Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Some Swiss food

A Swiss Dinner with my Father:

Zuercher Geschnettzeles (  Veal Strips and Mushroom Sauce)

This is a traditional Swiss dish from the Zurich region. It is the Swiss version of this sort of saucy meat and onion or leek and mushroom cream sauce which is popular in various European cuisines. It's delicious and it's the taste of what I remember about Switzerland and eating in a restaurant one night with my father. Recently upon my return to Basel, Switzerland this Spring I made this dish with my traveling companion Chef Lauren for our entire party. Again it was delicious.


1 1/2 lbs veal cutlets cut into strips
8 oz veal liver cut into strips or calves liver or porkloin
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons safflower or olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic finely minced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms or crimini mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup beef broth or bullion
1 1/4 cups double cream or heavy cream
5 fresh sage leaves chopped finely
salt and pepper
pinch or two sweet hungarian paprika
chopped chives

Toss veal strips and liver in flour and coat well. Heat butter in the pan and when hot quickly brown the meat. Move to a platter and reserve.

Add the oil to the pan and add onions saute till just soft then add garlic and cook till it blooms then add the sage then the mushrooms and cook till they release their water and soften about 5 to 8 mins.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan stirring to scrape and release any crispy bits. Add the beef stock and cook till it reduces by half then add the meat back into the pan. Cook this mixture for about 8 more minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and the paprika. Then add the cream and let it cook for about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and make sure everything is well coated and combined. Serve with Rosti potatoes.

Rosti ( Swiss Hashbrowns)


14 lb. Yukon Gold potatoes (about 5 or 6 large potatoes)

2 tbsp. lard or unsalted butter

2 tbsp. safflower or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste

Pinch of nutmeg

Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water ad boil until they are fork tender about 30 mins.Then drain water and allow to cook in the fridge for about 1 hour or so.

Grate the cooled potatoes on a box grater using the big holes

Heat half oil in an 8 inch non stick skillet at medium high heat. When hot add the potatoes and salt them well add the nutmeg and toss them to make sure the potatoes get coated in the fat. Then use your spatula and press them gently into the pan and cook for about 20 mins. or so until they are golden brown on that side.

Cover your skillet with a large plate and invert. Add the remaining oil and heat. When hot carefully slide the potato cake back into the pan and cook on the other side for about 20 mins again.
When done slide cake onto a cutting board and season with more salt. Then cut into four wedges and serve as a side dish.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shrimp Carbonara, Venice Style

Shrimp Carbonara the very words are enough to make you swoon. Rich bacon laden sauce covering cream and egg slicked noodles and mixed with softly sauteed shrimp. It's an Italian seafood lovers fantasy.

Sadly all too often this dish is badly represented in the US. as it is a favorite at many Italian chain restaurants. which overcook everything in this dish and smother it in a poorly done Alfredo-like sauce with bits of bacon and rubbery shrimp. Home cooked recipes as well can make the mistake of making this dish into a version of shrimp scampi with cream and bacon. I saw another version. Composed and flavor ridden unlike any I had seen before.

This version comes from my trip to Europe to do recipe and food research and is from our stop in Venice.

First off Venice is an incredible feast for the eyes let alone the stomach. It's dizzying beauty is theatrical and fanciful. It's watery by ways and canals make for a romantic and sumptuous ever changing color palette for the winding streets and slowly fading piazzas with towering roofs and drooping balconies. Casting watery moving shadows and reflected sunlight on the walls and ceilings of buildings and rooms at different times of the day. It is as charming a place as one hoped for and more inviting a place than one could dream.

It is said that you can't get a bad meal in Italy except in Venice. Well, thanks to having great guides that was not the case for me and my fellow travelers. We enjoyed many a good meal. Mostly seafood centric and found the flavors of the cuisine in Venice different for the rest of Italy. The reason for this is historical. Many many different cultures found their way to the kitchens of Venice. And being the first city on the spice route from the east also gave it a slight oriental undertone. Italian but not afraid of mixing new flavors together.

One dish that demonstrated this was the Shrimp Carbonara that I had on the second evening of our time there. My friend Ken found the most charming old school Venetian restaurant. Laid out along a canal it's windows opened on one side to the water and the rooms were furnished with dark wood and gold, marble busts and old paintings of Venice, her history and seacoast. It had a giant fireplace and a huge table in the middle with platters of antipasti draped over them, cascading down in piles of sliced and marinated vegetables and meats cheeses and smoked and brined fish. It was spectacular. Our waiters were senior and very well versed in serving up Americans a true Venetian experience. And when they offered the menu to us we all took advantage of the tasting menu. It was multiple courses of all old Venetian dishes. This version of Shrimp Carbonara on the menu was very unexpected. Unlike most versions of this this dish it was a carefully composed dish comprised of three parts. Each part was a separate flavor profile but played wonderfully off each other. No sloppy mixture of pasta, cream sauce and shrimp. No it was composed and when eaten together made so much sense. It was amazing. So here's my version of this dish. It's not hard to make but is time consuming and yo have to plan out your timing so that each part comes together at the about the same time.


2 pounds large shrimp butterflied
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup vermouth
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
1/4 cup melted butter
Olive oil
chopped parsley

1 pound Spaghetti
2 cups cubed or chopped bacon
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1/4 cup vermouth
4 large eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated (plus more for serving)
black pepper (lots)
1/4 cup heavy cream
chopped parsley
grated nutmeg

1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper to taste


For the Tomato Sauce

For the tomato sauce add all the ingredients to a pot and slowly bring to a boil
Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 mins to an hour. Hold warm.

For the Shrimp: (place in the oven when you start cooking your pasta)

Place the shrimp in a bowl and mix in the oil, vermouth and salt and pepper and let sit in fridge for 30 minutes.
Mix the breadcrumbs, seasoning, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and pepper and then mix with the melted butter.
Place the shrimp on oiled baking dish place shrimp cut side up and flat
Divide the bread mixture and spoon over the shrimp then pour remaining marinade over them.
Sprinkle with the parsley
Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 10 to 12 mins or until golden and the shrimp are pink
Hold warm

For the Pasta:

Boil large pot of salted water for the pasta.
In a large pan that will fit the cooked pasta later heat oil.
Cook garlic till it blooms then add the bacon anc cook till crisp but not overdone.
Add the vermouth and deglaze the pan reducing till you have a syrup of bacon fat and wine left.
Take the pan off the heat.
In a bowl beat the eggs, cream , cheese and some pepper together
Now at this point cook the pasta till just al dente about 2 mins before the package timing skim off 1/2 of pasta water
Place the bacon pan on heat again
Drain the pasta and add immediately to the bacon mixture add 1/2 the water
Add the egg mixture and the fresh parsely to the pasta quickly tossing everything to coat.

To serve twist the pasta with tongs and pile in the center of a large pasta bowl trying to keep a space at the edge of the bowl.
When all four plates are done top with the shrimp and divide the tomato sauce between the bowl pouring it around the base of the pasta like a ring but not over it.

Enjoy the flavor combinations mix and mingle in the most unexpected ways!!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Winner! Winner! Circa 1975 Chicken Dijon Dinner

Here is a little recipe that will feed kids and please friends at a dinner party. It's a recipe I grew up with that graced family dinner table, party buffet and even picnic blanket spreads.

Just as a note of nostalgia and pop culture history I would mention this dish originated from the "Grey Poupon" dijon mustard 1970's era. It was a dish that became popular as the company tried to give customers and home cooks a variety of uses for the mustard and published recipes to promote it's sales.

My grandma and mother made this dish as one of the dishes in their arsenal of chicken dishes. My brother and I loved it while my mother loved it cause it was baked and not fried.

Raising children if not an easy thing to be sure. I don't have children but I see my friends work at like it's a job. I mean that's really what it takes to be a good parent.

One thing that I can appreciate is that feeding kids can be difficult. However, many of the families I work with I think do themselves an injustice. I see many of the very privileged mothers I work with bend over backwards to give their kids whatever they want on whatever whim.

I think that they are doing their kids a disservice. When I was growing up there was no choice as to what was for dinner. I mean you ate what there was for dinner or you went hungry. My brother was a much pickier eater than I was but we learned to enjoy a variety of foods because we were forced to eat them. Finding favorites was one thing. However, learning to appreciate all the different things that are out there is another perk of trying to get kids to "eat their veggies"

Of course making things that kids want to eat is easier than forcing them to eat things they don't want to eat so finding different versions of those things is a no brainer and fried chicken in various incarnations is definitely a winner.

This recipe is made with cut up chicken pieces but could be adapted for chicken fingers to please little eaters. And while they are eating it they won't know that's it's better than fried chicken.

Dijon Chicken
(Serves 6)


12 chicken pieces (I used boneless skinless thighs)
salt and pepper to taste
garlic powder
onion powder
1 jar (8 ounces) Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
Italian-flavored panko breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Sprinkle the chicken pieces well with salt and pepper, garlic powder and onion powder
Combine the mustard and sour cream.
Spread each piece generously with the mustard mixture and roll in the bread crumbs. (because I used boneless skinless thighs I rolled these into small bundles and they turned out really nice almost like a stuffed thigh, though I've made this with regular pieces and they are very easy and delicious, the thighs also cooked longer than the 20 mins. but came out perfect)

Place the chicken on a baking sheet in a single layer and cover with foil
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 400. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until the chicken is golden brown. Don't let it burn.
This may be served hot, warm or cold for a picnic.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Avocado 12 Grain Toast ,Fried Egg and Bacon

Ok these days every place in New York with Brunch Menus trying to ride the edge of cool is putting an avocado toast on their menu.

And why not the simplicity and rich taste combinations you get from humble ingredients make for a delicious and hearty brunch or breakfast dish.

I offer up my version of this dish as an homage to all the delicious egg dishes being prepared by chefs in brunch establishments all over the country. It's an easy homemade dish as well and will thrill kids and adults alike. Plus it's pretty healthy minus the bacon. Avocado is a good source of protein and healthy fats. However to achieve a really good avocado toast I find it's really about layering flavors down to seasoning the toast that achieves a really great version of this dish. Let me break it down for you.


Take two pieces thick cut bacon and bake at 400 degrees till done about 10 mins. Cook till desired doneness


Generously Butter 2 pieces of 12 grain bread and season with herb seasoning salt (there are several of these you can buy on the market. I use an Italian version with thyme and rosemary in it)
Turn on pan and grill the bread over medium heat till toasted and golden brown.  Hold warm


Fry an egg sunny side up (I used a metal mold to make the shape more concentrated) Salt and pepper the egg before assembling.


Mash 1 ripe avocado with 2 tablespoons sour cream (can leave out) and season well with sea salt (Maldon), and red pepper flakes to taste

To assemble cut one toast in half and palce on plate on either side of the full piece of toast to form a nice shape. Spoon Avocado mixture onto each piece of bread

Top with Egg in the center and garnish with the two bacon strips criss crossed like the picture above to one side of the yolk.

This makes one serving

Enjoy Ya'll!

Friday, April 8, 2016

My Daddy's Pizza Recipe

Daddy's Pizza

Another dish my father was very happy to make for us was pizza.  As with many families in the 1970's we were pretty strapped when it came to the monthly budget. The funny thing was I  never felt like we were cash strapped. 

Buying Pizza as you know is not always cheap and feeding a family of five including two growing and hungry boys on pizza was not inexpensive. Plus this was not the era of mass pizza distribution. Pizza Hut was new and other chains were not as popular nor as prolific as they are today.

Daddy's homemade pies were not doughy but a flat and crispy dough with a slight hint of nutmeg which was further augmented by the use of cornmeal on the bottom to keep the dough from sticking. It was topped with a homemade sauce of simple garlic and herbs and then topped with a variety of healthy vegetable toppings and some sausage or hamburger and sometimes pepperoni.

Who needs to go out for pizza!!

Dad's Best Ever Pizza Crust

1 pkg yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
Big pinch of nutmeg
1/2 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups boiling water
6 cups flour

Pizza Sauce

2 or 3 garlic cloves finely minced
6 1/2 cups Italian style tomatoes
3 tablespoons dried italian seasoning
1 tablespoon crushed fennel seeds
1 teaspoon sugar

Place in a pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer on low for about 3 hours

1 pound of shredded Mozzarella cheese
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese grated

Toppings of your choice:
Favorites were: Hamburger, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, canned black olives, sausage, pepperoni, feta cheese, cheddar cheese.

Pizza Crust

Dissolve yeast in luke warm water 

Add sugar and salt and shortening to a bowl
Add boiling water and stir till cool
Add in yeast
Add in the flour and beat till smooth
Add the rest of the flour and beat till it comes together
Turn out onto a floured surface roll in ball
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill overnight
Remove from the plastic and divide into 4 sections of dough
Roll thin and place on oiled baking sheet dusted with cornmeal
Coat with olive oil and prick with fork to make holes

Top with the sauce and desired toppings

Bake at 400 for 30 mins or until done

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Savory Cheesy Olive Monkey Bread with Carrabba's Italian Grill's Oil Seasonings

Ok now I know there are those of you who might think that I am terrible for posting anything that has to do with some Copy Kat recipe from a chain restaurant but hear me out.

Carrabba's is a chain that originated in the south and is a pretty good Italian restaurant actually despite if being a chain. Many things are made in house and they really try to present their food well.
Im not going to try and convince anyone that it's better than Becco in NYC on 46th street ( which is pretty amazing) but I will state for the record that they do make something that I find amazing.

What is it? Well it is simply the seasoning mix that they hand you on a little plate and invite you to mix it with olive oil and dip you bread in. Oh my goodness it's amazing. No really it is. I have never found a dipping oil that's better than theirs. And I love dipping oil. So for years I have tried on occasion to make this at home but never quite got it right. Then one day I was looking on the internet and what pops up but the blog from the chain themselves telling people how to make their famous dipping mix. Well it was great to get that recipe.

Here it is:

3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1 1/2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 1/2  Tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 Tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 Tablespoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 teaspoons Kosher salt ( or sea salt )
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

Mix this all together place in a large mixing bowl Viola!!

So to make a savory Monkey Bread. Monkey bread is normally sweet but I have seen it with pizza sauce however this one is really like the best over the top garlic bread you have ever had. That and the seasoning mix from Carrabbas's make it a flavor explosion hard to beat. Here's what you do.

Take a can of store bought biscuits and cut them into four pieces and roll them into balls

Add them to the bowl with the seasoning mix.

Add to this:

1 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated fontina or monterey jack cheese
1/2 cup of finely chopped green olives with pimentos
1/2 cup finely chopped California black olives

Add in about 1 cup of olive oil or so just enough so that everything comes together nice and coated.

Melt 4 Tablespoons of butter and add in and mix everything well together

Pour into a greased bundt pan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake for 25 to 30 mins.

Remove and allow to cool for at least 10 mins

Turn over bundt pan on a plate and serve immediately while still warm

Now that didn't make you turn your nose up too much now did it. Enjoy Ya'll!