The best

By on Dec 31, 2015 in Recipes | 1 comment

When I worked as a pastry chef at The Cleaver Company in New York City more than twenty years ago, one of our most requested recipes was this lemon tart. I have no idea who originated the recipe – it was floating around food businesses all over New York City in the 1980s, and with good reason. It’s a minimalist confection, prepared with just flour, sugar, eggs, lemons, butter and cream. On the plate, it consists of only three colors; that is, if you choose to sprinkle on the optional confectioners sugar –otherwise, it’s two. And it tastes mostly of one thing – lemon. That said, this tart is the pastry proof of “less is more.” It’s easy to make, requiring no mechanical devices, just a couple of bowls, a whisk, and your fingers. You don’t even have to roll out the dough – it presses into the pan. And it is suitable for any time of year – as welcome in the heat of the summer as in the...

Temper chocolate for perfect candy

By on Dec 3, 2015 in Recipes | 0 comments

Apologies for this not-at-all-humble brag, but I give the best homemade candy to my friends at this time of year. As in, spouses-hide-it-from-one-another, good candy. I have been doing this for 30 years, and if I stopped now, there would be hell to pay. Still, every now and then, I daydream about some other, easier gift. Why? Because for exquisite candy, I have to temper chocolate. Chocolate, you see, has some unusual molecular properties. Cocoa fat, (which is a major constituent of chocolate) has a crystalline structure. During chocolate-making those crystals are split apart and super-homogenized with cocoa solids and the other ingredients, such as sugar and milk, to create a solid bar. These tiny crystals of cocoa butter, however, don’t like to be parted from one another. They will pounce on any encouragement – warm temperatures, say – to reunite. You know that white bloom you found...

Caramel candy: an annual tradition

By on Nov 24, 2015 in Recipes | 0 comments

My favorite candy in the whole world is a good caramel. Which is why, for 30 years, I have been making them every holiday season to give to people I care about. Over the decades, I have tried a lot of different recipes, but I always seem to return to a recipe I first found in the 1948 version of The Settlement Cookbook by Mrs. Simon Kander (the first edition was published in 1901). Mrs. Kander was a woman whose life’s work was to help young, female Jewish refugees become assimilated in the United States. We all have to eat, she figured, and food and cooking was the way she taught her charges to live in America. So here is my take on Mrs. Kander’s caramel recipe, finessed over the years. Her mission is still right on target. Those who eat together, can live together. The biggest change in my version of her recipe has been to come up with a tag-along recipe, one that uses up the dregs in...

We got an up-close look at how a pie is made at The Crust & Crumb

By on Nov 24, 2015 in Recipes | 0 comments

You can’t really bring up Thanksgiving without your favorite pie combination creeping into the conversation. Pies are as big a part of the holiday tradition as football, turkey and family. So we went down to The Crust & Crumb Baking Co. and watched owner Alison Ladman make some of her tasty creations. In the 24 hours before Crust & Crumb closes for Thanksgiving, the ovens will be cranking out pies in staggering numbers to fill all the orders. And while you can no longer place an order, Ladman makes lots of extras for people who forgot to call one in but need to bring a dessert to the family get together. After all, as Ladman puts it “Pie is a food group.” Crust & Crumb is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday and will be pumping out pies like pumpkin, maple bourbon pecan apple streusel and many others throughout the...

A slow cooker cookbook the whole family will love

By on Nov 11, 2015 in Recipes | 0 comments

Being asked to write a review of a Crock-pot cookbook is like being asked to write my love language. Being the mom to five kids, two grandchildren and a few foster children who insist on being fed each and every day makes me rely heavily on my Crock-pot for all sorts of recipes. And I love it. I am a sucker for the little cookbooks at the checkout lines in the grocery store for “quick weeknight meals” and “Crock-pot casseroles,” but I am lucky if I find one or two recipes in those that everyone enjoys. This cookbook, however – 175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics by Judith Finlayson – hits a home run. We have earmarked so many recipes to try that I will be working through it for a while after you read this review. My normal go-to for Crock-pot cooking is: dump in ingredients. Turn on cooker. Most of the recipes in this book have a little bit of food prep – like sauté things first, then...

Forget turkey – try roast chicken and pork this fall

By on Nov 5, 2015 in Recipes | 0 comments

Many years ago, when I was in cooking school, our French chef teachers taught us a technique for preparing poultry called “à la crapaudine.” This translates as “in the manner of a toad.” It involves cutting a bird either straight through the breast bone or removing its backbone and then opening it up and flattening it out. It’s a method that could easily have been invented by hungry hunters eager to cook a fresh-killed pigeon over a fire and is meant for high heat situations, such as grilling, or roasting in a very hot oven. In English, this method is called “spatchcocking,” a word that sounds great but is a failure as a metaphor. I like à la crapaudine better, because with a little imagination the cooked bird does look a bit like a toad. The tail is meant to resemble the frog’s triangular head, and once upon a time chefs thought it was hilarious to place olives there to look like...