Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sweet Spanish Smoked Paprika

My friends know that when I find something really amazing
I have to share it !
This spice is a secret ingredient!
I have glass viles filled with a very high quality sample of
Sweet Spanish Smoked Paprika

Contact me if you are interested in purchasing, $5 each

Smoked Paprika, made in Spain from smoked, ground pimiento peppers and is often referred to as simply smoked paprika. My friends know that when I find something really amazing I have to share it and lecture about it and insist on it. With just a 1/4 tsp, gives a variety of dishes a smoky flavor without the heat.
Perfect for grilled chicken, fish and vegetables, and as a base for soups, chili, sauces, spice rubs, and even salad dressings. Sprinkle some on top of a baked egg, a deviled egg, scrambled eggs! I even added to Israeli couscous last evening. You will never go back to average store bought varieties.

(As I come across exceptional ingredients, I will continue to make available)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Guess Who's Coming To Dinner:Joel Ney

Last night we had our friend, artist rep, actor, Joel Ney over for dinner.  You can find Joel in a recent music video of Moby's Wait for Me . Joel is also the son of Russian Contemporary artist, Alexander Ney, whom he represents here in New York and Russia.
We started the dinner out with various olives, vegetables, breads, and Middle Eastern starter dishes, that I had prepared ahead of time. I decided to try my hand again at Ghormeh Sabzi, a traditional Persian dish of stewed meat with herbs.
I sat while the stew was cooking and hand prepared a Persian almond flour/rosewater treat in the shape of mulberries for dessert. We had a great evening, filled with what we always talk about, politics, while smoking Eric's 19th Century Turkish hookah .
Here is the recipe for this flavorful Persian stew.

Ghormeh Sabzi
1/2 pound fresh spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped, (I use baby spinach)
1 bunch fresh dill, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stemmed and coarsely chopped
4 leeks, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced, just the green part
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound beef or lamb stew meat, cut into cubes

Salt and black pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1teaspoon ground turmeric

Generous pinch crushed red pepper
4 dried limes  (available at Middle Eastern markets)
2cups water
1 can (15 ounces) Red Kidney beans
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 

  1. Saute the onion over medium-high heat in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until it is a deep golden brown. Add the turmeric, frying another minute or two, then add the stew meat. Toss well to coat in turmeric, and cook until the meat is browned well on all sides.

  2. Meanwhile, fry the herbs in a health splash of olive oil until they are fragrant and deepening in color. Watch them carefully as they will go bitter if burned. You want them to be a deep, dark green without burning.

  3. Add the fried greens to the meat & onion mixture, stirring well. Add 1.5 - 2 cups of water. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add the lemon juice, turn the heat down, and let the whole thing simmer, covered, for 1.5-2 hours.

  4. About an hour into the simmer, add the dried limes (any sooner and they will turn the stew bitter), pushing them down into the liquid.

  5. Finally, add the drained kidney beans, and cook another 30 minutes. Check your seasoning level, adding more lemon juice if needed.
    Serve over Saffron Rice, yum!

Panya Bakery and What's for Breakfast

At the center of this image, you will find a block of wrapped Japanese bread. My favorite!
Just the shape always makes me want to give to friends as a gift. Panya is a fabulous little bakery just off St. Marks, the Japanese really know how to make sweets. A great place to grab Thai Tea and ready-to-go sushi and inexpensive too.
I started my day by slicing a nice piece, grilling with Irish butter and then spreading with Miel de Lavande !

Monday, April 26, 2010

Rainy Day Wanderings

I came across a recipe calling for smoked paprika, last evening in a professional food blog. Not coming from a background in culinary training, I found myself intimidated by even the mere mention of gadgets not present in my kitchen. Seems my approach to life has always been to embrace chance and educate myself through personal experience.
So on this rainy, cold, Spring day I decided to wander the streets of New York, looking for inspiration.
I found it in a shop I have passed many times. S.O.S Chefs on Avenue B in the East Village.
I was drawn to the blocks of precious salts, exotic spices, canned food specialties from France and $100 Middle Eastern tea pots, on a shelf , just out of reach.
I inquired about Summer Black Truffles,due in stock in a matter of weeks, and the origin of their saffron. The owner was a fabulous woman ready to answer my questions. I came away with an emotional purchase, gifts for Eric, such as hand made gold-leaf Jordan almonds, French Vanilla Chestnut Spread (a recipe dating back to the Crusades), French Lavender Honey and a 1/4 pound of smoked paprika (for myself).

Friday, April 23, 2010


I was given a gift of a simple paper bag filled with big, meaty, local asparagus. I immediately thought of our layover in Munich, what a fabulous 4 hours! We filled our carry-on with treats from Dallmayr and sipped champagne and lunched on Spargel. I thought of this Manet painting when the waiter set the steamed white with hints of green and purple asparagus, down on the table.
About half of all spargel is purchased directly from farmers' roadside stands and market stalls. When spargel is harvested in the late spring, many German cities hold festivals in celebration.
We are coming into our own asparagus season, get out there and buy local!
Taste the earthy flavor of this late Spring harvest.
Here is a recipe that I love to bring to the table:
Roasted Asparagus With Garlic Dressing
2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
Set oven to 475, have ready a large baking sheet
Rinse asparagus and drain on paper towels. Transfer to baking sheet and brush or toss with olive oil,
then arrange on sheet in a single layer. Roast the spears, turning them occasionally, for 10 min or until tender. You may also grill for 4-5 min. Arrange on a serving plate .
Combine soy, garlic, sugar and water, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Pour the dressing over the asparagus . Serve warm or at room temp.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Don't Call Me A Tart!@!@!

My brother and I, when we were in our youth, would wander from home, in the summer, and pick wild blackberries. We started doing this again a few years ago, when he came upon wild raspberries near his house. With beagles and baskets, we picked enough to make 6 tarts.
I am sharing my beloved Tarte aux Fruits, I am not much of a baker, so if I can do it, give it a go!
This recipe comes from the Loire region of France. Use seasonal fruits, eggs and milk from a local farm, you will be amazed at the difference in taste. Do you know what Summer tastes like?
I love to drink wine when I am cooking, thus the bottle on the table:)


Sweet Pie Pastry
1 cup flour
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup butter

Pastry Cream
1 1/2 cup milk
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean
5 egg yolks
7 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup flour
Make the pie pastry and chill for 30 min. Set oven to 400. Line the 9" tart pan and blind bake the pastry until the shell is golden brown, watch! it burns easily, I put the the pan on a baking sheet, for extra protection. Remember to take a fork before you bake and make a few holes.Transfer to a rack to cool.
Make the Cream.
Scald milk with a little salt. Add vanilla bean, cover and leave to infuse 15 min.
Whisk egg yolks with sugar until thick and light. Stir in flour and a few tablespoons of milk to make a smooth paste. Remove vanilla bean; whisk boiling milk into yolk mixture. Return mixture to pan and whisk over low fire until boiling.Cook cream over low heat , whisking until nice custard texture forms. Transfer to a bowl and rub with butter, so skin does not form.
Not more than a few hours before serving , spread the cream into pie shell. Arrange the fruit on top . Melt a glaze over low heat and brush over the fruit. Serve at room temp. I like to make a glaze of white wine and sugar, reduced, you can also make a glaze with jam.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

There is "Free Range" and then there is Freedom!

Yesterday I could not take city living another minute! We drove for miles and miles out of town, the only destination, in my head, was a little sign that read "Eggs For Sale" at the top of a long dirt lane. After being prompted to take a risk and turn right, we found it. Stokes Creek, in Hamstead MD.
Getting out of the car, the welcoming committee comprised of a party of wandering ducks, a very friendly chicken, rabbits and a very protective turkey.
My sour mood immediately changed, this is what I needed. The caretaker of the farm, came out and gave us a formal introduction. She told us that one hen will only sit on a nest next to the front door of their home, the "watch dog" turkey is on the endangered list and their chickens are the happiest chickens around, having the run of the property. The eggs that are sold here are all natural, free range and chemical free.
I decided it was a perfect evening for Salade Nicoise, using my fresh eggs, here is my 20 min version, for 2 people.
1/2 head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1/2 beans, cooked and refreshed
1/2 cup basic vinaigrette
Salt and freshly ground pepper
10 cherry tomatoes, halved)
3 or 4  small "boiled" potatoes, from can, brown in pan
Two pieces of fresh tuna, grilled with little sesame oil and light soy sauce
2 extra large farm hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1/4 cup small black Niçoise-type olives
2 to 3 tablespoons capers
1 peeled and sliced avocado
1 thinly sliced Persian cucumber

Beautifully arrange 2 plates with equal amounts of ingredients with tuna in center and drizzle your vinaigrette on top. Place a slice of lemon on grilled tuna.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I Drink Flowers

I love recipes that call for Rosewater.
Rose water has a very distinctive flavor and is used heavily in Iranian cuisine—especially in sweets. I can't wait to try this Persian recipe with Pheasant and Rose petals. I have made delicious rosewater scented rice pudding and little marzipan style treats that are in the shape of mulberries. Rosewater is popping up in cocktails, and my favorite is Faloodeh, rosewater ice, which is one of the earliest known frozen desserts, dating to ca. 400 BC in Persia.
My first stop when venturing into a Middle Eastern market, is the section that stocks the rosewater, because here you will also find Orange Blossom water and spearmint water.
Hedysarum water is a popular liquid used for medical ailments such as vitamin c deficiency, allergies and inflammation.
Chicory water is known to be an ancient German remedy for everyday ailments. The flower has oils that are used for appetite stimulants and treatment for gallstones, gastro-enteritis, sinus problems and cuts and bruises.
Pussy willow water is also historically known to have a calming effect on the stomach and people believe it has a soothing effect on those with heart problems.
Open my fridge and on the door you will find my collection of these spirit waters. Forget the expensive waters and add a teaspoon of one of these to a glass of ice water, perfect.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Keeping it Simple: Poached Chicken with Saffron

Here is a recipe that is so simple and quick. It is a gloomy April day, with a chill in the air. My plan is to venture up to The Lost World of Old Europe: The Danube Valley, 5000–3500 B.C. at New York University Institute for the Study of the Ancient World. Then make this dish and get comfortable.


3/4 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, halved (I like to tenderize the chicken)
1 onion, chopped,(I like to just slice)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley leaves
serve with:
saffron couscous (Israeli couscous is the best, just discovered at Holyland Market, it is fluffier and tastier)
For the couscous:
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup couscous

Prepare the chicken:In a heavy saucepan cook the onion  in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until they are softened, stir in the saffron, and cook the mixture for 30 seconds. Add the broth and 2 tablespoons of the parsley, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer it for 10 minutes. Add the chicken and poach, covered, for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken,  for 10 more minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken with tongs to a cutting board and let it stand for 5 minutes.slice.
Prepare the couscous:
dissolve the saffron in a few tablespoons of hot water, pour into the broth, and add the oil. Stir in the couscous, remove the pan from the heat, and let the couscous stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork before serving.

Slice the chicken, divide it between 2 plates with the couscous, and spoon the saffron liquid over it. Sprinkle the remaining parsley over dish.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Khoresh Fesenjoon:Pomegranate Chicken

(paintings by Eric Parnes)

Today I decided to share my favorite Persian recipe. Like all recipes, they are merely a guideline, I have made side notes, as a result of making this over and over again. I love serving this to our friends, especially when they ask for seconds and thirds. I can't say enough about my Pars rice cooker, for making perfect saffron rice, the best part is the browned, crunchy tadiq, the bottom crust of the rice. You can even break up the bottom into pieces and serve with a little of the sauce on top, pick up and eat.
لذت بردن!
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil 
  • ½ cup pomegranate molasses( found in most Middle Eastern markets)
  • 2 cups coarsely ground walnuts, (I use slivered almonds) 
  • 3 teaspoons sugar,( I use more, as you mix, you need to taste and adjust)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric (I use a dash more, love the fragrance!)
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron(dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water) Iranian saffron is the best
  • 4 – 5 lbs fryer chicken, cut up (I use organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 2 packages
  1. Combine pomegranate molasses, ground walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, turmeric, and saffron. Set aside.
  2. Clean chicken removing unnecessary bones and skin.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Place chopped onion and 3 tbsp olive oil in a pot and saute 3 minutes.
  5. Then add the chicken pieces, salt, pepper, and turmeric.
  6. Add 1/2 cup of water just enough to almost cover chicken and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
  7. Add the pomegranate mixture and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes longer (check water and add some if it is necessary).don't add too much otherwise your sauce will be too thin
  8. Add a bit more sugar if you want the sauce sweeter.I would, the molasses tends to be bitter 
  9. Cover, and place in a warm oven until ready to serve.
  10. Serve with Saffron Rice 

    (my friend Andres always falls asleep after a good meal!)

    Saturday, April 10, 2010

    Union Square Greenmarket

    The Farmer's Market was bustling today, people buying tall peach tree blossom branches and bright red tulips. We met up with painter, Dean Dalfonzo for a quick chat, soaking up the sun.
    Thinking about making a stew for dinner , I bought fresh root vegetables. Eric wandered back with Goat Milk/Black Raspberry icecream and homemade stinky cheese and fresh from the farm eggs.
    I  ended up buying Bison tenderloins from Elk Trails Ranch after the owner talked me out of beef for my stew, and micro greens from Hudson Valley Organics. My journey home led me to Holyland Market where I picked up Israeli pickles and classic tahini .

    So I will call this recipe:
    Saturday Afternoon Egg Salad

    6 farm fresh eggs, hard boiled, peeled and chopped
    1 chopped Israeli pickle
    3 tbsp. yummy tahini 
    dash of tumeric, fold together and serve on micro greens
    top with dollop of Middle Eastern hot pepper paste


    After winning a bet as to the age of the light posts that line San Francisco's Grant Ave., we began to look for remnants of a long lost era. I am always in search of authenticity. We came upon Li-Po bar, a dimly lit, 80 some odd year old, dive bar that was once an opium den. Red vinyl chairs, layers of dust, a shrine to Buddha, and enormous dilapidated hanging silk lanterns, decorate this place. We asked for the Li Po Special Mai Tai, topped with a liquor from Hong Kong-at $9 a drink. We drank in our surroundings.
    As we ventured back out onto the street to continue our shopping, our eyes adjusting to the light, a little tipsy, we felt we had found what we had been seeking: Chinatown

    Friday, April 9, 2010

    Champagne Toast

    (sculptures by Eric Parnes)

    Every year, for my Birthday, I buy myself a nice bottle of champagne. This year I found Champagne de Margerie NV Brut Grand Cru. A great buy at $40, but not always readily available, with limited distribution. Opens with bit of pineapple and melon and a hint of brioche. Try to find a bottle and a reason to celebrate!
    I think I will have a toast and head down to my favorite spot for dinner, Flea Market Cafe!!!!
    They serve excellent Moules Mariniere with a side of pommes frite.
    Here is to another year!

    Thursday, April 8, 2010

    Dar Maghreb

    (Photo by Eric Parnes)

    Tucked just off Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, Moroccan Dar Maghreb. A well known 35 year old restaurant. It was an enjoyable experience, being that we were having fun being tourists.
    A beautiful miniature version of a Moorish castle, with hand-hammered brass portals, a fountain in the courtyard exposed to the evening sky. Dining in total Moroccan style.
    Sure, this place gets mixed reviews, like many restaurants that merely become destination places. We still admired the facade, the belly dancing and the overall ambiance.
    What I was reminded of, was how much I love Tagine de Poulet aux Citrons. It had been years since I was first served this dish, by a friend that grew up in Morocco, who would preserve her own lemons.
    Dar Maghreb prepared a whole chicken, but here is a simple recipe: follow link

    Tagine de Poulet aux Citrons

    Wednesday, April 7, 2010

    Perfect Scrambled Eggs

    Painting by Duane Keiser

    I am reading My Life In France by Julia Child. (thanks Kelly)
    "One morning he asked, who will make oeufs brouilles today?"
    Wait! What! I have been doing it all wrong!
    While on the flight back from L.A., a woman next to me noticed I was reading this book and we both, with glee, recounted this section.

    With a smile, Chef Bugnard cracked two eggs and added a dash of salt and pepper. "Like this," he said gently blending the yolks and whites together with a fork. "Not too much."
    He smeared the bottom and sides of the frying pan with butter, then gently poured the eggs in. Keeping a low heat. Nothing happened. After 3 long minutes , the eggs began to thicken into a custard. Stirring rapidly with a fork, sliding the pan on and off the burner, he gently pulled the egg curds together-"Keep them a little loose; this is very important," I nodded, and he turned the scrambled eggs out onto a plate, sprinkled a bit of parsley around , and said, "Voila!"

    It's true! The next morning after reading, I got up, in our tiny studio kitchen in New York, and made perfect scrambled eggs. For the first time in my life! Indeed, "Voila!"

    Little Ethiopia

    We recently were shmying around Little Ethiopia in Los Angeles and stumbled upon this market, Merkato. Anything Ethiopian has sparked my interest since the Lucy Exhibit in NYC.
    I immediately wanted to stay when I saw a tiny bar in the center of the market.
    The sweet young waitress asked me if I have ever experienced an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
    Ethiopia's coffee ceremony is an important part of their social and cultural life. To be invited to one is considered a gesture of friendship and respect.
    She brought us a rich coffee, not unlike Turkish coffee , along with a snack of barley, and sat down burning incense on charcoal.
    What we left with was an authentic experience of genuine hospitality.
    Make your way here when in Los Angeles!
    "Buna dabo naw" Coffee is our bread

    Bday Project

    On the eve of my birthday, I decided to create another blog about my other passion, cooking and everything related to food. I realized along with trying to wrap myself around the tradition of painting, I fall asleep at night perfecting recipes in my head. I am always excited to share with my friends and clients, a new dish or a food custom from a foreign country. So why not blog about it?

    Here you will find recipes, reviews and opinions about restaurants, markets, wine, interesting ingredients or whatever comes across my plate.
    I am also going to be serving up my dishes at impromptu places, so be sure to sign up as a follower!