Friday, October 12, 2007

To Be Continued...

This blog will continue at a different web address.
Come and check me out at

See you Soon!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Veal Ricotta Meatballs AKA the Oddball

Akhtar Nawab, the chef at CraftBar in NYC, came up with the Ultimate meatball recipe, the meatball recipe that ends all meatball recipes...period, zip, no argument.

I am fully aware that making such a bold statement might spark an underground revolution, the Meatball purists could arise at sunrise and plot a revolt (ah poetry!)and the Italians from the 'hood might send a Mama's death Squad after me wearing aprons and armed with rolling pins but... I am not afraid to stand bold and proud by my statement: This is the best meatball recipe, Ever!

"How could a man named Nawab create the Ultimate Meatball recipe?" you ask? Well i don't know, but i once knew a man called Benetteto that couldn't cook to save his life so don't judge a book by it's cover (...deeply philosophical!). I have much respect for your mama and i am certain she makes a hell of a meatball but trying this recipe will make you a believer. Afterward, you can always claim you invented it, who cares!...Nawab doesn't.

What makes those meatballs so special is their melt-on-your-tongue texture, no fancy shmancy technique a la Ferran Adria, it's the whooping 50/50 ratio of ground veal for Ricotta that turn those meatballs into little pillows.

I accept to rename the recipe "Veal Ricotta Oddballs" as an act of good will. I hope it will calm down the rebellion... and also because...euhh let's face it, they are kind of odd, 50/50 who are they kidding? But odd is the new black so be a man...euhh or a woman and try it, okay?

Veal Ricotta Oddballs
(serves 6)
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground veal

  • 3 cups fresh ricotta cheese

  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

  • 1 large egg

  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • All-purpose flour for dusting

  • Canola oil for frying

  • 1 can (28 ounces) San Marzano tomatoes, chopped

  • 1 stick of butter

  • 1/4 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped

  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350'F

  2. In a mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, place the veal, ricotta, parmesan, egg, nutmeg, salt and pepper (keep all the ingredients cold before starting)

  3. Mix at medium speed until the mixture comes together, about 30 seconds

  4. Dust your hands with flour and form the mixture into oddballs (1 1/2 in diameter)
  5. Pour 1 inch of oil into a large non-stick skillet over high heat

  6. Sear the oddballs in batches until golden brown on all sides. Tranfer to a tray lined with paper towels
  7. Clean the skillet, add the tomatoes, the butter, basil and garlic

  8. Simmer for 5 minutes before adding the oddballs

  9. Cover and braise in the oven for 1 hour or until the sauce is thick

  10. Adjust seasoning if necessary

  11. Serve over fresh pasta sprinkled with chopped basil and parmesan

  12. Enjoy

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chocolate Truffle at $250 a pop

No kidding! This 2 ounces chocolate truffle cost $250 a pop and was recently named the most expensive item of confectionary in the world by Forbes magazine.

Fritz Knipschildt, a chocolatier based is Norwalk Connecticut is the creator of this extravagant delicacy. The process is simple enough, a 70% Valhrona ganache flavored with vanilla bean and italian truffle oil is shaped by manucured loving hands around a black truffle from Perigord. It is then rolled in more chocolate before getting it's final coating of extra mega supra fine Cocoa powder.

And the result is baaboooom!...or so they say. Sorry but i won't be reviewing that one anytime soon.

For the rest of us, Knipschildt has a whole line of fine chocolates in which he pairs delicate fruit flavors with exotic spices and fragrances. The individual chocolates have names like Charlotte, Helena and Amanda which makes me wonder... does this guy have a thing for naming his creations after ex-girlfriends?... What a show off!

Oprah has reviewed his chocolates in her magazine as being kind of good even if they sound weird and if Oprah thinks so...i'm sold!

I am intrigued by this whole thing, I will buy some of his chocolates in the quest to find out how this Fritz guy is getting so many girls and i promise to keep my findings jealously for myself.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Japan Invents the 26 Hours Work Day

Last time i checked there were only 24 hours in a day but my short term memory has played tricks on me before so you can correct me if i'm wrong...

Oh but wait, we are talking about Japan. Could this be the reason why Japan is getting ahead of us so quickly? Isn't that called cheating?

As we all know, the Japanese are highly efficient, so efficient in fact that 24 hours won't do it anymore but to be brutally honest, 26 hours days for me would mean 2 extra hours sleeping... I knowww... i have no guilt or shame whatsoever.

I still feel bad for those poor chefs in there getting stiffed, i bet there is no 25th and 26th hours on their time sheet. Oh well, as long as the owners keep the Sapporo flowing they won't hear no complains...

If you had 26 hours days what would YOU do with the extra time?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Soft Polenta w/ Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

Nobody was hurt during the writing of this post.

Believe me, being obsessive-compulsive isn't always a bad thing, especially when it comes to make the kind of dish that requires your full obsessive attention, you might want to stop your medication for the day while preparing this dish. I did when i found beautiful wild mushrooms at the market this morning, Alice Waters would have been proud of me!

Like risotto, making polenta isn't for the faint of heart, it takes quick decision making and serious multitasks abilities like being able to reach for your glass of chilled Pouilly-Fuisse with your left hand while stirring the pot with your right hand (Pouilly-Fuisse is not an ingredient in the recipe but if you are the one designated to stand in front of the stove sweating, you might as well do it in style.)

When the ingredients are few, technique is everything, by following this steps you will feel like a Toreador in front of the tamed Bull. The Star is YOU my friend!

Ole and Enjoy!

(Disclaimer: After tasting this, you will want to change your last wish to : be buried in soft polenta topped with wild mushrooms.)

Soft Polenta w/ Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

For the polenta:

  • 3 cups whole milk

  • 1 1/2 cup water

  • 1 cup Polenta

  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone
  • 4 tablespoon Parmegiano-Reggiano, grated

  • Salt to taste

For the wild mushrooms:

  • 1 1/2 lbs mixed Wild mushrooms (chanterelle, cremini, oyster etc...), cleaned and sliced

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, washed and chopped

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Parmegiano-reggiano shavings

  • White truffle oil (optional)

  1. In a heavy-bottom pot, place the milk and the water and bring to a boil.

  2. Reduce heat to medium low and slowly add the Polenta while whisking constantly.

  3. Reduce the heat, switch to a wooden spoon and keep stirring.

  4. Stir, Stir, Stir

  5. Stir, Stir, Stir

  6. Don't let the bottom scorch now...

  7. Stir, Stir, Stir

  8. Heat a large sauteed pan over high heat and add the olive oil

  9. Stir, Stir, Stir

  10. Sautee the mushrooms, work in batches if necessary

  11. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper

  12. After stirring for 20 minutes the polenta is ready

  13. Remove from the heat and add the butter, the mascarpone and the parmegiano

  14. Season to taste with salt

  15. Stir, Stir Stir

  16. Reserve the polenta and cover with plastic wrap to keep it soft

  17. Add the garlic to the mushroom and sautee a minute more

  18. Add the butter and the parsley and mix well. Remove from heat

  19. Serve soft polenta in shallow plates topped with sauteed wild mushrooms

  20. Drizzle with hot demi glace reduction if using

  21. Top each plate with some parmegiano-reggiano shavings

  22. Drizzle each plate with some white truffle oil

  23. Serve

  24. Lick the plate

  25. Do the dishes

  26. Write me a thank you note

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How to work a Greenmarket

This is a nice little video of Alice Water from "Chez Panisse" shopping at the 14th street Greenmarket in New York City. In case you've been living on another planet "Chez Panisse" is a legendary restaurant in Berkeley California that's famous for cooking the freshest locally grown ingredients in delicious ways. You might think everyone does that, to which i answer...they were already doing it back when Jello was still considered fine cooking in America, they were pioneers!

This video is a must see if you are an aspiring chef or a serious foodie who likes to wander around Greenmarkets. If you are a Private Chef like me chances are you're already sick and tired to spend your life in markets so i won't mention you.

Alice Water explains how she selects what she want to cook that day in a very interesting way, her process is similar to a walking meditation which is definetly not recommended for everyone... last time i tried i hit a pole.

I have great respect for people who are so passionate about what they do, listening to her talking about fresh produce is poetry. So she might well be from California, but she's cool! okay?!

I wish i could talk to these tomatoes too!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Stomach Rebellion!

Friends, Be kind to your stomachs!
They don't deserve such abuse... the beast has to eat!!

Anyway nice can!... of Tuna, that is!