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.

One-Minute Food & Wine Pairings

Last night, I surprised my husband by saying that "cocktails" would be served at 6 p.m.   As this is not our usual practice, it brought some unexpected anticipation.  I totally forgot what I had promised and at the stroke of 6, Michael said, "Oh, I thought we had something planned."   "Oh yes" I said, and quickly scampered to the kitchen.  In one-minute flat, I prepared a feast!  I opened the jar of taramasalata I had sequestered in the fridge, dug out the last five large caperberries from an almost-empty container, sliced a hunk of feta cheese and plucked fresh thyme leaves from my window box.  With it I served glasses of icy cold fino sherry.  It was the PERFECT match!   So here are 15 more ideas for those spontaneous, companion-pleasing times -- or, for unexpected guests.  If you have made any similar discoveries, please do let me know! Here are some one-minute sips and bits:

Champagne with hunks of Parmigiano-Reggiano and small black grapes Sake with iced clams on the half shell and wasabi crackers Vodka with smoked salmon and buttered dark Russian bread Ouzo with stuffed grapes leaves and pistachios Raki with watermelon and feta cheese Off-dry Riesling with prosciutto and melon Rose wine with spanakopita and kalamata olives Beaujolais with hungarian salami and oil-cured olives Sweet vermouth with bresaola and sesame grissini Bourbon with a variety of chilled oysters and unsalted pretzels (my husband's idea) Dry marsala with fennel, pecorino, crusty bread for dipping olive oil Prosecco with affettato (selection of Italian salumi) with slices of warm focaccia Sauternes with pâté de foie gras and brioche toast


Tin Fish Gourmet

Barbara-Jo McIntosh is the owner of the beloved Books to Cooks bookstore in Vancouver, BC.  She herself has been called a national treasure of Vancouver because of her deep influence in "all things food" in that gorgeous city.   Every year, scores of distinguished chefs, authors, wine makers and celebs from all over the world wind up in her shop. They are feted by Ms. McIntosh herself with a reception in their honor.  Throughout the year, there are scores of meaningful talks, lectures, tastings and demos, too, making Books to Cooks the place to be if you have even the tiniest interest in cooking.  In addition to hand-selecting the 7,000 titles available in her store, Barbara-Jo has written three of the books she carries.  Her most recent, "Cooking for Me and Sometimes You:  A Parisienne Romance with Recipes (French Apple Press, 2010) is a joy.  You feel as though you are in a small French kitchen right alongside her, whipping up a sharp vinaigrette for the perfect Salade Nicoise, or braising a chicken leg with tomatoes and black olives. But as I'm staring at a large can of salmon this morning in my fridge (gift of my husband who did the grocery shopping yesterday), I lunge for another of her books on my shelf. Tin Fish Gourmet, whose subtitle, great seafood from cupboard to table, says it all.  This book has a way of making you feel virtuous and wise, as you hunt for your can opener.   Some months ago, my husband and I started eating canned salmon.  I don't remember why exactly.  I used to hate it as a kid, especially because of the skin and cartilage that punctuated the pretty pink flesh, but having gotten over that, I find myself, instead, enjoying the weird texture of the tiny bones.  I use it to make last-minute salmon rillettes and enjoy it smashed on a piece of black bread with fresh lemon and a dab of crème fraîche.  Maybe some chives. The Tin Fish Gourmet offers  sixteen ideas using a 15-ounce can, or two (but beware, my tin of Bumble Bee salmon is 14.75 ounces!), from which to choose.  Some are quite sophisticated, others are nifty and thrifty. I inadvertently soaked a pot of dried chickpeas last night and will try the healthy-sounding Avocado, Chick Pea and Salmon Salad.  Hmmmmm, but Corn & Salmon Fritters, Curried Salmon Loaf, Salmon and Fennel Stew, and a dreamy-sounding Asparagus, Brie & Salmon Omelette also tantalize.  But the book's most-popular recipe is an appetizer: Pecan Salmon Roll.  It's a recipe Barbara-Jo picked up from a trip to Lunenberg, Nova Scotia.   Recipe below.  You can find each of the above mentioned books at New York's beloved bookstore: Kitchen Arts & Letters, on Lexington Avenue and 93rd street. Tell Nach and Matt that Barbara-Jo sent you.

Barbara-Jo's Pecan Salmon Roll

15 ounce can (tin) salmon, drained 9 ounces cream cheese 2 tablespoons goat cheese, optional 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 1 scallion, finely chopped 1 tablespoon white horseradish 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, plus sprigs for garnishing

Cream together cheeses, lemon juice, scallion, horseradish and cayenne.  Add salmon and mix together.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.  Shape into a roll, about 8-inches by 3-inches.  Roll through the combined mixture of pecans and parsley to cover.  Place on a platter and garnish with parsley sprigs.  Serve with sliced baguette or crackers. Serves 6 to 10 as an appetizer.

A Farmer's Market Meal

You can pretty much get everything on this plate at your local farmer's market.  After all, there are only 9 ingredients that make up this eternally spring meal. Although it's a bit gray and rainy today, I am off to the Union Square Market, the heart and soul of the city, to get the ingredients for tonight's dinner.  This image, from one of my earlier books, Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook (published in 1998), is attention-getting as it is stunning in its simplicity and restraint.  The three simple recipes include tender lamb chops under a "crust" of goat cheese and rosemary; a slow-cooked tomato layered with red onion "napoleon-style," and stir-fried watercress with garlic chips.  Only today, 14 years later when pea shoots are now the veg du jour, I may substitute them for the watercress in this recipe.  I may also, instead of the rosemary, use fresh lavender -- just a bit -- as my husband really likes it.  It is an unforgiving herb, however, as a little too much is...a little too much.  Goat cheese and lavender have great affinity and my husband often stuffs it under the skin of a large chicken and roasts it to perfection.  This menu brings great rewards for modest amounts of effort. Open an unexpected bottle of Domaine Clavel's Les Garrigues, a blend of syrah and grenache noir from the Languedoc, or choose a flowery Beaujolais like Chiroubles. Check in later for dessert.  I will see what's new and exciting at the market this morning!  One of life's simple pleasures is checking out what's on nature's agenda each week. Enjoy!

Lamb Chops with Goat Cheese & Rosemary 8 thick rib lamb chops 6 ounces fresh goat cheese 3 tablespoons finely snipped fresh rosemary or lavender

"French" the chops, cutting all meat from the bones to the "eye" of the chops; or leave them as they are.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix goat cheese with 2 tablespoons rosemary or lavender.  Season chops with salt and pepper and steak in a large nonstick skillet until browned, about 2 minutes on each side.  Pack approximately 1-1/2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on one side of each chop to cover completely.  Place chops in oven for 8 to 10 minutes, until desired doneness, but still rare in the center.  You may brown the cheese for 30 seconds under the broiler.  Scatter remaining herbs on top.  Serves 4 "Short-Stack" Tomatoes and Onions These can be made ahead of time and reheated for 10 minutes at 375 degrees.

4 medium-large ripe tomatoes, about 1-1/2 pounds 2 large red onions 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Slice 1/4-inch from top and bottom of each tomato.  Cut each tomato into 3 thick slices.  Re-assemble each to look like whole tomato. Peel onions and slice 1/4-inch thick.  Layer thicker onions between tomato slices, ending on top with a thin slice of onion.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon oil over each and season with salt and pepper.  Place a short skewer in center of each stack to help hold together.  Place in shallow baking pan and bake 1-1/4 hours.  Baste with pan juice twice.  Remove from oven and let rest 15 minutes.  Carefully transfer to plates and spoon pan juices on top.  Drizzle with more oil and sprinkle with sea salt.  Serves 4

Watercress (or Pea Shoots) Saute with Garlic Chips

3 large bunches watercress or 12 ounces pea shoots 4 large garlic cloves 3 tablespoons olive oil

Remove woody stems from watercress.  Peel garlic and slice paper thin, lengthwise.  Heat oil in a large skillet until hot.  Add garlic, cook 15 seconds until crisp, then immediately remove.  Add watercress or pea shoots.  Cook over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes until just wilted.  Stir in garlic chips and salt to taste.  Serve immediately.  Serves 4

A Balaboosta Brunch

In honor of the 100th year celebration of International Women's Day yesterday, the Consulate General of Israel in New York sponsored a wonderful brunch at Balaboosta on Mulberry Street. Owned by rock star mom and chef, Einat Admony, over fifty fabulous women came to listen to music, drink pomegranate mimosas, and celebrate women's achievements during the course of the last century.  We have certainly come a long way (and yet in some countries, Egypt for example, it is not so true.)  Yesterday was dear to my heart because it acknowledged the achievements of women in professional kitchens:  executive food editor Gabriella Gershonson of Saveur magazine, did an insightful job interviewing Einat "live" for Shalom TV.  Einat, very much her own woman, wearing chef's whites and, instead of a toque, sported two long youthful ponytails, had worked in several of New York's great restaurants, including Bolo and Tabla, when she decided to buck the system and become a mother and a chef -- and do them both well.

This, I know from personal experience, is not easy to achieve.  Many women chefs have consciously, or not so consciously, chosen to follow their professional calling, often at the expense of having a family.  Einat has wowed New York's young food passionistas (my word) with her restaurant Taim and more recently with Balaboosta, a word of soulful, joyful meaning.  It is a Yiddish notion that describes (in a respectful way) the proficiency of a woman as being a good wife and mother and 'captain' of the house.  It's an old-fashioned concept, yet there are young women today who certainly fit the description.  Two women I'm thinking of in particular, Robin Adelson and Helen Kimmel, who run amazing households, also have impressive professional lives as well.  It is this dual aspect of balaboosta-ness that is very today.  And I shall now add Chef Admony to this exclusive group.   The food itself was also dear to my heart as I was the one, in 1986 (as Chef-Director of Baum + Whiteman worldwide), who created New York's first pan-Mediterranean restaurant called Cafe Greco on the upper East Side. That was 25 years ago!  If you read the menu today, you would think it had just opened.  Bryan Miller, food critic of the New York Times, gave it a glowing 2-star review and said that "this was going to be the next great food trend."  I called the cuisine "Med-Rim" -- meaning a fusion of the "kitchens" of the Middle East and the countries whose borders hugged the Mediterranean coastline.

Balaboosta, along with Barbounia and Taboon, are restaurants in New York who do this kind of food well.  It is an exciting palate of flavors and colors, and much of the food is inherently very healthy.  I especially loved yesterday's labneh (thick slightly salty yogurt) with its puddle of excellent olive oil and za'atar.  Other dishes included crispy fried olives, shakshuka (baked eggs in tomato and herb sauce), homemade pita, hummus, and pistachio baklava.  That, with some virtuosic clarinet playing by Anat Cohen, and spirited conversation among some awesome women, made it feel especially empowering to be a balaboosta -- if only for a few hours.

In honor of the day, here is a recipe for my za'atar pesto.  It takes one minute to make!

My Za'atar Pesto Za'atar is a khaki-colored spice mixture that includes dried hyssop, sumac and sesame seeds.   Use this as a great dip for cherry tomatoes and pita chips.

1/2 cup za'atar (buy it from a Middle Eastern food store) 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil

Stir everything in a medium bowl.   Makes about 1 cup.

Cosmo Life: Food 101

I must say that I was quite pleased with the striking, three-page article about my new book Radically Simple featured in this month's issue (April) of Cosmopolitan magazine. The headline screamed "So Impressive but Insanely Easy."  The editors chose three dishes to feature and went on to say that "these recipes combine basic foods in some very surprising ways.  The result: a purely magical meal that makes you look like a total rock star in the kitchen."  They got it!  It really is the essence of the book. I wanted to make it possible to create restaurant-quality, sophisticated food in the easiest way possible -- with procedures limited to 140 words.  Not quite Twitter but close.  My desire was to apply a bit of "chef-thinking" to home cooking.  As I've said in previous blogs, I am always interested in the recipes initially chosen by food editors to feature and by my readers to try. There seems to be some consensus about the recipe for Pork Loin in Cream with Tomatoes, Sage and Gin!  It has become one of the most popular recipes in the book.  It's the   "go-to" dish to try out the new radically simple concept.  It's true that the photo is stunning, but I think it's the twist on something familiar, that makes it so appealing.   The Cosmo editors paired it with my "Steamed Broccoli with Blue Cheese, Red Onion & Mint (again, a colorful riff on something familiar), and finished with a radically delicious dessert called "Apples to the Third Power."  The ingredients are apples, apple butter, and apple cider, hence the name.   While you can find these recipes in the book, what you can't find in the book, or anywhere else for that matter, are my "10 Best Cooking Tips" -- better yet, new food ideas.  Here they are: 1. Roast large black grapes for an unusual treat -- they end up looking like olives but are obviously sweeter.  Serve them with an array of cheese.

2. Pour olive oil in an ice cube tray and keep in your freezer.  Anytime you're cooking a sauce that needs to be thickened, toss in a cube.

3. If you have canned tomatoes but want 'em chopped, stick your kitchen scissors into the can and snip away!

4.  Everything looks more elegant on a bamboo skewer.  Try it with grape tomatoes or sugar snap peas and use to dip into hummus.

5.  Make your own cream cheese: put 2 cups sour cream into a paper-lined coffee filter over a bowl and let drain in your fridge for a day.

6.  Make a fancy but simple chilled-shrimp dipping sauce by blending together a jar of salsa, 1/3 cup olive oil and 1 tablespoon of freshly-squeezed lime juice.

7.  Instead of croutons, add fried chickpeas to your salad.  They have the same crunch but are way more flavorful and nutritious.

8.  Here's an unusual ice cream topping:  boil 2 cups prune juice until it's reduced by half and becomes a syrup (it looks like chocolate sauce!)  Drizzle over coffee ice cream and top with toasted almonds.

9.  Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of espresso powder to chili or beef stews for complexity and richness.  Hoisin sauce works well, too.

10.  Glue old wine corks (not plastic ones) into a circle (standing upright) for a nifty, effective trivet.

I've always loved Cosmo!

Devilled Pecans

This was the day we loved to hang out with my dad. His enthusiasm for the Super Bowl made me smile.  After all, my dad was a star football player who scored the winning touchdown in the Sugar Bowl on January 1,1943. He played for the University of Tennessee and was then drafted by the Washington Redskins.  He grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts (where he and Rocky Marciano were sparring partners) and defected to Knoxville during his college years.  Devastatingly handsome, his hands were the size of baseball mitts and his appetite leaned towards primal: boiled lobsters, corned beef hash, steaks at Peter Luger, White Castle hamburgers, jelly beans, and pecans. This recipe is dedicated to him.

You can prepare these pecans with Worcestershire sauce as I did for years, or use Thai fish sauce, as I do now.  Either way, they are very, very good.  Pecan trees may live and bear edible nuts for more than three hundred years.  Somehow it's amazing to think about that.  They are also an excellent source of protein and unsaturated fats and are rich in omega-6 fatty acids, so enjoy.

Devilled Pecans (adapted from Entertaining 1-2-3) 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce (or Worcestershire) 1/2 pound pecan halves

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter in a medium skillet and add fish sauce.  Add pecans and freshly ground black pepper.  Stir and cook over medium heat for several minutes until pecans are coated in the mixture.  Transfer pecans to a baking sheet and bake 10 minutes, stirring twice.  Drain on paper towels. Make about 2 cups

Salsa #7

Salsa #7 refers to the ranking of recipe requests on Google for this vibrant condiment.  Salsa, in fact, has overtaken ketchup sales in America in dollar value (not volume, yet.)  No one could really have anticipated it, except perhaps the guys behind the Tostitos and Pace brands.  According to one study, ketchup just edged out salsa by units sold, 176 million to 174.9 million.  Pretty close.  But because ketchup bottles are bigger, ketchup trounced salsa in pounds sold.  Nonetheless, no one dips a tortilla chip into a bowl of ketchup! And there are no Champion Ketchup Competitions, such as the World Salsa Competition held by the International Chili Society.  What is interesting, too, is that few foods have dances to call their own. Salsa as food; salsa as performance art.  I love them both. As one research firm has discovered, salsa consumption has bucked the usual "proletarian drift" of many other new food products which usually begin in the large coastal metropolitan areas and slowly migrate to the heartland. Instead, salsa began in the southwest and spread its piquancy across America.  Salsa is also interesting as it is ubiquitous in the Latino market yet is still considered a bit upscale -- and also a healthy choice -- by the Anglo marketplace.

Red salsa-in-a-jar has so many uses. My good friend Chase Crossingham makes superb guacamole-filled omelettes and tops them with salsa and sour cream. Splendid. I have pureed the heck out of it, added a touch of olive oil and lime zest, and used it as a puddle for grilled swordfish. Once I steamed 3 pounds of mussels in it and added a splash of tequila.  In my cookbook Recipes 1-2-3, I dared make a soup that I called "Sopa de Salsa" -- made with half-and-half, yellow onion, and a jar of medium-hot salsa. But there are many other salsas to explore -- I like them made with fresh fruit, too -- mangoes and pineapple add great verve.

Here's the 2008 World Champion Salsa winner called Alf's Salsa. It has lots of ingredients but seems radically simple to make.

4 jalapenos, seeded and deveined 4 serranos, seeded and deveined 2 Anaheim peppers, seeded and deveined 1 yellow bell pepper 1 orange bell pepper 8 Roma tomatoes juice of 1 lime 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes 16 oz. can of pureed tomatoes 1 red onion 1 yellow onion 1 white onion 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne 3 cloves garlic, mashed 2 tablespoons salt 2 tablespoons sugar 1 bunch cilantro

Finely dice the peppers, onions and tomatoes. Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro. Chill 2 hours; chop the cilantro and add as much as desired. And here's a much simpler version! 1 tablespoon oil 1 small onion 1 large clove garlic 2 very large ripe tomatoes 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin fresh lime juice and Tabasco to taste

Chop all the ingredients very well. Add fresh lime juice, Tabasco and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

The Hummus Factor

Pronounced most properly as "who-mousse" (not hum-muss), this now ubiquitous chickpea spread landed as number six on Google's most frequent recipe search.  Yet, a recent article in The Jewish Week stated that 82% of Americans have never tried it.  Huh?  Statistically then, hummus recipes are voraciously desired by a rather small universe.   According to Amy Spiro, who wrote the story, in 1995 hummus was a $5 million industry with just a handful of companies manufacturing it.  Today sales have reached $350 million a year.  Maybe the universe for delicious dips is expanding. I have always loved hummus.  During 10 visits to the Middle East since 1980, I have pursued the best and most authentic.  I am generally surprised how thick and ultra-suave the texture is (mine never quite gets that way).  Hummus is a chickpea puree flavored with tahini (sesame seed paste), fresh lemon, garlic and cumin.  Cold water is generally added to help emulsify the ingredients and loosen the sesame paste.  There are as many versions as there are characters in a Tolstoy play: I love it served warm and topped with toasted walnuts and dukkah (a spice blend from Egypt); served cold with spicy warm ground lamb; topped with zhug (a very spicy Yemenite condiment) and a hard-boiled egg, or just as is with a sprinkling of pine nuts and a pile of toasted pita.  In my new book Radically Simple, I saute a mess of wild mushrooms and pile them atop a mound of lemony hummus as a great first course for the vegetarians I know and love.  Hummus, is also my "go to" improv hors d'oeuvre for any last-minute guests.  And although hummus is most delicious made with dried chickpeas you cook yourself, it is perfectly credible made with canned chickpeas:  They are always in my pantry.

Generally considered a dip, hummus has become a most universal food:  It is breakfast for some, a wholesome lunch for others.  It can be a snack, a sandwich spread, something with which to fill cherry tomatoes, an edible bed for grilled chicken or fish.  I like to sneak a mound of hummus under a hillock of lightly-dressed greens for fun.  Look, surprise, hummus!

Here's my favorite recipe adapted slightly from Little Meals: A Great New Way to Eat & Cook (written by me in 1993.) Hummus Serve with a pile of toasted pita bread or with a grand array of fresh vegetables for dipping.  The recipe is easily doubled and tripled and lasts several days in your fridge.

1-1/2 cups freshly cooked chickpeas (or a 15-ounce can) 3 to 4 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice 3 tablespoons tahini (well-stirred) 1 medium clove garlic 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1/2 teaspoon salt extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling optional: toasted sesame seeds and smoked paprika for dusting on top

If using canned chickpeas, drain them under cold water and shake dry.  Put chickpeas, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, tahini, garlic, 2 tablespoons water, cumin and salt in a food processor and process several minutes until very smooth.  Add more lemon juice if desired and a little more water to make a smooth consistency, if necessary.  Pack into a shallow dish or spread the hummus on a large plate.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds and smoked paprika, if using.  Makes 1-1/2 cups

New Year's Nibbles

Only five days to New Year's Eve and you are, no doubt, thinking about how to celebrate.  For those who are entertaining at home (a very strategic thing to do), here are 25 ideas for radically simple things to serve.   My good friend, Claudia Omsky, roasted some chestnuts for us the other day as a treat in the middle of the afternoon.  She is from Vienna and told us about the street vendors roasting chestnuts and how she loved them as a child.  She often prepares them for her kids as a healthy snack.  Great idea.  Claudia buys them at Whole Foods and simply roasts them on a sheet pan.  Make a criss-cross slit at the top of each chestnut and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  I thought about how festive they would be with a glass of champagne and so....Idea #1:  Warm roasted chestnuts.  The day after, our cousin Mary Ann Kurasz (Seidman) served us a bowl of huge roasted black grapes that looked like big fleshy olives.  She said she got the idea from my Chicken with Roasted Grapes from Radically Simple and decided they would be great with cocktails!  They were!  A brilliant idea I never thought of.  Here are 23 more: Thinly sliced smoked salmon strewn with edible flowers cut up like confetti Large black olives baked in red wine and olive oil Wrap thin grissini (breadsticks) with good prosciutto Scoop out cherry tomatoes, fill with whitefish salad and chopped chives (serve in fluted candy papers) Coat green grapes with goat cheese and roll in crushed pistachios Toss mixed nuts with rosemary oil and warm on a sheet pan Large moist Medjool dates with chunks of aged Gouda Throw a smoked ham in the oven, slice and serve on biscuits with honey mustard and chutney Thinly slice super-rare roast beef from the supermarket, serve with horseradish creme fraiche and black bread Slather a side of fresh salmon with wasabi mayonnaise, roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, sprinkle with black sesame seeds Make a large Caesar salad and serve with garlic-rubbed skirt steaks Buy super-large cooked shrimp and serve with green goddess dressing Serve your favorite smooth soup in demitasse cups, add a few drops of truffle oil Serve a platter of roasted vegetables, cut into 1-inch pieces, sprinkle with sea salt Prepare a large chafing dish of tortellini alla panna (cream, butter and parmigiano-reggiano) Make or buy gravlax and serve with 1-minute mustard sauce (2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon, 1/4 cup olive oil) Buy rotisserie chickens, hack them up and serve with hoisin sauce and scallions Thinly slice big sea scallops and serve atop seaweed salad, drizzle with lemon oil Top herring in wine sauce with buttery-toasted panko, creme fraiche and dill Make smoked salmon, basil and goat cheese quesadillas Make beef or turkey sliders, serve on toasted dinner rolls with pesto or curry mayonnaise Buy great fried chicken and serve with black-eyed peas Boil a whole cotechino, slice and serve on lentils

Start chilling the bubbly!

1-2-3 Holiday Apps

I thought I was invited to be on Martha Stewart's radio show "Morning Living" ( yesterday to talk about my new book Radically Simple (you know, the one that was just chosen as one of the top 10 cookbooks of the year by The New York Times.)  But no!  Instead I was asked to talk about my 1-2-3 cookbooks -- with the specific task of sharing three-ingredient appetizers.  It seems when Martha Stewart's drive-time audience was asked to share their favorite holiday appetizers, they all had three ingredients!  This amused hosts Becky and Kim to no end and so, presto!, I was quickly asked to come on the show.  Over the years I have developed hundreds of ideas for three-ingredient appetizers -- some quite conducive to holiday merriment.  Some of them are quite upscale and need no cooking whatsoever -- oysters on the half shell with oscetra caviar and a squeeze of lemon (that's three!), prunes soaked in brandy and filled with pate de foie gras, and chilled shrimp with wasabi creme fraiche (made by mixing wasabi paste with creme fraiche and sea salt.  Remember: salt, pepper and water don't count when doing the "1-2-3"!)  Others appeal to more ubiquitous tastes and include my addictive "peppery pecans" and sweet-and-sour glazed rib bits.  Recipes below.  One of the most magical recipes I know, however, is something I invented called Brie Croustades and you can top them with a dab of salmon caviar, pesto, tapenade, or just a sprinkling of finely chopped chives.  The croustades themselves are like tiny little popovers -- made from room-temperature brie and eggs, whirled in a processor and baked in small muffin tins.  They puff up and then settle back into little pillows.  They are wonderful with champagne. Enjoy the recipes below and please send me any ideas you have for three-ingredient holiday apps -- beginning today and going right through to New Year's Eve. My "team" will choose the best and someone will receive an autographed copy of Entertaining 1-2-3 or Christmas 1-2-3.  Your choice.  Hurry!

Rib Bits 16 individual pork spareribs, cut in half by butcher 1 cup unsulfured molasses 1-1/4 cups balsamic vinegar

Place ribs in large shallow casserole.  Combine molasses and vinegar in small bowl.  Add 1 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Pour over ribs; cover and refrigerate 2 hours, turning several times.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Remove ribs from marinade.  Transfer marinade to small saucepan.  Place ribs on 2 baking sheets.  Bake 40 minutes, turn and bake 35 minutes longer utnil tender.  Bring marinade to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer until thick and syrupy, about 20 minutes.  Remove the ribs from the baking sheet (discarding all the fat.)  Using a pastry brush, paint each rib with reduced marinade.  Serve with lots of napkins.  Makes 32

Radish Wreath with Goat Cheese and Toasted Cumin 18 medium red radishes, round as possible, with stems and leaves attached 6 ounces fresh firm goat cheese 2 tablespoons cumin seeds

Wash radishes and leaves and dry well.  Remove leaves from radishes, leaving 1 inch of stem attached to each radish.  Remove any spindly roots.  Refrigerate leaves until ready to use.  Cut radishes in half through the root and cut a tiny slice from the rounded bottoms so they don't wobble.  Place cheese in a food processor with 1-1/2 tablespoons water.  Process until smooth, being careful not to overprocess.  Mixture should be thick and creamy.  Spread cheese thickly on cut side of each radish. Arrange radish leaves on a platter to make a wide circle with a hole in the center.  Place radishes on leaves.  In a small skillet, toast cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt 3 minutes around aromatic.  Sprinkle each radish with toasted cumin.  Makes 36 pieces

Red Pepper Frittata Bites 8 ounces very sharp white cheddar cheese 12 ounces jarred sweet salad peppers 9 extra-large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grate the cheese on large holes of box grater.  Spray an 8-x-8 inch pan with cooking spray; scatter cheese evenly on bottom.  Save 3 tablespoons liquid from peppers.  Pat pepper dry and evenly distribute on cheese.  Put the eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and black pepper in bowl of electric mixer.  Beat 2 minutes, then add reserved pepper liquid.  Beat 2 minutes longer, until very light.  Pour eggs over peppers and bake 30 minutes, until just set.  Let cool and refrigerate until firm.  Cut into 16 squares and serve at room temperature.  Makes 16

Smoked Salmon Pillows 1 sheet frozen puff pastry 5-1/2 ounces Boursin cheese 4 ounces good-quality smoked salmon, sliced

Thaw pasty until pliable but still cold.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Roll out pastry so that it stretches to 10 by 10 inches.  Cut into 20 squarish shapes that are 2-1/2 by 2 inches.  Place 1 teaspoon cheese on bottom half of one square.  Tear off a piece of salmon to fit on top.  Be careful not to use too much, since the entire filling must be contained.  Fold top of pastry over filling to make a neat rectangular shape.  Using the tines of a fork, press down tightly on the three sides to make a little pillow.  Repeat with remaining squares.  Place on baking sheet and bake 20 to 25 minutes until puffed and golden.  Serve immediately.  Serves 20 Peppery Pecans 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 4 cups shelled pecan halves, about 16 ounces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large nonstick skillet, melt butter and add 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce and lots of freshly ground black pepper.  Add pecans and a large pinch of salt.  Stir and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, making sure the nuts are coated.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes, stirring often.  Drain on paper towels.  Toss with more salt, pepper, and remaining Worcestershire sauce.  Makes about 4 cups

Brie Croustades with Salmon Caviar 1/2 pound double-cream Brie cheese, chilled 3 extra-large eggs 1/2 cup salmon caviar, pesto, tapenade, or finely chopped chives

Cut rind from cheese and discard.  Let cheese sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Put eggs in food processor.  Cut cheese into 1-inch pieces and process with eggs until very smooth and thick.  Coat two 12-hole small muffin pans (2-inch diameter) with cooking spray.  Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon batter into each.  Bake 9 to 10 minutes until croustades are puffed and golden.  Let sit one minute and top with a bit of caviar, pesto, tapenade, or chives.  Makes 24