Eating up in Old Town San Juan

Despite everything Puerto Rico has endured, from devastating hurricanes, droughts, floods and a generous helping of corrupt politicians, the pervasive cheerful charm and gracious hospitality never seems to wane. For the perfect mid-winter respite from the sub-zero northeast, Puertorricueños know exactly how to pamper their (quasi) countryfolk with just the right mix of ethnic culture, creature comforts and a very hip dining scene. But beyond the Lego landscape of indistinguishable glass and concrete towers elbowing for a view of the coastline, it is the 1-square mile of Old town San Juan, (now a UNESCO World Heritage site) that truly embodies the city’s astonishing history and unique traditions – while offering a sumptuous feast for the senses. And I mean all of them.

Ham & Cheese Mallorca Roll

I’ve found that the best place to savor your way into a foreign culture is from street level. You not only get the benefit of a unique perspective of the historic character and architectural influences surrounding you as you hear, smell and taste the nitty-gritty of a city, but walking between bites is supposed to be very good for the digestion too! Nahiomy, our delightfully approachable fountain of information tour-guide punctuates our casual sojourn along the cobble-stoned streets with history lessons about San Juan’s storied past, (including the clerical mishap where the Spanish royal court accidentally transposed the original name of the island, San Juan-after St. John the Baptist, with the prospering port city, Puerto Rico-rich port. But that, says Nahiomy, is history.)

Cafe Cuatro Sombras

We start off by sampling some of the island’s very impressive small-batch, artisanal, shade-grown coffee. Café Cuatro Sombras offers a rich, cherry, chocolatey Cortadito (a shot of Espresso with milk) as the perfect complement to their sugar-dusted ham & cheese Mallorca roll with an incredibly decadent sweet ‘n sour oomph of guava butter.

A few blocks (and several history lessons) later, just as the mid-morning bake begins to set in, we stop for a bracingly tart and tingly, fresh-fruit popsicle at Señor Paleta – the 8-year old frozen treat store started by a pharmacist, his physicist buddy and a tricycle.

Beef Alcapurrias, Café el Punto

Continuing our crisscross jaunt along myriad pink, teal, yellow and dove grey buildings, we arrive at an artsy corridor between two houses bedecked with brightly colored yet alarmingly fierce-looking masks with horns, thorns and needles to gawk at while you savor West African Creole specialties at Café el Punto. Here I try my first (of what will turn out to be way too many) Alcapurrias – the most delectable gluten-free version of a fried empanada. The soft and buttery shell made from smashed yuca can be wrapped around just about anything from vegetables to crab to garlicky beef.

Creole Chicken Mofongo with rice & beans, Triana

At Flamenco hot-spot Triana, we roll up our sleeves to build our own Mofongo. After mashing the slices of sautéed plantain against ground garlic and butter with a wooden pestle and mortar, we insert a portion of Creole chicken before inverting the concoction out onto a plate. As the soft, and creamy textures combine with the ever-so-slightly spicy shredded chicken, we learn that in the absence of potatoes on the island, laborers would get their daily carb sustenance from plantains instead.

Chocolate Quesito, Casa Cortes Chocobar

And just like that, we find ourselves right in front of Casa Cortes Chocobar, home to Puerto Rico’s most beloved purveyors of confectionary. Not only does the Cortes family produce meltable hot chocolate bars as well as the ever-so-creamy-dreamy-chocolatey Latin cousin of a Cannoli known as a Quesito, but what I found to be sweetest of all are the insides of their chocolate candy wrappers that depict a series of collectible comics containing educational stories and lessons that help improve literacy and history amongst the islands’ children.

Buen provecho!


Turning the page on eating out in NYC

Every now and then (out of pure nostalgia) I re-read some of my older restaurant reviews. But lately I’ve been rather astonished by how many of them have unsurprisingly fallen victim to the palaver of the pandemic. I could certainly dedicate a tribute to the tragic demise of New York’s most beloved dining rooms – where bold dishes launched global careers of talented toques, or I could wallow and grieve over how their narrow doorways once buckled under the clogged throngs of noisy hopefuls willing to trade their offspring for a 4-top, are now replaced with soundless 3-foot “For Lease” signs, but I’d rather dedicate this blog to those supremely brave entrepreneurs who defied the writing on the wall (or perhaps looked the other way while capitalizing on new rental incentives) and opened some of the most exciting eateries this city has seen in ages.


While kitchens have been born and re-born all across the length and breadth of Manhattan, the Gramercy/Flatiron neighborhood has been dished up a disproportionate embarrassment of new dining riches. Former Betony star-chef Bryce Shuman opened a sizable space inside the Park South Hotel with his new trendy venture Sweetbriar – a wood-fired spin on American classics underscored by an 80’s nostalgia soundtrack of Springsteen, Men at Work, Duran Duran and Billy Joel. His unassuming but ridiculously more-ish and curiously cheese-less Mangalitsa Ham pizza, topped with pickled chili and honey all but outshines his (now famous) gooey, sticky, heavenly Smoked black pepper Duroc maple glazed ribs with slaw. A finger-licking, chin-smearing, toothpick-requiring, napkin-staining delight.

Who can forget the media hullabaloo around the opening of Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ Indian hotspot Sona a few doors down from the (thankfully) ever-enduring Gramercy Tavern? But beyond the hype and the over-Instragrammed dining-room artwork, the kitchen delivers handsomely. I still catch myself drooling over the wondrously tart and umami Stuffed Chicken Wings spiked with a Tangra curry and a lemon aioli dip – the perfect precursor to a pair of succulent and sublimely smoky Tamarind Barbecue Lamb Chops.

And right across the street, the 9th descendent of Tokyo’s Horii family opened the newest branch of their 233 year-old udon noodle franchise Sarashina Horii. Aside from their über-authentic (surprisingly white) Japanese buckwheat noodles which are the unparalleled main attraction, one of the standout hot appetizers is an elegant Miso Roasted Eggplant – about as delectable as it is surprising with hints of deep, dark and earthy sweet & sour thanks to the Mirin, Saki and who knows what else… But dipping that birds-nest tangle of shatter-crisp Shrimp tempura into a steaming bowl of hearty bone broth is where dark winter’s night memories get made.

Replacing the shuttered Simon and the Whale from the corner spot at the Freehand Hotel on Lexington Avenue is a reincarnation of the 2012 Greenwich Village pan-Latin hotspot Comodo. The menu reads like a “best-of” Peruvian, Brazlian, Mexican and Argentinian hit parade with big, bold flavors and a wide variety of meat, fish, poultry and veggie options in a super-chill, apres-ski-chalet-like environment. The Trout Ceviche Tostada is a mouthful of contrasts: smooth & crispy, sweet & tart, mild & hot. The hockey-puck-sized Wild mushroom al Ajillo Tacos deliver a smoky combination of at least 6 different mushrooms in a dark but approachable chili, and the wondrously moist and picante Achiote Chicken is perched on top of a creamy, dreamy herb-rich Latin Risotto.

Truffle Jjajangmyeon, Jua

Long before chef Hoyoung Kim was able to launch his long-awaited tasting menu at Jua, the 8 tidy tables nestled into the turning lane on 22nd street served as his a’ la carte springboard for yet another example of sensationally meticulous Korean gastronomy. Not only did Kim succeed in opening his new shop just a few weeks after lockdown ended, but his 7-course $150 menu (which varies from week to week) earned him the neighborhood’s most recent Michelin Star.

Further afield, the East Village has also become a fertilized sprouting ground for a bevy of new kitchens including Shenarri Freeman’s sensational vegan micro-menu at Cadence. With influences from her upbringing in Virginia, she upends traditional dishes with multi-dimensional tastes using local and seasonal vegetables and ersatz non-protein meats. Here’s what I mean: Instead of yet another rendition of the overplayed crab cake, she whips up a Palm Cake patty of similar texture from creamy hearts of palm and chunky chickpeas and serves it with a smoky-spicy slaw. And instead of a square stack of layers of pasta and sauce, her Southern Fried Lasagne is a crispy manicotti curled around a vegan bolognaise with pine nut ricotta, which makes for the ultimate symphony of crispy, tangy, rich and fabulous.

In and amongst the sordid selection of mediocre dumpling, falafel, bubble-tea, tattoo and piercing bars along St. Mark’s Place, the Da Shan group must have spent half a dynasty creating the magnificently photogenic Shanghainese palace CheLi. With an ornate menu as long as the waiting line outside, steaming dishes of semi-translucent Longjing Shrimp and the bamboo boxed and edible-ink stamped Song Dynasty steamed bun elicit shrieks of delight and nostalgia from the Chinese expats who relish the authentic tastes from the Jiangnan region.

Cardamom roll, Caneles and Croissant, La Cabra

Even though East Village coffee shops can easily out-number CVS drugstores, the coffee maven team behind La Cabra have imported their connoisseur bean-and-brew expertise from Aarhus, Denmark. The intimidatingly fastidious, white lab-coat-wearing, super-serious baristas who use scales and thermometers and “aeropresses” to pour carefully crafted cups of Joe are a jolting reminder that we’re not in line at Starbucks anymore, Toto. But all that painstaking brewmanship is almost entirely over-shadowed by the remarkable in-house bakery under the supervision of former Brooklyn Bien Cuit pastry sous chef Jared Sexton. The Butter Croissants are entirely beyond question or debate the absolute best that this city has to offer (and I have done 10 years of very exhaustive research in this arena. Blog to follow.) Amongst the 8 other oven-fresh or pre-baked (and mostly unfamiliar) Danish pastry items is the Cardamom Bun. A tangy, sweet, syrupy, cinnamony, soft twist of sticky dough knockout – guaranteed to postpone any carb-free new year’s resolution until Easter.

I suppose relocations shouldn’t really count as “new” restaurants, but I am nonetheless grateful that David Chang found a new (and rather glitzy) spot for wildly popular Momofuku Ssam in the South Street Seaport, and after shuttering Barbuto in SoHo in 2019, Johnathan Waxman reopened in a much airier space in the West Village where I can still get my all-time favorite Roast Chicken with salsa verde, and the crispiest roast Potatoes in the Western hemisphere. Similar kudos to Dominic Ansel who launched his newest outpost Dominic Ansel Workshop on the edge of Madison Square Park. Not quite as tirelessly prolific as his West Village original (which still commands a steady stream of out-of-towners anxious to bite into their first Cronut), but a slam dunk answer to the “what shall I bring for dessert?” question.

Bulgogi Cheesesteak Bao, Umma

After shutting down Noodlelove for a few months, Philadelphia-born toque Natalie Camerino re-conceived her fast-casual Asian menu to include a few comfort-food mash-ups as a tribute to her Umma (mother). And while a Bulgogi Cheesesteak Bao might summon images of a Korean tourist stuck at the Philadelphia Greyhound station, just one ever-so-scrumptious familiar – yet unfamiliar, spicy, sweet-and-sour bite is all it takes to wonder why no-one ever thought of this before.

Other newcomers still high on my “To try” list:

British seafood bistro Dame’s classic Fried Fish, Danny Meyer’s Veal Milanese at his new far-west outpost Ci Siamo, Brooklyn’s Gage & Tollner who apparently make a Bone-in rib-eye and Baked Alaska to platz for, pretty much anything on the menu at Semma and Dhamaka, and whatever “shaker-inspired food” might taste like at the two-month-old Commerce Inn, from the Jody Williams and Rita Sodi dreamteam (who brought us super-hits Bavette, I Sodi and Via Carota).

Eat up!

Atomix review

Arctic Char with grape glaze and white asparagus and a Spring green salad, Atomix

When I think of Korean food, my mind simmers about an assemblage of little sauces and dips with varying degrees of kimchee-ness surrounding those quirky little bronze barbecues draped with wafer thin medallions of beef, chicken or pork that sizzle and shrivel in direct contrast to my swelling appetite. And while New York can boast the gamut in Korean kitchens from laid-back to lavish, only two have earned a matching set of twin Michelin stars – Jungsik and Atomix – and both have benefited from the hands of master food scientist Junghyun Park. As an elevated second act after his highly popular, casual-minimalist bistro Atoboy, Park’s career-defining Atomix transcends far beyond esculent Korean cuisine while also challenging every notion of what dining out in New York City means.

Atomix, East 30th street

The staunchly residential, tree-lined block of brownstone townhouses provides no clue that there may be a business – let alone a $250-a-plate, 11-course culinary tour de force – waiting within.

The multi-level, softly-lit, stone and beach wood tones exude a formal, understated yet unavoidably sexy, modernist elegance which completes the transition from Murray Hill to Seoul as you take one of 14 seats (only 8 during COVID) at the granite, U-shaped chef’s table. Aside from the astonishingly bespoke ceramic dish ware, the most surprising sight within the narrow, functional kitchen is the distinct lack of cooking staff. Chef Park and only 2 sous-chefs spend their entire day picking, prepping, poaching and plating for two sold-out nightly sittings.

Another refreshing contrast to most big ticket, chef’s table soirees is that each course is introduced by a decorative printed card that allows Park to share his personal perspective on what each dish means to him, while also listing the entire compliment of ingredients from glaze to garnish.

Menu and ingredient cards, Atomix

(In case you were wondering, there’s negligible risk of anyone rushing out to plagiarize his creations, as many of the ingredients are not just unavailable, but also largely unpronounceable).

Red Seabream with Lemongrass meringue, Atomix

The delightful team of dark grey, smock-wearing servers is yet another twist on other hoity-toity, multi-course tasting establishments. Taking their sociability and hospitality cues from Park’s wife and business partner Ellia, the fresh-faced group seems encouraged to share their jocular personalities. But make no mistake: even if the serving-staff refuses to take itself too seriously, the food is nothing but.

King crab donut with Myeongran & salted strawberry ketchup, Atomix

With quarterly rotating menus that depict the seasons, our selection of fundamentally fish-forward dishes featured many species imported from Japan, Scandinavia, Europe and of course Korea, exploring tastes, textures and radical flavor combinations seldom seen on other downtown menus. And by radical, I’m referring to equal parts brave and brilliant ingredient combinations like a flat meringue made from lemongrass supporting a morsel of Red seabream.  Or a fried King crab donut with a salted strawberry ketchup and chili sauce.

Langoustine with doenjang caramel and parae gim powder, Atomix

A few other delectable standouts like the delicately battered Langoustine with a doenjang caramel, and an unbelievably umami Sea Urchin Juk (rice porridge) with spinach and jalapeño, or even the julienned Tilefish sashimi paired with aged Comte cheese sauce and quail eggs are a constant reminder of the depth and brilliance of Chef Park’s repertoire and prowess.

Sea urchin juk with spinach & japeño and a side of horse mackerel, Atomix

If “Ato” means “gift” in Korean, then Atomix is unquestionably the best gift of global flavor combinations ever to be bestowed upon this city.

Pork jowl, eel and baby turnip with pea shoot vanilla rice, Atomix

Greenwich Village, fork-by-fork

For centuries, New York’s Greenwich village has been a capital for bohemia, a magnet for the arts and a springboard for social protest. But nowadays, apart from being the most desirable neighborhood in Manhattan where the 1% can rub shoulders with NYU undergrads, it’s also home to an astonishing overabundance of dining options rarely seen anyplace else.

With COVID precautions snugly in place, those restaurants still clutching to their survival with heat lamps and blankets have erected endless corridors of wooden “street-eries” that flank both sides of the narrow tangle of sidewalks from Broadway to the Hudson River.

During a recent “home swap week” we put up a valiant effort to squeeze as many local dining favorites into 3 meals a day. The quality, variety, originality and authenticity of options is carefully baked into the longevity of some of New York’s oldest and most historic institutions. Categorizing them is easy – there are only 2 types of restaurant in Greenwich Village: Italian, and everything else!

Golden Latte, Citizens of Bleecker

Starting with breakfast, a relative newcomer to the neighborhood is one of 4 outposts of Australian brunch hotspot Citizens of Bleecker. If Melbourne has managed to influence Manhattan in only one way, it has to be for producing the perfect Flat White coffee. But thanks to Citizens, my newest all-time favorite hot beverage fetish, the Golden Latte, is a frothy, almondy, gingery, turmeric-y foam-party in a cup – which pairs impeccably well with their tasty woven spiral of scrambled egg curds known as Rose Eggs.

Croissant, Mille Feuille

If coffee and croissants are your quotidian kick-starters, then Parisian transplant Olivier Dessyn’s patisserie and baking school Mille Feuille is where you’ll find one of the top 3 Croissants in New York City. Just flaky enough. Just buttery enough. Just brown enough. Not too heavy on the sponge, but not flatulent with air pockets either. One is good. Two are spectacular.

Oat Meals

If you’d prefer a wholesome bowl of oatmeal but refuse to stand, stir and stare at a pot in your Greenwich village micro-kitchen, you can pick up one of the 30+ varieties at Oat Meals.  The pappa-bear, mamma-bear and baby-bear-sized porridge bowls of perfectly cooked oats come with toppings so inventive and amazing that Ben & Jerry & Baskin & Robbin would all drown in their own cherry-sprinkle drool. Sure, they have all the usual suspects like berries, bananas, nuts, honey, peanut-butter, granola and brown sugar, but how about pineapple, dried pomegranate seeds, crystallized ginger, poached eggs, parmesan, bacon and soy?

NY Dosas

One of my all-time favorite lunch options is NY Dosas. Sri Lankan born Thiru Komar has been serving up vegan Masala Dosas from his impossibly small cart in Washington Square Park for two decades. Village regulars and fans of Padma Lakshmi’s Hulu hit “Taste the Nation” line up for hot coils of delectable wafer-thin chickpea crepes that clutch a generous dollop of turmeric spiced potatoes. An unsurprising Instagram sensation, Komar serves a few other delights, like Samosas and Pondicherri, but nothing beats a crispy-on-the-edges, spongy-in-the-middle Dosa in the shade of the Washington arch.

Masala Dosa, NY Dosas

Another village veteran Mamoun’s, has been churning out authentic Mediterranean street-food fare for 45 years. There mere thought of their lamb Shawarma trapped inside that fluffy pita, dripping with salad and tahini and topped with a blast or two of their nuclear strength red-hot sauce brings tears to my eyes, sweat to my brow and joy to my tastebuds.


The sandwich to end them all is a heavenly Muffuletta from Faicco’s. Piled high with layer upon layer of exceptionally fresh, house-made salami’s, cheeses, oils and tapenades crammed into a blonde hero roll that can feed an entire construction site for a week.

Classic Rekka Ramen, Ramen Danbo

When it comes to eating outdoors in mid-winter, some say there is no such thing as bad weather – only bad clothing. I would add that the spicier the food, the less any of it really matters. Ramen Danbo offers a highly customizable bowl of umami goodness, guaranteed to warm the coldest and pickiest of hearts. You can select the thickness and doneness of your noodles, the ingredients and spiciness of your broth (from pork all the way up to vegan) and what accoutrements you’d prefer to see floating around as you spoon away the mere suggestion of sub-zero.

Steak au Poivre, Raoul’s

A quick glance across the cluster of tables under a dark tarp in front of Raoul’s validates what to order: a Martini and a Steak au poivre. Sure, you can probably find a decent Steak au poivre from Harlem to Wall street, but few restaurants have served them quite so consistently since 1974. Taking advantage of a very unique cut of fat-less New York strip, every creamy peppercorn and brandy covered morsel is tender, moist and sumptuously delicious.

Muffuletta, Faicco’s

There are more Italian restaurants in Greenwich Village than in the entire city of Perugia. Just let that sink in that in for a moment. So, finding the best one or two is a futile exercise in subjectivity. There’s literally something for every eye, every taste-bud and every pocket. My suggestion is to find a local you trust, and then taste the neighborhood from their perspective. Well, that’s what we did anyway. Here are some of the highlights…

Gnocco Frito, Rafele

For a semi-transparent slither of aged prosciutto clinging to the top of a gently fried balloon of crispy, flaky, crackery dough otherwise known as Gnocco Frito, head straight to Rafele. This inexplicably delicious combination of salt, sweet and savory crunch is the absolute definition of a hot “appetizer”.

Veal Parmigiana, Carbone

My favorite red-sauce restaurant in all of New York is still Carbone. If you can look beyond the prices, their crisp, tart and creamy Caesar Salad is sheer poetry, and no-one can pound and crumb a disc of Veal Parmesan into such a perfect suntanned circle, dripping with marinara and melting mozzarella and topped with a crisp slither of fried basil. Yuh-hum!

Fiesta Pizza, Arturo’s

If you tell a Greenwich villager you went to Arturo’s for the best pizza, there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll start an argument, but I’m a believer now. There’s nothing subtle about this place. Its utilitarian charm permeates from having witnessed 5 decades of Houston street history. While regulars dominate the tables in shifts, an endless peloton of hot-box laden delivery riders scatter in every direction. The Fiesta Pizza is most likely why everyone is here. Thin-crusted, black-edged, multi-colored, tomato-y, chunky, chewy and heavenly cheesy.

Torta de la Nonna, Bar Pitti

If you still have room, head over to Bar Pitti for a slightly indulgent but utterly authentic slice of Torta de la Nonna. Just the right amount of lemony, custardy, pine-nutty, biscuity scrumptiousness that conjures up memories of those roly-poly hills of Tuscany on a late summer’s afternoon…as you sit in your frigid winter coat reality, separated into plexiglass cubes while being blanched by the overhead heaters.

Still high on my favorites list (with just not enough meals to go around this time) there’s also Il Mulino (the original red sauce palace), I Sodi (sensational Lasagne), Via Carota (heavenly bun-less burger), with Don Angie & L’Artusi to round things out.

Buon appetito!

Dining in the turning lane.

These days, sitting at a dinner table in New York City directly facing oncoming traffic is a bit like climbing out of a rollercoaster in mid loop-de-loop. In order to survive you need a severe case of cabin-fever, a high tolerance for risk, a great relationship with your bladder, a healthy appetite…and a face-mask of course.

As I savor my chorizo-crusted cod while the sanitation truck idles right beside me churning garbage from the upper-east side, or as I splash Negroni all over my chin when the M101 bus suddenly blasts an impatient horn at a stopped SUV, I begin to wonder whether motorists from out-of-town are even aware that what used to be a turning lane – is now a dining room. While this respite from apartment cooking is certainly welcome, it’s merely a matter of time before the headlines read: “Three casualties as Range Rover ruins birthday dinner”, or “Texting driver rams couple during dessert”. 

It certainly has been disheartening to witness one staple institution after the next throwing in the napkin as a consequence of the lockdown. But then I find myself inspired by the resilience and determination of others who are trying to keep their wood-ovens burning despite all the new safety rules and regulations.

If I had to score how well restaurants are maintaining COVID safety measures? I’d give them a solid “D” for “it Depends”. Some have QR code menu’s with contactless bill-pay and sterilized, pre-packaged silverware, while others still clutch sticky, plastic menus under sweaty armpits, or hold your glass with an ungloved hand for water refills. But despite the chorus of complaints that most restaurateurs are still not able to eke out a living with sidewalk dining, others have won the jackpot as they can now exploit the motherlode of self-promotion and appetite persuasion by giving passers-by delectable temptations with some of their freshest, most desirable offerings in real time. Yes, even I have stopped and admired a dish of steaming Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe and promptly planted my rear-end into the nearest available seat.

Other advantages of dining in the parking lane include the diminishment of those irritatingly hoity-toity dress-codes like “business casual” or “cocktail attire” for the ever-so democratic “no mask – no service!” And obscure, hole-in-the-wall establishments are holes-in-the-wall no more, as their tables have crept up and down our sidewalks faster than rats on the subway.  Half of me is thrilled for these entrepreneurs who can now accommodate exponentially more diners per sitting than in pre-COVID times, but my heart goes out to their micro kitchens bursting at the seams, trying to satisfy quadruple the appetites. 

Scaffolding, formerly the ubiquitous feature along Manhattan’s streets, has been upstaged by a strange outcrop of little outdoor “areas” that defy description. Are they tents? Are they shacks, cabanas, marquees, food caves, sukkah’s? Regardless, there are no two alike. Some are merely umbrella-covered matchstick frames with a handful of morosely overwatered begonias. And if they have more elbow room, others have ensconced attractive hedging to keep diners apart. But every time I find myself sandwiched between those ridiculous plexiglass screens, I can’t help feeling like a hungry puppy in a pet shop window.

Even scaffolding-fronted bistros have made the best of their visual impediment by transforming their sidewalks into Disney-esque, theme park sensations. When clustered together on pedestrian-only cross-streets amid jazz bands and buskers, these shacks have somehow fashioned a uniquely warm and astonishingly festive ambiance which has become the newest nightlife attraction in a city formerly famous for not sleeping. Think: Oktoberfest – meets Chilli-cookout – meets travelling circus – meets Christmas market. 

As temperatures begin to plummet, many lightweight structures are getting overnight makeovers with sturdier materials including roofing, rain gutters and solid side-paneling (heat lamps are on the way) – quickly transforming them into enclosed “rooms” which will undoubtably beg the question: “Is this still considered “outdoor dining” or have we merely transplanted the restaurant’s interiors onto the sidewalk?” (If Governor Cuomo want’s my opinion on the matter, he knows where to find me.)

As we edge closer to the former normality of indoor dining, I have mixed feelings about whether folks will show up and risk infection or whether they might continue to dine al fresco even if the new dress-code includes coat, scalf, gloves…and face-mask.

Eating up Maine’s coastline

Camden, Maine

Elevating our destination options beyond the kitchen and dining room have been tricky this summer. But fortunately for mask-wearing, rule-abiding, socially vacant New Yorkers, Maine has become a silver lining on the Corona horizon. If not just for the adorable New England homes clad in white narrow siding and steep steepled churches amid emerald jungles of spruce, maple and pine, nor the freckles of islands polka-dotting the coastline, the Maine food scene is a sizable draw to the northeastern most state – the largest of which includes the ever-popular lobster dinner pilgrimage from all around the globe. 

Whole live lobsters, Five Islands Lobster Co. – Georgetown

Judging by the multitudes of cottage industries you travel past along US route 1, it becomes apparent that Mainers are very serious about what they chew on, regardless of what else you might find on the same plate. “Lobster rolls & Ice-cream”, shrieked one roadside sign. Then another. And another. “Salt-water taffy & Steamer clams” was perhaps less frequent, as was “Maine Blueberries & fresh Haddock” or “Antiques and Blueberry scones”. But “Furniture & Fudge” has to be my all-time favorite!

Assorted pastries, Tandem Bakery – Portland

Thanks to COVID: restaurants, bistros, coffee shops and bakeries have all retooled the way they dispense their eats and treats to loyal locals or clued-in out-of-towners. Distanced dine-in, wait-listed dine-out, on-line ordering, drive-by pick-up, and reheat-at-home vary from one establishment to the next, but the quality and variety are pretty darn remarkable.

White Barn Inn Restaurant

My dining recommendations stretch northwards from low-Maine (ha!) to Bar Harbor and a bunch of kitchens in between. 


Halibut crudo, White Barn Inn

Perhaps the most elegant spot in all its silver-service-candelabra-white-linen-live-pianist glory is the 46 year-old White Barn Inn Restaurant. These days, the only farm animals in this magnificently renovated former barn are either peppercorn-crusted or crispy skin sauteed. The multi-option 4-course set menu is contemporary, flavor-forward with hints of nostalgia and an emphasis on an elevated dining experience that never lets you forget where you are.

Lobster Bisque, White Barn Inn

Absolute standouts have to be the citrusy-fruity-fresh Halibut crudo with watermelon, plums, mint and yuzu koshu, and the decadent Lobster bisque doused with a shot of espresso crème fraiche, and of course an incredibly tender and phenomenally umami Beef tenderloin with Foie Gras Crust. Being a sucker for fruit courses, I was also smitten with their Raspberry sorbet spiked with rhubarb and black peppercorns.

Beef Tenderloin with Foie Gras Crust, White Barn Inn

Perhaps the healthiest start to your day in this charming hamlet is a fresh acai bowl or an open-faced sandwich from Fiafia. This buzzy corner coffee shop makes everything from scratch with the freshest of ingredients. Their version of an Avocado toast includes a tomato pesto with runaway crispy gorbanzo beans, and the legendary Bananarama almond-butter and banana toast with coconut chips is beyond sublime.

Lobster Roll, Clam Shack

As we were focused on orchestrating our own private “lobster-fest”, we stood in line at the famous Clam Shack for a hearty, crisp and meaty lobster roll served between the puffy cheeks of a butter-toasted burger bun (versus the standard northern slit along a hotdog roll). Antoni Porovski from “Queer Eye” recently named it the best Lobster Roll in the nation, but as scrumptious as it might be, I had many more ahead of me before rendering a verdict quite so promptly. 


New England Clam Chowder, Eventide

Not sure what it is about this sleepy portside town, but Portland is home to some of the most memorable meals of my (most recent) life. If you haven’t already put your name on the waiting list at Eventide, you’ll probably never get a table.

Oysters with ice accoutrements, Eventide

They modestly call it a “reimagined classic Oyster Bar”, but their James Beard award winning kitchen skills stretch far beyond shucking. Sure, the oysters are sublime but the accoutrements are what got my sails up. Instead of hot sauce (yawn) or mignonette (snore), these guys make ice slushies out of Tabasco. And Kimchi. And red onion. And horseradish. I mean…come on.

Lobster Roll, Eventide

Their brown butter tossed Lobster Roll in a bao bun is so insanely tasty that it has its own trademark forgoodnesssakes. I snagged the recipe for their delectable New England Clam chowder, which includes salt pork for an extra layer of smokiness.

Maine Lobster Panini, Duckfat

Another informal outdoor favorite is Duckfat. The long lines of expectation for their 7-of-a-kind Paninis (from duck to brisket) don’t disappoint. Even the daily special Maine lobster with fresh claw-and-knuckle meat, house-cultured cream, cotilla cheese, smoked corn and lime, crushed between hot, grooved ciabatta slices is a transcendent hit. But the real reason these guys had to build a special staging area just for the waiting list, is their crispy Belgian fries with 5 spiked mayo dipping sauces. 

Belgian Fries with Dipping sauce flight, Duckfat

Just like Philadelphia’s two rival Philly Cheesesteak shops (Geno’s and Pat’s), Portland has two rival bakeries flanking either end of town. The Standard Bakery in a former dockland warehouse on the east end and Tandem Coffee, a former gas station in the west.

Tandem Bakery

Both serve fresh, daily & delicious croissants, scones, breads and treats to a steady stream of loyal locals who seem quite willing to stand in line from the dawn’s early light.

Dark Chocolate, Maple Bacon and Maine Blueberry donuts, Holy Donuts

But if you can’t decide between a slice of cake or a donut, why not try them both…together. Holy Donuts infuse their flavors well beneath the frosting. Whether it’s Dark chocolate glazed or Maple bacon or Sweet potato, these might look like donuts – but they taste like cake. And adding to the curiosity factor, it’s the local mashed potatoes that gives them their unique melt-in-the-mouth texture. (So, does that mean that 1 donut = 1 serving of vegetables?)

Lobster Roll, Two Lights Lobster

The best lobster roll in Portland is a mere hop and a skip to the south in luscious Cape Elizabeth at Two Lights Lobster, and for those who can’t decide between butter or mayo, you get both. Oh, and the 270 degree Atlantic ocean view is an added bonus.

Fore Street

Fore Street is the swankiest and most renown establishment in the city, partly because it gave birth to Portland’s newfound foodie scene, but thanks also to the multi-sensory, high-drama pageant. As your eyes adjust to the candle-lit, high ceilinged, warehouse space, the smell of the wood oven and open rotisserie permeates as a perfect underscore to an endless parade of chefs and waiters shuttling one delectable locally farm-raised dish after the next. 

Wood oven roasted rope-cultured mussels, Fore Street

Blueberry salad with kale and duck confit in a mint honey vinaigrette, Wood oven roasted rope-cultured mussels in a magnificent garlic and almond butter with dry vermouth, a succulent Hangar steak spiked with chimichurri, or a ridiculously wondrous Pork loin, hand-rubbed with who knows what are just a fraction of the culinary avalanche.


Five Islands Lobster Co.

The best and freshest lobsters (with the longest lines, naturally) can be found at Five Islands Lobster Co. (Amusing sidebar: we declined their offer of “crackers”, assuming these to be of the crispy, Saltine variety – only to realize that we were out of options to pry open our steaming dinner. I might as well have worn a “Clueless” cap all day.)


Ricotta & Wild Nettle Cavatelli, Primo

About a half song’s drive south of Camden, you might overshoot an unremarkable doll’s house, which is home the most authentic farm-to-table Italian restaurant in the state. Uber-popular Primo is a multi-decade, self-sustaining operation that is part farm, part kitchen, part greenhouse, but total phenomenon. “Simplicity, seasonality and freshness” are chef Melissa Kelly’s maxims for delivering home-made breads, pastas, hand-raised pork, chicken, vegetables and locally sourced seafood. To the “spectacular” list I would add their Ricotta & wild nettle cavatelli, tossed with wild mushrooms, grilled sherried chicken, snap peans and greens, and the Pork Saltimbocca, luxuriously layered with garden spinach and prosciutto over a roasted garlic mash in a heavenly mushroom Madeira jus. And if you can make some room, the sensationally crisp, tart and utterly dreamy cherry and rhubarb Crostata is the perfect finale.

Crostata, Primo


Local Halibut, Natalie’s

Natalie’s hoity-toity, high-drama décor is pleasantly offset by the attentive and attractive wait staff who bring Camden’s most romantic dining-room all the way down to harbor level. Chef Chris Long’s ultimate antidote to crustacean yearning is a 5-course Lobster tasting menu from rolled to broiled. Other highlights include Seared local scallops over forbidden black rice and summer beans and the amazingly crispy Local halibut with chickpea, basil and zucchini. 

Seared Scallops, Natalie’s

Fierce favorite Long Grain (currently serving take-out only) can turn any hotel room into a Pan-Asian cornucopia with their outrageously delicious Vietnamese spicy wings and much-adored Maine crab fried rice.

Assorted Take-out from Long Grain

The rest of this area’s blogworthy bistros proliferate neighboring towns and Hamlets along US route 1, with Chase’s Daily in nearby Belfast being the torchbearer for their bushels of picked-this-morning, hand-raised produce and a small menu of delectable vegan dishes.

Chase’s Daily

Their Cold cucumber soup with buttermilk, dill and cilantro, or the Enchiladas with farm greens, potato, cheddar and cortija, smothered in salsa verde and pickled onions are more than worth the 35 minute drive.

Enchiladas, Chase’s Daily


Heirloom Tomato Salad, Salt & Steel

Which brings us to the jewel in Maine’s coastal crown. Bar Harbor has been an “anti-Hampton” summer escape for decades thanks to the incomparable forest, ocean and mountain vistas. But the clutter of T-shirt and tchotchke stores in the mini downtown area has kept dining options more approachable than noteworthy – with 2 big exceptions: Salt & Steel and Veranda. Thirty-something year old chef Bobby Will is a smart and focused Italian toque who fully supports his local purveyors at Salt & Steel with a bold and flavor-forward menu that includes an unforgettably tart Heirloom tomato salad contrasted with lemon ricotta, Maine blueberry-red wine-reduction and crunchy pistachios. Unlike many pastas with shellfish, he only adds a smattering of house-made garganelli to a magnificent bowl of Frenchman Bay mussels with organic bacon and Aleppo pepper.

Organic Sweet Italian Sausage, Salt & Steel

But the knockout on the table is a dark and tangy, sweet and rich Organic Sweet Italian Sausage with lumache pasta, sunflower seed pesto and a handful of oven-dried Kalamata olives for a pinch of salt. Utterly astonishing.

Maine crab Salad, Veranda

Several rungs up the elegance ladder, nestled under a pergola of jasmine overlooking the last rays of dusk over Frenchman Bay is an astoundingly meticulous kitchen serving high-end dishes with local produce. While the wondrously romantic Veranda at the Balance Rock Inn takes itself fairly seriously, the food is fun enough with some standouts including a deliciously crunchy Scallop tempura and a delightfully citrusy Maine crab salad, but the Risotto with a bright green chive oil ash around the permiter is sensational. 

MDI Ice Cream

Before we head out of town, the only other local “must do” is MDI Ice-cream. This beloved institution facing the Village green park covers the gamut of flavors, from middle-of-the-road to all the way over-the-cliff. Bay of Figs, Blackstrap banana, Brigadeiro, Coriander lemon curd, fresh basil or Girl scouts and I’m just getting started.

Burning Tree

Right on the edge of the Acadia National Park (and probably the final shred of civilization before you enter this natural wonderland) is a quirky little garden bistro called Burning Tree. Allison Martin and Elmer Beal Jr’s seafood and plant-heavy kitchen and bakery is rather like a handful of family secrets combined with an incredible ability to make the absolute best of whatever they can get their hands on. The sensationally delicious Scallop, shrimp and crab fritters breaded with panko and served with a spicy mayo dip have ruined my heretofore love of crab cakes forever. And when I’m not dreaming of the one-of-a-kind Blueberry lavender soup, which is a simple but wicked combination of lavender-infused buttermilk and pureed blueberries, I’m probably trying to replicate their Nicoise-like House-smoked salmon salad.

Beal’s Lobster Pier

And finally, if you’re looking for the absolute best and undisputed freshest live lobster or lobster roll in the area, ignore the local hangouts and head straight to Beal’s Lobster Pier in neighboring Southwest Harbor. These guys have been hauling, cooking and shipping Maine’s finest crop to restaurants and homes from around the corner to around the nation. Not only do they know what they are doing, but they’ve been doing it for nearly 100 years. And this delightful ramshackle, family-run institution offers far more than your standard lobster pot fare.

Lobster Bites, Beal’s Lobster Pier

Menu highlights include the simply steamed mussels and clams – so unbelievably fresh that the ocean hasn’t had time to realize that they’re missing, and the most irritatingly more-ish Lobster bites, which are tender morsels of claw meat, crumbed and briefly fried (why did no-one think of this before?) served with lemon sriracha and ginger-soy dips. And speaking of dips, Beal’s have trademarked their amped-up dipping butters to include garlic and spicy buffalo.

“Shedder” Lobster, Beal’s Lobster Pier

Which brings us to the main event – the lobster itself. Now, folks who prefer the tighter and meatier flesh of tail-meat, request females. And those who prefer the softer, more flavorful claw meat, order males. Fine. But in order for a lobster to grow, it has to replace its wardrobe now and then for a larger size. So, if you happen to request a “shedder” at Beal’s, you’re in for the absolute all-time Rolls Royce of crustacean delights. You see, due to having taken on saltwater to fill the gap between body and shell, the lobster has unknowingly (yet most conveniently) brined its flesh, making it more tender, more flavorful and dare I say…sweeter. But you’d better eat up as the season is almost over.

Reid State Park, Georgetown

My favorite quarantine recipes Final issue


Melon soup with butter-poached shrimp

As threatened, I stuck to my challenge (like ants to a syrup dribble down the side of a bottle) to never repeat the same home-cooked meal twice as long as the lock-down lasted. But now, as the deep-freeze starts to thaw on the city’s restaurant scene, where bountiful boxwood hedges and hoards of hydrangeas encroach further and further into Manhattan’s avenues, the time has come to hang up my apron, put away my knives and switch my support from grocery stores to the slowly re-emerging culinary industry. As I curiously wait to see which establishments open now, soon, later on or never again, one thing is certain – it’s going to feel downright amazing to hold a (sterilized) menu in my (sanitized) hands as I listen to the specials from a (masked) waiter who refills my water with (gloved) hands! Laissez les bons temps rouler à nouveau. Here though are my final week’s home-cooked recipes.



Many a good cut of meat gets re-butchered by well-meaning home cooks. But to be fair, the odds are against us: There are so many ways to ruin a steak, but only 1 way to cook it perfectly. This is all you need to know…


Perfectly seared steaks with Green Peppercorn sauce



  • 2 filet, strip or sirloin steaks, 1″ thick
  • kosher salt
  • ground black peppercorns


Preheat an oven to 200 degrees, middle rack.
Trim the steak of any excess fat around the edges. (They won’t cook long enough for the fat to soften).
Salt them on all sides and let them cook in the cool oven until they reach and internal temperature of 100 degrees. (About 45 minutes).
Rest the steaks for at least 15 minutes.
Heat a cast iron skillet and sear the steaks for just 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the heat and season with fresh black pepper.



  • 2 Tblsp. Green peppercorns
  • 2 Tblsp. Minced Shallots
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Cup Beef broth
  • 3 Tblsp. Brandy
  • 2 Tblsp. Low Fat Sour cream
  • 1 Tsp. ground black pepper
  • corn starch


Sauté the minced shallots in a little olive oil until they are soft. Add the peppercorns and ground pepper and cook while stirring regularly.
Add the beef broth and bring to a boil until the liquid is reduced by about half.
Add the brandy and simmer for 10 mins on low heat.
Add prepared corn-starch in cold water to thicken – if necessary.
Remove from heat and add the sour cream and serve immediately.



Over the years I have amended and tweaked this fairly fool-proof recipe for a spectacularly refreshing, relatively classic and utterly yummy Chinese Chicken salad.


Chinese Chicken Salad



  • 1 lb skinless and boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 Tblspn Asian sesame oil
  • 1 Tblspn Chinese chili garlic sauce
  • 1 Tblspn finely minced garlic
  • 1 Tblspn finely minced ginger
  • 2 tspn fresh lime or lemon juice
  • 1/4 savoy cabbage (tough outer leaves removed) cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 radicchio cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz raw snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 6 scallions (including 3 inches of green) sliced on the bias
  • 1/4 red bell pepper, thinly slivered)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 separated mandarin for garnish
  • 3 Tblsp roasted, unsalted peanuts (roughly chopped) for garnish

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 Tblspn peanut oil
  • 2 Tblspn sesame oil
  • 1 Tblspn smooth peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 Tblspn honey
  • 1 tspn Dijon mustard
  • 1 tspn Soy sauce
  • 1 egg yolk
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


Combine the chicken, sesame oil, chili sauce, garlic, ginger and lime juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours, tossing once.
Prepare the dressing. Place all the dressing ingredients in a blender. Process on high speed until smooth. Refrigerate until well chilled.
Cook the chicken on an oiled, rimmed baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 18 – 20 minutes until the thickest parts register 165 degrees.
Cool slightly and then cut into strips. Place in a large bowl. Add the cabbage, snow peas, scallions, bell pepper and cilantro.
Toss the salad with 1/2 of the dressing or as much as desired.
Dress with the mandarin pieces and chopped peanuts.



I devoured the most delicious Avocado soup in a Viennese bistro many decades ago. But all the waiter would tell me was that “if you cook the avocado, the dish will be ruined.” It took me quite a while to recreate it, but it’s a whole lot easier than you might think.


Avocado soup



  • 4 ripe avocados.
  • 4 cups of good vegetable stock (home-made preferably)
  • 1/4 cup of cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 slices of white sandwich bread
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil


Prepare the croutons first. With a long, sharp bread knife, cut the bread into 1/4 inch cubes. Crush the garlic and toss into a large frying pan with the heated oil.
Fry the croutons over medium high heat by constantly stirring them. If the oil dries up too quickly, add a further 2 tablespoons.
When all the cubes are toasted and golden brown, scoop them onto a paper towel and drain.

For the Soup:
Warm the vegetable stock in a saucepan.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the cream to the soup and simmer at low heat while whisking. Only minutes before serving, blend the avocados and whisk them into the heated soup. DO NOT COOK THE AVOCADOS! Serve immediately with the croutons.



Like any Wienerschnitzel or Veal chop Milanese, adding a side of Lingonberry jam brings some rich sweet-and-sourness to an already luxuriously decadent meal.


Veal chop Milanese



  • All-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Four 1-inch-thick veal rib chops
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon sliced into wedges
  • Lingonberry preserves or jam for serving


Preheat the oven to 350°. Put the flour in a shallow bowl. In another shallow bowl, beat the eggs with the milk. In a third shallow bowl, toss the panko with the lemon zest.
Season the veal chops with salt and pepper, dredge them in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip the veal chops in the egg mixture and let the excess drip off. Coat the veal chops with panko, pressing to help the crumbs adhere.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil with the vegetable oil until shimmering. Add 2 of the veal chops to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat until they are browned and crisp on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate, turn the veal chops over and cook until they are browned and crisp on the other side, about 2 minutes longer.
Transfer the veal chops to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chops.

Bake the veal chops for about 15 minutes, turning them once, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the meat near the bone registers 140°. Serve with Lingonberry preserves and lemon wedges on the side.




This Spinach Salad is another mega-favorite of ours from Yotam Ottolenghi’s collection. What makes this dish so more-ish are the crispy, crunchy, spicy, umami pita chips and almonds.


Spinach Salad with dates and almonds



  • 1 Tblsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 medium red onion thinly sliced
  • 100g pitted Medjool dates quartered lengthways
  • 30g undalted butter
  • 2 Tblsp olive oil
  • 2 small pitas roughly torn into 1 inch pieces
  • 75g raw almonds roughly chopped
  • 2 tap sumac
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 150g baby spinach leaves, washed
  • 2 Tblspn lemon juice


Put the vinegar onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes, then drain any residual vinegar and discard.
Meanwhile, heat the butter and half the olive oil in a medium frying pan. Add the pita and almonds and cook them on a medium heat for 4 – 6 minutes, stirring all the time, until the pita is crunchy and golden brown. Remove from the heat and mix in the sumac, chilli and 1/4 tsp of salt. Set aside to cool.
When you are ready to serve, toss the spinach leaves with the pita mix in a large mixing bowl. Add the dates and red onion, remaining olive oil, lemon juice and another pinch of salt.
Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.



Believe it or not, Cucumber Gazpacho debuted decades before anyone had access to tomatoes. This is another cobbled together restaurant remake which miraculously takes the edge off of a sweltering summers day.


Cucumber Gazpacho



  • 4 cucumbers—peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup seedless green grapes
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 – 4 Tblspn distilled white vinegar (to taste)
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup roasted Marcona almonds
  • Chili oil for serving


In a blender, combine the cucumbers, grapes, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and almond milk; puree until smooth. Season with salt.
Strain through a fine sieve to remove any solids. Chill for at least 2 hours.
Garnish with a few droplets of chili oil and toss in a few Marcona almonds. Serves 6.



My Sesame crusted Pork tenderloin is probably one of the oldest “keeper” recipes in our collection. I have upgraded several times the sauce over the years, but I have never been able to substitute the (salt-free) Mrs. Dash’s spices. Don’t mess with it. Just trust me on this one. It works.


Sesame-crusted Pork tenderloin with Port wine reduction sauce



For the tenderloin:

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Mrs. Dash herb seasoning
  • 6 tablespoons sesame seeds

For the Sauce:

  • 2 Tblsp shallots, chopped fine
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 1 cup port wine
  • 1 cup demi-glace or low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp cold water
  • Fresh ground pepper


Using your hands, spread pork loin with honey. Mix soy sauce with Mrs. Dash garlic and herbs seasoning and place in a zip lock bag, add pork loin and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 8 hours, turning from time to time.
Preheat barbecue or oven to 400 degrees and place a cast iron skillet in the oven. Place sesame seeds on waxed paper and roll tenderloin in sesame seeds until completely covered. Do not discard the marinade.
Briefly sear all sides of the loin over direct heat on the barbecue and then move to indirect heat. Alternately, sear in the now hot cast-iron skillet on the stove-top and then return the skillet to the oven.
Cook for approx. 25 – 30 minutes (depending on size of loin) until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Allow the loin to rest under tin foil for 10 minutes.
In a small saucepan heat the oil and sauté the shallots until soft. Add the residual tenderloin marinade and bring to a boil. Reduce by half and add 1 cup Port wine and reduce by half. Add 1 cup beef stock and reduce by half. Season with fresh ground pepper to taste. Continue to cook on medium-low for 10 minutes. Add Corn Starch and water slurry to thicken – if necessary.
Carve the loin into medallions and serve with the sauce.




Grilled Peaches



  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns
  • 6 large fresh peaches with peel, halved and pitted
  • Vanilla ice cream


In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the white sugar, balsamic vinegar, and pepper. Simmer until liquid has reduced by one half. It should become slightly thicker. Remove from heat, and set aside.
(If the peach halves are still hard, you can microwave them for 1 – 2 minutes until they soften in the center. Let them cool completely before continuing.)
Preheat grill on medium-high heat, (or preheat a ridged cast-iron griddle pan until searing hot.)
Lightly oil the grill grate. Place peaches on the prepared grill (or griddle pan), cut side down. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the flesh is caramelized and nice dark lines are burned in. Turn peaches over. Brush the top sides with the balsamic glaze, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the peaches to individual serving dishes, and drizzle with remaining glaze. Sprinkle with vanilla ice cream.

Stay safe, stay sane and support our re-emerging culinary industry.



My favorite quarantine recipes Part X


Corn and Gorgonzola salad

If you’re just joining us now, let me catch you up on what’s been happening for the past 10 weeks. Being a bit of a foodie in a foodie city where all 18,000 food establishments are closed, I decided to embark on a personal challenge: to keep up my beloved culinary variety by cooking a different dish every day until the lock-down ends. And so, as I wring out my recipe books with new, used, cherished, nostalgic and beloved meals, I hope you  join me as I eat “out” every night of the week.



It’s hardly surprising that Butter chicken is one of the hottest items on any Indian restaurant menu. It’s relatively mild, silky smooth and a little bit indulgent. But this recipe is not only butter-free, but it pretty much cooks itself too. The real work today was making our own Naan bread for the first time. It’s fun, rather easy (by bread standards) and it “bakes” in the pan.


Slow cooker Butter Chicken with Home-made Naan bread



  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 cup coconut milk (if necessary, whisk to combine the liquid and solids before measuring)
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, for serving


In medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions to skillet, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and ginger, and cook another 2 minutes. Add garam masala, tomato paste and salt; cook and stir 2 minutes.

Place chicken pieces in a slow cooker, then add tomato paste mixture, lime zest and juice, coconut milk and chicken stock. Stir everything together, cover and cook on low heat setting for 4 1/2 to 5 hours, until the chicken is cooked through. (You may let it cook up to 7 hours if necessary, but the chicken may be very soft and shred.) Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati or jasmine rice, and naan if you have some. Serves 4.



  • ½ cup ice water
  • ⅓ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


In measuring cup or small bowl, combine water, yogurt, 3 tablespoons oil, and egg yolk. Process flour, sugar, and yeast in food processor until combined, about 2 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.

Add salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of workbowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Shape dough into tight ball and place in large, lightly oiled bowl. Let dough rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. Fold partially risen dough over itself 8 times by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle, turning bowl 90 degrees after each fold. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat folding, turning, and rising one more time, for total of three 30-minute rises.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Place heatproof plate on rack. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. Shape each piece into smooth, tight ball. Place dough balls on lightly oiled baking sheet, at least 2 inches apart; cover loosely with plastic coated with vegetable oil spray. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer 1 ball to lightly floured work surface and sprinkle with flour. Using hands and rolling pin, press and roll piece of dough into 9-inch round of even thickness, sprinkling dough and work surface with flour as needed to prevent sticking. Using fork, poke entire surface of round 20 to 25 times. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Wipe oil out of skillet completely with paper towels. Mist top of dough lightly with water. Place dough in pan, moistened side down; mist top surface of dough with water; and cover. Cook until bottom is browned in spots across surface, 2 to 4 minutes. Flip naan, cover, and continue to cook on second side until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. (If naan puffs up, gently poke with fork to deflate.) Flip naan, brush top with about 1 teaspoon melted butter, transfer to plate in oven, and cover plate tightly with aluminum foil. Repeat rolling and cooking remaining 3 dough balls. Once last naan is baked, serve immediately. Serves 4.


When Kale salad and I were first introduced, we didn’t really get along so well. It felt like I was chewing down on an old garden hose. But then I discovered that the leaves have a thick coating that instinctively repels even the finest dressings in the world, unless you “massage” them down – literally squeeze the $#!* out of them with a little olive oil and salt in between your thumbs and forefingers until they succumb to the pressure and turn dark green. That’s when all the hoopla happens, and this surprisingly crunchy, salty, creamy salad is a show-stopper.


Kale salad with garlicky panko



  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled


In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Stir in the panko and cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate to cool.
Cut the stems from the kale and tear the leaves into pieces. In a bowl, whisk the vinegar with the remaining 1/2 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. Add the kale; massage with the dressing using your fingers. Season with salt and pepper and toss. Transfer to a platter, top with the feta, garlic panko and serve.


Summer isn’t summer without a good Gazpacho. There’s just something special about being able to drink sun-ripened heirloom tomatoes. This recipe easily serves about 8, and so we siphon off a little each day for just under a week. If you’re a purist, be warned: I took the liberty of adding some feta to this predominantly Spanish recipe. I know. I know. But it does give it a smidge more creaminess. Don’t hate me until you try it.


Gazpacho with Avocado Salsa



For the Gazpacho:

  • 6 heirloom tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1-2 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup good olive oil (or less,depending on consistency)
  • 2 peeled cucumbers
  • 2 Tblspn white wine vinegar to taste
  • 2 square inches of feta cheese.
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

For the Avodaco Salsa:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/4 tsp Tabasco
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 Tblspn chopped parsley


Blend all ingredients for at least 5 minutes on highest blender setting. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving.

Dice the avocado and carefully toss with the other three ingredients. Layer on top of Gazpacho before serving.


I found this recipe in the New York Times Magazine a few years ago, where it was originally called “Scratchy husband spaghetti”. Evidently, whenever the food writer’s husband would have a bad day at the office, she combined two of the most popular Roman pasta dishes into one. A sensational example of 1+1=55.


Linguine Cacia e Pepe & Aglio e Olio



  • ¾ cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ pound unsalted butter
  • 1 whole head of garlic, or at least 10 cloves, peeled, sliced thin across the grain
  • Good quality salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • 4 teaspoons of chile flakes
  • A generous 1/2 cup of grated pecorino or Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Many, many, many cranks of the pepper mill


Bring large pot of water to a boil. Simultaneously bring a 10-inch deep-sided sauté pan to medium-low heat.

Add the olive oil and butter and sliced garlic to the pan and let the butter melt, as the garlic begins to warm through.
When the pasta water gets roiling, add salt to taste. Add the pasta.
Add chile flakes to the warming garlic-oil mixture and swirl the pan a bit and let the garlic soften and start to turn golden as the butter starts to foam. When the pasta is al dente, pull it from the boiling water with tongs, let it briefly drip its excess water above the pasta pot, but then place it right into the garlic-chile-oil pan, letting the last drips of water go right into the sauce.
Turn up the heat under the pasta now and stir vigorously for about a minute.
Turn off the heat, add cheese and a lot of black pepper. Toss and distribute all the garlic and the cheese and the chile flakes using two forks like you are tossing a salad, making sure every bit is coated and luscious. Serve.


I’m a big fan of big flavors. And the smoky heat of Gochujang (Korean fermented chilies) always hits the spot for me. These Barbecue Ribs are dry rubbed the night before, and then blasted 3 times with a jolt of vinegary, peppery spice while they cook low and slow. Don’t skimp on the peanuts and scallions. They add some brightness and crunch as the meat falls off the bone and your face gets smeared with sauce, from nose to chin.


Gochujang Barbecue Ribs



For the Ribs and Rub:

  • 3 racks St. Louis-style spareribs (2 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground black pepper

For the Gochujang sauce:

  • 1/2 cup gochujang
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder, such as ancho
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

For the Garnish:

  • 1 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup sliced scallions


The day before you plan to cook the ribs, use a paper towel to help you pull the silver skin off the backside of the ribs. Combine salt, light brown sugar and black pepper to make a rub, then generously season ribs with the rub on both sides. (You may have some rub left over.) Place on a rimmed baking sheet, wrap in plastic, put in the refrigerator, and let sit overnight.

For the sauce, combine all ingredients and whisk until brown sugar is dissolved. (You can use a hand mixer if you’d like.)

The next day, prepare a charcoal grill (preferably a kamado, the egg-shaped ceramic grill) and warm it to 225 to 250 degrees. If your grill doesn’t have a thermometer, use an oven thermometer to try to keep the temperature consistent. Place ribs on a rack so they are not sitting directly on the grate. If baking in an oven, preheat to 275 degrees and cover ribs with tin foil. Cook 3 to 4 hours, turning and basting ribs with barbecue sauce every hour.

Glaze the ribs with the sauce once more before serving. Cut the ribs and then sprinkle with peanuts and scallions and serve. Serves 6.


Just in case we didn’t have enough garlic going on this week, (I must be driving my poor neighbors crazy) this Spanish version of Garlic Shrimp has a few taste surprises that manage to cut through the luxuriously delectably garlicy olive-oil.


Gambas al ajillo



  • 1 1/2 pounds shelled and de-veined large shrimp, tails intact
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 1/4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small dried hot red chile, seeded and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, such as manzanilla
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Crusty bread, for serving


In a large strainer, toss the shrimp with 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and toss another 1 tsp salt and let stand for 2 minutes. Rince thoroughly and dry with a paper towel. Set aside.

Meanwhile, in a 9- to 10-inch cast-iron skillet, combine the garlic and olive oil and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is very fragrant and just starts to brown, 5 – 8 minutes. Add the chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds.

Add the shrimp to the skillet and cook over medium-low, stirring and turning the shrimp occasionally, until barely pink, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sherry, lemon zest and a generous pinch of salt. Remove from the heat and let stand until the shrimp are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve in the skillet, passing crusty bread at the table. Serves 4.




Don’t be misled by what looks like a complicated fish dish. In fact, the Roasted Sea bass is very simply baked with a little oil, sea salt and pepper. The oomph comes from the 3 different mushrooms that are an absolute knockout of deep, rich, sumptuously earthy flavors.


Roasted Sea bass with wild mushrooms



  • 1/3 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for fish
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 small red onion, halved through the root end and sliced thin
  • 1 pound portobello mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved
  • Salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • Ground black pepper
  • 4 skinless fillets Chilean sea bass, each about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 small lemon, cut into wedges


Mix the dried porcini mushrooms with 1/2 cup hot tap water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in the plastic wrap with a paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until the mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes.
Lift the mushrooms from the liquid with a fork and mince. Pour the liquid through a small strainer lined with a single sheet of paper towel and placed over a measuring cup.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.
Heat the butter, olive oil, and rosemary in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the foaming subsides. Add the onion, fresh mushrooms, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have shed their liquid and their cut surfaces have browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic and minced porcini. Cook, stirring frequently, until aromatic, about 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste.
Using a wooden spoon, clear 4 spaces in the skillet for the fish fillets. (The spaces should be equidistant from one another so that the fillets don’t touch.) Rub each fillet with enough oil to coat lightly and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper to taste.
Nestle one fillet into each space in the skillet. Drizzle the reserved porcini liquid over the mushrooms (avoiding the fish) and immediately set the pan in the oven.
Cook until the fish is opaque and cooked through, 11 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness.
Sprinkle with the parsley.
Divide the mushrooms among individual plates and place a piece of fish on top of the mushrooms on each plate. Drizzle the fish with any juices remaining in the pan as well as a little olive oil. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Serves 4.


Remember when I told you to throw away your Banana bread recipe for the one I’ve been making for 20 years? Well, now it’s time to throw that one away too! This has got to be the most banana-ry Banana bread ever – and it’s really rather dashing and statuesque too.


The Ultimate Banana Bread



  • 1 ¾ cups (8 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 6 large very ripe bananas (about 2 1/4 pounds), peeled (see note)
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated sugar


Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl.

Place 5 bananas in microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap and cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife. Microwave on high power until bananas are soft and have released liquid, about 5 minutes. Transfer bananas to fine-mesh strainer placed over medium bowl and allow to drain, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes (you should have ½ to ¾ cup liquid).

Transfer liquid to medium saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes. Remove pan from heat, stir reduced liquid into bananas, and mash with potato masher until fairly smooth. Whisk in butter, eggs, brown sugar, and vanilla.

Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and stir until just combined with some streaks of flour remaining. Gently fold in walnuts, if using. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Slice remaining banana diagonally into ¼-inch-thick slices. Shingle banana slices on top of either side of loaf, leaving 1½-inch-wide space down center to ensure even rise. Sprinkle granulated sugar evenly over loaf.

Bake until toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean, 55 to 75 minutes. Cool bread in pan on wire rack 15 minutes, then remove loaf from pan and continue to cool on wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Stay safe. Stay sane, and most importantly – stay at home!



My favorite quarantine recipes Part X


Shrimp Cocktail

70 dishes in 70 days. As the lock-down persists so does my challenge to never cook the same recipe twice. So far – so delicious. Why stop now?



Just like certain songs that remind me of summer, the Heart of Palm and Peach salad is one of my own creations that conjures up the same sentiments of long, hot days that drag on for weeks. The contrast of sweet, pungent, soft and crunchy are as mesmerizingly seductive as floating around a pool on an inflatable lounger for 3 hours.


Hearts of Palm and Peach Salad



  • 1 tin hearts of palm sliced into short thin sections
  • 1 large fresh yellow peach sliced very thinly
  • Mixed greens
  • Candied walnuts
  • Crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • Balsamic vinaigrette with Walnut oil


Mix all ingredients together and serve immediately. Serves 4.



The Spicy Mango Pork with Noodles is a relative newbie to my collection, but it was love at first bite. Nothing like pairing up mango with Serrano chilies. I mean, please!


Spicy Mango Pork with Noodles



  • 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest plus 2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, divided
  • 2 teaspoons peeled fresh ginger cut into matchsticks, divided
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon black or brown mustard seeds
  • 1 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons thinly sliced serrano chile
  • 3 mangoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch-thick spears
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 8 ounces uncooked thin rice noodles or vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
  • Thinly sliced scallions and pickled cucumber slices, for garnish


Toss together pork, cumin, salt, lime zest and juice, garlic, 1 teaspoon black pepper, and 1 teaspoon ginger in a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large skillet over high. Working in 2 batches, add pork; cook until browned on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Wipe skillet clean; reduce heat to medium. Add mustard seeds and remaining 1 tablespoon oil; cook, undisturbed, until small bubbles appear on surface of seeds, about 30 seconds. Add onion and chile; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add mango and remaining ginger; cook, stirring gently, until mango is just tender, 4-5 minutes. Transfer to plate with pork.

Return 1 cup mango mixture to skillet; add 1 cup hot water. Bring to a simmer over medium-high; cook, smashing fruit using back of a wooden spoon, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Return remaining mango mixture and pork to skillet. Cook, stirring often, until pork is fully coated with mango mixture.

Serve pork mixture over noodles; garnish with scallions and pickled cucumber. Serves 4.



I love salads but there are very few I actually pine for through the winter. Panzanella is probably number one on the list. It is my default, go-to “can I bring a salad?” salad, and when you try it – it will become yours too.


Panzanella Salad



  • 1 ¼ pounds very ripe tomatoes; a mix of varieties and colors is nice
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher sea salt, more to taste
  • 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, more as needed
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 6-inch length of ciabatta or baguette (about 4 ounces), preferably stale, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • Chopped fresh basil, for serving


Cut tomatoes into bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Using a large chef’s knife, mince 1 of the smashed garlic cloves. Add a pinch of salt and using the flat side of your knife, smash into a fine paste. Add garlic paste to the tomatoes along with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss to coat and set aside in a colander to drip off the juice for at least an hour.
In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, mustard, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. While whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons olive oil until the mixture is thickened.
In a 10-inch skillet over high heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, bread cubes, the remaining smashed garlic clove, 1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 sprig of fresh oregano and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Cook while stirring occasionally until toasted and golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely. When cool, discard the garlic and thyme and add bread cubes to the tomato mixture. Add the leaves of the remaining uncooked thyme or oregano, and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter or individual plates and serve garnished with the chopped basil, and freshly ground black pepper. Serves 4.



What to do with leftover peaches and tomatoes? Throw them in a bowl with mint, shallots and a tangy lemon vinaigrette and say: “Oh, this old thing? It was nothing.”


Peach and Tomato Salad



  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges, and wedges halved crosswise
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon juice
  • 1 pound ripe peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges, and wedges halved crosswise
  • 1 shallot, sliced into thin rings
  • ⅓ cup fresh mint leaves, torn


Perfectly ripe peaches and tomatoes are essential to this recipe.

Combine tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in bowl and toss to coat; transfer to colander and let drain in sink for 30 minutes.

Whisk oil, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Add peaches, shallot, and drained tomatoes to dressing and toss gently to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to platter and sprinkle with mint. Drizzle with extra oil. Serves 4.



So, this Lamb with Fig Balsamic glaze might be the only serious recipe for the week but it’s not just tall, dark and handsome, it has some pretty deep, rich Tuscan flavors that are beyond restaurant quality. Don’t skimp on the fig Balsamic. It’s the difference between good and great Scott.


Rack of Lamb with Fig Balsamic Glaze



  • 2 Racks of Lamb well trimmed.
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil, separated
  • Salt & Cracked pepper
  • 2 – 3 Tbspn chopped rosemary
  • 1/2 cup minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup Fig Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups good quality beef stock
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/3 cup dried mission figs, halved lengthwise
  • 6-8 Tbspn unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 Tbspn chopped parsely
  • Salt & Pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place 15 – 18 cloves of peeled garlic in a small oven safe dish. Drizzle with 2 – 3 Tbsn olive oil and 1/2 cup water and roast in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Cool, drain and set aside.
Season the lamb racks well with salt and pepper and rosemary.
Heat 1 tblspn oil in a skillet and sear the lamb 2 – 3 minutes per side. (Lamb can be done ahead to this point.)
Transfer the lamb to a rimmed baking sheet and reserve the pan for the sauce. Roast lamb in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Degrease the searing pan, add shallots and cook 1 minute. Add vinegar and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce liquid until 3/4 cup remains. Remove from the heat and add garlic, figs and butter 1 Tbspn at a time until the sauce is thick and creamy. Adjust seasoning and add parsely, Serve over lamb chops.



If you have a slow-cooker (and a ton of time), this Pork Ramen gets you as close to Tokyo’s Ramen alley that COVID travel will currently permit.


Slow cooker Miso-Pork Ramen



  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp white vinegar
  • 3/8 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup soy
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup white miso
  • 2 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
  • 2 scallions, white and green parts separated, green parts sliced thin on bias
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 1/2 (1½-inch) piece ginger, peeled and sliced into ½-inch-thick rounds
  • 1/2 (2½-pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 (4-inch) square piece kombu (optional)
  • 3 (3-ounce) packages ramen noodles, seasoning packets reserved for another use
  • Furikake and Chili oil for serving (optional)


Bring enough water to cover the 6 eggs to boil in a small saucepan. Add the baking soda and vinegar. Carefully lower the eggs and let them boil for 6 1/2 minutes. Meanwhile prepare an ice-bath. Plunge the eggs into the ice bath for at least 5 minutes until cool. Peel the eggs and then place them into a Zip-lock bag inside of a bowl. Add the mirin and soy and cinch the bag so that all 6 eggs are fully submerged. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.

Whisk broth and miso together in slow cooker. Add mushrooms, scallion whites, garlic, and ginger. Sprinkle pork with pepper and transfer to slow cooker. Cover and cook until pork is tender and registers 195 degrees, 4 to 6 hours on high or 8 to 10 hours on low. Transfer pork to cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add kombu, if using, to broth mixture in slow cooker and cook, covered, on high for 10 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove and discard scallion whites, garlic, ginger, and kombu, leaving mushrooms in slow cooker.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add noodles and cook until tender but still chewy. Drain noodles and divide evenly among serving bowls. Slice pork in half lengthwise, then slice crosswise ¼ inch thick. Ladle broth into bowls. Serve ramen topped with 3 or 4 slices of pork and scallion greens. Halve the eggs and lay two halves into each bowl. Serve furikake and chili oil on the side. Serves 4.



What happens when Chinese Spring roll season runs out? Vietnamese Summer roll rolls in. This mostly raw, crunchy and oil-free cousin is as flavorful as it’s pretty – and with two sauces, it’s a party in every bite.


Vietnamese Summer Rolls



For the lime dressing:

  • 5 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sugar

For the Peanut-Hoisin dipping Sauce:

  • 1 Thai chile, stemmed and sliced thin
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup water
  • ⅓ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

For the summer rolls:

  • 3 ounces dried rice noodles
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • ⅓ cup coarsely chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 medium daikon radish, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 8 round rice paper wrappers (8 inches in diameter)
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • ½ pound cooked medium shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), chilled and sliced in half lengthwise


Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Remove the boiling water from the heat, add the rice noodles, and let stand, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the noodles and transfer them to a medium bowl.

Whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar together in small bowl until the sugar dissolves. Toss 2 tablespoons of the lime juice mixture with the noodles. In a medium bowl, toss 1 more tablespoon of the lime juice mixture with the carrots, peanuts, radishes, bean sprouts and cucumbers. Save the remainder of the lime juice mixture for dipping.

Using a chef knife, mash Thai chile, garlic, and salt to fine paste. Transfer to medium bowl. Add water, peanut butter, hoisin, tomato paste, and vinegar and whisk until smooth. Set aside.

Use a large, flat dinner plate to work on. Fill a 9-inch pie plate with 1 inch of room temperature water. Working with one rice paper wrapper at a time, immerse each wrapper in water until just pliable, about 2 minutes, then lay the softened wrapper on the dinner plate.

Arrange a few cucumber, radish and carrot sticks horizontally at one edge of the wrapper into a small bundle. Add a few noodles and about 3 leaves of each herb. Then fold the wrapper over the bundle securing the ingredients inside. Fold it over once more and then bend in the two sides and lay 3 shrimp halves at the next fold of the wrapper thereby scooping them up in the final fold. Set aside and cover with a damp cloth until ready to serve. Rolls should not be kept waiting for more than 20 minutes. Serve with the remaining lime juice dressing and peanut dipping sauce. Serves 4.

Of all of Italy’s greatest meals, Affogato is probably their greatest fanfare to the end of a meal. It’s ridiculously simple, outrageously flavorful and sinfully more-ish.


Affogato with Vanilla ice-cream and Nuts



  • ¼ cup raw pistachios or blanched hazelnuts
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • 8 tablespoons hot espresso or strongly brewed coffee


Preheat oven to 350°. Toast nuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 5–7 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.

Mix cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl.

Divide ice cream among 4 small serving bowls or coffee cups. Sprinkle spice mixture over and pour 2 Tbsp. espresso into each bowl. Top with nuts. Serve immediately.


Stay safe. Stay sane, and most importantly – stay at home!


My favorite quarantine recipes Part IX


Heart of palm, peach and Gorgonzola salad

Ninth week in lockdown and even though there’s still no sign of life in any of New York’s 18,000 restaurants, my kitchen hasn’t stopped cranking them out like a hand sanitizer factory. At this point I’d like to say a little prayer: “Dear God, please bless my dishwasher and make sure it never stops running. Amen.”



I will never dispute the fact that browning meat is one of the most crucial flavor-forming processes in any braised dish. But browning is also a time-consuming ritual that usually ends up in oil-smeared cabinets, floors, light fittings and counter-tops. I not only adore the rich, dark and wonderfully Asian flavors of this Braised Short-rib, but there’s no browning required. Eat your heart out. Literally.


Chinese Braised Beef



  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
  • 2 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup dry sherry
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 3 scallions, white and green parts separated, green parts sliced thin on bias, white parts sliced into 2″ pieces
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled, halved lengthwise, and smashed
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 pounds boneless chuck short ribs, trimmed of fat and cut into 4-inch lengths. Do not slice into smaller chunks. That happens later on)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch


Sprinkle gelatin over 2 1/2 cups water in Dutch oven and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. (Unless using a slow cooker.)

Heat softened gelatin over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in sherry, soy sauce, hoisin, molasses, scallion whites, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, and pepper flakes. Stir in beef and bring to simmer. Remove pot from heat. Cover tightly with sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil, then lid. Transfer to oven and cook until beef is tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring halfway through cooking. (Alternatively you can use a slow-cooker on High heat for the same time duration.)

Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to cutting board. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer into fat separator. Wipe out pot with paper towels. Let liquid settle for 5 minutes, then return defatted liquid to now-empty pot. Cook liquid over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 1 cup, 20 to 25 minutes.

While sauce reduces, using 2 forks, break beef into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Whisk cornstarch and remaining 1 tablespoon water together in small bowl.

Reduce heat to medium-low, whisk cornstarch mixture into reduced sauce, and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Return beef to sauce and stir to coat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is heated through, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle scallion greens over top. Serves 4.



This week kicked off with Memorial Day, and so I had to figure out an indoors-outdoors recipe to make it feel a bit more like the holiday it normally is. And while a stove-top burger might be as taboo as ice-cream in winter, when you grind your own short-rib, bake your own brioche buns and mix your own special sauce, it’s the real deal.


Short-rib Cheeseburger with Waldorf Salad


For the burger:


  • 1lb boneless short-rib
  • 1 tblspn cooking oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • American or Swiss cheese slices
  • Brioche sesame bun
  • Pickles, lettuce, tomato etc.


Grind the short-rib and bring it to room temperature. Divide the mixture and shape it very loosely into balls. Do not be tempted to press them into patties or compact them too much. You want to keep them fairly loose. Heat a cast-iron skillet on Medium-high until it is almost smoking. Add the oil and when the oil is hot add the meatballs, gently pressing them down into patties. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook without disturbing them for 3 minutes. Flip them and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and drape a square of cheese over each patty and cover. Turn off the heat and let the cheese melt for another 2 minutes. Serves 2.

For the Sauce:


  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tblspn soy sauce
  • 1 tblspn dark brown sugar
  • 1 tblspn Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tblspn chives, minced
  • 3/4 tsp pepper


Whist all ingredients together and refrigerate until needed. Serves 6.



There are probably a zillion recipes for glazed pork chops, but this one involves a breading batter, which is every bit as simple as it is delicious.


Honey garlic pork chops



  • 4 Center loin pork chops, well trimmed
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1½ tbsp Ground ginger
  • 1 Tbsp Ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • ½ tsp Cayenne pepper
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • For the Honey Garlic Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 3 – 4 Cloves minced garlic
  • 1 cup Honey
  • ¼ cup Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Ground black pepper


In a medium saucepan add the 2 tbsp olive oil and minced garlic. Cook over medium heat to soften the garlic but do not let it brown.
Add the honey, soy sauce and black pepper.
Simmer together for 5-10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Sift together the flour, salt, black pepper, ground ginger, nutmeg, paprika and cayenne pepper.
Make an egg wash by whisking together the eggs and water.
Season the pork chops with salt and pepper, then dip the meat in the flour and spice mixture.
Dip the chop into the eggwash and then a final time into the flour and spice mix, pressing the mix into the meat to get good contact.

Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil covering the bottom. You will want to carefully regulate the temperature here so that the chops does not brown too quickly.
Fry them gently for about 4 or 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before dipping the cooked pork chops into the Honey Garlic Sauce.
Serve immediately. Serves 4.



As the weather heats up and the days get longer, you’re going to start seeing more and more salad-y dinners on my lists. I generally don’t start cooking until after the 7pm first responders “clap”, but when the sun only sets after 8:30pm, I don’t want us to be doing major dishes at 10pm. Know what I mean? This is a delightful room-temperature salad and the shrimp can be easily substituted with cooked salmon.


Roasted Shrimp and Orzo Salad



  • Kosher salt
  • Good olive oil
  • 3/8 pound orzo pasta (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pounds (16 to 18 count) shrimp, peeled and deveined, (can be substituted with cooked salmon)
  • 1/2 cup minced scallions, white and green parts
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
  • 1/4 cup small-diced red onion
  • 3/8 pound good feta cheese, large diced


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fill a large pot with water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and a splash of oil, and bring the water to a boil. Add the orzo and simmer for 9 to 11 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it’s cooked al dente. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Whisk together the lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Pour over the hot pasta and stir well.

Meanwhile, place the shrimp on a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine and spread out in a single layer. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked through. Don’t overcook!

Add the shrimp (or shredded cooked salmon) to the orzo and then add the scallions, dill, parsley, cucumber, onion, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Toss well. Add the feta and stir carefully. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to allow the flavors to blend, or refrigerate overnight. If refrigerated, taste again for seasonings and bring back to room temperature before serving. Serves 4.



You can never have too many cucumbers, but if you do, here are two amazing cucumber salads.  A few weeks ago, I shared my Chicken Satay recipe. This is a heat-free, meat-free variation that uses a very similar peanut sauce – but with the fresh crispness of Persian cucumbers.


Cucumber Salad with Peanuts



  • 6 Persian cucumbers (about 1 pound), cut lengthwise into thin spears, then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup salted, roasted peanuts
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves (mint can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • Chile oil, store-bought or homemade, for serving (optional)


Toss cucumbers with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a colander. Set aside to drain. Chop peanuts, cilantro (or mint) and red-pepper flakes together until very fine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Add up to 1 tablespoon water, if needed to thin mixture. Transfer salted cucumbers to the bowl with dressing and toss to coat.

To serve, place half the cucumber salad on the plate, sprinkle with half the peanut mixture. Repeat with the remaining cucumber salad and peanut mixture. Drizzle with chile oil, if using, and serve immediately. Serves 4.


And I ate something very similar to this one in Greece a few years ago. It’s a heavenly combination of sweet, sour and surprising. (And it has show-stopping good looks too.)


Strawberry cucumber Salad



  • 1 punnet rinsed and thinly sliced Strawberries
  • 1 cucumber sliced into discs.
  • 2 tblspns roughly chopped hazelnuts
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Black pepper


Arrange the strawberry and cucumber slices in concentric circles in a round, shallow dish. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts, balsamic vinegar and freshly ground pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 2.



OK, confession time. I’m not a great baker. There, I said it. Mostly because you have to be so darn accurate, and also because it’s more about chemistry than alchemy. Whatever. But this week we were inspired to bake the world’s most foolproof Challah ever. It’s another America’s Test Kitchen offering that…just…works. It turned out to be a whole lot larger than we were expecting, but it is a profoundly majestic, statuesque, mahogany work of art with a soft, fluffy, sweet and nostalgia-filled inside. (It also made for an amazing French toast on Sunday. See below)


Easy braid Challah



For the Flour Paste:

  • ½ cup water
  • 3 tablespoons bread flour

For the Dough:

  • 1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 ¾ cups (15⅛ ounces) bread flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Vegetable oil spray

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch table salt
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds or poppy seeds (optional)


For the flour paste: Whisk water and flour in bowl until no lumps remain. Microwave, whisking every 20 seconds, until mixture thickens to stiff, smooth, pudding-like consistency that forms mound when dropped from end of whisk into bowl, 40 to 80 seconds.

For the dough: In bowl of stand mixer, whisk flour paste, egg and yolks, water, and oil until well combined. Add flour and yeast. Fit mixer with dough hook and mix on low speed until all flour is moistened, 3 to 4 minutes. Let stand for 20 minutes.

Add sugar and salt and mix on medium speed for 9 minutes (dough will be quite firm and dry). Transfer dough to counter and lightly spray now-empty mixer bowl with oil spray. Knead dough briefly to form ball and return it to prepared bowl. Lightly spray dough with oil spray and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rise until about doubled in volume, about 1½ hours.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and nest in second rimmed baking sheet. Transfer dough to counter and press into 8-inch square, expelling as much air as possible. Cut dough in half lengthwise to form 2 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half lengthwise to form 4 equal strips of dough. Roll 1 strip of dough into 16-inch rope. Continue rolling, tapering ends, until rope is 18 inches long. Repeat with remaining dough strips. Arrange ropes in plus-sign shape, with 4 ends overlapping in center by ½ inch. Firmly press center of cross into counter to seal ropes to each other and to counter.

Lift rope at 12 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 5 o’clock position. Lift rope at 6 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 12 o’clock position.

Lift rope at 9 o’clock, bring over center, and place in 4 o’clock position. Lift rope at 3 o’clock and, working toward yourself, bring over braid and place in 8 o’clock position. Adjust ropes so they are at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.

Repeat steps 5 and 6, working toward yourself, until you can no longer braid. Loaf will naturally list to 1 side.

Pinch ends of ropes together and tuck both ends under braid. Carefully transfer braid to prepared sheets. Cover loosely with plastic and let rise until dough does not spring back fully when gently pressed with your knuckle, about 3 hours.

For the egg wash: Thirty minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together egg and salt. Brush loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake until loaf is deep golden brown and registers at least 195 degrees, 30 – 35 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 20 minutes. Transfer loaf to wire rack and let cool completely before slicing, about 2 hours. Serves 10.


I happen to think that the only thing more wonderful than pairing fish with Green-goddess dressing is when you can blister the skin into a crunchy crisp. You can use practically any red or white fish here, but after making eye contact with a handsome Red Snapper, all I could think of was: “Get in my belly!”


Crispy skinned Fish with green goddess



  • 2 (6-ounce) skin-on meaty whitefish fillets (such as striped bass, redfish, rockfish, or snapper), patted dry with paper towels
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped scallion greens
  • 1/4 cup watercress
  • 1/2 cup packed mixed fresh herb leaves (such as flat-leaf parsley, chervil, tarragon, cilantro, and/or dill), divided
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 jarred anchovy fillets, drained
  • 2 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 to 2 tablespoon grapeseed oil, as needed, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, as needed
  • 1 large head Little Gem lettuce, outer leaves separated, heads halved lengthwise
  • 3 tablespoons lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, papery skins removed and nuts roughly chopped


Place fish fillets, skin sides up, on a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Chill, uncovered, at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours or overnight.

Process scallion greens, watercress, 1/4 cup fresh herbs, mayonnaise, sour cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon water, anchovies, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth, about 30 seconds. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in lowest position. Season both sides of fillets with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high until a wisp of smoke forms.

Lay 1 fillet, skin side down, in skillet, and immediately press down on fillet evenly and with firm pressure using a stiff spatula; press 30 seconds. Check the skin by gently lifting a corner of the fillet; if it needs a little more time to begin lightly browning around the edges, cook an additional 15 seconds. Add the second fillet and repeat. Transfer skillet to lowest rack of preheated oven; cook according to fillet thickness, about 8 minutes per inch. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium. Add lettuce and 1/4 teaspoon salt to skillet; cook, tossing occasionally, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add broth; cook, tossing occasionally, until lettuce is tender, 2 to 4 minutes.

Spread dressing evenly on 2 plates. Top evenly with braised lettuce, fish fillets, hazelnuts, and remaining fresh herbs. Drizzle fish with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Serve immediately. Serves 2.



When I asked one of my dear friends from Oklahoma if she’d ever eaten French cuisine before, she giggled a little, looked at me oddly and then replied, “Why, of course. French fries. French toast. I love French food!” But seriously, if you’re one of those people who thinks that French toast is just bread dipped into beaten egg and fried in butter, then please prepare your mind to be blown.


Deluxe French toast



  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for frying
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt
  • 4 slices day-old challah bread (3/4-inch-thick) or 6 slices day-old sandwich bread


Heat 10- to 12-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron) over medium heat for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, using a hand-mixer, beat egg lightly in a bowl. Whisk in butter, then milk and vanilla, and finally sugar, flour, and salt, continuing to whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture into a pie plate and soak bread without oversaturating, about 40 seconds per side for challah or 30 seconds per side for sandwich bread. Pick up bread and allow excess batter to drip off; repeat with remaining slices.

Swirl 1 tablespoon butter in hot skillet. Transfer 2 slices of the prepared bread to skillet; cook until golden brown, about 1 minute 45 seconds on first side and 1 minute on the second. Serve immediately. Continue, adding 1 tablespoon butter to skillet for each new batch. Serves 2.

Stay safe. Stay sane, but most importantly – stay at home!