In his book Braise, A Journey Through International Cuisine, Daniel Boulud explains that every new cook who comes to work in his kitchen is asked to prepare for the staff a dish from his or her home country. While the chefs come from the four corners of the earth and the taste and ingredients differ, the dish is almost invariably braised. This ancient technique is popular everywhere because it transforms inexpensive, tough cuts of meat (beef, lamb, veal, pork, poultry or seafood ) into succulent morsels and creates a perfect sauce to accompany it. The technique is therefore very economical—especially for a large group. It is also very easy to do. For anyone who has mastered the basic "secrets," braising can make a casual cook seem like a talented chef.
The Differences between Braising and StewingBoth braising and stewing cook pieces of meat with selected vegetables in liquid at fairly low temperatures, but there are many differences. (See the visual above).
If you like homemade pasta but have neither the time nor inclination to make it the way Italian grandmothers did, try my recent discovery. These small pieces of chicken breast and rosemary wrapped in thin pasta are delicious. The package directions suggest three minutes in boiling water—do not overcook them, or you will be disappointed. I prepare the chicken ravioli with Doppio Burro sauce—which is basically butter cooked until it starts to burn, mixed with a ladle full of the pasta water and some grated parmesan. I understand they are also great with Alfredo sauce. You can find them at Marona's in the cool cabinet (not freezer) section. You will have to look for them, because they are currently displayed on the bottom shelf, somewhat out of sight. I have also loved the Tagliatelle and Fettuccini, but I have not yet found them at Marona's. Maybe Matt and Zach will add them if enough of you ask for them...
Candy bars, potato chips and doughnuts in school vending machines will be replaced by granola bars, fruit cups, trail mixes, pretzels and baked chips. The ruling of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (inspired by the leadership of first lady Michelle Obama) is scheduled to go into effect by July 1, 2014. The new regulations set limits for fat, salt and sugar on items sold in places such as vending machines and snack bars. School foods must contain at least 50 percent whole grains or have a fruit, vegetable, dairy or protein as the first ingredient. Foods that contain at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetables will also be allowed. Sports drinks that contain relatively high amounts of sugar are prohibited, but the low-calorie versions will be for sale. Low-fat and fat-free milk, 100-percent fruit and vegetable juice and no-calorie flavored waters are permitted. Potable water must be made available to kids for free where meals are served.
When the Culinary Institute in Hyde Park first opened The Bocuse Restaurant one year ago, the school prepared a special dinner for Chef Paul Bocuse and other world-renowned chefs, including Thomas Keller, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud, and Michel Richard. Last week, to celebrate the one-year anniversary, The Bocuse repeated the menu, and this time, Gerard and I were in attendance. The menu was so impressive I wanted to share it with my food-loving friends. As you can see, each dish was a recreation of a famous dish of a well-known French chef. I have written about the Truffle Soup in a previous column, so I will focus on the marvelous lobster dish.
It has long been believed that our "appetite" for lovemaking can be stimulated by certain foods. As Valentine's Day fast approaches I thought it would be interesting to explore the correlation between those foods in question and sex, separating the myths from the science, thus allowing you to best plan your menus for the big day.
Spotlights:Fantasy Pizza at San Girogio's Trattoria
The Chef gave me a new creation to try. It sounded crazy- it was pear and goat cheese pizza. We gave it a try and all three of us loved it (including my very discerning French relatives). If you are ordering pizzas to share and it is on the menu be sure to ask for it. (or maybe if they have the ingredients they might make it for you). It would probably make a good dessert but that would mean forgoing the chocolate flourless almond cake and I am just not willing to do that.
Sour Cream Pound Cake at McEnroe's
The other day I was at McEnroes, buying vegetables, when I spotted this Sour Cream Pound Cake, handcrafted bya Millerton baker- Mary Stevenson. I bought it and delighted my family with this light and moist plain cake that is not overly sweet. We each had a slice at breakfast and then toasted up some slices at lunch to top off with our favorite ice creams for an easy but lovely dessert.