The Art of Moving – Letting Go and Embracing Change

Amagansett Second HomeIn December, 2009 we moved into our “second home” in Amagansett, NY. We were both so excited to be back on the East Coast again and have a life that included the four seasons as opposed to the continual state of summer of Los Angeles.Our first Christmas in Amagansett We also really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere and the more bucolic lifestyle, other than the crazy summer months, that the East End of Long Island has to offer. Originally our goal was to spend around 40% of our time in Amagansett with the rest of our time back in Los Angeles. After a few years it became very clear to us that we wanted to stay longer on the East Coast and less on the West Coast. So, about 4 years ago we began planning for our permanent move to Amagansett from Los Angeles. It was a long process of purchasing more properties to create our “Compound”. Our vision was to have a place where family and friends could come and spend time with us and enjoy their own time exploring what the East End is all about.

Building the Carriage HouseHowever, this was no small undertaking. To complete the vision of our Compound we had to build the “Carriage House” for us to live in, convert the house we originally purchased into a “Guest House” and build a Cottage for my mother to live in. Given that this was going to be such a long process we didn’t have a sense of urgency about selling our home in Los Angeles. However, as the Carriage House neared completion and the Cottage project started we recognized that we better get moving on listing and selling our house in Los Angeles soon. That also means preparing to move.Los Angeles Residence on N. Woodburn Dr.

Let’s start off by saying I don’t like all the work that goes into moving. Not that I mind working, but the level of disarray in your surroundings and disruption to your life is difficult for me, a Virgo, to cope with. However, once we made the decision to move, I engaged my trusted organizing professionals, Chris McKenry, Rosalind Lakomy and John Trosko, my long time friend and designer, Connie McCreight, and our invaluable personal assistant, Jennifer Adams, to help begin thinking through the move and then executing it. Even though I had a lot of help, there are still so many decisions about what goes with us and which house does it go to – Carriage, Guest or Cottage, what gets donated and what gets trashed. To say the least, it was mind numbing. However, I have to say having Ros and John, who have done this countless times across country, required less of our involvement.Chris, Ros and John

What I called the “great purge” was a very emotionally difficult process. Deciding what possession you no longer had a place for, room for, etc. requires you to detach yourself from the idea of every thing has meaning to you. Our possessions do have different memories attached to them, but are they necessary or can you still hold those memories close in your heart without them around to remind you? There were a few that still held a great deal sentimental value, such as my dining room table and chairs. I had it for over 25 years and it had been with me through happy and some sad times. It deserved a home where it would be loved and cared for. I knew that Jennifer would give it that home. And while it was hard to part with it, I felt better about it in the end.Bye Bye Dining Room Table

Then there is the amount of stuff in your closets, drawers and other hiding placing in your house. This stuff has to be sorted through for what can be used by others, homeless shelters, Habitat for Humanity, Veterans organizations, you name it. It is easy to just get a dumpster and throw it all out, but in a society that is so wasteful I didn’t want to think that we still couldn’t help others if we just took the time to do it. For instance, we had 63 rolls of beautiful wallpaper that we had no use for anymore. Habitat for Humanity was happy to have it to use in their home building projects. It made me feel good that someone’s home would be a little brighter with some lovely wallpaper.

And, last but not least, the true throw away pile. Ros and John were very good at finding good homes for items that could be donated so this pile was a lot smaller.

In the middle of all of this, our realtor advised us that we should “stage” our house to improve the flow of buyers. Okay, so Howie, Winston, Wallis and I packed up our bags and moved to Amagansett 4 months ahead of the actual move. The week before we actually left our home in Los Angeles, it was kind of a strange goodbye tour. Some people were around to see and others weren’t around or had other plans. What we found, however, was that we would miss people who really didn’t know what an important part of our lives they had become. Our Vietnamese manicurists, Kathy, Julie, Holly, Helen and Kelly were some of the hardest people leave. Julie, Kathy, and Kelly with Jessica AlbaEach time we came to their salon they all had such beautiful and genuine smiles and affection for us, especially Howie, who they called “Papa”. These women had worked so hard to build their business into one of the most successful nail salons in Beverly Hills with a large and loyal clientele. They all came to the United States as young children with no English skills, yet look what they achieved. We really admire them and miss them.

The Carriage HouseOnce the move actually became real we started to look to building a great life and future in our new home. There is all the administrivia that you have to do, get a new drivers license, register your cars, register to vote…it goes on and on. The day we went to the NY DMV to exchange our CA drivers licenses was an out of body experience. The DMV is the great equalizer of humanity. Actually I think every politician should have to go there and sit for 3 hours for their turn with no handlers allowed to enjoy the experience. But I digress. When I actually handed my CA drivers license over to the clerk I felt like I was handing over a part of myself. I had a CA drivers license for 38 years. I thought about taking a picture of it, but I didn’t. I decided that not taking a picture of was symbolic of embracing change and letting go.

Moving in was 2 weeks of organized chaos. Once again, the cavalry of Chris, Ros, John, Jennifer and Connie were here in Amagansett moving us in, organizing us, reorganizing the Guest House and making sure we were comfortably settled in our new forever home. Winston and Wallis moved in once everything was done. Winston had a rough move in dayWinston had a small panic attack for about an hour and Wallis just strutted around like finally THIS place is what she expects, no less.Wallis chilling' in her new home The trade parade was a constant flow for over a month, but now it is down to a trickle.

The Guest House has been full almost every day in July and more coming this month.The Compound pool and the Guest House We are making new friends and keeping up with our “well established” friends. I read an article in the New York Times today, “Do Your Friends Actually Like You?”, by Kate Murphy. One part of the article particularly rang true for me related to moving from a life and friends we had known for such a long time. It reads, “So it’s worth identifying who among the many people you encounter in your life are truly friends. Who makes time for you? Whose company enlivens, enriches and maybe even humbles you? Whom would you miss? Who would miss you?” I found myself asking the same questions and was actually not surprised at my answers.My Bestie My good friend, Lorin. She continues, “As the saying goes, “Show me your friends and I will show you who you are.” I guess for me that means who I am will continue to be shaped by the new friends in this next part of my life. Stay tuned…..

Posted in About My Food Voice | Leave a comment

There’s Hummus Among Us!

HummusI’m ashamed to admit that I had never heard of, much less eaten hummus growing up or even into my young adult years. I think it is because growing up in the South, if it’s not fried it doesn’t exist. Today you can find hummus in any grocery store. In fact, our grandson, Miles, who is 2 years old today (Happy Birthday Miles!) loves hummus. Who knew a 2 year old would love chickpeas??

I actually really like hummus, but have never attempted to make it since I can buy it whenever I want at the store. However, I’ve read a lot about it and how to make it. It sounds so simple I thought I would give it a go.

Hummus is an Arabic word meaning “chickpea” – makes sense right? Chickpea and garbanzo bean are 2 names for the same thing, Cicer arietinu, a member of the Pea family. Garbanzo is the name used in Spanish speaking countries. The earliest known recipes for a dish similar to hummus are recorded in cookbooks published in Cairo in the 13th century. Hummus is a staple in many Middle Eastern cuisines. Hummus is a common part of everyday meals in Israel. A significant reason for the popularity of hummus in Israel is that it is made from ingredients that, following Kashrut (Jewish dietary laws), can be combined with both meat and dairy meals. Hummus is an excellent source of vitamin B6, manganese and dietary fiber. It is also a good source of protein, vitamin C, folate, phosphorus, iron, zinc and copper.

There are a zillion recipes for hummus. Some involve starting with dried chickpeas and others use them from the can already prepared. I decided to go the easy route with canned chickpeas. Garbanzo Beans Are Chickpeas The basic ingredients for any hummus is chickpeas, sesame or tahini, lemon, garlic and olive oil, most of which you usually have on hand in the pantry. In my version I add some Greek yogurt to make the texture a little creamier. I also like garlic. If you don’t like it so much just use one clove. Also, it is important not to skip boiling the chickpeas and removing the skins. IMG_1915It is a little time consuming, but the big benefit of doing this is that you will end up with a beautiful consistency. Don’t be afraid to add more lemon, tahini or olive oil to achieve the desired taste. Grab some pita chips and enjoy a healthy snack!

Easy Hummus

1 15-oz can chickpeas/garbanzo beans
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp. tahini
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. chili flakes
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Greek yogurt
1 or 2 Tbsp. water
salt to taste
A dash of cayenne pepper, if you like a little “zip”
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, reserve
1 Tbsp. toasted pine nuts (optional)

Drain chickpeas from liquid in the can. Place the drained chickpeas in a small sauce pan and cover with water. Boil the chickpeas/garbanzo beans until the skins come off – about 5-8 minutes. Drain boiled chickpeas in colander, rinse with cold water and remove the skins (this is the slow part).

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until smooth adding small amounts of oil and water until desired consistency is achieved. Add more lemon or tahini if needed.

Place hummus in a serving bowl and drizzle with olive oil, chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts.

Posted in About My Food Voice | Leave a comment

The East End Bucolic Life

I’ve always been a city girl having spent most of my adult life in Los Angeles. Whenever my husband, Howie, mentioned maybe moving to some place less crazy I would silently panic. LA was my home and I couldn’t imagine living any other place. I told him it would take a stick of dynamite to blow me out of Los Angeles – and then he took me on vacation to the East End of Long Island, aka The Hamptons. It was love at first sight and the fuse was lit – let’s get the hell of out of LA! That was 6 years ago and now we are making our permanent move out to Amagansett where my soul now lives.

Indian Wells BeachLiving in the East End through all the four seasons has been a real awakening for me. After living in Los Angeles for so long, the seasons never really mattered. It is always sunny and beautiful, with some occasional (far to infrequent) rain and an earthquake here or there. My first summer in Amagansett I was stunned by how people were obsessed with going to the beach. I couldn’t really understand the intense ferver of it all. Winter in AmagansettHowever, after going through a few long and cold winters, I finally understood that summer was the reward for enduring the bitter cold, snow and grey days – which I kind of like to be honest. It is almost like people are wringing every last drop of sun and fun out of summer before the cool days of autumn descend. The other thing that became clear is that the clothes I wore in LA were always the same since the weather was usually the same throughout the year – no winter coats, hats and gloves required! Not so in Long Island. But, I love that too. I really enjoy the autumn and even winter when all the NYC people leave and the East End resumes its sleepy life with no traffic and, let’s say, many fewer crazy people.

Long Island has long been an important agricultural community. When I first moved here I was amazed at all of the local farms and how the seasons brought such a bounty of different vegetables at stands all along the road sides. It was kind of a cultural transition for me. I’ve always shopped in grocery stores for everything I needed. I never really thought about what was in season since the produce aisle had anything you could want because it is in season somewhere. However, living in the East End is such a treat because of all the organic farming that is done just a mile or two from our house. Balsam FarmsMy favorite farm is Balsam Farms on the corner of Windmill Lane and Town Lane in Amagansett. It is impressive how committed the people at Balsam Farms are to organic farming. Their loving care and commitment shows in the amazing vegetables their land produces. It is incredible to think of this, but from May through November, most of the produce that Howie and I eat is grown less than 5 miles from where we live.

Iacono FarmEven the eggs we eat are raised on a small farm, Iacono Farm, less than 5 miles from our house. There is an intense discussion about the humanity of egg production in America. When you drive up to the small building to buy eggs at Iacono, you can see the chickens running around outside in the fresh air eating the bugs and worms which are important to their diet. An excellent environment for egg production and humane treatment of the chickens. Iacono Farm Chickens I’ve confessed on my blog here before that I don’t like egg yolks. Our vet raises special chickens, Araucana and Ameraucana, which lay colored eggs!! When he gave us a dozen to try I finally said to myself it’s time to try a egg yolk.Colored Chicken Eggs To be honest, I was curious to see what an egg yolk tasted like. I made my first over easy egg. I was expecting to hate it, but it was the most rich and delicious thing I had ever eaten – buttery and creamy, not slimey like I always thought it would be like. Just to be fair, I tried the same over easy egg from an egg purchased at the grocery store. The yolk had absolutely no taste. I’m now a born again egg eater. I can’t wait to fry one for breakfast a couple of times each week. After a lot of research, it makes sense that the eggs where chickens are allowed to roam free and eat their natural diet in addition to organic feed is the reason the eggs have a richer taste. Also, at Iacono where I buy our eggs they are usually collected that day – they don’t get much fresher than that. I learned also that a lot of the local people raise their own chickens! I thought that was a great idea, but Howie didn’t think so. No chickens for me😞

When most people think about the East End or the Hamptons, they think of it in the context of it being a resort area. That is true from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but the real attraction for me is the community of people whose families have lived here for generations as either farmers or fishermen. These are the people who truly love the land and sea which has sustained them and their ancestors for hundreds of years. Most people don’t realize that the majority of the Fire Departments from Middle Island to the East End are 100% volunteer departments. Last April while we were away, the house next to ours burned to the ground in the middle of the night. 75 volunteer firefighters arrived at 1:00 a.m. and worked to save the houses around the burning house. They miraculously saved our home which was less than 50 feet from the fire. We are so grateful for what these brave people did not only for us, but for the entire community they serve. Last summer the Amagansett Fire Department celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a parade down the Main Street. Howie and I expected that it would be a few fire trucks and would take maybe 10 minutes. We had never seen anything like it in our lives. An amazing display of the rich history of the East End and the sense of community and support with the participation of over 10 other Fire Departments from all over Long Island. The parade was almost an hour long, so this slide show will take a few minutes of your time, but it will be well worth it. I am glad I was there to capture and share the experience.

Indian Wells BeachThe most powerful force of living on the East End is the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean. Living within a 5 minute walk to the ocean is such a luxury to have it has a part of our environment. The sounds of the ocean are sometimes peaceful and sometimes angry, but they are so wonderful to listen to. Sometimes at night if the tide is high and a storm is coming in, I sit outside on our front porch and enjoy the sound of the crashing waves on the beach. We take walks on the beach no matter what season it is. The ocean is as bright and beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer. Published in “Remarks in Newport at the Australian Ambassador’s Dinner for the America’s Cup Crews (383),” September 14, 1962, Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy, 1962, President Kennedy is quoted as saying “I really don’t know why it is that all of us are so committed to the sea, except I think it’s because in addition to the fact that the sea changes, and the light changes, and ships change, it’s because we all came from the sea. And it is an interesting biological fact that all of us have, in our veins the exact same percentage of salt in our blood that exists in the ocean, and, therefore, we have salt in our blood, in our sweat, in our tears. We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea – whether it is to sail or to watch it – we are going back from whence we came.”

I am tied to the East End.


Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Posted in About My Food Voice | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Trending….Clean Eating Yogurt Bowl

Having a curious nature, I’m always interested in what is new in the world of food and food trends. I am not one who really cares much about high-end restaurants, I’m more interested in what real people are eating, what is accessible to everyone and how small things in the world of food can make a big impact.

Clean EatingMost of what I read about lately is, of course, January is everyone’s “clean eating” month. Most of the blogs and articles I read were focused on a more meatless diet in general, using what you have on hand instead of buying specific ingredients to make a recipe and the health benefits of Greek yogurt. I really liked that idea and starting thinking about how that would apply to my own refrigerator and pantry. Besides, I LOVE Greek yogurt so I decided that it would be my inspiration to come up with my version of “clean eating”.

What differentiates Greek yogurt from traditional yogurt is that Greek yogurt has been strained to remove the whey. As a result, Greek yogurt has a creamier, thicker texture and rich flavor. In addition, the removal of whey results in a healthier yogurt with 40 percent less sugar, 38 percent less sodium and more than twice the amount of protein than traditional yogurt. It is also packed with nutrients and provides numerous health benefits such as probiotic bacteria that helps promote a healthy gut, it is an important source of calcium, magnesium and potassium, which is believed to help lower high blood pressure. Greek yogurt provides calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and protein, which work together to promote strong, healthy bones. Numerous studies have also found a link between eating dairy and weight loss. A 2010 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared 300 men and women who followed either a low-fat, Mediterranean or low-carb diet over a 2-year period. Regardless of the type of diet they followed, those who ate the most dairy lost approximately 12 pounds more than folks who ate a low amount of dairy foods. Greek yogurt is one of those foods that can make a big impact. Let’s hear it for Greek yogurt!!!

Fage 2%While you can always just eat Greek yogurt plain, I like to, as my grandmother use to say, “doctor it up” a little. My favorite Greek Yogurt is Fage 2%. To start my clean eating experiment, I made the Greek yogurt sauce that I use for most everything from grilled lamb chops to a dipping sauce for Naan bread. I take one 6 oz. container of Fage 2% and add 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and 1 1/2 tablespoons of good extra virgin olive oil, a generous pinch of salt and a good dash or two of cayenne pepper. I let it sit in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours to let the flavors develop. I have to hold myself back from just eating out of the bowl with a spoon it is so good.

Next I opened my refrigerator to see what was sitting in my produce bin for vegetables that would work for a deconstructed Mediterranean type of “bowl” and would also work well with my Greek yogurt sauce. Salad greens and baby spinach went into the base of the bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and a good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Savory Yogurt BowlI had some Persian cucumbers, celery, cherry tomatoes, yellow and red beets and an avocado that needed to be used. After chopping them all into bite size pieces, I found a small can of garbanzo beans in the pantry and used them as well for a little more protein. I arranged the vegetables and garbanzo beans in their own little piles around the sides of the bowl and let the Greek yogurt take center stage in the middle. A squeeze of lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on all the veggies as their dressing. The final touch was a lonely half of a jalapeño that was going to get tossed that I minced (took out the seeds) and used it as a garnish for my Clean Eating Yogurt Bowl. What I loved about my Clean Eating Yogurt Bowl is that is a dish that is so accessible because you are not limited by anything. Just let your imagination go to work.

I have a lot of family and friends who are vegetarians. This one’s for you.


Technorati Tags: , , ,

Posted in About My Food Voice | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Chillin’ In The Summer With Gazpacho

Balsam Farm StandOut here on the East End of Long Island in July, the farm stands are in full swing with beautiful produce every day of the week. Just now the tomatoes are starting to come in and I began to crave a soup that not only beats the July heat, but tastes as fresh as all the vegetables in season. That means gazpacho to me!IMG_2662

It seems that everyone has a little different take on their gazpacho recipe so I decided to take a less traditional route in developing mine, but not sacrificing any of the wonderful garden flavors. I’ve done a lot of research on gazpacho recipes and a common theme is the use of tomato juice from a can or V8 juice. It seemed such a shame to me to do that to all of the farm stand vegetables that have been so lovingly grown so I had to find another solution….and I did!

IMG_0670Instead of using tomato juice I took the sweet red and yellow cherry tomatoes available at my favorite farm stand, Balsam Farms, and added olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, two diced garlic cloves and 1/2 large jalapeño diced with seeds included and salt.IMG_2671 The blender created this beautiful sort of pink sauce that was a perfect substitute for the tomato juice conundrum.

Jane's Herb GardenThis summer our landscape architect, Jane Lapin, designed and installed for me a beautiful herb garden that is just loaded with so many amazing herbs to choose from. I have a lot of fun experimenting with countless combinations of herbs in my cooking. The variety of oregano is particularly nice and I have loads of parsley and chives so that is what I used in my gazpacho to give it a herbaceous note. IMG_2678

I think that a good gazpacho is a bit chunky while still having the consistency of a soup. So I diced all of my vegetable and added the pureed cherry tomatoes and put about half of the gazpacho in the blender and pulsed a few time to a traditional consistency and then added it back to the rest of the soup.

The last secret is the final touches. I love 20 year old Balsamic vinegar and use it to give tomatoes a deep and sweet flavor. It does cost quite a bit, but you will be amazed at the difference it makes. Once I have made my gazpacho I am tempted to dive right in and eat a bowl, but this soup needs time to chill and let the flavors fully develop. Amagansett GazpachoYou can chill it 4 hours before you want to serve it, but overnight is best to bring out all of the subtle flavors of gazpacho.

When you are ready to serve your gazpacho, you can garnish it with some diced onions, cucumber, red bell pepper and celery tossed with a little olive oil and either regular balsamic or a touch of the good stuff or red wine vinegar and put a spoon full on top of the soup. I also like to serve a crostini with some softened goat cheese to round out the meal.

Amagansett Gazpacho with Goat Cheese CroutonEnjoy!

Amagansett Gazpacho

4 large fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
3/4 English cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1/2 large red bell pepper finely diced
1/2 medium size red onion finely diced
1 1/2 large stalks celery finely diced
1 large jalapeno – 1/2 with seeds removed and diced. The second 1/2 diced with seeds and reserve this 1/2.
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lime
2 tbsp good red wine vinegar
1 tsp finely minced fresh oregano
3 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely minced
2 tbsp chives, finely minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, more or less to your taste
1 pint cherry tomatoes – an assortment of red and yellow is best
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
4 – 6 dashes of Tabasco
1 tbsp 20 year old balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Combine diced tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onions, celery, 1/2 jalapeno with the seeds removed, oregano, parsley, chives, cumin, cayenne, lime zest, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar and 1 tsp salt in large bowl and set aside.

Place cherry tomatoes, olive oil, lime juice, garlic, remaining minced jalapeno with seeds, 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, 1 tbsp regular balsamic vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in blender, cover and process until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed. Pour pureed mixture into the bowl of the tomato and diced vegetables; stir to combine.

Place about 1/2 of the combined tomato mixture, making sure to include the diced vegetable as well. Cover and puree until smooth. Return pureed mixture to the remaining tomato/vegetable mixture and combine well. Add 1 tbsp 20 year old balsamic vinegar and a few dashes of Tabasco and stir again. Taste again for salt, adding a little at a time until taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or over night.


Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in About My Food Voice, Let's Get Cookin' | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Follow Me Down The Butter Rabbit Hole

I will freely admit that butter is one of my guilty pleasures. Up until a few years ago I was sort of indifferent to butter because the ones that I used lacked something that I couldn’t put my finger on. One evening we were invited to a friends house for dinner and I couldn’t believe how wonderful the butter was that they served. Kerrygold Irish ButterOur host told me that it was Kerrygold butter from Ireland, which I learned was generally available in most supermarkets. Then I decided to learn more about where different butters come from and why they seem to be richer and more flavorful than the domestic butter available here in the United States. So I jumped down the butter rabbit hole and after a lot of trial and error I found the diamond of butters – Les Pres Sales with Camargue Sea Salt.

Les Pres SalesLes Pres Sales is produced in Belgium using fresh cream from cows on the plateau of the Belgian Ardennes. The butter is churned and then big salt crystals from Camargue, a region in the French Rhone delta reknown for its high quality sea salt is added to the churred butter. Long prized by gourmets, Camargue sea salt is hand raked and harvested in France. The salt crystals remain intact in the butter, allowing for delicious savory bites as they dissolve on the tongue. Many say the reason it is so good is related to the quality of the cream, or what the cows eat. It’s also due to the fact that the butter is made from slightly-soured or cultured cream, which gives it a nutty, mellow tang. Les Pres Sales can be more difficult to find, but it is usually in specialty markets like Bristol Farms or Gelson’s or can be found on-line as well.

If you are going to invest in a good butter like Les Pre Sales, one needs to have a butter dish worthy to hold your tasty treasure. There are many out there, but I prefer the Convivio White Butter Dish by Match Pewter.Match Round Butter Dish Match Pewter is handmade by artisans in the North of Italy. Each piece is crafted of an alloy that is food safe and lead free. It is a little pricy, but it holds a modest portion and is a beautiful addition to your table.

The next trip down the butter rabbit hole for me was exploring the world of compound butter. Compound butters are so versatile and are the perfect little extra “something” to kick up a weeknight meal or impress your guests while entertaining! Compound butters are only limited to your imagination and sense of adventure. I’ve made many compound butters and am always on the look out for some new inspiration even venturing into compound butters for many ethnic cuisines.

There are a couple of words of advice. First, I usually use Kerrygold salted butter in the tub because it has already been whipped and it combines with your other ingredients very easily. Second, make butters that will accentuate what is fresh and in season. Third, you can store your compound butter back in the Kerrygold tub if you like or you can roll into a log in plastic wrap and tightly tie the ends with kitchen twine and store in freezer bags in the freezer until you are ready to use them. Lastly, while it takes just a little time to make a compound butter, I would suggest making several and freezing them so that when you are inspired to give your dish that little something extra it is already there waiting for you. Compound Butter Gifts Also, wrapped up, labeled and pretty… they make a wonderful hostess gift, too!

Here are a few compound butter recipes to get you started… but let your imagination soar… the combinations of ingredients are endless!

Chipotle-Cilantro Butter

1 tub Kerrygold butter at room temperature or 2 sticks butter at room temperature
2 to 4 chipotle chiles in adobo, pureed, 2 tbsp total
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
Salt, if using unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Honey, to taste

Combine the butter chipotle, garlic, cilantro, salt (if using unsalted butter), pepper and honey in a food processor until smooth. Can use a smaller 3 cup mini-prep food processor as well. Taste and adjust salt, pepper & honey to your liking. Great on corn on the cob and grilled steaks.

Lemon-Red Fresno Chile Butter

1 1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp honey
1 tub Kerrygold butter at room temperature or 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3 red Fresno chiles, grilled, seeded and finely diced
Salt, if using unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the lemon juice in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in honey and let cool.

Add the butter and zest to the reduced lemon juice and mix in the food processor until smooth. Put in the chiles and pulse a few times just to combine and season with salt (if using unsalted butter) and pepper. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to your liking. Great on grilled lobster, shrimp or on steamed vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower or green beans.

Garlic Butter – and yes, that is Howie, my husband, talking on the phone in the background 🙂

1 large head of garlic or two small heads
1 tub Kerrygold butter at room temperature or 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup chopped italian parsley
Salt, if using unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut the top off of the head of garlic to expose the garlic cloves. Take a piece of foil and place the garlic head on the foil, drizzle it with 1 tbsp olive oil and a little salt. Close up the foil into a little package and roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes, remove and let cool. Once cooled, squeeze out the roasted garlic cloves into a small bowl and set aside.

Add the butter, roasted garlic and chopped italian parsley in the food processor until smooth. Add salt if using unsalted butter and freshly ground pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Great for slathering on warm french or sourdough bread and anything else that you love with garlic.

Add the butter, roast

Harissa Butter

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons harissa paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

Process all ingredients in food processor or mini-prep food processor until smooth.

Harissa PasteHarissa paste is a spicy North African red chile paste and is available at Middle Eastern markets and some specialty foods stores, and online at The Spice House. Delicious as replacement to butter for a roast chicken for a taste of Morocco.


Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Posted in About My Food Voice, Let's Get Cookin', My Spice Cabinet | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fire Up Your Chowder With Buffalo Chicken!

Buffalo Wings

Buffalo Wings

There is some dispute about who came up with the original hot wing appetizer, but most credit the Anchor Bar in where else but Buffalo, New York, USA. The historic creation date for Buffalo Wings was October 30, 1964, when owner Teressa Bellissimo was faced with feeding her son and his friends a late snack. Having an excess of chicken wings on hand, she fried up the wings, dipped them in a buttered spicy chile sauce, and served them with celery and blue cheese dressing as a dipping sauce to cut the heat. The wings were an instant hit.

I guess Buffalo wings were my destiny. When I was in high school, my English teacher, Summer Peasley, invited me to her home town of Buffalo for a visit and took me to the Anchor Bar where I had my first encounter with Buffalo wings – it was love at first bite!

I am crazy about Buffalo wings. It seems like whenever I visit a new restaurant, if there are Buffalo wings on the menu I will try them – sometimes they are perfect and others, well…not so great. My brother-in-law makes great wings and I always request them when we visit them in Tennessee. I’ve watched him make them and it is quite a production with the deep fryer that you would use to fry a turkey. Turkey Fryer It takes him a while to fry batch upon batch to get them just right – crispy and cooked all the way through. That’s just too big of a commitment for me to make at home so I had to find another way to get the spicy deliciousness of buffalo wings with a fraction of the work.

If you are a reader of my previous blogs, you know I am a soup lover. I like soup because you can make it in advance when you have some extra time and it just gets better the longer you let it sit. So I got to thinking, why can’t you make a soup or chowder that has that satisfying buffalo wings taste? So I decided to give it a try.

The most critical component to Buffalo wings is the sauce. My brother-in-law uses a combination of Frank’s Original Hot Sauce and Hooters Wing Sauce and it is a mighty delicious combination. Some people say that Frank’s Original Hot Sauce is the closest thing in a bottle to the real deal Buffalo wings sauce at the Anchor Bar and I tend to agree. Frank's Original Hot Sauce.

Buffalo Chicken Chowder with Pablano PeppersWith a little imagination and a lot of inspiration, my experiment paid off on the first try. My Buffalo Chicken Chowder with Poblano Chilies is something everyone in your family will love. If you are in a hurry, it works just as well with shredded rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Just skip sautéing the chicken and toss it with the 3 tbsp of hot sauce mixture and finish the recipe as written. You can even make a vegetarian version by just leaving out the bacon and chicken and substituting your favorite vegetarian protein product. If you want the chowder a little thicker, use King Arthur Flour Signature Secrets Thickener – this is the best stuff ever. It dissolves instantly and doesn’t clump or make lumps. I use it all the time when I make soup or gravy. Use as little or as much as you like depending on how your prefer the thickness of your chowder. Make sure to have all the traditional Buffalo wings accompaniments like celery and carrots with blue cheese dressing or ranch dressing. It’s spoon lickin’ good!

Buffalo Chicken Chowder with Poblano Peppers

3/4 cup Frank’s Original Hot Sauce
2 tbsp. butter
4 slices bacon, cut into into lardons
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and diced
1 tbsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, optional if you don’t like it too hot
2 cups either frozen or canned corn
1 large red potato, peeled and cut in small dice
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup low fat milk
2 poblano peppers, blistered, peeled and seeded and cut into 1 inch strips
Smoked salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
King Arthur Flour Signature Secrets Thickener
Chopped fresh cilantro, green onions and blue cheese crumbles, for serving

Melt 2 tbsp. butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add the hot sauce and stir to combine and set aside.

Heat a dutch oven pot over medium heat and add the bacon and cook until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside on a paper towel to drain the fat. Drain all but 2 tbsp of the bacon fat and add the chicken to the pot and brown on all sides, about 3 – 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl and add about 3 tbsp of the hot sauce mixture and stir to combine and set aside. If needed, add a little more oil or bacon fat to the pan and add the onions, garlic and jalapeño and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the chopped potatoes and sauté another 4 – 5 minutes. Next add the paprika, crushed red peppers and a pinch of smoked salt and pepper. Saute another minute or so and then add the corn to the pot and toss to combine and sauté another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, remaining hot sauce mixture and milk to the pot and let simmer at least 20 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, pulse until half the soup is creamy but still has chunky pieces of potatoes and corn. Taste for smoked salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pot and the roasted poblano peppers and cook another 5 minutes. If you would like the chowder a little thicker, you can add a little slurry of cornstarch and water of use the King Arthur Flour Signature Secrets Thickener (preferred) and cook another 5 minutes.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with reserved bacon lardons, blue cheese crumbles, cilantro and chopped green onions. Now dig in!!


Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted in About My Food Voice, Let's Get Cookin', Spices | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Easy As Pie? Not!

Apple Pie with Lattice CrustI am a cook, not a baker. I have tried many times to do some serious baking and have always found it way too frustrating with mediocre results. Maybe it is because baking requires accuracy and I tend to “create” as I go along. All summer long, I would go to the farm stands here in the Hamptons and look longingly at the beautiful freshly made pies for sale. I thought, this is silly, I am going to figure out how to bake a great pie!

Now first of all, most pies I have eaten have doughy mushy crusts on the bottom of the pie and I end up just eating the filling and throwing the crust away. I will also freely admit, that out of pure laziness for years when I wanted to make a pie I would end up buying the Pillsbury pre-made pie crust in the grocery store. One day last month I noticed an article in the East Hampton Star, our local newspaper, that Leslie Dumont of Proud To Be Flaky, was offering a pie making class in her home for just four people. I jumped on the computer to book a spot and was lucky enough to be one of the four pie students!

Leslie was a great teacher. Her view of pie is that it is all about the crust and the technique for making the crust that is the secret to a pie regardless of the filling. What I learned was invaluable. To make a great flaky pie crust requires time, a few special tools and practice.

First of all, the easiest way to make the dough is in the food processor to get the dough to the right consistency. Next, the butter needs to be cut into small cubes and returned to the refrigerator for about an hour before making the dough. Also, the number of pulses when you add the butter to the flour mixture is critical to not over process the dough. Adding the water by digging a little well on the side of the food processor bowl is important so that it will incorporate better and not just gum up around the blade of the food processor.Processed Dough

When the dough is ready to form a ball, the secret to a flaky crust is the “shove”. The recipe makes two crusts so after you divide the dough on your work surface, which at this point the dough is crumbly, you pull the dough together with your hands and form a ball. Once you have formed the ball you take the heal of you hand and give the dough a firm shove. Pull back together as a ball and repeat the shove. Just twice, that’s it. Then form a ball again and take a large piece of plastic wrap and put the ball in the center and loosely fold the sides so you have a little package and take the package and form the ball into a uniform disc.

Here is where the time comes in. The dough discs need to go back into the refrigerator for at least an hour before you can roll out the crust. After an hour, take two large pieces of parchment paper (it needs to be extra wide which can be found at Williams-Sonoma) and dust some flour on the bottom piece and place the disc on the parchment paper and dust the top of the disc with flour and place the second piece of parchment paper on top. Now you can start rolling the pie crust out. You will need to stop and pull away the parchment and add more flour as you roll so the dough doesn’t stick to the parchment paper. I usually flip the whole thing over when re-dusting the bottom of the crust. After the crust is rolled, the parchment paper with the rolled dough inside needs to go back into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour.

Here are a couple of tools that are important. First is a pizza stone. The pizza stone needs to be sitting on the bottom of the oven floor and the stove needs to preheat for an hour to ensure that the stone is very hot which helps to “cook” the bottom of the crust. Make sure you take the racks out of the oven before you preheat it as you can access the pie in the hot oven more easily. Second, while there are many fancy pie pans, the one that will give you the best result is just a plain old Pyrex pie pan you can buy in the grocery store for $3.00. Believe it or not, it really makes a difference. The last tool that is helpful is a pie crust protector. Williams-Sonoma has a nice silicone one that fits the Pyrex pie pan just right.

This pie crust will work for any type of pie you want to make. When you are ready to put the pie in the oven, place the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet because if the pie bubbles over it will not ruin the pizza stone Rolled Pie Crustand will stay in the cookie sheet. Actually, the first time I made a pie on my own after taking the class, it did bubble over, but the pie turned out fine. So if yours does don’t worry about it.

Charleston Apple Pie, Weezer StyleI’ve made a pie every week since taking the class. The first time I was a little apprehensive that mine may not turn out as well as Leslie’s, but it was just fine. After doing several different pies I now look forward to making them and trying new fillings, doing a lattice crust, crumb crusts, you name it. I also love to see the satisfaction of eating a good homemade pie on the faces of my family and friends. The pie crust is crisp and has a nutty flavor that is hard to describe. So just get in the kitchen and make your own pie and fill your kitchen with an amazing aroma that will have everyone asking when will it be done.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Slideshow made with Smilebox

Here are a couple of recipes that you can try for Thanksgiving this year for your family. I also made, just this week as a dry run, the pumpkin pie using the recipe on the back of the Libby Pure Pumpkin can and it was delicious. Wouldn’t change a thing.Pumpkin Pie

Leslie converted me to a Pie devotee. I hope you will be converted too!

PIE CRUST – makes two pie crusts, enough for two single crust pies or one double crust pie.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached, flour
2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice water

Cut chilled butter into cubes by cutting in half lengthwise and cut the two halves lengthwise again and then cut into small cubes and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Combine dry ingredients in food processor with a few pulses.

Add butter cubes and pulse until pieces of butter are small (the size of peas). This will take about 20 – 40 pulses depending on how cold the butter is.

Make a small well in the dough away from the blades of the food processer and add half the water and pulse four times. Make another well and add balance of the water and pulse until dough just begins to hold together – it will still be crumbly at this stage.

Spill dough out onto the counter and form into two equal size mounds. Gather mounts into your hands and gently form them into a ball. Once you have formed the ball you take the heal of you hand and give the dough a firm shove pull back together as a ball and repeat the shove. Then form a ball again and take a large piece of plastic wrap and put the ball in the center and loosely fold the sides so you have a little package and take the package and form the ball into a uniform disc. Refrigerate the discs for at least one hour before rolling.

After an hour, take two large pieces of parchment paper (it needs to be extra wide which can be found at Williams-Sonoma) and dust some flour on the bottom piece and place the disc on the parchment paper and dust the top of the disc with flour and place the second piece of parchment paper on top. Now you can start rolling the pie crust out. Stop and pull away the parchment and add more flour as you roll so the dough doesn’t stick to the parchment paper. I usually flip the whole thing over when re-dusting the bottom of the crust. After the crust is rolled, the parchment paper with the rolled dough inside needs to go back into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes but up to an hour.

Note: Dough discs can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Charleston Apple Pie, Weezer Style

7 Honey Crisp apples or 6-7 cups, peeled and sliced
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 lb. cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for one hour with pizza stone on oven floor. Remove oven racks.

Place 1 pie crust in ungreased 9 inch glass pie pan. Press gently but firmly against side and bottom

In large bowl, gently mix filling ingredients; spoon into crust lined pie pan.

To make topping, combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. You can use a pastry cutter instead of electric mixer to obtain the same result.

Scatter the topping over the apples and press firmly to ensure that topping forms a top crust. Place the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet, place the cookie sheet with pie on pizza stone and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour. Check after 30 minutes to make sure topping is just browned and cover with foil to prevent excessive browning. If the top does not need to be covered with foil, but the crimp/crust edges are very brown put on the pie crust protector. Cool on rack at least 2 hours before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream!

Berry Pie

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for one hour with pizza stone on oven floor. Remove oven racks.

Place 1 pie crust in ungreased 9 inch glass pie pan. Press gently but firmly against side and bottom

5 1/2 cups of berries (blueberry, blackberry or raspberry – or any combination that you like)
3 tbsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp melted butter
Egg white wash
Whipped cream

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Gently rinse berries and add to bowl. Toss to coat and then add lemon and melted butter.

Pour into prepared pie pan with dough. Cover top with either another round of dough or a lattice top. Brush with egg white wash. Place the pie on a rimmed cookie sheet, place the cookie sheet with pie on pizza stone and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes (or until the crust begins to brown). Reduce heat to 375 and bake another 45 minutes (until fruit juices are bubbling and begun to thicken). Check after 15 minutes to make sure the crimp/crust edges are very brown, if so put on the pie crust protector. If the crimp/crust edges isn’t brown enough yet, check again in 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least a half hour. Serve with whipped cream.


Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted in About My Food Voice, Let's Get Cookin' | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mori Sushi – A Gem Polishing Its Michelin Star

(Play the music to enjoy your Mori Sushi journey while reading!)

LA is no doubt a sushi paradise. There is a wide variety of places ranging from those offering a more “Americanized” menu to those that are more traditional that specialize in sushi as an art form. What I find intriguing is how sushi is viewed in Japan. When thinking about great sushi, my friend Lorin Shamos, a fellow sushi devotee, evoked the image of Mount Fuji – the great mountain that stands as nature’s mascot for Japan. Tall, big and seemingly always snowcapped, it is a reminder of the perfection and attention to detail that hums under Japanese culture and especially their food. In Japan, a sushi chef is considered an artist that designs a culinary experience for his guests that demonstrates his mastery of the art and his skill – the personification of Mount Fuji. Mori Sushi Recently, I discovered Mori Sushi. I began my first steps up the great Mount Fuji of Japanese cuisine that certainly took my experience to a new artistic level.

Mori Sushi, awarded a Michelin Star, is a jewel tucked away in an unassuming place in West Los Angeles. Mori Sushi Dining RoomEverything about Mori is a delight to the senses – from the Zen vibe as you walk in to the attention to the smallest detail throughout your experience. First of all, the rice is of the highest quality. It is grown in Sacramento by a farmer originally from Japan and then shipped unhulled to Mori’s to ensure its freshness. Finally it is polished daily on site for maximum taste. Secondly, the soy sauce is also handcrafted on site as well, which greatly enhances and complements the sushi and sashimi served during my visits by the excellent sushi chefs, Taketoshi Azumi and Yoshiyuki Inoue . The house prepared soy sauce is delicate and truly enhances your sushi and sashimi experience at Mori.

Lunch is my favorite time to dine out for a couple of reasons. First, it is a little less crazy than dinner. People tend to eat lunch depending on their work schedule and the groups are usually just 2 or 3 people, which makes it less noisy. I also think it is easier for the wait staff to be more attentive than in the evening when there are people standing around waiting for a table. Second, there are “lunch” specials which can help make sushi at Mori’s a little more on the affordable side, but the quality of every ingredient is just as high as if you chose Omakase.

My favorite lunch special at Mori is Chirashi, which is an assortment of sashimi – tuna, salmon, octopus, shrimp, albacore, and red snapper on top of a bowl of Mori’s amazing sushi rice. The sushi rice is unique and wonderfully favorful with a surprisingly tasty addition of ginger. ChirashiThe little touches that rounds out the balance of the dish were the small sampling of Kohnomono or japanese pickles, delicately flavored with a great crunch, and the light tamagoyaki. To add to the delightful small touches, the Chirashi as well as all lunch specials begin with a small green salad with a house prepared carrot ginger dressing that is wonderful. Next comes the miso soup that is prepared from scratch and is like no other I have ever tasted.

My sushi partner-in-crime, Lorin and I have dined several times at Mori. Each time we go we venture to try items that you don’t normally find on most sushi menus. Yuko, our server, recommended the Japanese Cherry Blossom Trout sushi. It was a beautiful pale pink and had a mild sweet flavor and a silky texture. Japanese Cherry Blossom Trout On another occasion we tried an appetizer of pieces of baby Japanese eggplant grilled and topped with a miso and sake glaze garnished with grilled Shishito peppers – amazing! However, our favorite cut roll is the tuna with jalapeno slices – Mori’s version of spicy tuna. The roll is perfect. Usually spicy tuna rolls are mushy with hot oil and mayonnaise. This roll is beautiful in its simplicity with just the sliced tuna and the fresh, crunchy jalapeno slices with the right amount of heat. Spicy Tuna Jalapeno Roll

Mori Sushi Staff 1The service at Mori’s is outstanding and adds an element of serenity to the dining experience. There is no detail overlooked here. Even the ceramic serving pieces and other service items are handcrafted.Soy Sauce Pottery

Mori Sushi is a unique experience of all of your senses. I think Lorin summed it up very well. “From those first steps up the sushi Mount Fuji, passing memorable sights and tastes along the way, I finally found that place where it all comes together and makes sense, a place where a meal finds Zen carefully constructed by a master who knows his way to the summit. It is a path I will surely take again.”

From the moment you enter to the staff’s welcome of “Irasshaimase” to the end of your sushi culinary journey, my enthusiastic response is “Gochiso-sama” (it was a feast!)


Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted in About My Food Voice, My Favorite "Traps" | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Farm Fresh From Amagansett – Smokey Collard Greens

Summer is here! Summer is our sweet reward for those long cold winter days we endure knowing the the fields will soon be planted in the Spring to bring a Summer filled with fresh produce to delight us. When we arrived in Amagansett this summer the first thing I did was hop in my car and go to my favorite farm stand, Balsam Farms. I hope you enjoy this little tour with me and a little Foggy Mountain Breakdown tune.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow
Create your own slideshow - Powered by Smilebox
Free slideshow design generated with Smilebox

The day I visited Balsam Farms they had the most beautiful looking collard greens. Collard greens are a staple on the Southern table. Some people may turn their nose up at the very thought of eating collard greens, but believe it or not they have amazing health benefits. Recent studies have demonstrated new respect for collard greens as a nutrition powerhouse — they’re loaded with disease-fighting beta-carotene and offer respectable amounts of vitamin C, calcium, and fiber. All these attributes make cooking collard greens a wise choice for your diet.

Collard GreensFirst, collard greens contribute an important non-dairy source of calcium that’s absorbed almost as well as the calcium found in dairy products. That’s good news for those facing the threat of osteoporosis, as calcium is one of many factors crucial to bone health.

Second, collard greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, mostly in the form of beta-carotene, which has been shown to help protect against cancer, heart disease, cataracts, and other diseases of aging through its antioxidant properties. Vitamin A also helps keep the immune system strong. Other carotenoids found in greens may be just as potent cancer conquerors as well, but research is continuing. They are also a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C.

Now, most southern recipes call for cooking collard greens in copious amounts of pork fat which would undo all the good things collard greens can do for your health so I had to come up with a way to make them that was tasty without all the fat. I know – smoked salt!!

Williams-Sonoma Oak-Smoked Chardonnay Finishing Sea SaltIn its pure state, salt is a simple chemical compound, sodium chloride. But things really get “fired up” when salt is smoked. The best ones are slowly smoked over a natural fire, often made of used oak barrels recycled from making wine. The smoke permeates the salt crystals, infusing them with a rich, distinct smoked taste, and transforms their color from a light toasty brown to a deep amber. Williams-Sonoma has a very good Oak Smoked Chardonnay Sea Salt which will do just fine for my collard greens recipe.

Collard greens are easy to make, but I think they are best when the leaves are sliced very thinly in chiffonade. Chiffonade is a classic French technique that means thinly slicing an herb, such as basil, or a leafy vegetable, into strands or ribbons. Chiffonade Collar GreensTo make chiffonade, stack the leaves one on top of the other, and roll them tight into a cylinder. Using a chef’s knife, slice the cylinder crosswise into thin strips. This will give the collard greens a light and uniform consistency.

If you want to eat collard greens in the true Southern style, you can add a few dashes of hot pepper vinegar just before serving. Hot pepper vinegar is a little hard to find. Trappy’s is a very popular brand and is quite tasty. Trappy's Hot Pepper Vinegar If you are really ambitious you can make your own, which is really not hard at all.

You simply won’t believe your mouth when you taste these greens. They smell like bacon, and taste a lot like bacon, but there is no bacon! Just the magic of the smoked salt. So pull up a chair and get ready to dig into some mouth watering smokey collard greens. Smokey Collard Greens

Smokey Collard Greens

2 tbsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 lbs. collard greens, clean with center tough stems removed and discarded and leaves very thinly sliced in chiffonade
4 cups water
1 tbsp smoked salt
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 to 60 seconds. Add the greens, water, smoked salt and apple cider vinegar. Season the mixture with pepper. Increase the heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the greens are tender, about 30 to 40 minutes. Taste and adjust for seasoning with smoked salt and pepper. Serve with hot pepper vinegar on the side.

Hot Pepper Vinegar

6 – 8 hot fresh chilies (such as jalapeño or cayenne)
4 cups apple cider vinegar

Wearing rubber gloves, wash the chiles under cold running water. Using a paring knife, make 2 to 3 small slits in each. Pack the peppers tightly into a sterilized jar. Heat the vinegar in a saucepan over high heat until simmering. Pour the hot vinegar over the peppers. Secure tightly with the lid and refrigerate for 3 weeks before opening. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year.


Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Posted in About My Food Voice | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments