Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 5)

chocolate chiliChocolate Chili with Cauliflower PopcornFrom Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes For Teen Chefs (Bloomsbury, 2009)

This delicious vegetarian chili is made dark and mysterious with a touch of semisweet chocolate and cinnamon. Chocolate and cinnamon are used together in several Mexican dishes. Small roasted florets of white cauliflower turn a simple idea into something that looks really dramatic.

½ pound dried black beans 2 large garlic cloves 4 tablespoons olive oil 2 cups finely chopped onions 1 ½ tablespoons chili powder 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 tablespoon dried oregano leaves 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon 1½ ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped 1 large cauliflower ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley

1. Put the beans in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Drain the beans in a colander.

2. Peel the garlic and finely chop. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a 4-quart pot. Add the garlic and onions and cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until soft. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and 1teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until fragrant. Stir in the tomatoes, drained beans, cinnamon, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot, and simmer for 1½ hours, stirring often. Add the chocolate and stir until melted. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes until thick.

3. About 40 minutes before serving, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into ½-inch florets. Put in a bowl and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and salt to taste. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 35 minutes until golden. Shake the pan often during baking to prevent sticking. Remove from the oven. Ladle chili into bowls and top with “popcorn” and herbs.

Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 4)

Photo: Linda Greene Shrimp Veracruz with Rice, Corn & Green Olives

This is fabulously easy to make and so good to eat.  Serve with warm flour tortillas or crispy tortilla chips.

Prepare the components of the salad early in the day, then toss in the shrimp just before serving.  Serve with wedges of lime and hot sauce – green and red. Drink beer or tequila or make a pitcher of pomegranate margaritas.

Easily doubled for a crowd.

2 cups uncooked long-grain brown rice (or basmati rice) 1-3/4 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from the cob (or 10 ounces frozen corn, thawed) 6 scallions, finely chopped 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped 1 cup coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed green olives 1 pound very large cooked shrimp 16-ounce jar thick and chunky salsa (mild or medium) 1/3 cup olive oil 1 large lime, grated zest and juice 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Put 6 cups water, 2 cups rice, and 1-1/2 teaspoons salt in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook 30 minutes until rice is just tender. Stir in corn, then drain. Transfer rice mixture to large bowl. Refrigerate 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Mix in scallions, bell peppers, and olives. Blend salsa, olive oil, lime zest, 1 tablespoon lime juice, cumin and smoked paprika. Stir half of the dressing into rice mixture. When ready to serve, add shrimp and remaining dressing to rice salad. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8

Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 3)

wingsRosemary-Lemon Chicken Wings (From Little Meals, Little, Brown 1993) Move over, Buffalo; here's a Tuscan-style recipe for chicken wings bathed in olive oil, rosemary and garlic, resting on a bed of escarole. The marinade makes a quick dressing for the crunchy, bitter greens.

16 chicken wings (about 2 1/2 pounds) 1/2 cup fruity olive oil 1/2 cup lemon juice 3 bay leaves 3 tablespoons whole fresh rosemary leaves 5 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons sea salt 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce 1 head of escarole 8 thin lemon slices

Remove wing tips and discard. Cut chicken wings in half. In a bowl, mix oil, lemon juice, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic, salt, and Tabasco sauce for marinade. Add chicken wings and cover. Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove wings from marinade. Pat dry. Put on baking tray and cook in oven for 25 minutes. Put under broiler for 5 minutes until golden brown.

Heat marinade just until it boils.

Line platter with escarole leaves. Pile chicken pieces in center. Drizzle platter with warm marinade and garnish with lemon slices.

Super Bowl Recipe Countdown (Day 2)

miso 008Miso-Ginger Chicken with Scallions I created this recipe years ago for Real Food magazine and didn't remember how good it was! I made it the other night for "the food maven" (I mean who isn't these days?) and a bunch of friends. Love at first bite...and the second...and as delicious the next day right from the fridge. I even brought a few pieces to a neighbor. (A rare thing for me to do.) It is a great do-ahead dish because it marinates for at least 8 hours and bakes at a super-high temperature for under 20 minutes.  (And a flash under the broiler).  That's it!  I bought two large packages of small chicken thighs (24!) and piled them high on a platter when they were all dark golden brown and crispy.  A shower of slivered scallions finished the dish.  It is the white miso (known as shiro miso) that tenderizes the flesh to make it silky and lush.  Miso is also a "flavor carrier" and helped the garlic and fresh ginger permeate every crevice. Shiro miso, and mirin (sweetened rice wine) can be found in Asian markets, health food stores and most supermarkets.  Great with beer, sauvignon blanc, chilled sake, and even beaujolais. The recipe is easily doubled and tripled and is great hot, warm, room temperature, or chilled.

1/2 cup shiro miso 3/4 cup mirin 4 large cloves garlic 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped 12 chicken thighs (with skin, bone-in) 8 scallions Put miso, mirin, garlic and ginger in food processor. Process until smooth. Put chicken in a large bowl and pour marinade over chicken. Finely chop white and green part of 5 scallions and stir into chicken. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours. Preheat oven to 450. Transfer chicken with some of its marinade to rimmed baking sheet. Bake 18 to 20 minutes (depending on size of thighs) and then broil 1 to 2 minutes until dark golden brown and cooked through (do not overcook.) Finely sliver remaining scallions and scatter on top.  Serves 6

One-a-day Great Superbowl Recipes (Day 1)

Photo by Hans Gissinger Three-Cheese Pimiento Mac with Parmesan Crumbs

I created this recipe for Bon Appétit magazine and it became the cover photo. It's a comforting, American-styled baked pasta loosely based on a southern favorite – pimiento cheese – whose red bell pepper-cheddar-y taste profile is totally satisfying. The secret ingredient is sweet-and-spicy peppadew peppers. The components can be prepped ahead of time, assembled, and baked 20 minutes before serving. The recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a crowd and perfect for a Superbowl gathering.

1 large red bell pepper, 7 ounces 2 large garlic cloves, peeled 12 peppadew peppers, drained 1 tablespoon peppadew brine 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened ¼ teaspoon ancho chile powder 5 ounces extra-sharp yellow cheddar, in small pieces 1/2 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano 4 ounces shredded whole-milk mozzarella 8 ounces gemelli or medium shells ½ cup panko 3 tablespoons slivered fresh basil

Cut the pepper in half and remove seeds. Cut pepper into 1 inch pieces and put in a small saucepan with 1/2 cup water and 1-1/2 cloves garlic. Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium and cover. Cook 15 minutes until peppers are very soft. Transfer contents (with water) to a food processor. Add the peppadews, brine, 2 tablespoons butter, chile powder and remaining ½ garlic clove. Process until smooth. Add cheddar and ¼ cup parmesan and process until very smooth.

Boil the pasta in salted water until tender, about 11 minutes. Drain under cold water and pat very dry. Toss pasta with the red pepper sauce. Stir in the mozzarella. Add salt to taste. Pack into a large soufflé dish.

Stir together the remaining ¼ cup parmesan and panko. Add the remaining tablespoon butter and, with your fingers, thoroughly moisten the crumbs. Add salt to taste. Sprinkle on pasta and bake 20 minutes until golden. Scatter basil on top. Serves 4

Day 8: A Radically Simple Countdown to Christmas

12-23-2013 07;29;06AM2Okay, this is my holiday gift to you. From the 325 recipes included in Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease, this succulent pork dish has become the most famous. I know people who now make it once a week. It would be great on your holiday table whether you are creating a buffet (in which I would slice the pork very thin for easy serving) or whether you are plating the food in the kitchen. It sports the bright red and green colors of the holiday with a celebratory air. The dish is a riff on an Italian classic dish in which pork is cooked in milk flavored with juniper. My version is much simpler but equally divine. You can augment the sauce by adding some dry white wine in addition to the gin. It's lovely with a platter of sautéed broccoli rabe and a mound of buttery cauliflower & potato puree. I prepare the dish in a paella pan but you can use a very large ovenproof skillet. It's so easy to prepare that you can make two pork loins at the same time and serve 12! Happy Holidays! Pork Loin in Cream with Tomatoes, Sage & Gin 12 large fresh sage leaves 4 large garlic cloves 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1-1/2 teaspoons dried Greek oregano 2-1/2 pound center-cut pork loin, tied and lightly scored 1 pint grape tomatoes 1/2 cup heavy cream 1/4 cup gin, or more to taste

Process 6 sage leaves, the garlic, oil, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mini processor to a fine paste. Rub all over the pork. Cover; let sit at room temperature 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 4 hours. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Heat a very large ovenproof skillet until very hot. Brown the pork on all sides, 5 minutes. Scatter the tomatoes around the pork; cook 1 minute. Pour 1/4 cup cream over the pork. Roast 40 minutes. Add the 6 remaining sage leaves, the remaining 1/4 cup cream, and the gin. Roast 15 to 20 minutes longer, until tender.  Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Place the pan on the stovetop and boil the sauce, adding more gin (some dry white wine), salt and pepper, until slightly reduced, 1 minute. Slice the pork and serve with the sauce.  Serves 6

Day 7: A Radically Simple Countdown to Christmas

radicchioIn less than 18 minutes you can have a gorgeous fish dish that is worthy of the season. You might even consider it for your "seven fishes" dinner. The idea of roasting cod at such a high temperature was inspired by Shirley Corriher, scientist, chef, and author of the encyclopedic books, BakeWise and CookWise. I've added her felicitous pairing of buttery macadamia nuts and added my own wilted radicchio caressed with lemon. The combo is also great on sauteed chicken breasts. You might want to serve it with wild rice which I always enjoy during the holidays or fill your kitchen with Mediterranean flavors and make Bay-Smoked Potatoes (recipes below.) 'Tis the season. 500-Degree Cod with Macadamia Butter & Radicchio

4 thick cod fillets, 7 ounces each 1 cup unsalted macadamia nuts, about 3 ounces 1 medium-large head radicchio, about 8 ounces 7 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 lemon 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Season the fish with salt and pepper; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 6 to 7 minutes, until just firm. Meanwhile, chop the nuts and julienne the radicchio. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the nuts and cook over high heat, stirring constantly until browned, 2 minutes. Add the radicchio and cook until soft, 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Transfer the fish to 4 warm plates. Spoon the nut mixture on top. Top with grated lemon zest, a little lemon juice, and parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 4 Bay-Smoked Potatoes 1-1/2 pounds very small white new potatoes 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 12 dried California bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and scrub the potatoes; dry well. Do not peel. Toss with the oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt. Distribute the bay leaves in a heavy ovenproof covered saute pan. Arrange the potatoes on top of the bay leaves in a single layer. Cover tightly with foil or a cover. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hours, until the potatoes are soft and wrinkled. Transfer the potatoes and bay leaves to a platter. Drizzle with additional olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serves 4 or more

Day 6: A Radically Simple Countdown to Christmas

12-21-2013 03;58;28PMWhen we think about main courses, it is generally dinner that comes to mind. But a main course for Christmas morning is fun to consider. A great idea is to make a breakfast strata: Layers of bread, prosciutto, feta, provolone and spinach, that can be assembled the night before and baked while you open presents. The striations of ingredients soak up the egg-and-milk base. Baked for 1 hour, the result is custardy, rich, and quiche-like. Best eaten in your pajamas while sipping winter mimosas -- made with tangerine juice and prosecco topped with pomegranate seeds. Cheese Strata with Prosciutto, Basil & Spinach

3-1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter 16 slices firm white bread, crusts removed 8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled 4 ounces provolone cheese, shredded 1/4 cup finely minced scallions, white and green parts 4 ounces fresh baby spinach 1/2 cup finely julienned fresh basil 5 extra-large eggs 2 cups half-and-half 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha or hot sauce

Butter a 12-x-7 inch glass or ceramic dish with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Cover the bottom with 6 slices of bread, plus 1 slice cut in half to fill the spaces. Evenly cover the bread with half the prosciutto. Sprinkle with half of the feta, provolone, scallions, spinach, and basil. Repeat to make a second layer. Cut the remaining 2 bread slices into 1/4-inch cubes; scatter over the top. Beat together the eggs, half-and-half, and hot sauce. Pour over the strata; press down firmly with a spatula. Melt the remaining 3 tablespoons butter and drizzle over the top.  Cover; refrigerate 5 hours or overnight. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Uncover and bake 1 hour, until golden. Serves 8

Day 5: Radically Simple Countdown to Christmas

12-20-2013 02;50;42PMThis is one of the simplest, most festive dishes I know. It can be prepped and cooked in less than one hour yet looks like you've been fussing all day. This turkey roast is nothing more than a boned breast half, flattened slightly, so that it can be filled, rolled and tied. Prosciutto, fresh sage, and prunes perfume the dish and feel like Christmas to me. Be sure to serve it with a bowl of my (now famous) sweet potato puree whirled with fresh ginger and orange. A grand cru Beaujolais would be just the thing to drink. Rolled-and-Tied Turkey Roast with Prosciutto, Prunes & Sage 2-1/2 pound turkey roast (boned half-breast, skin on) 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto 10 large pitted prunes 1/4 cup pine nuts 12 large fresh sage leaves 12 medium-large shallots, peeled 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup chicken broth 1/2 cup dry white wine 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a mallet, flatten the turkey (skin side down) to 1-inch thickness. Cover evenly with overlapping slices of prosciutto. Arrange the prunes in a tight row down the center. Top with pine nuts and make a row of 6 sage leaves on top. Roll up tightly. Season with salt and pepper. Tie with string at 1-inch intervals and tuck 6 sage leaves under the string. Place the turkey and shallots in a small roasting pan. Drizzle with the oil. Roast 45 minutes until cooked through but still moist. Transfer the turkey and shallots to a board and tent with foil. Pour the broth and wine into the pan. Place on the stovetop and boil, scraping up browned bits, until syrupy, 3 minutes. Strain into a saucepan. Whisk in the butter and cook 1 minute.  Remove string from the turkey, thickly slice. Serve with the shallots and pan sauce. Serves 6

Sweet Potato Puree with Fresh Ginger & Orange This is fat-free but tastes very rich all the same. For a bit more intrigue, spice it up with a pinch of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground cardamom -- or all three.

4 large sweet potatoes, about 3 pounds 2 juice oranges 3-inch piece fresh ginger

Scrub the potatoes but do not peel. Place in a large pot with water to cover. Bring to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to medium. Cook 50 minutes or until very soft. Meanwhile, grate the zest of the oranges to get 1 teaspoon. Squeeze the orange to get 2/3 cup juice. Drain the potatoes and peel when cool enough to handle. Cut into large chunks and place in bowl of food processor.  Mince the ginger to get 1/4 cup. Add to the processor with the orange zest and juice. Process until very smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and reheat, stirring. Season with salt and pepper.  Serves 6

A Radically Simple Countdown to Christmas: Day 4

prime-rib-roast-beefHere's a wonderful, upscale recipe that is lovely for Christmas Day or New Year's Eve. The editors at Gourmet magazine once said this simple roast was one of the best they had ever tasted. It is "cured" in the same way that fresh salmon is for gravlax, literally buried in a mixture of coarse salt, sugar, fresh dill and cracked black pepper.  It is radically simple to prepare and radically delicious served with a silky potato puree and roasted winter vegetables. Open a bottle of full-bodied red burgundy or syrah.  The next day: Serve the world's best roast beef sandwiches topped with a horseradish sauce made from crème fraîche, white horseradish, and a splash of sherry. 1/4 cup kosher salt 3 tablespoons sugar 1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely cracked black pepper 3-1/2-pound boneless rib roast, rolled and tied 1 cup finely chopped fresh dill

Stir together the salt, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl; rub all over the beef. Put the dill over the salt mixture. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Make a small hole in the bottom of the plastic so that any accumulated liquid can drain. Place in a small roasting pan and weigh down with a baking sheet topped with a few large heavy cans.  Refrigerate 24 hours, pouring off liquid from time to time. Unwrap the beef; let sit at room temperature 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrape the coating off the beef and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a roasting pan. Roast in the middle of the oven 1-1/4 hours, until an instant-read thermometer registers 130 degrees for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil; let rest 15 minutes. Carve as desired. Serves 8

Day 3: Countdown to a Radically Simple Christmas

ham One week to go before Christmas Eve, so it's a good time to start planning your menu. Here is a favorite glazed ham that I make year after year. Served hot on Christmas Eve with mashed rutabagas and caramelized shallots, the morning after I sauté leftover bits with soft-scrambled eggs (delicious with toasted panettone and warm maple syrup). The next day I use the meaty bone to make fragrant lentil soup. Leftovers might also appear in a custardy quiche with sharp cheddar and cumin seed or as an honest ham sandwich, thinly sliced and piled high on rye bread. It's mouthwatering any way you choose. (adapted from Christmas 1-2-3, Stewart,Tabori & Chang).

Glazed Christmas Ham House-filling aromas will trigger mouthwatering anticipation. Its flavors -- salty meat, sharp mustard, sweet crust -- hits your palate like a harmonious chord. Simple cooking techniques keep it moist and succulent.

10-pound smoked ready-to-cook ham, shanks portion 1 cup coarse-grain mustard 1 cup sugar 1-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon 1 tablespoon garam masala

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place ham in a shallow roasting pan and add 1/4 inch water to pan. Cover ham with foil and bake 2-1/2 hours. Remove ham from the oven and pour off most of the fat. Raise oven temp to 450 degrees. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, remove the skin and most of the fat. Score the remaining fat by cutting diagonal slashes in a diamond pattern. Spread the ham thickly with mustard. Stir together sugar, cinnamon, and garam masala and sprinkle the surface of the ham heavily with the mixture. Return to the oven until sugar melts and hardens, about 25 minutes. It will become a bit crackly. Serves 12

Day 2: Lamb Shanks Provençal with Cabernet & Rosemary

lambLamb shanks are a fabulous way to feed your guests during the holidays. You can prepare the recipe one to two days in advance allowing the flavors, and textures, to deepen. Just yesterday, a colleague told me she made this recipe, tossed the lusty leftover sauce with basmati rice, and ate it in bed while reading the rest of the cookbook. She then decided to make her entire New Year's Day menu from Radically Simple. (Last year she used the wonderful Jerusalem cookbook.)  I like to serve this with creamy polenta (and open a bottle of Barolo) or with a rich potato gratin layered with Gruyere (and raid our cellar for an old Côtes du Rhône.)  For the Christmas table I poach tiny kumquats in simple syrup until they collapse: They make a festive accompaniment and taste amazing with the lamb. Lamb Shanks Provençal with Cabernet & Rosemary This is nice and easy for a complicated-sounding dish. I simplify the process by quickly searing the seasoned shanks under the broiler. The lusty flavors come from dried porcini mushrooms and herbes de Provence. At the last minute, I dust the hot dish with freshly grated orange zest -- the aroma is wonderful.

6 tablespoons olive oil 6 large lamb shanks, 12 to 14 ounces each 2-1/2 cups chopped leeks, white and green parts 6 large cloves garlic, finely chopped 2-1/2 cup Cabernet sauvignon 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes with puree 1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms 1-1/2 tablespoons herbes de Provence 1 pound slender carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch batons 1 tablespoon arrowroot

Preheat the broiler. Rub the lamb with 3 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on a broiler pan; brown several minutes on each side. Wash leeks and pat dry. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoon oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven. Add the leeks and garlic; cook over high heat until softened, 5 minutes. Add the shanks, wine, tomatoes, mushrooms, and herbes de Provence. Stir to coat. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Add the carrots, cover, and cook 30 minutes.  Uncover and simmer 15 minutes, until the lamb is tender. Spoon off the fat. Dissolve the arrowroot in 1 tablespoon water and stir into the sauce. Season to taste and simmer several minutes until the sauce thickens. Serves 6

Ten Radically Simple Days of Christmas

photo 2(2)Recipe countdown:  For the next 10 days I will share a main course recipe from Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease. After all, it is the time of year where we all crave abundance without the burden. A nice holiday gift? A copy of the book from Amazon. For me, I'd love a fruitcake. Salmon & Mint in Crispy Grape Leaves This is an unusual fish dish for this time of the year but it's one of my favorites. Serve it on a mound of couscous mixed with orzo -- a new combo for me.  I invented it this morning!  Add a side dish of tiny roasted Brussels sprouts with a drizzle of walnut oil, sea salt and lemon zest.  What to drink?  Open a great bottle of pinot noir from Oregon or France, depending on your mood. This recipe is easily doubled, or tripled, and so is quite desirable for a holiday menu.

1/2 cup crème fraîche (I love the one from Vermont Creamery) 1 small garlic clove 4 thick salmon fillets, 7 ounces each, skin removed 2 medium bunches fresh mint 8 large grape leaves in brine, rinsed and dried 3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the crème fraîche with the garlic, pushed through a press. Add salt to taste. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Top each fillet with 6 mint leaves. Wrap each piece of fish tightly in 2 overlapping grape leaves, tucking in the ends as you go. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the packets and cook over high heat until crispy, 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the fish to a rimmed baking sheet and scatter with mint sprigs. Bake 8 minutes, until the fish is just firm. Serve with the crème fraîche and crispy mint. Drizzle with additional oil, if desired. Serves 4

One Year Later: 100,000 Meals

Photo Credit: Laura Landau Come volunteer with us!  Everyone is welcome.  CBE Feeds (at Congregation Beth Elohim, Garfield and 8th Avenue) in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Monday thru Friday, every week, 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. For more info: rozannegold@mindspring.com

Like most chefs, I'm used to feeding people in good times.

But one year ago, I began a pop-up emergency operation in the second floor kitchen of a synagogue in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and as of today, along with hundreds of volunteers, have prepared and delivered our 100,000th meal to victims of Hurricane Sandy.

At midnight after the storm, Andy Bachman, a social-activist Rabbi, fired off an email to his congregation: He was looking for a way to feed several hundred people at a nearby Armory for a few days. These poor souls had been uprooted from the city's nursing homes. Some were old, some were sick, and others in desperate need of a warm meal. I woke my husband and said...we need to do something. Credit card in hand, we raided our local Key Food and bought everything we could carry.

When we arrived at the shul, a platoon of volunteers was waiting. Within several hours, together we made 600 sandwiches. The next day, 1,000.

Everyone wanted to do something. We had few pots, pans or utensils but we managed. I asked everyone I knew for a dozen hard-boiled eggs and a loaf of bread. This simple request demonstrated the amazing power of community. Within 24 hours we were peeling thousands of eggs for sandwiches. Without everyone's involvement, we would not have been able to reach our goals those first few days.

Cooking was one thing, but how to get the food to those in need? Many people had little fuel in their cars and gas stations were shuttered. More volunteers became the beneficent commanders who located drivers and dispatched them to the most vulnerable areas. They ensured that our promise was delivered from that day forward.

The next day Rabbi Bachman made another request. In addition to 2500 sandwiches, he told us he wanted to prepare 500 hot meals. My husband ran home to get his cleaver and we bought and hacked up 150 chickens from Costco. We made mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables and sent out cookies (and fruit when we could find it.) The next day, we did it again....and again...and again. We made sandwiches and cooked up whatever raw ingredients were donated to us. The chapel was filled with potatoes, onions and fresh green beans and canned vegetables. The upstairs ballroom, where meals were assembled, resembled an outsized army mess test. We cooked for 3000 hungry people that first Sunday after the storm.

We operated this way for months -- feeding people without homes, without kitchens, without power, people who lived near markets that had no food.

That's when it struck me: I realized that I never knew anyone who was truly, chronically, hungry. After all, at the age of 23, as first chef to New York Mayor Ed Koch, I knew more about catering political parties than hunger on the streets. Later, as consulting chef to the Rainbow Room and Windows on the World, I fed happier people in happier times, that is, until another tragedy took hold. But Sandy brought to my door the reality that people very close to my community grapple with hunger every day. Our kitchen, affectionately known as CBE Feeds, was able to lift some of that worry. Yes, with food and sandwiches -- but also with spiritual nourishment -- we showed up day after day, provided hope and connection, and proved that we cared.

The kitchen has become its own sacred space. Volunteers arrive from everywhere -- from Staten Island, Riverdale, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and from all over Manhattan, church groups from Ohio, students from Harvard Divinity School. During the Christmas holidays there were people from California and Washington State, from Israel and France.

In the beginning, Anne Hathaway heard about our efforts and came to lend support. And so did Natan Sharansky who'd heard how we'd helped the Russian communities in Brighton and Manhattan Beach.

Today we feed those-in-need in the Gravesend housing projects, hungry students at the Red Hook Initiative, abused women and their children at the Sea and Salt Mission, volunteer construction workers rebuilding homes in Coney Island, and displaced folks at Chips.

My main job is not to make sandwiches, but to honor everyone who walks through the kitchen door. We ask their names and are eager to hear their stories. One woman who touched my heart had lost her Far Rockaway home yet came every day to cook for those who were less fortunate. She felt lucky; she had a friend in Park Slope to spend time with. We didn't see her for awhile, her name was Alice, but then she came to the kitchen several more times. "We missed you," we all said. Do you have a home, now? No, she replied, but I still want to help. That was months ago. Miraculously, Alice appeared at the kitchen today. One year later, still no home, but still eager to make a chicken salad sandwich.

For those of you who pitched in after the Storm, you know that this work is its own reward. Some 2,800 volunteers have walked through our kitchen doors, and with amazing grace put on a hair net and gloves and, one year later, continue to prepare food for others, with little more than a thank you and a cup of coffee. The need is still great, so join us -- you might meet Alice.

Read All About It: Israel's Emerging Food Scene

cookbooks2Now that Jerusalem has become one of the best selling cookbooks in recent years, it may be time to look at it in context. The recipes are wonderful, the photographs are mouthwatering, the narrative is compelling and democratic. Beyond food, the book has touched something deeper in all of us. Jerusalem, home to more than 60 religious and ethnic communities, is a lodestar for spirituality, sharing and healing, along with a full measure of continuing strife. So beyond the book's virtues of history combined with recipes, unusual ingredients and flavors, it allows us to hold in our hands a gastronomic overlay to the region's millennial conflicts, through a universal experience that connotes peace and above all, pleasure. I had the rare opportunity last year to interview authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, the former is Israeli, the latter Palestinian, when they came to New York on a book tour. We three sat on the bima in a huge Park Slope synagogue, and gazed upon hundreds of fans who came to listen to their stories and then hungered for more. It was clear to all of us assembled there that their Jerusalem penetrated into a realm far deeper than cooking. The cuisine that the authors express speaks to ancient realities and present truths: The kitchen table knows no boundaries; and no wall, however high and long, can ever be so impermeable to prevent the vapors of the collective culinary consciousness waft through.

Just this weekend, I had pleasure of a parallel experience. This time, the talented and ebullient chef, Einat Admony, owner of New York City restaurants Balaboosta, Taim and Bar Bolonat, expressed the food of another diaspora. Vivid dishes -- cooked and served in her Brooklyn loft to a handful of journalists and friends - blended the recipes of her native Iran with Arabic verve, and Israeli cunning. Pomegranate mimosas, spicy Yemenite s'chug, brown-boiled eggs, delectable fried eggplant, osovo (an overnight peasant dish with myriad variations - ours included rice and marrow bones), kubaneh (a slow-cooked Yemenite bread), and malabi (a traditional milk custard) with red fruit conserve for dessert made an emphatically evocative case for "new Israeli cuisine." Best of all, the recipes are easily found in Ms. Admony's beautiful new book Balaboosta published this week by Artisan.

If asked who I'd have come to a last dinner, Yotam, Sami and Einat would certainly be among my guests. But so too would be the five journalists who graced the stage of the Museum of Jewish Heritage on October 6th for an event entitled "Frothed Milk and Truffled Honey." It was a nod to the ebullient creativity that's fermenting in the kitchens of Israel's best chefs. Janna Gur, food writer and publisher of Israel's most prestigious culinary magazine Al Hashulchan, said that the best word to describe the new Israeli cuisine is "fresh." Fresh referring to the abundance of Israel's technicolor produce, fresh referring to the culture's rampant innovation, and fresh also referring to the sassy ingenuity with which chefs there have absorbed culinary influences from the entire region and integrated them into a new, electrifying cuisine.

In 1996, I was one of four "Women Chefs for Peace" on a mission to Israel. Upon my return I wrote an article for the New York Times called "A Region's Taste Commingles in Israel." I predicted then that it was the trend to watch. And now, it's here.

CHOP CHOP: Making Healthy Kids

51cOOkEU-eL._SY300_Hardly a day goes by when you're not brutally aware of the obesity crisis that's overwhelming kids (and adults, too, for that matter. The most recent country to raise the alarm about extreme weight gain and processed food is Australia.) But it is children we should worry most about because good or bad eating habits and food cravings form early in life, and it is incumbent upon us all to steer children in healthier directions. You read lots about the medical fallout, including diabetes and heart conditions - but the social stigma, and resultant poor self-esteem, can damage a child just as profoundly. One wonders how the psychological disconnect between scrawny fashion models on Project Runway and disappearing waistlines plays out in teenage behavior and achievement. The reality is that snacking is a great growth industry and virtually every packaged food company around the world is seeking ever more ways to sucker kids into consuming ever more unhealthful food - all the while telling them, disingenuously, to eat smarter. One company, Uncles Ben's, has just launched their second annual "Ben's Beginners Cooking Contest" where children in grades K-8, along with their parents, can submit home videos demonstrating the preparation of a rice-based dish. While rice is an important staple in many at-risk communities, I believe it may be a worthwhile effort to begin the conversation. That is, if rice is a small part of the equation (and preferably brown rice) and lots of fresh vegetables, a bit of protein, herbs and spices make up the rest of the recipe. It's an appealing lure: The winner gets $15,000, an appearance on Rachael Ray, and a $30,000 cafeteria makeover for the child's school.

Fortunately, there are valiant attempts to stop the scourge of junk food, processed food and fast food as a national diet. There is Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, Lynn Fredericks' innovative crusade to make kids healthier through hands-on, evidence-based FamilyCook programs in schools, communities, and farms across America; Katherine Newell Smith's new project in Fairfax County Virginia called Real Food for Kids, that advocates for better school food with a pilot soup, salad, and sandwich bar that is slated to open in September. There is Nancy Easton and Bill Telepan's formidable Wellness in the School (WITS) program, Liz Neumark's brilliant Sylvia Center at Katchkie Farms in the Hudson Valley, and countless more initiatives across the country. There is even my own book, EAT FRESH FOOD: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs (Bloomsbury), reviewed in the science section of the New York Times (2010), which attempts to jump-start a solution by means of a very simple message (or plea, in my case) - to eat fresh food.

Now comes another wonderful approach that is already attention-worthy with a global platform. Sally Sampson's CHOP CHOP is a quarterly non-profit food magazine that, since its inception in 2010, has distributed over four million copies to pediatricians, children's hospitals, schools, and youth-based community organizations. In addition, the magazine is distributed in 12 countries and is published in both English and Spanish. ChopChop's mission is to inspire and teach kids to cook and eat real food with their families. "Filled with nutritious, great-tasting, ethnically diverse and inexpensive recipes," Ms. Sampson's vision is to reverse, or better yet, prevent childhood obesity.

And just this week, her vision, and that of an impressive Advisory Board, including Walter Willett, Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard's School of Public Health, is illuminated with a brand new cookbook, published by Simon & Schuster. Chop Chop: The Kids' Guide to Cooking Real Food with Your Family is a natural extension of the magazine which won a James Beard Award as publication of the year 2013. The magazine is $14.95 for four issues; while the attractive trade paperback, chock-a-block with great photos and more than 100 recipes (including an appealing sounding vegetable chili and yummy salmon burgers), is a bargain at $19.99.

Sally Sampson's own story is also book worthy. A veteran cook and cookbook author, she is the mother of a child with a chronic illness who chose to do something "meaningful by using cooking as a way to address the obesity epidemic." A girl after my own heart.

As I see it, cooking can be a valuable social connector for kids, teens and families -- more delicious than any web experience could ever hope to be. Social networking, an obfuscation in presenting the truth about human relationships and experiences, much like the notion of reality TV, does nothing to strengthen real bonds between families and create meaningful memories of personal accomplishment and team play. The very act of cooking postulates an interesting idea that may ameliorate the growing concerns about healthy eating. If families started cooking together, and then eating together, there's a good chance they can create healthy taste memories to last a lifetime.

ChopChop headquarters, located in Watertown, Massachusetts, is funded through sponsorships and subscriptions. Noble in its cause, ChopChop, the book, is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and will make its debut on August 13th. Put it on your shelf next to Eat Fresh Food, Liz Neumark's upcoming Sylvia's Table, and Lynn Fredericks' just-published Get Your Family Eating Right! The revolution continues.

Recipes 1-2-3 Redux

61RS7HCMYMLYes, it's possible to buy a cookbook today for 1 cent!  And it could be one of mine.  No matter, I love this review that just came in from "Sandy."  The unexpected critique is of the first book in my 1-2-3 series, Recipes 1-2-3: Fabulous Food Using Only Three Ingredients, written more than 18 years ago.   The book was published in Turkish, Czech, Hebrew, and in metric for the UK and Australian audiences.  The simple concept gave rise to the Minimalist column in the New York Times which was based on this work.  Some of my favorite recipes from this book include Seared Salmon with Pancetta and Sage; Mahogany Short Ribs; Turnip and Havarti Torte; Chocolate-Banana Terrine; and Lemon Buttermilk Ice Cream.  Many thanks to Sandra Lee Smith for taking the time to rediscover a golden oldie. RECIPES 1-2-3 by  Rozanne Gold is one of those cookbooks that will surely knock your socks off (or your oven mitts, at least).

There have been, you must have noticed if you automatically scan all the cookbooks in book stores and in particular, the flurry of cookbooks devoted to just a few ingredients—there are many great cookbooks on this topic.  Rozanne Gold was one of the first to take this concept a step further. First of all, RECIPES 1-2-3 is a beautiful hardcover cookbook by Viking Press, with photographs by Tom Eckerle.

“Time is not on our side,” explain the publishers. “Not only don’t we have time to cook, we often don’t even have time to shop for food. Imagine being able to choose from more than 250 dazzling recipes that contain only three ingredients.”

Rozanne Gold is the author of the award-winning “LITTLE MEALS: A GREAT NEW WAY TO EAT AND COOK”. She is also consulting chef to the Rainbow Room and the new Windows On the World. First chef to New York City mayor Ed Koch, she is now Culinary Director of the world-renown Joseph Baum and Michael Whitman Co., and if that were not enough, she is also culinary counselor for Dunnewood Vineyards in California.

In the Introduction to 1-2-3, Gold writes “Think of the transparent sound of a small chamber orchestra; or the compressive clarity of haiku. When it comes to the senses, less is often more. So it is with our palates and the way we taste. The Western vocabulary contains only four descriptors for how we experience a morsel of food: salty, sour, bitter, and sweet. The Japanese posit a fifth sensation, called umami, a beeflike essence of wild mushrooms.

It was this realization, she says, that led her to develop RECIPES 1-2-3. She says that in her twenty years as a professional chef, she has “imposed dozens of ingredients onto a single dish, used paintbrushes and squeeze bottles to decorate plates; piled food so precariously as to challenge gravity…”

To read the full review, please click here.

“Rozanne Gold is the leader of a minimalist sect, one that uses the fewest possible ingredients to produce dishes that are not just credible but delicious.”

--Mark Bittman, The New York Times

“Inspired recipes from three top-quality ingredients – it just couldn’t be easier or better than this!”

--Jacques Pepin

“Recipes 1-2-3 is fantastic!  It shows a pure understanding of how a great chef wants to and will cook at home.”

--Daniel Boulud

Cauliflower Vichyssoise with Chive Flowers

The chive flowers are blooming once again which means it's time to make my one of my favorite warm-weather soups:  Cauliflower Vichyssoise with Chive Flowers (and parsley oil). You may be astounded to know that the beautiful soup in the photo below is made with only six ingredients.  Four for the soup; two for the parsley oil. This soup is classically made from potatoes and leeks, both the chive leaves (straws) are used and the edible flowers pulled apart.  It is a dish of many virtues and healthy as can be. I saw some lovely crimson rhubarb at the market, too.  Look here tomorrow for radically simple ways to prepare it. Have a meaningful Memorial Day.

 

Cauliflower Vichyssoise with Chive Flowers (adapted from Radically Simple) This more healthful riff on classic vichyssoise is still luxuriously suave.  For a stunning presentation, blanch a bunch of parsley and puree in a blender with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup water and salt; add a swirl to each serving to dance on the white velvet background.

2-1/2 pound cauliflower, or 1-3/4 pounds florets 2 large leeks 1 cup light cream 1 bunch chives with chive flowers Break the cauliflower into small pieces and put in a 4-quart pot.  Add 5 cups water (water will not cover the cauliflower) and 2 teaspoons salt.  Chop the white parts of the leeks to get 1-1/2 cups.  Wash well; add to the pot.  Bring to a rapid boil; reduce the heat to medium.  Cover and cook until the vegetables are very soft, about 24 minutes.  Cool 5 minutes.  In 2 batches, puree in a food processor until ultra smooth, adding 1/2 cup cream to each batch.  Transfer to a bowl; add salt and pepper.  Cover; refrigerate until very cold.  Add water or additional cream if too thick.  Garnish with chopped chives and flowers, and optional parsley oil.  Serves 6

 

The Gaza Kitchen

GK_2ndPrt__94234.1360079498.826.1280It was with an open mind and a touch of sadness that I read the riveting, and sometimes provocative, new cookbook, The Gaza Kitchen, written by Laila El-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. El-Haddad at her book party launch last month in New York at the sublime restaurant ilili - whose Lebanese cuisine is a distant cousin to the flavors, aromas, and politics found in the Gazan kitchen. Ms. El-Haddad, who is a social activist, blogger and author of Gaza Mom: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between, felt like an old friend. After all, there was a time, long ago, when it was possible for Jews to have Palestinian friendships in the Old City of Jerusalem and share meals, and the culinary history, which has existed between us for thousands of years. Now there is a wall, both literal and metaphoric, that shields us from the realities of everyday existence in Gaza, where home kitchens are prey to the exigencies of conflict and deprivation: sporadic electricity, unaffordable ingredients that were once kitchen staples, and the rationing of food and fuel. While I know the food of Israel well, having served as the unofficial spokesperson for Israel's food and wine industry for years, and also as one of a delegation of "Four Women Chefs for Peace" on a culinary mission to Israel in 1996, I was fascinated to learn about the cuisine of Gaza, a tiny strip of land (25 miles long and 2-1/2 to 5 miles wide) sandwiched between the desert and the sea. What immediately jumped out was the presence of fresh dill and dried dill seed, the use of fiery hot chilies, and a totally new ingredient to me "red tahina."

Red tahina, made from roasted sesame seeds, is to Gaza what pesto is to Genoa. It is virtually impossible to get it anywhere and I have asked a friend from Israel to try to find some and bring it to me when she comes to New York at the end of the month. How to use it if you can't find it? The authors suggest adding a bit of dark sesame oil to the more familiar blond tahina to approximate the taste in several of the book's recipes.

The cuisine of Gaza is Palestinian (home to 2 million people) "with its own sense of regional diversity," according to author and historian, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, who wrote the forward to the book. In Gaza, she points out, stuffed grape leaves are uniquely flavored with allspice, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper, and that chopped chilies, both red and green, and verdant fresh dill make Gazan falafel both personal and unusual.

Food there, no less than here, is a passionate subject. The cooks at home are always women while the cooks in restaurants and outdoor stalls are always men. But it is the zibdiya that unites them in the preparation of their lusty cuisine. According to the authors, "a zibdiya is the most precious kitchen item in every household in Gaza, rich or poor." It is simply a heavy unglazed clay bowl accompanied by a lemonwood pestle used for mashing, crushing, pounding and grinding. Made from the rich red clay of Gaza, in larger forms they are also used as cooking vessels.

Their cuisine may lie at the intersection of history, geography and economy, but in The Gaza Kitchen, one is made acutely aware of how geo-political struggles find themselves revealed in a single dish. It's hard not to swoon over the description of the "signature" dish of Gaza called sumagiyya, a sumac-enhanced meat stew cooked with green chard, chickpeas, dill, chilies, and red tahina, or not to be curious about fattit ajir, a spicy roasted watermelon salad tossed with tomatoes, torn bits of tasted Arab bread, and a lashing of hot chilies and yes, fresh dill. It is a repertoire of dishes that feel like a secret...but no longer.

Now only if there was a recipe for peace. One can always hope.

The Power of Packaging

Several months ago a prominent restaurant architect returned from a trip to Japan bringing us a small gift of green tea. He said, "I have no idea if this is any good, but I loved the packaging. I just had to give it to you." And so we examined the slender pouch of tea, the size of a small puffy envelope, sporting a beautiful water color of a Japanese woman with a flower in her hair. 2013-04-08-04072013122245PM.jpgThis diminutive offering, whose contents weigh less than an ounce, elicited powerful emotions. It evoked an unexpected feeling of calm and grace and provided a narrative of a faraway, almost magical place. I immediately thought of a book I read when I was a kid: The Hidden Persuaders. Written in 1957 by social critic and advertising guru Vance Packard it demonstrated the power of color, type, and imagery in the choices we make every day -- why we buy one product over another and what "hidden" factors drive our needs. I'm not at all suggesting that my desire for this particular green tea was a result of manipulated expectations, but I was aware, as I was after reading Packard's book as a teenager, the subliminal urge to learn more about GARASHA -- the brand name of the "extra choicest" green tea produced by Japan GreenTea Co., Ltd.

My interest was further piqued because tea shops these days are on the rise in the United States. Starbucks last year purchased the 300-store Teavana chain and is expanding it rapidly. And Talbott Tea was purchased by Jamba Juice. So something's in the air.

Established in 1969, the company is the leading tea trader of worldwide teas in Japan and the pioneer of Japan's herb and spice retail trade. In 1982, the company opened Japan's first herb and tea shop "Tea Boutique" in Tokyo, and they now manage four tea rooms in Japan.

With 90 employees, the company, whose president is Isamu Kitajima, has dozens of trading partners all over the world and imports and distributes in Japan rarefied products like Cerulean Seas Sea Salt (from California), Argan oil from Morocco, and Cafix from Germany -- a caffeine-free coffee made from herbs.

Interestingly, the name Garasha is the Japanese pronunciation of the Latin "Gratia." The name, which means grace, underlies the spirit of the company's ethos: a commitment to a healthy life by the grace, or gifts, (Garasha) of nature.

The traditional teas, in these compelling restored old tea packages, come in three styles. Genmaicha green tea is combined with roasted brown rice; Sencha green tea is steamed to prevent oxidation and results in a sweet and fragrant brew, and Hojicha green tea is roasted. Like the special art of pairing wine with food, each of the teas matches well with particular dishes. Given the well-documented health benefits of green tea these days, I may do a tea-and-food pairing exercise soon. Will let you know how that goes.

In the meantime, here is a lovely drink to try as warmer weather, and cherry blossoms, are soon to arrive. It comes from my book, Healthy 1-2-3, winner of the IACP Cookbook Award (and nominated for the James Beard Award). It is a recipe for iced green tea, stirred with stalks of lemongrass. Use Garasha's Sencha green tea, if you are lucky enough to find it.

ICED GREEN-LEMONGRASS TEA Green tea is known to be very healthful, full of antioxidants and other good things for your body. Lemongrass, a long pale green stalk, is a staple of Thai cooking and adds a mysterious, citrusy flavor. A squeeze of fresh lime is optional.

2 stalks lemongrass (plus more to use as "stirrers") 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons Sencha green tea leaves

Tear off the rough outer leaves from the lemongrass and discard. Finely chop the remaining stalks, including the darker tops and place in a large saucepan. Add 5 cups water and the honey. Bring to a rapid boil. Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the tea. Cover the saucepan and steep for 10 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and discard the solids. Refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice. Serves 4