Friday, February 08, 2013

What a long strange trip it's been

Been about 38 months in a very surreal environment. Characters out of Dickens, Poe, Shakespear, Orwell and Kubrick just to name a few. The culinary adventure has been exciting, mundane, inventive and always educational. My plan is to spend more time sharing, revealing and exploring the world I've been engrossed in for a long while. More to come.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Luscious Lasagna

Every once in a while, you find a recipe that you just can't wait to cook. And every now and then, the recipe really lives up to the photo. This one, exceeded all our expectations. It is both healthy and tasty. Made with a bechemel sauce and swiss chard, some fontina and the right spices, and wow, was it good. We decided to use a farro pasta, which added another more healthful element. For the filling, saute 1 lb of sweet Italian sausage until brown, then remove and drain. Reduce heat to medium, add olive oil to coat the pan, saute 2 shallots cut crosswise into strips and 1/2 a diced onion until translucent. Add two bunches of swiss chard, chopped finely, stems removed. Cook a few minutes then add 3 cloves of chopped garlic, 1 Tbl grated lemon zest, season with salt and pepper. When chard is wilted, add 2 Tbl lemon juice. Transfer to colander and drain the liquid out, pressing until the chard is dry. In a saucepan, make the bechamel by melting 5 Tlbs butter over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup flour and stir until smoothe. Add 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes,and 1 tsp salt. Whisk 4 cups of heated milk into mixture, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer until thickened around 10 minutes. To assemble lasagna, cook pasta until it is soft to the touch, put a layer of bechamel on the bottom of the baking dish, then layer with chard, sausage, some fontina cheese (start with 8 ounces grated) divided between the layers. Finish the top with the pasta, bechamel and cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. Serve with a light salad for a delicious, nutritious meal.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Few things motivate me to rant as much as a terrible hotel stay. Here are just a few of my pet peeves.
As I checked in to a hotel recently, the first question I was asked at the reception desk as I checked in, was "Do you have a room preference?". I stated that the only thing I cared about was quiet, the desire for peace in the sanctity of my room. As I opened the door to my room, I noticed it faced a courtyard, seemed innocent enough, but later I learned that it was to host a wedding rehearsal dinner-then a disco birthday party later that night on the rooftop garden-guess where?- right down the hall from my room. As the weekend wore on, I became more noise waery. Saturday night the dreaded wedding happened, and the outdoor bar area crowds spilled into the courtyard like an overwatered plant. I thought the noise would never end, and sometime after midnight it did. Settled into my much needed sleep I was awakened by a goup of drunken business boys up-chucking over their indulgences right outside my door. Clean-up on aisle 3 was my request to the security guard as I called the front desk for help. Then, the overzealous groom was sitauted next to us as they celebrated their wedding night! VERY LOUDLY! Silly me, I thought a Harvey Wallbanger was a cocktail from the ‘60s named after a surfer. Yeah right!
Yes, you can’t make this stuff up. Lesson here, it’s best to choose your noise if you can, but never think you can beat the odds. Traffic noise, the airconditioning unit, the nearby elevator, all possible irritants.
In the room, at first things seemed peaceful enough-until I banged my shin into the hidden bed post. Why create a beautiful inviting bed, with a hazard like that? Another hazard, no towel rack next to the shower, so you have to cross the bathroom floor, dripping wet to retieve it. Better think ahead on that one. And watch out for that shower curtain. If it is not tightly sealed, all the water drips onto the bathroom floor, causing you to use all the precious towels to mop up the floor before you dry your body. Next, the hot water was so hot I burned my foot stepping into the tub before testing the water. Good news, bad news!
My complaints to the hotel desk in the morning led them to ask if they could comp the room to make up for my lousy stay. Sadly, I was already a guest of the hotel. My advice though, complain if your situation is sincerely problematic, but pick your battles. A quiet spot was what I needed, but it was not what I got!

Friday, November 21, 2008

On the blog again


After a very long hiatis, (2 years to be specific) we are writiing again. Our voice has been
strictly audible, on our radio show "A matter of Taste" and we thought that was enough. But after much prodding and demand, we will once again try and keep a daily if not weekly post. Look for Rachel to rant about a recent hotel stay in the near future.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

BLOGGING with Rachel

I haven't been blogging for a while. What with travel and family and work, who has the time. Well, apparently lots of people do. I mean anyone can so why wouldn't they. My question is "Why would they" After all, is the average person really knowledgeable about what they are writing about, such that anyone else would need to know what they think. That's what we food professionals are there for. We do the research, have the experiences and then share them via newspaper columns, books, magazines, radio shows etc. And busy people barely have time to check out all those educated opinions, let alone those of every one who eats. So who and what are the bloggers really doing? Are they just talking to each other? If so, why don't they use their cell phones or some computer program or text messaging. I am always in a quandry about what to blog about. If it is something that I want to tell the world, I'd want a bigger audience than the ones hitting my blog site. And if I want to share it with my husband David, he's right here with me. And probably no one I don't know really gives a damn what my personal challenges are, so why would I write about them. And my opinions about where I've been or what I've eaten are really only between me and my stomach and I don't want to impose them on friends, let alone strangers. So, I guess what I am really saying is, BlOG THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Leftovers again.

I love leftovers. I usually cook more food than anyone can eat in one seating. Therefore I have
to get creative with the food that remains in my refrigerator. I see it as an opportunity, not an obligation to use up the food. This past holiday weekend, I made some really good hamburgers with sausage meat. Despite how delicious they were, my company just could not eat them all.
So, the first thing I did with the extra raw meat was to make chili. By adding some tomatoe sauce to the pork mixture and cooking it for several hours, I created a wonderful dish to serve with tortillas in the future. But since I already had plenty of the meat cooked, I decided to freeze the chili for another occassion. Then I had to decide what to do with the extra cooked hamburgers. Since I had grilled them they had a nice charcoal flavor. I chopped them into small bits and mixed them into scrambled eggs for a very tasty breakfast the next morning. I am sure that nobody has gotten that much mileage out of a couple of pounds of sausage mix and I enjoyed every bite now and look forward to the freezer part in the future. My advice is, never give up on a food that you can turn into another meal!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rachel cooks the books

In my job as co-host of A Matter of Taste, I get a lot of cookbooks to review. Sometimes a book just really turns you on, and sometimes not. For me, I always look up a recipe that I like to cook and see what the new book does with it. If it fits with the ingredients I like to cook with, or the way I like to cook a certain food, then I will consider trying other recipes. The newest book I received, called "Saving Dinner Basics" is a how to book designed for people who don't know how to cook. Just for fun I looked up a recipe for Gazpacho, a tomato dish that I make quite often.
I was appaled at the long list of ingredients and complicated prep I found. The dish is simply
tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, bread soaked in vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. This book was suggesting adding V-8 juice, chicken broth and lemon juice in addition to all the standard
stuff. Totally unecessary elements to me. The way I see it is if a simple recipe that I know is not good, then I don't want to use any of the recipes in the book, so I will not make room on my shelf for it. The latest book that did turn me on is called "Stonewall Kitchen favorites". It comes from the founders of a specialty food acompany in Maine. They started making jams and selling them at a farmers market, and their popularity grew into a major food producing coompany. This is their third book and boy is it great. Everytime I pick it up, I get inspired. The pictures have eye appeal, the names of the dishes sound great, and the ingredients are simple and create fabulous combinations. I expected to not like the book thinking everything would require you to buy their products in order to make the dish, but that was not the case. And by the way, not only do they have a great recipe for Gazpacho, but all their stuff is great. So, next time you are in a bookstore or on line at Amazon, look up this book and give it a try. This is comfort food that pleases.