Welcome!

Award-winning Chef Phyllis Segura has cooked for people in all walks of life both in the U.S. and E.U. Chef Phyllis has been cooking for special people since 2000.
She attended the Apicius Cooking School of Lorenzo de’Medici in Florence, Italy; received a James Beard Foundation scholarship; attended various New York cooking schools; and watched her grandmother very carefully.
As a personal and private chef Phyllis cooks for individual clients and offers cooking demonstrations regularly. She specializes in small elegant dinner parties, and intimate dinners - plated or buffet, weekday meals and private and group culinary instructions.
The chef prepares a wide variety of cuisines. Whereas a restaurant chef might have a specialty that is served daily, as a personal or private chef Segura applies her skills to the requirements and palates of her clients. Fresh and seasonal ingredients make the best dishes. She is not shy with herbs and spices and will go out of her way to source ingredients.

Vegetarian, Vegan, Macrobiotic, Kosher, grain-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, blood type, diabetic and other special diets are available. Chef prefers to use organic, pesticide and antibiotic free, non-GMO and local products as much as possible.
Consultations with nutritionists are recommended for special needs and diets for proper guidelines.

References and a rate sheet are available. She currently lives in Saugerties, NY.
In 2013 she offered cooking classes in her home kitchen in Spencertown,NY www.reddoorcookingworkshop.blogspot.com

Send an email: info@cookingontheriver.com

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Saturday, November 19, 2016

DINNER PARTY


DINNER PARTY FOR SEVEN

" Everyone had a wonderful time and were still commenting on your glorious food the following day." CJ
  
This was a recent dinner party for seven women who had rented a house to spend a weekend in honor of a friend who was soon to be married, a bachelorette party, if you will. In the picture of the appetizer you will see the plate that was available to use. When you rent a house most of the supplies are catch as catch can. I try to visit in advance to find out what is there and what needs to be be brought in for the dinner. These plates were nice with a Brooklyn theme on them. The recipe for the appetizer follows. It was something I invented especially for the occasion using locally available ingredients. You can appreciate the complexity that results in simplicity. Here is the menu:

MENU

Forbidden Rice/Avocado & Cucumber/Smoked Salmon/ Smoked Trout STACK – Salmon Caviar, Capers & Piquant Sauce

With Watercress, Belgian Endive, Red Cabbage
In Citrus Vinaigrette
  

Rosemary Grilled Butterflied Lamb
With Mint Oil & Lamb Jus

Scalloped Potatoes

Roasted Vegetables: Carrots, Parsnips, Turnips, Brussels Sprouts, Rutabaga, Goldern Beets, Red Beets with Extra-Virgin Olive oil and Thyme



Chocolate Mousse with Whipped Cream & Cocoa Powder
Mont St. Michel Biscuit


The Forbidden Rice and smoked fish appetizer from the top.



Recipe for:
FORBIDDEN RICE MOLDED STACK
Serves 8 to 10

This is a multi-layered stack with Black Forbidden Rice, topped with a mixture of Avocado and Cucumber in a Citrus Vinaigrette, topped with half Smoked Salmon and half Smoked Trout and garnished with Salmon Caviar and Capers. A piquant sauce is added to peek the flavors and retain moisture.

FIRST LAYER
To make the Forbidden Rice:
1 cup rice
¼ cup combination vinegar  (2 tablespoons white wine vinegar/2 tablespoons rice vinegar)
2 tablespoons cane sugar
1 tablespoon salt
Rinse the rice, drain and let dry in the strainer for 15 minutes. Add the rice to 2 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, cover, cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, then 10 minutes over low heat. The water should be absorbed by then, if not give it another 5 minutes. Then remove from the heat and leave covered to rest for 15 minutes. Put into a wooden bowl.
While the rice is cooking make the vinegar sauce by combining the vinegars, sugar and salt and heating it until the sugar and salt are dissolved.
Then drizzle the vinegar mixture over the rice that has rested the full 15 minutes using a bamboo rice paddle or spatula. Fanning with the paddle to separate the rice until the mixture is absorbed. Cover with a damp towel and leave.

SECOND LAYER
1 ripe Avocado
1 cucumber, preferably a Kirby
Remove the flesh from the Avocado and cut into small cubes. Peel and deseed the cucumber and cut into cubes about the same size. Mix together. Add about 1-2 tablespoons of Citrus Vinaigrette and a pinch of salt. Combine lightly careful not to mush the Avocado

Make a Citrus Vinaigrette:
Juice of a lemon, lime and half an orange
Good quality extra-virgin olive oil
Combine well, beating with a fork.

THIRD LAYER
Smoked Salmon (local)
This calls for hot smoked salmon, not lox or Nova Scotia. I buy mine from Hookline Fish Co. on Route 28 in Kingston.
Smoked Trout (local)
I buy Lenny B’s smoked trout either directly from him or from Cheese Louise also on Route 28, Kingston, or Sunfrost on Route 212 in Woodstock.
You need about a half cup of each. The salmon is easy to separate from the skin and shred. The trout requires more attention as it is a whole fish. Be careful to remove all the bones. Then shred the flesh. This is best done with your fingers. Put each fish into a small container. Note: It would be perfectly fine to just use one of these fish instead of both.
The salmon caviar only requires you to refrigerate the jar and to remove some caviar. The capers should be rinsed and drained and loosely chopped.            
You also need a round metal mold. Small cans of tomato sauce with the ingredients removed and the top and bottom of the can removed works well. Or, you can visit a kitchen supply store and get a small mold. (add measurements)

THE SAUCE:
2-3 tablespoons Mayonnaise (I use Just Mayo)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
lime juice
dash of shiracha sauce
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, or ginger juice, optional
Mix all together well. Put into a squirt container. Add more lime juice if necessary to make the mixture slightly liquefied.


Now that you have all the ingredients prepared you can begin to plate.

It’s preferably to have a chilled plate but if you don’t that’s okay.

1 -Place the mold in the center of the clean plate. Take a few spoonfuls of the prepared Forbidden rice and press it to the bottom.
2 -Then take a few spoonfuls of the avocado/cucumber mixture and cover the layer of rice, spreading it out.
3 –Then take some smoked salmon and place it over one half of the Avocado/Cucumber mixture. Do the same with the trout. Press both down slightly.
4 – Take a few salmon eggs and place it on the smoked salmon. Do the same with the capers on the trout.
5 – Shake the container with the sauce and using a zigzag motion put some on top of the stack and down the front of the plate.
6 – Carefully pull up the metal mold. If some flakes of fish fall off don’t worry about it. You can place them back if you like.

SALAD:
Watercress, with thick stems removed
Belgian Endive, sliced across in slivers
Red Cabbage, thin sliced

I used two different types of watercress. I found a hydroponic variety at the local health food store that gets sold still in the soil, and also used the more common type. You can use whatever greens you like. Separate the sections into small pieces that don’t require cutting in order to fit into someone’s mouth. Toss in the Belgian Endive separating the leaves. Add some thin slices of red cabbage for color. Julienned carrot and other ingredients could be added for color. Nasturtiums would be nice. Coat and toss all the salad with a small amount of the Citrus Vinaigrette, keep it light.

Place on the plate surrounding the top half.


Sunday, November 06, 2016

PUMPKINS

I NEVER MET A PUMPKIN I DIDN'T LIKE

Lately some people have been wondering why at Halloween when there is a plethora of pumpkins offered at stores, farm stands and farmer's markets they are mostly the ones that are carved. Those pumpkins are sold as decorative objects and not as food. But they could be used as food.

In our American culture that is how those round orange pumpkins are mostly used for decoration and then discarded. They seem to have been bred to be rather tasteless and watery. Some of the small ones are called Pie Pumpkins. There are so many more varieties of delicious pumpkins or squashes. All are rather beautiful to look at and contemplate.

Many people purchase the cans labeled "pumpkin puree." They contain all sorts of squashes but not those round orange pumpkins used for Halloween. When I make pumpkin pie I generally use Butternut squash that I cut in half and roast.

Recently I found a display of many varieties of pumpkins or squashes in Woodstock along with a chart explaining some of their uses:










Saturday, October 29, 2016

DINNER AND COOKING LESSON

When this client (Shaun Butcher & family) originally contacted me he wasn't quite sure what he wanted but he knew he wanted something "out of the box." He said it a few times. I had to keep asking questions. It was their 11th wedding anniversary. They both had been in the military for 20 years and had a 10 year old son. What could we do? Uh, make dinner and I could make one of the dishes as a lesson? Okay. Sounds good. Then what would you like to have or learn? I sent them a couple of menu choices. They took something from one menu and something else from another and came up with a very tomato-y meal. Fine by me. Here is their menu: 

Florentine Crespelle
with Ricotta & Spinach
in a fresh Tomato Sauce

Creamy Polenta
with a Sausage and Meatball Sauce

Green Beans with Caramelized Onion

Garlic Bread


Flourless Chocolate Cake

I set about typing up the recipes so all could follow and purchasing the ingredients for our cook date. What happened is that the entire menu became a cooking lesson with the whole family pitching in. Then everyone, including me (though I didn't expect that) sitting down to eat. 

I hope they all had a good time and learned something they can use for their everyday meals. I especially enjoyed working with their son who was quite enthusiastic, especially about the chocolate. Instead of just having the lesson for one of the dishes, it was a total lesson for the entire meal. We ended up doubling the recipe for the crepes so they could store some in their freezer. Double the work but I had assistants.

Here are some photographs followed by one of the recipes. A very casual plating of the main course is pictured here too. I'd never made a pasta sauce quite like that but devised something especially for them. Sorry no photo of the Flourless Chocolate Cake...it has a way of disappearing...

Everyone chopping garlic (or eating cheese.)

 Dinner Time

Polenta, Sausage & Meatball Sauce, Green beans with Caramelized Onions
Happy & Hungry.
Florentine Crepes cookingontheriver
Crespelle alla Fiorentina

Serves 6 to 8

For the Crepes:
1 cup flour
½ cup milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
pinch salt
1 tablespoon (plus ¼ cup) olive oil

Process it all together. Or make it by hand: gradually add the milk to the flour beating vigorously, then add the eggs, salt, olive oil and water. Beat until smooth. Leave to rest for at least half an hour. Either use a crepe pan or a non-stick frying pan to make the crepes. Usually the first one is just a tester.  Heat the pan well and add the ¼ cup olive oil to heat. Pour the heated oil into a container that you will keep by the side of the stove.
Every time you want to make another crepe, take a little of the already warmed oil from the container.  Okay. With the pan at medium to medium-high heat, pour a ¼ cup of batter into the pan. Move the pan so that the batter covers the surface making a nice round. As soon as the crepe sets turn it over and cook the other side. Repeat, stacking the crepes into a pile. Keep warm. Or, you can make the crepes in advance and freeze them. Put some waxed paper between each crepe and slip the stack into a plastic zip bag then put flat into the freezer.

For the filling:
1-2 packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
1 pound ricotta cheese
pinch of nutmeg, freshly ground
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Drain and squeeze out the liquid from the spinach then chop fine. Add the spinach to  the ricotta, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix together very well.

For the sauce:
1-2 large cans chopped plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano type
1 medium red onion, small dice
fresh garlic to taste, minced or large pieces, your choice
olive oil
salt and black pepper
Put the tomatoes into a bowl --break up the whole tomatoes by squishing them with your hands.
Saute the onion in the olive oil. Once the onion is wilted add the garlic and sauté.
Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper. Let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
Taste and see. If the tomatoes are slightly bitter, don’t be afraid to add a pinch of sugar or a teaspoon of honey.  This is not a very cooked sauce and it will be cooked again in the oven.

To assemble: Oven 425F.
Put a small amount of the tomato sauce at the bottom of a ceramic or glass oven dish. Fill each crepe with a generous amount of filling, then roll up and arrange side by side the dish. Place in the dish open side down. Pour the sauce over the crespelle. You don’t have to use it all; sometimes just a light covering is enough, then again covering it completely is pretty good too. Sprinkle some fresh Parmigiano cheese and/or mozzarella on the top if you like. A little bit of olive oil sprinkled on the top is nice too, but if you are counting calories leave it out. Bake for about 20 minutes or until it is all bubbling nicely.
Chef tip: adding a little uncooked olive oil over the top right before serving is a very Florentine touch.

The crepes will be pillow-y soft and unctuous to the taste. These can be served in individual portions for a starter or several as a main dish.

Don’t forget a light red wine to drink with these crepes.