Category Archives: food and Wine

The Simplest Dinner

Some things in life should be simple. Like taking a walk on an autumn day. Or sitting by the fire on a snowy night. sipping a manhattan. Roasting chicken fits into that category.

It is so simple that you forget that you are actually cooking. And if it is done right, it can be seriously good. Tom Keller’s recipe is probably the best one around because it is the simplest of the bunch. the only thing that takes a second is to truss the bird.

Go for it!

Back to Back with Gordon Ramsey

Gordon Ramsey is famous for being, shall we say, a bit difficult. In his famous TV shows he berates restaurant owners and staff  when they do not live up to his exacting standards. Here he is

Image result for Gordon Ramsay

So imagine you are back to back with Gordon Ramsey in a kitchen where he is going to make and instruct you how to make crab cakes. You are not allowed to turn around and look at what he is doing. Just listen to him. And you have to keep up with him or face his wrath. And  the clock is running!

Here is the video. It is hilarious.

Pass the Momo’s!

Dumplings are one of God’s great gifts to man. So why don’t more people make them at home?

Perhaps it is the reluctance to make the dumpling wrappers? Come on! You can buy them! And you can whip out some momo’s  in no time.

All you need is a recipe.  I’ve got you covered on that one!

Image result for momos

Go for it!

And for my quote of the day

The momos in Kathmandu greatly surpassed our expectations.

Or perhaps you are in the mood for a lobster momo in London?

Mastering the Perfect Canelé

Many prefer to be quick in the kitchen. I suppose they are the same in  bed. Others prefer more intricate challenges.

If you find yourself in the latter category, I have a new adventure to capture your attention – making the Perfect Canelé. They look like this

Image result for the Perfect Canelé

The ingredients are simple. But … as you can read here, making them perfect is no simple task.

The first step is to find the right molds. These are not cheap, and they are best purchased from a French supplier. I will explore whether I can obtain a sufficient quantity.

Stay tuned!

What Food Blogs Do you Follow?

I check out quite a few food blogs each day. Not so much for new recipes, but for inspiration. And of course, every now and then, I see something that I want to include in my cooking routines or post about. When I do, I save the link for later.

So I was grateful for my friend Eneko, who shared this link to a food blog called “CV”.  The “CV” stands for cannelle et vanille.

Check it out for some very cool videos that go beyond just how to do things faster or in more trendy ways. I will be following it and posting on it here.

Stay tuned!

How to Make Fisinjan in Baku

It is a dish that you will not find in any of Julia Child’s cookbooks. And I am confident that Julia would have raised an eyebrow if were on offer at a dinner party. If you are curious, this gives some initial insight  (from Saveur)

Mehriban Kazimova, the 69-year-old mother of my Baku friend Zulya, is sticking long iron nails of the hardware variety into a pomegranate the size of a baby’s head. She then lowers her spiky work into a pot bubbling with a slurry of ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses. Then she heats a horseshoe over a burner. A horseshoe. Grabbing oven mitts, she screams an incantation in Azeri and drops the red-hot horseshoe—splosh! clunk!—into the pot, leaving the whole fairy-tale brew to simmer just short of forever, until it’s time to strain out the metal.

Errr … why the screaming? Apparently that is needed to frighten the stew into blackening. Of course! One can imagine  — with a bit of trepidation — what an apartment block might sound like just before dinner time. A good reason to stop on the way home from work for a pop … or three.

After the extended exertion, you might get something like this

Image result for fisinjan

That is the fisinjan in the foreground.

I took the above quote from Anya von Bremzen’s rather colorful article about her culinary experiences in Baku.  The ending captures the flavor of the thing

Zulya taps my shoulder, as if reading my mind. “Anya…Anyechka,” she cajoles. “Next time you come to Baku, we’ll make you a whole huge Caspian fish stuffed with walnuts!”


But back to fisinjan. Let’s be honest. I am sure that the dish is delicious, but it does have a certain “been in the backyard under the deck for a week or two” look about it. That unfortunate aspect is admitted even by its champions (from Flavors of Baku)

Pilaf is the signature dish of Azerbaijani cuisine. It is usually served on special occasions and known in Azerbaijan as Ash or Plov.  Azerbaijani cuisine has dozens of different types of pilaf, one of the most delicious of which is Fisinjan Plov–a pilaf with chicken or meatballs, cooked in a sweet-and-sour sauce, made of crushed walnuts and Narsharab (pomegranate syrup/molasses). Fisinjan (or Fesenjan) is an ancient dish of Persian origins. It certainly isn’t one of the most beautiful dishes in Azerbaijani cuisine, in fact, some describe it as unappetizing looking dish, but you will change your mind as soon as you taste its delicate, rich, and flavorful sauce.

This photo says it all

Fisinjan Shakh Plov

I  like the phrase “… some describe it as unappetizing …”. I would fit safely into that category.

Perhaps this is the start of a thread in this blog —  dishes to write home about?  This comment about a Baku restaurant sets the stage

… Upstairs, there’s a club with a view of the Caspian Sea. Yes, you can drink, and you ought to. You’re in remote Azerbaijan, for goodness sake — celebrate!

God bless! And I am curious. What does a really well prepared fisinjan taste like?

If you are in the mood for more “meals to write home about”, you are in luck! Tony Bourdain has been offering these for years. And if you are looking for some entertainment with your Sunday coffee, you could do worse than watching Tony’s Tanzanian adventure. Tony at his snarkiest! His warthog butt makes fisinjan look like filet!


Hunting for Hard Cider

Did you know that the renowned ship, The Mayflower, almost had to turn back midway across the ocean?

Halfway through the journey, the ship was caught in a storm and one of its beams cracked badly enough to warrant the consideration of turning back to England.

Fortunately, at least one of the passengers wanted to grow apples in the new world.

“The great iron screw”, taken from a cider press, helped brace the beam to keep the ship from breaking up and did it long enough to make it to the New World

This image gives an inkling of what that adventure might have looked like

Related image

Just nine days after arriving, William Blackstone planted the first apple trees in New England.  Cider making flourished in the colonies and in the US, right up to prohibition.

Now, one might say it is making a comeback. Saveur says this

Not so long ago, it would have been difficult to gather … American-born ciders for a tasting (ranging) from bubbly and sweet to bittersweet and still, barrel-aged to bone dry. Now we have a wealth of options.

At least two noted producers are located in New York

I like the idea of the Aaron Burr CSA.. From their site

… we encourage you to sign up for our CSA, which occurs every Spring.  CSA members reserve cases of cider in advance and pick up their cider from the farm on 2 designated days during in the summer and fall.  During this time you can taste cider and tour the orchard and cidery.

What a nice idea! Andy Brennan, of the Aaron Burr Cidery also does wild apple scavenges.

Bravo!    This may be worth further investigation!