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Pitter

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  1. Pitter

    Dips, cold or hot

    This is my own rendition of a recipe from A Mediterranean Harvest by Paola Scaravelli and Jon Cohen. I have always said that if I ever open a restaurant, I will put crocks of this on every table to accompany breadsticks. It contains no fat (which doesn't matter to me, necessarily, but is a fact) and is cooling like sorbet. And hugely flavorful, and cheap to make, at least in August. Roast in the oven until soft and lightly carmelized: One pound potatoes One pound tomatoes One pound onions One pound red bell peppers One pound eggplant A whole bulb garlic Peel, seed, and puree the whole mess in a food processor or blender. Stir in some fresh herbs -- I usually use some basil and fresh thyme, and a tiny amount of red wine or balsamic vinegar, and some salt, pepper and cayenne. Flavors come alive after an hour or so. When it is not tomato season, I use canned Romas, and I have been known to substitute the red peppers with good quality jarred. The original recipe calls for a tablespoon or so of ev olive oil. I don't even bother. In addition to using this as a dip, I dollop it onto tomato slices in the summer. It is very versatile.
  2. I hate to be so negative, but I cannot drink any soda with nutrisweet, ever. It makes me hallucinate. I have only had this three times in my life, and the last time was 12 years ago, when I was working on a kitchen line. The waiter asked, "Does anyone want Coke?" and I asked if it was diet or real. He said "real." I drank some, and went mad. Then he admitted that it was "half and half," and wondered what the big deal was. Well, the "big deal" was that I was hallucinating, and working on a very busy kitchen line on a Saturday night.
  3. Maggie, these are available in small tins, packed in oil, and are simply as said -- anchovies wrapped around a caper, and they are available in any grocery store in the US. You can throw in chopped anchovies and capers separately. I simply like that they are a full biteful as prepared, and easy to find in the grocery store.
  4. I make virtually the same salad every time, and have been making this salad for twenty years. In the summer, I make it every day: Arugula, only. I grow a lot of it, and in off seasons, will drive 20 miles each way for the best. I certainly like all other greens, but use them for other purposes. Tomatoes. Lots of fresh, sliced heirlooms from my garden August through October, and Pommodorocio in the winter and spring, or good cherry tomatoes when I can find them. Roquefort sometimes anchovies rolled with capers sometimes sauteed mushrooms, never raw Vinaigrette is dijon, black pepper, vinegar (red wine, sometimes a splash of lemon juice, nowadays sometimes moscatel vinegar, which is my new fave) all emulsified with EVOO. This takes me 30 seconds to whip up in a bowl with a fork. I don't add salt, as the cheese and anchovies provide plenty. I like strong, clean flavors, and somehow this simple salad of mine always pleases. This is my "comfort" food.
  5. Mr. Whiting, did you consider your relish to be eaten with beast and fowl?
  6. Check out their Pannetone in December!
  7. Moghul in Morristown has an excellent, and huge, lunch buffet for $10.
  8. I take my eggs, especially egg sandwiches, with globs of mustard. Always. Forever. My experience is that people are far more repulsed by mustard than with ketchup. When I was in culinary school, they taught us to make scrambled eggs with a 1 oz ladle of clarified butter stirred into every two eggs. Let me tell you, this was divine. Then, a friend who was once a chef, made the scrambs for me with reduced heavy cream, and chopped chives, following similar proportions. Magnificant. When I make these, I use a ton of butter in the pan (not clarified). I whisk 1 Tbsp water into every two eggs, and cook them gently, folding over for large curds, and take the shebang off of the heat when they are still runny, because they cook in their own heat for a minute or so. Flavorings such as chives can be added in anywhere in the process. My mom did the "fork-in-the-pan" routine, with previously cooked (and limp) bacon, and I loved it.
  9. Here in Hunterdon County we are awash in farmer's markets and stands. This is what I consider to be the best stand in my area, and for most of a 40 mile radius: The Farm Stand, which is located on Cook's Corner Road, one mile east from Rte. 513, and this intersection is 3 miles south of Clinton, and 1/2 mile north of Pittstown. They have a big, colorful sign telling you to turn onto said road, as well as a sign a mile before, to warn you. You have to see this place -- small, not expansive, but they grow and bring in maybe 10 kinds of eggplant, 25 types of hot peppers, lots of heirloom and hybrid tomatoes (lots and lots, and you can buy bushels of good, blemished tomatoes really cheap for canning), and everyone for miles around knows they have the absolutely, very best corn, which they grow themselves. To see this place is to weep. It is so incredibly beautiful, especially around September, when the pumpkins, winter squash and gourds are on display all over the barn and grounds. I don't have a personal relationship with the owners, but can say that they are nice as can be. By the way, the drive to get there is quite spectacular.
  10. I so absolutely understand your situation. Because I spent something like $60 on my Wusthof bread knife, I thought I had to love it, or something was wrong with me. After 15 years of frusteration, I bought a Sanelli -- one of those cheap, non-forged knives with the bright green and red handle, with a 10 inch blade, and I feel that I can slice bread in the air (and tomatoes, peppers, everything a serrated knife is good for). It cost $19 at Zabar's.
  11. Pitter

    Tuna Salad

    If the tuna comes from a can, it has to be solid white, not chunk (read, mush). However, and this is a big however, if it comes from a jar, is olive oil packed, and in big, solid chunks, then it is the best tuna for any tuna salad. Yeah, it's more expensive, but if you are a tuna salad fanatic, try this. Look for "Bonito." I drain it, toss it with some (preferably DeLouis but usually Hellman's) mayo, a small dollop of Dijon mustard, diced cornichons, shallots, capers and pitted kalamata olives, or some variation. A twist of pepper, a pinch of whatever fresh herb is nearby, and voila.
  12. Pitter

    Piece de resistance

    Sometimes I do a Moroccan dinner very similar to what Abagail described, and like Liza, I most often prepare osso buco with risotto Milanese, but when I have the time, I prepare an Indian feast: Handmade Paratha, stuffed with a spicy beef mixture Onion Pakora Carrot filled Samosas Soup -- often one of my favorites, which is butternut squash/red lentils, cooked with spices, then garnished with whole cumin and mustard seeds that are carmelized at the last second and poured into the soup for a huge burst of flavor (and also garnished with lots of cilantro) Lamb curry (Vindaloo or Korma -- a good one is with ground almonds and spinach) Eggplant that is broiled with a tangy tamarind glaze Cauliflower braised with mustard seeds and cumin Potatoes sauteed with a ton of spices, then finished with a yogurt/mint/cilantro sauce Raita -- cukes, tomatoes, cumin and cilantro in yogurt Rice, of course, first sauteed in lots of butter with whole cardomom pods and other spices, then steamed. Condiments, many, but always including my home made mango chutney. Note: None of the above dishes are expensive to make, and I learned to cook this way when I was on a student's budget. You can cook for 4 people for about $20. Also, the last minute prep is minimal -- reheating, only, except for the spices garnishing the soup (30 seconds) and the rice, which takes about 2 minutes of actual time. Dessert is probably the most expensive part. I am in agreement with Jeffrey Steingarten that desserts should not taste like face cream, so I'll do something else. (I know that's not fair -- there are many interesting and delicious Indian desserts but these are not my forte). When white peaches or good plums are in season, I simply cut out individual-sized circles of puff pastry, spread out the sliced fruit into pinwheels, sprinkle with cinammon sugar, bake and serve hot with cinnamon ice cream. Or bowls of berries topped with Sabayon. In the winter, I'll make a chocolate torte. Dessert needs to be effortless and take less than 30 minutes of hands-on time.
  13. Saran, why do you think this is -- about fruit (not about delis and buffets -- that is self evident). I have never been wild about any fruit except for tomatoes and other berries.
  14. I love to eat, or at least try, absolutely everything except WATERMELON, CANTALOPE and all other melons. I cannot stress this enough when I am at buffets or restaurants that offer fruit as a side dish or even a garnish. If anything else has ever touched them, I know it and have to send the meal back, period. I wretch at the mere thin odor of them.
  15. For Indian Cuisine, I refer to The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi at least once per month. Who needs meat when you can have all of these breads, soups and veggies? It must have 1,000 recipes, all of them glorious. The books by Julie Sahni introduced me to Indian cuisine 20 years ago and are still relevant. For Italian: Celebrating Italy by Carol Field, and all of Marcella Hazan. Also, Italian Cooking in the Grand Tradition by the Cornettos is fabulous -- an unsung classic. For Veggies only: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison; World Vegetarian by Julie Sahni, and, if truth be told, I still go to some of my Moosewood books now and then. Bread: English Bread and Yeast Cookery by Elizabeth David and Flatbreads and Flavors by Alford and Duguin. The first is classic, no-nonsense history and preparation of classic loaves; the second is a fun book for many unyeasted breads and regional food to accompany. Everything from John Thorne: Simple Cooking, Outlaw Cook, Serious Pig and Pot On Fire. If he writes about it, I want to cook it.
  16. A non-traditional source: Blue Ribbon in Manhattan or in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Absolutely non-greasy, with good matzo-balls. They take great pride in this soup, for good reason. Check it out if it is in your nabe --
  17. John, I am not a member of Baker's Dozen. What is that? I had to give up baking bread professionally after 10 years because I ruined my arms. Thanks Priscilla, for your kind words. What is EBayC?
  18. Reading E.D.'s book, "English Bread and Yeast Cookery," created a defining moment in my life. It was then that I became so fascinated with bread that I decided to become a professional bread baker (this was in the early-80s). Her recipes are obtuse, as bread recipes should actually be, defining principles rather than recipes. From her I learned to start the dough with a slurry a night or two ahead, and to use the least amount of commercial yeast possible (1/4 tsp per two-pound loaf) and why this is important. I also learned to toast the flours before adding them to any mix, and what combination of flours to experiment with, and my shortcut for maintaining freshness by an extra day or two -- one tablespoon cider vinegar per two pounds of dough. She also explained how to shape out the bread dough, and this may be highly surprising to novice bread bakers. When this book went out of print, as it was for a decade or so, I simply could not believe this. Then it came back, from an ambitious publisher, and met the remainder rack within a year. Many folks I know agree that this is the best breadmaking book ever published. As for the rest of her books, love them all.
  19. I found their lunch there to be way too expensive -- $95 per person for those drinking iced tea. However, they had a buffet two years ago, but not last year, and they charged $15 per person for a glorious outdoor feast. Maybe they will bring it back this coming summer, and they will raise the price to something reasonable, to like, $40. I love the place, but I have certainly felt my wallet snore when I paid for 4 folks, at lunch, drinking iced tea, and it was $500.
  20. I went to Indigo Smoke today for the second time. The first time, I sat down, and had brisket sandwich (good, not great) and an assortment of sides (again, all good, but not great). Today I stopped in for take-out, and following the suggestions and banter of a close friend, simply ordered two baby-back ribs and the biscuits. The ribs were really very fine, with a good sauce and nicely smoked -- I am not a fan of things that are highly-smoked, and the biscuits were just so-so. I felt they had too much salt, and crumbled into an unmanageable pile. I would also like to add that I found just a bit off-putting that they did not include a tiny cup of coleslaw or anything else to sort of round out the meal. Granted, this was take-out, but a small, $.20 garnish may have improved on my overall impression. I order ribs, and I got ribs. End of story. I would and will go back again. Like I said, good, not great, but it is certainly good enough.
  21. Ah, I think I beat you all, and it was so innocent! I always used one of those two-chamber espresso pots, probably twice every day -- the type where you fill the water in the bottom chamber, and put the grounds in the upper chamber. No problem: it always works. Well, my friend kindly cleaned the pot one day and removed the screen from the bottom of the top chamber, naturally to clean it, and since I never even knew that such screen existed, and thus never saw that it was missing, I never "missed it." I'm sauteeing stuff on the stovetop, waiting for my espresso to happen, but nothing seems to be happening. I wonder, huh, and see some kind of clot at the tip of the spout where the water is supposed to steam off, and start prodding it with a tine. Prod, prod, WHOOPS, with coffee grounds over every square inch of my rented kitchen complete with pegboard, and first degree burns all over ever square inch of exposed skin. You see, with the screen missing, the coffee grounds migrated to the top of the funnel, where they hung out and became quite angry under extreme pressure. At the hospital they actually lifted the burn from my body, including my face, by applying cold, water soaked rags. It took about 6 hours. I tossed the pot, but not the friend -- he meant well.
  22. Blue Heron: Many thanks for the scoop. I just ordered my cornichon seeds from Shepherd's (I didn't know they were associated with White Flower Garden) as well as about an acre full of other stuff.
  23. Rachel: Berries such as blackberries and raspberries (don't know about blueberries) grow from thick, reed-like stems, and they are perennials, thus come back year after year. They are also quite invasive, and will spread. They don't need any support. Some varieties of raspberries yield fruit twice per season -- late June, and October, though in my yard, it seems that the October yield is much smaller, and is usually overrun by ants. Blackberries are almost like weeds -- they ramble in forests, and seem to require nothing more than a fall pruning. Beware, they have tremendous thorns. In my raspberry plot, which measures 8' by 6', I usually pick 150 pounds of fruit (the variety is called Heritage, and is what the production growers plant in France -- they are fairly large fruits and very flavorful). I know you are not interested in raspberries, but I think blueberries, blackberries and boysenberries follow a similar life. For unusual seeds, go to Johnnies Seeds or Seeds of Change. Here you will find your golden beets, and a skillion other things. They sell Seeds of Change in some gardening places and health food stores, but the selection is highly limited. Rain is good for germination and for the just-planted. Since it is important to keep seeds wet for germination, nature just did this for us so we don't have to go out with our watering cans. Miss J: I am not sure how peppers will do in London. Peppers of all sorts need lots of sun and heat. Also, for herbs, don't forget rosemary, though unlike sage, thyme, etc., these are not winter hardy in your climate, so you must either harvest or re-pot to bring indoors during winter. And if you plant coriander, you may want to let some of it go to seed -- it's fun and productive to harvest your own coriander seed. I can't say enough about lavendar. I planted a tiny seed about 10 years ago, and now my first bush is 8 feet in diameter. I hang the dried flowers in my closets and pack my yarn with it -- it smells great, and is a natural moth repellent. Jim: Thanks for the shallot suggestion. Also, I hadn't thought of using arugula flowers. I have hundreds in bloom right now, from over-wintered plants. Thanks for that suggestion, too. My questions: Does anyone know of a source of seeds for teeny cucumbers, aka cornichons? Or are these simply cukes that are picked while still very young? And what other types do folks suggest for pickling? Gooseberries -- has anyone in the NJ climate planted these, and what are the details (source, problems, special circumstances). Snow peas and eggplants -- I try them every year with limited success. Any tips? Every year I try to put in some herbs that are hard to come by in Central-Western NJ, such as Vietnamese coriander, lemongrass, curry leaves, and unusual basils. Any suggestions in this regard?
  24. Heirlooms, only. Brandywines in pink, purple and yellow with a pink stripe, and mortgage lifters (2-4 lbs fruit per piece). I can buy all hybrids at my local farm stands for $1 per pound, but these guys at the same store cost $4 per pound. I plant enough to have about 750 pounds of very good tomatoes. I stopped planting cherry tomatoes -- too much trouble to pick them.
  25. Well-Sweep is an amazing place to buy herbs. I only go once a year because I always over-spend by many $$$. Who can buy only one type of rosemary when you have 30 to choose from? Most of our backyard is now overgrown with creeping thymes, because I went one year with my husband who decided on the spot that he was going to become the world's leading authority on ground covers. On the way back, if you are heading south on 31, you should check out a new farm stand in Hunterdon County, about two miles south of the Rtes. 31 and 78 intersection, on 513. It's on the right going south, and is impossible to miss. They don't have much there right now, but what they do have is fantastic. Yesterday I bought "just picked" asparagus, still dripping thin sap, and without a trace of woodiness. They also have eggs from their own chickens who are running around the yard. Later in the season they will be selling only produce from their farm, which looks meticulously maintained. Most of the other stands around here buy from around the state, and while of course there is nothing wrong with that, I think this place will have the freshest produce of all.
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