Gould, Emily Cavalier, and Brian Quinn and Jonny Cigar (great idea to come to us with the wine last night, as we were all chatting away downstairs!) for pulling this all together.  I look forward to the next one and to see what is going on in the Food + Tech movement.

Buon appetito!

We Have a Slickepott Giveaway Winner!!!

Congratulations to Beth Elderton whom the Randomizer selected as the winner for this prize!!!!  Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this giveaway.  It was great to see everyone’s comments about the name of this product and to see how many folks were interested in trying it.  For those of you who would like to buy some directly from Slickepott, please click on this order link to buy some directly from the company.

Product Giveaway – Fine & Raw Chocolate

Just in the nick of time for Valentine’s Day, I picked up from Daniel at Fine & Raw Chocolate a small sampling of what I thought were the highlights of his collection.  The prize package for this giveaway is 1 Mesquite bar, 1 Lucuma & Vanilla bar, and 1 of the 2-piece Bonbon all gathered together in a pouch decorated with a heart.  Here’s how to participate in this contest:

The Rules (There have to be some of these, you know.)

Eligibility: U.S. mainland residents only, as this is a perishable product. 

To Enter:  Write a comment on this post with the answer to the following question: What did the Mesquite bar remind me of (hint: it’s in the previous post about this chocolate)?

You must also have a valid screen name (not “Anonymous”) with a corresponding email address to enter this giveaway.  I’ll need to be able to click on it in order to contact the winner.

Deadline:  Is Wednesday, February 9th at 5:00 p.m. EST, based upon the date/time stamp on the comments.  (I’m going to be strict about this and make no exceptions.)  

The Outcome:  Only one winner will be chosen for the whole package.  I’m going to put all the entries into an online Randomizer (like this one) to come up with the winner.  

This contest is also listed at