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 11, 2006

Go to this address to see the online version of the article entitled, Have Pots Will Travel.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

To enlarge the image click over it a couple of times and it will get larger.
Rockland Magazine Article November 2006
This article arrived today November 8, 2006. It is featured both in Rockland Magazine and Westchester Magazine; they are published by the Journal News. The story includes several other Personal Chefs. There is an error; the Aga heater. Please read this as Aga cooker. Otherwise, it was great fun cooking for this new journalist in his mother's home kitchen on an electric cooktop. My pan kept sliding around on the glass top causing a bit of hilarity. Mom came home and was quite gracious about this invasion of her kitchen. I understand that the entire family enjoyed the meals. The rice mentioned in the article was Jasmine Coconut Rice made with fresh coconut and coconut milk.

I've got to get ready now for a 10-person dinner party for tomorrow night. Salmon with a Potato Crust on a bed of Leeks in Champagne Vinaigrette is the main dish. Plus, by special request, Apple Pie cooked on the AGA topped with some Dulce de Leche. PS

Monday, November 06, 2006


Phyllis Segura copyright 2006

4-5 pounds of ripe summer tomatoes, heirloom variety preferred, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
Mexican cinnamon
Cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, yellow mustard seed, whole cardamom, ginger,
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
small leek, chopped
1 cup white sugar
¾ cup Moscovado sugar
1 cup apple cider vinegar
golden raisins
red chili peppers
tamarind concentrate
lemon juice
sea salt
black pepper
grapeseed or canola oil or ghee

Grind the spices and sauté them in oil or ghee, add the leek, garlic, grated ginger. Add the tomatoes, hen add the sugars and vinegar and a pinch of paprika. Simmer slowly until thick. Stir occasionally. Add the raisins, a couple of red pepper pods, pinch of curry powder, some whole mustard seeds, a chunk of ginger, some chopped sundried tomatoes, a curry leaf or two, and some bay leaves. Salt and Pepper.

In the Aga, bring the ingredients to a boil over the Boiling Plate then place, uncovered in the Simmering oven.

Add a teaspoon of tamarind concentrate and cook down until thick. Mash the tomatoes as you go. Taste. Correct the seasoning.

It isn’t ready until most of the tomatoes and other ingredients have dissolved in the sauce. It should be a little bit chunky. The mixture should be quite thick. Let cool and put into clean jars, add a little lemon juice, then refrigerate. It’s ready after about a day or two. You can eat it right away but it is really better after resting for that amount of time.

Phyllis Segura copyright 2006

Jasmine Rice
Fresh Turmeric, grated – about the length of half your pinky finger
Shelled Pistachio nuts,toasted
Dried Cranberries
Sea salt

5 or 6 Red Onions
vegetable oil or olive oil

Thin slice the onions and saute slowly in a small quantity of the oil. Sprinkle with a little sugar and salt and continue to cook until slightly browned and caramelized. Put aside.

Measure the rice. Use the recommended quantity of rice to water; probably 2 to 1.

Grate the fresh turmeric and add to the rice and water with a pinch or two of sea salt.

Bring to a boil on the boiling plate. Then put into the Simmering oven for about 20 minutes. Take out and stir in the pistachios and dried cranberries. Put back in the oven to steam for another 5-10 minutes. Take out and put into a serving dish. Toss in the caramelized onions with some additional salt, if needed, or put them on top of the dish.

Phyllis Segura copyright 2006

Mix together Maple syrup, Apple Cider Vinegar, Dark Rum, Soy Sauce, freshly grated ginger and freshly chopped garlic. Boil together until slightly thickened.

Bake chicken at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes. Then pour the glaze over and bake about another 20 minutes or until glaze is browned and golden. Turn over a few times to brown on all sides. Be careful to not let it burn.

Garnish with chopped green onions.

Phyllis Segura copyright 2006

2 onion
3⁄4 cup olive oil
1 can tomato puree
1⁄2 cup dry red wine
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 butternut squash
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 head celery
1⁄2 pound pitted green olives
1-1-1/2 oz. capers
1⁄2 cup parsley, chopped
1⁄4-1/2 cup pine nuts
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute sliced and quartered onion in olive oil. Add puree, wine, sugar. Simmer 30 minutes. (For the Aga: saute on the simmering plate then put into the baking oven.)

Peel, seed and dice the squash. Stir vinegar into the tomato sauce. Add the squash. Season.

Cut celery and remove the strings. (Peel like peeling a carrot.) Cut into a large dice. Blanch in boiling water then drain and dip into ice water and add to the mixture.

(For the Aga: put back into the baking oven for about 1⁄2 hour or the simmering oven for about an hour or until the squash is soft.)

Chop olives. Add capers, parsley, olives, pine nuts for final five minutes. (For the Aga: put into the Simmering oven for 5 minutes to 1 hour.)

Let cool. Better the next day. Serve with additional salt and pepper and a drizzle of very good olive oil.

Good as a starter or side dish.

adapted from AGA magazine, Spring 2006

8 red, yellow or orange Baby Peppers
2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed
3 oz. provolone cheese, cut into very small cubes
4T freshly grated Parmigiano cheese
1 egg
3T chives, finely cut
(2 cloves garlic, finely chopped, optional)
olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Remove the stalks from the peppers and reserve. With a small, sharp knife, remove the white membrane and seeds from inside the peppers taking care not to tear the flesh.

Mix together the mashed potatoes, provolone, Parmigiano, egg, chives, the garlic, if you are using it, and some salt and pepper.

Using a small teaspoon, fill the peppers three-quarters full with the mixture; the stuffing will puff up and if too full will ooze out the top. Put the stalks back in place on top. Pack the peppers tightly into an ovenproof dish, drizzle with olive oil and bake for about 30minutes, until tender.

On the Aga: Cook on the grid shelf set on the floor of the Roasting oven. If they start to brown too quickly, slide in the cold plain shelf on the second runners down.

Serve hot or cold.

Use a decorative pan to cook the peppers so that you can also serve them in it.

Phyllis Segura copyright 2006

I created this dish for an event for a group from the New York Women's Culinary Alliance. It is one of those unusual but magical combinations. It sounds heavy but the chemistry is: if you poach fish covered in a fat it doesn't penetrate the fish. I don't know why or how this works but this fish is not greasy. The lightness and the taste is unusual.

Fresh Halibut fillets, cut into serving sized pieces, no skin
Clarified Butter, from 2 pounds of unsalted butter, or Ghee
8 oz.or more of small capers
1-3 T Asian Fish Sauce ( Nam pla)
Pomegranate Molasses
2 whole pomegranates, seeds only

Boil the clarified butter and add the capers and the fish sauce, to taste. Be careful not to brown the butter but to have it boiling.

Place the halibut pieces in a pan to fit. Place the pan on the top runners in the Roasting oven for about 2 minutes or until the fish begins to turn opaque.

Take out the fish and pour the butter over it to cover the fish completely.

Roast another 5 minutes or so and take out. Remove the fish and capers to a warm platter with a fish spatula. Leave the butter in the pan.

Drizzle with Pomegranate Molasses. Toss the pomegranates seeds over decoratively.

Eat immediately.

(It might be possible to save the butter in a container in the freezer for future use in the same dish. But this has not been tested.)

Friday, October 06, 2006


These autumn harvest beans are also called BORLOTTI in Italian.

Look for the fresh mottled red and white marbled pods. Pop them out of their shells, cover with salted water and several cloves of peeled garlic. (Hazan adds bay and sage leaves and a potato.) Bring to a boil then simmer until the beans are soft. The beans turn a creamy grayish color, rather like chestnuts. (You can ask how long to cook them but I can't be precise. I can only tell you that fresh beans cook a lot faster than dry ones.) When they are tender drain and puree them in a food processor. Add some olive oil,and salt and pepper. Spoon into a dish and eat with bread or vegetables. I used some the other day in tuna salad instead of mayonnaise.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Taste of the AGA

On October 19th I will be presenting a program for the NYWCA (New York Women's Culinary Alliance) which is titled "A Tour and a Tasting of the Aga Cooker". It is being underwritten by Domain Furniture. The event will be held at the Aga Studio at Grange Furniture, 200 Lexington Avenue, 2nd Floor, from 6 to 8pm.

In 2000 the Aga was listed as one of the top three design icons of the 20th Century along with the coke bottle and the VW beetle. The Aga cooker is a lifestyle and lasts a lifetime. It is a cast iron heat accumulator with a unique temperature regulation system that continually transfers the heat to the ovens and hotplates at precise pre-set levels, so the Aga is always ready to cook when you are. The Aga was invented by Dr. Gustaf Dalen, recipient of a Nobel Prize for Physics in 1912.

Proceeds will be donated by Domain to Gilda's Club in keeping with Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The event is open to non-members of the alliance and costs $20. A reservation is required and attendance is limited to 25. Go to www.nywca.org and click on Programs, the A Tour and a Tasting of the Aga Cooker and follow the directions to register. It's easy. But hurry because it is almost sold-out.

Menu for A Tour and a Tasting of the Aga Cooker

Hors d’oeuvres:
Pesto Pancakes with sour cream, smoked fish, chives
Grilled Brie sandwiches with tomato chutney
Spiced nuts
Autumn Caponata

Halibut bathed in a Pomegranate Butter Sauce
Chicken drumsticks roasted with a Maple-Rum Glaze
Small baby peppers stuffed with potatoes and provolone
Jasmine rice pilaf with pistachios, currants, and caramelized onions

Apple, cheddar and almond Galettes
Grape, brie and walnut Galettes
Magic Bars
Pizza Judge

On Columbus Day, October 9th, from 1pm to 4pm I was one of the judges for the 2nd Annual Rockland Tasty N'Healthy Pizza Contest. Sixty pizzas competed and I don't know how many different restaurants. The Pizza Contest is sponsored by the Rockland County Department of Health. It was held in the Nanuet Mall in Banchetto Feast Restaurant.

The other judges were: Charles Calotta from the Sons of Italy; Claudette Clark a Dietician at Nyack Hospital; Rossano Giannini, restaurateur; Dianne Haltner, Nutritionist with the Cornell Extension; Diane Lombardi, Dietician.

We got there at around 12:30pm and the event began at 1:00pm. The judges were lined up at a table with their backs to the mall entrance. There must have been a lot of publicity for free pizza because the place was packed with noisy throngs!

I don't know about the other judges but I only tasted the smallest morsel of each pizza. Sometimes, when the toppings looked good, I ate a bit more of that. Just imagine tasting 60 pizzas... We didn't finish the tasting until after 4:30pm with only one brief break.

There were several categories: Healthiest Pizza, Best Thin Crust, Best Traditional Pizza, Most Creative, People's Choice and Grand Prize for overall best.

There was one pizza with bananas and blueberries, another with french fried potatoes, and just one with seafood but it also had pasta on it. There were several plain tomato pizzas that had cold salad piled on top of them; this was not my favorite. The so-called traditional pizza was the type with an orangy mix of tomato and cheese, also not my personal favorite. I actually did like some of them, especially the whole wheat thin crust ones. And there was one salad one that stood out with a plain thin crust on the bottom and arugula layered on top that was covered all over with good slices of tomatoes. I hope that got a prize. But mostly I was inspired to come up with something that was closer to my ideal 'healthy' pizza. That's later.

The winners were: Sal's in Spring Valley for the Healthiest Topping; Basilico on Route 202 in Pomona for the Best Thin Crust Pizza; Franco's in Nanuet for the best Traditional Pizza; Dough Boys in Stony Point for the Most Creative Pizza; People's Choice with 475 votes out of 2968 went to Rocco's in New City; and the Grand Prize went to
Di Maria's in Valley Cottage.

I don't think I will eat another piece of pizza for a loooong time.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


To find out prices for Cooking on the River services and to ask me any questions
do either of the following:

email me at: info@cookingontheriver.com

Click on Comments on this blog and send me a message

Either way I will receive it and send you a reply. Phyllis

Peter Piper Picked a Pack of Pickles
How Many Pickles Did Peter Piper Pick

Oh, yeah... It's August. The new Kirby cucumbers are here. The other day I put up a few jars of pickles with my own spice mix that I thought I would share with you:

You will need to buy or grow Kirby cucumbers picked when they are small and not wrinkled. Select some of equal size that will fit nicely into quart jars. Boil those jars and lids. I am going to assume you know about canning and I will not go into that here.

For about 12 pickles: Mix together, 2 sliced garlic cloves, 1T whole coriander, 1T celery seeds, 1T dill seeds, 1T fennel seeds, 1tsp whole Allspice, 1tsp cloves, 1tsp black peppercorns, 1tsp juniper berries, 3 bay leaves, a couple of red pepper pods, fennel or dill flowering tops, 1/4tsp powdered turmeric. Add about 1-1/2 cups of vinegar of your choice, I have made flavored vinegars in the past so I used an allium flavored one, add about 1/2 cup (more or less) organic sugar, some salt. Boil all the seeds and spices together with the liquids and add about a cup of water. (You can put a spoon in and taste it now to see if you want to change the salt to sugar to vinegar to water ratio.)

Put the cucumbers into the jars and pour the hot liquid over them. If there isn't enough liquid to come to the top of the jar just add some more boiled water. Cover loosely with the lids (If you intend to keep the pickles more than a couple of weeks then go through the canning process and boil the jars at this point.) and let sit for 1 hour to 24 hours or more,(taste) then refrigerate.

A tip: I cut one pickle into quarters and put it near the top of the jar so if I want to see how they taste I can pick it out with a fork, rinse it off gently, and taste to see if I want to continue the pickling process longer.

If you don't like that slightly yellowish color that is imparted to the pickles then eliminate the turmeric.

Let me know how it goes! Email me at: info@cookingontheriver.com

Thursday, August 24, 2006


This is an alert to all my present past and future clients. I am not a caterer. I have to cook the food in your home, or office, or front lawn, anywhere, but I can not do it in my kitchen. I also need to be booked usually several weeks in advance due to my busy schedule of activities. Sometimes something falls through and I can do something for you on not a lot of notice, but tht is rare. If you know of a commercial kitchen that is low cost, let me know and I will use it to prepare your food. Most commercial kitchens I know of charge at least $25 per hour and I have to extend those charges to you. I am posting this for obvious reasons: I keep getting asked to cater, as in deliver food. Can't do it. Sorry.

This just in:

USDA Secretary Mike Johanns has announced that domestic and export stocks of long grain rice has been contaminated by a genetically engineered variety of rice that is not approved for human consumption. Johanns said that the contamination was admitted to be the fault of Bayer Corporation, but the USDA doesn't know how widespread the contamination is. According to Johanns the biotech rice poses no health risks, but could damage the U.S. $1 billion rice export market, since many nations refuse to import genetically engineered rice. Japan has already announced a ban on long grain rice imports from the US. Last year, Japan and the EU banned US corn imports as a result of yet another GE contamination scandal.
Learn more: http://www.organicconsumers.org/2006/article_1584.cfm

Monday, August 21, 2006


You might have noticed that I haven't had much time (goodness, since April) to post anything on this blog.

My apologies. I get distracted.

These days I have pretty much eliminated making 'meals for the week in advance' and I am just doing dinner parties.

I like creating special menus for special meals more than anything. I also like doing classes that are also dinner parties. Most people I have come across could use some knife skills honed. Or, a special lesson in a distinct cuisine: Southwestern, Mediterranean, French, Italian, or a food that is especially liked. I recently had a client who loved beets. She wanted to do an entire meal for eight people with beets in every course. Send me an email and I'll send you the menu.

Autumn is coming and I would like to do an Apple Cider dinner party. Any takers?

Now that the vegetables and fruits are fresh, eat ‘em while you can. Sashay over to the Farmers Market and get some beets (or dig them out of your garden) - wash them well, trim the ends and plop them into some boiling water until fork tender. Drain and cool by running cold water over them, then peel. The peel slips right off. Slice into rounds. Slice up some onion rings, chopped parsley, add some olives, sugar, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper then whisk together. Pour over the beets and let them stand a couple of hours, refrigerated.

Fresh cranberry beans are in season. They’re the ones with the red and white mottled shells. Pop them out and boil in slightly salted water until soft. Drain, add chopped red onion, parsley, garlic, balsamic vinegar, a good olive oil, salt and pepper, toss well. Eat warm or cold.

Get some mixed berries. You can freeze them for eating in the winter. In fact freeze almost everything, except tomatoes. Freeze those cranberry beans too. Blanch briefly in water. Cool in ice water and put into freezer bags. You will be going to the Farmer’s Market in your freezer all winter long! Slow cook everything in the winter.

Take those beans and add some sauteed chopped or sliced garlic, chop up some onion, salt and pepper, saute in some tomato paste. Add the beans, a tablespoon or two of dijon mustard, a splash of dark molasses for sweetness, and liquid. Water or beer or even a fruit juice - give it a try. Slow cook after first bringing it all to a boil.
Check it after about 45 minutes to see if more liquid is needed. Don't let it dry out.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Looks like I have not been posting anything here since April. In June I started selling AGA ovens out of Hartsdale. I am still available for dinner parties but only if scheduled in advance as my schedule is tight these days.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Wonderful herb, Sorrel. You plant it. It grows. Cut it down in the Fall and it comes up pretty and fresh in the Spring! What a deal.

Along with Nettles, Sorrel is a terrific cleansing herb. The French make Salmon with Sorrel Sauce. Too good. Eastern Europeans feast on Schav, a cold soup.
Here is how to make it:

Pick a big bunch of some fresh Springtime Sorrel. You can’t have too much. Wash it very well and remove any tough stems. Drop in a peeled onion and bring to a boil. Let is simmer about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit for another 20 minutes. The Sorrel will wither away and almost melt. You could take out the onion altogether or chop it up and put it back, whichever way is fine. Beat a couple of eggs then temper them with some of the hot soup. Keep beating the eggs and add the soup gradually so it doesn’t curdle. Then stir the egg mixture back into the soup, while stirring the soup. You can whisk in some yogurt or sour cream at this point, or you could have added it to the beaten eggs. Either way. Let cool then chill well in the refrigerator.

Possible additions and garnishes for each bowl: a boiled new potato, chopped cucumber, a hard-boiled egg, chives, chopped scallion, and a floating dollup of sour cream or yogurt or crème fraiche.

Drink it in a bowl or a glass. You know Spring is really here!!

Nettles and more Nettles

On Wednesday, April 19th, I drove to Newburgh, NY, to visit my friend Nancy MacNamara of Honey Locust Farm House. She grows beautiful organic greens for many of the New York City restaurant chefs. She also specializes in growing wild greens that are edible. Nancy invited me to come pick some Nettles so that I could brew some and go on a Nettle Fast for a couple of days. This is a terrific thing to do in the Spring. Nettles contain an enormous amount of minerals, lots of calcium too. I am drinking a lot of Nettle Tea today and tomorrow in order to drop off some ‘winter weight.’ I also discovered that making a soup with about half Nettle broth and vegetable and chicken broth is very nice and tasty.

When picking Nettles wear rubber gloves as the underside of the leaves and the stem are very prickly. Once you put the nettles into a pot and cook them, the prickly quality disappears and you can drink the tea, or cook nettles like spinach. Nancy said she made Empanadas with Nettles and Venison. (I’m waiting for the recipe.) Picking the fresh tops is recommended and the plant continues its growth undisturbed. Watch out if you want to plant them in your garden, as they are invasive.

(There are tales of the famous Tibetan Yogi saint Milarepa who ate nothing but Nettles while in meditation retreat for several years. He turned a rather wondrous shade of green. If you want to read about him, pick up a copy of The Rain of Wisdom, Shambhala Publications.)

May, with the appearance of young vegetables, is the chef's new year.
If you are geared to seasonable edibles, you'll find these fresh and springing up: Artichokes, Sweet Peas and Shoots, Asparagus, early Leeks, Sorrel, Ramps (wild leeks), Fiddleheads, Fava Beans, Nettles, New Potatoes, Morel Mushrooms, Watercress, Chives and Chervil. Add to the list: Kumquats, Salmon, Lamb and Soft-Shelled Crabs.

Tip: Click on the images to enlarge them.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Crespelle alla Fiorentina

Here is a recipe for some delicious crepes that I have been making for years. I learned the recipe while studying in Florence. Customarily, crepes are covered with bechamel sauce but these have a tomato sauce applied. The fillings can be variable depending upon your tastes and the rest of the menu. The ricotta is a good binder and I have been using the low-fat version.

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, staking the crepes into a pile. Keep warm. Or, you can make the crepes in advance and freeze them.

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. Add the ricotta, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix very well.

For the sauce:
1 large can chopped plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano type
1 red onion, small chop
fresh garlic to taste, minced or large pieces, your choice
olive oil
salt and black pepper
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 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. Pour the sauce over the crespelle. You don’t have to use it all; sometimes just a covering is enough. 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.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

It's nice to be mentioned. I don't charge $55-65 per hour, yet. And if you sign up for 12 sessions the last one is FEE free. You who have had information about you published know that the incidence of incorrectness is extremely high, so remember when you read absolutely anything how off the mark it can actually be!!

They changed the recipe a little and two people actually phoned to ask about making two cakes because the instructions did not specify that. As you can see my original recipe as written did and that's what I told them.

Friday, February 24, 2006

(the long version)

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Collect enough beef bones, shin meat, ribs, meat scraps to fill a half-sheetpan
2 onions, washed, quartered with skins on
2-3 carrots, washed but not scraped, cut in 1-inch pieces

Spread bones and meat scraps out in one layer. Roast for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Toss or stir every 20 minutes. Bones should brown evenly but not burn. Add onions and carrots
after about 45 minutes and continue to roast another 45 minutes. Stir and turn over a couple of times.

Remove from oven and put the bones, meat, vegetables, into a stockpot using a spoon with holes. Pour out whatever fat is in the pan. Add some water and scrape up the cooked-on juices. Don’t burn them. Add to the stockpot.

Fill pot with water almost to the top by about 2 to 3 inches. Boil. Then boil gently for 2 hours. Skim fat off. Add a bunch of parsley, half head of unpeeled garlic, half a celery heart, 2-3 bay leaves, 2 teaspoons thyme, 2 teaspoons whole peppercorns, 1 cup chopped canned tomatoes without the juice. Simmer gently for 8 hours or overnight. Strain the broth through a sieve. Don’t press the pieces down just shake the sieve to allow the juices to pass through. Refrigerate and when cold skim off the fat.

Or, just buy some beef broth in a box…there are some organic brands on the shelves these days, such as Pacific, that are good.

You could also add some demi-glace to the liquids if you don’t think you’ve achieved a satisfactorily enough hearty broth. You’ll notice too that I have not indicated the addition of any salt. This is not, repeat not, an oversight.


Find some Onion Soup bowls, the ones that are ceramic and glazed brown. There are always some for sale in thrift stores. Looks like people buy them then don’t know what to do next. They are perfect for putting into the oven and practically indestructible. If you have a cuckoo clock you could pretend you are eating in Switzerland!

Take about 8 large onions (I like half Vedalia and half red onions)
Some oil – grapeseed or canola
1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
10 cups of the beef broth you made
An optional Baguette, thin sliced and toasted in 400 degree oven about 8-10 minutes
An optional mountain of grated Emmenthaler and/or Gruyere cheeses
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt, yes, salt

Slice the onions on a mandoline – or thin slice by hand. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 2 tablespoons oil. Saute the onions in batches until well-browned. Add a dash of sugar if needed to help the browning.

Optional: Slice the bread and toast. Grate the cheeses. Put 6-8 slices (or less) in each soup bowl placed on a sheetpan. Sprinkle a little cheese on the bread.

When the onions are well browned add the stock (beef, chicken, or water: Yes, the French used water and sometimes chicken stock. Don’t be so shocked; it’s true.) Boil and simmer, uncovered, 20 minutes. Push the onions through a food mill and back into the broth. (Yes, a food mill, not a processor. If you really, really, want to just leave them stringy, though I don’t know why you’d want to do that and have to watch people struggling with the dripping onions. They’re going to have enough trouble with the stringy cheese, you sadist. Supply a copious amount of napkins.) Add salt and pepper. Then taste. You should have been tasting all along. You knew that.

Fill the bowls with the soup. Fill to the rim. Stir in some water, if needed.

Optional: but of course you must do it. Pile the cheeses on top of the bowls – half cup or more – make sure the cheese touches the edge of the bowl so it will stick and form a pretty crust that doesn’t sink into the soup. I did notice that when I only used 3 slices of bread, and not the full 8, the crust did drop down. You could probably live with it either way.

Bake, on the sheetpan, (you still have the bowls on the sheetpan, don’t you?) for 30 minutes to brown. Serve while hot.

Makes 6 bowls or more, but not much more.

Of course you could just eat the onion soup without the bread and cheese and it will taste just fine, really.

Onion Soup
(the short version)
6 onions sliced thin
2T butter
1t flour
1t sugar
6c beef broth
1/2c dry white wine
6 slices french bread
3T grated Swiss
Lightly brown onions in butter. Sprinkle with sugar and flour. Cook. Add beef broth, white wine, s&p. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Toast french bread. Pour soup over. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Put in oven or broiler to brown cheese.

Sunday, February 19, 2006


On a recent Saturday evening I prepared a dinner party for six people who were tasting Merlots and Shiraz wines.

We didn’t know when it would start snowing – at 4pm or 10pm – but the dinner was scheduled for 7:30 anyway.

After an arrival tasting with snippets of cheeses and a sun-dried tomato and artichoke spread, everyone sat down to begin dinner that began with a hot Onion Soup Gratinee made with beef broth that had been simmered and mellowed for hours. The steaming bowls were coated with a lavish grating of Gruyere and Emmenthaler cheeses.

This was followed with a fresh Salad of mesclun and red leaf lettuces, snow pea shoots, Macadamia nuts, and tiny cubes of red bell pepper. The salad dressing, designed not to interfere with the wine, was prepared with verjuice and blood orange juice, with walnut and canola oils, soy and mustard. Halved grape tomatoes and avocado cubes that had been soaking in the dressing were added.

No snow yet. Everyone sounded very jovial and friendly. Exclamations of “This is superb!” filtered from the dining room.

The main course, a prime beef Rib Roast, which had been coated with fresh herbs and black pepper rested at room temperature prior to a high heat blast and then a lowered temperature. It rested again, covered in foil, on the back of the stove for 30 minutes to relax. Then served au jus, crusty on the outside and warm in the center.

The roast was accompanied by a Yorkshire Pudding with sautéed leeks, and Green Peas cooked in the French way with bits of lettuce and scallion bulbs and a pinch of savory and thyme.

At this point the wine tasting was between two Shiraz wines, one mixed with other wines and one only Shiraz. The bottles were covered and the examining of tastes and preferences began.

Everyone wended ever so slowly toward dessert made mostly of fruits and designed to allow for optimum digestion. Bosc pears poached in sweetened red wine and vanilla beans were filled with creamy Mascarpone flavored with honey and lemon zest, then coated with Caillebaud chocolate, and garnished with marzipan leaves. They each stood on a deep purple strained reduction of the pear poaching liquid with blackberries. This was accompanied with a strawberry fan, fresh blackberries, small scoops of mango-vanilla sorbet and a petit triangle of Pyrenee with Green Peppercorn cheese, and more chocolate shavings.

Then….the snow flurries began and continued until the following afternoon.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Last night, January 31st, was the Annual Winter Potluck for the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance. This year’s theme was Chinese New Year. The event was totally sold out as all the members like to come to this gathering and see and meet each other. The membership is comprised of women in all areas of the culinary field. About 120 members gathered this year at the Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) on 23rd Street in Manhattan. Gotham Wine Mart supplied all the wines and alcoholic beverages.

Three prizes were awarded: one for the best presentation; most delicious, and best use of theme. I won for most delicious! The prize was a beautiful Analon non-stick wok. My good friend, Judy, won for best presentation with her fried dumplings with stir fried napa cabbage. The best use of theme was for a dish of jelly fish that also tasted good.

The dish I made was Soy Sauce Chicken. This is something I have often purchased ready-prepared in Chinatown, but I learned how to make it almost as good. The way I do it, it is almost a reverse marinade. First I boil the chicken in the marinade and then let it sit in the juices. Making it the day before seals in the flavors. And, the marinade, once strained, becomes a master sauce than can be used again and again.

Here is the basic recipe from the Chinese Cooking book of the TimeLifeBooks Foods of the World series, followed by what I did:

1 4-5 pound roasting chicken
2 cups cold water
2 cups soy sauce
¼ cup Chinese rice wine, or pale dry sherry
5 slices peeled, fresh ginger root
about 1 inch in diameter and 1/8 inch thick
1 whole star anise, or 8 sections star anise
¼ cup rock candy broken into small pieces,
or substitute 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sesame-seed oil

I used: approximately!
8 pounds chicken wings, separated and well-washed
1 cup light tamari
1 cup double black soy sauce
½ cup of thick soy sauce
1 cup Shao Hsing [Shaoxing] rice wine
1 cup or more cold water
½ pyramid of piloncillo sugar
½-1 cup light brown sugar
8 slices fresh ginger with peel
5-6 star anise
1 tablespoon Sechuan peppercorns, roasted
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon anise seeds
2-3 cinnamon sticks, or Chinese cassia bark*
4-5 pieces dried orange or tangerine peel**

Boil everything up to the ginger together and stir until the sugars melt.
Put the rest of the ingredients into some cheesecloth and tie it up. Or just add the spices to the marinade and strain them out later. Boil together for a few minutes. Taste to see if more soy or water, and so forth, is required.

If you are using chicken wings put them in now. Or, if you are using a whole chicken, you can put that in at this time. Bring it back to a boil while immersing all the chicken parts. Lower to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size and quantity of the chicken. Then turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the chicken marinate 2 to 3 hours.

If you have cooked the whole chicken, take it out and cut the chicken up ‘Chinese-style’, which means hack or chop the pieces across the bones with a cleaver. If you used the chicken wings, just leave them.

If you make this a day or two in advance, refrigerate the chicken with a little sauce. Strain the sauce, or take out the cheesecloth sack with the spices, and pour into a clean container. It is now a master sauce and can be refrigerated for about 2 weeks or put into the freezer for several months. When you want to make Soy Sauce Chicken again you can add a bit more of everything to refresh the sauce and use it again.

To reheat: Preheat oven at 350F and lay the chicken out flat until it is warmed through, about 15 minutes.

To serve: pile up and brush with roasted sesame oil, sprinkle with chopped green onions. If you like, put some of the warmed sauce on the side. Don't forget the chili sauce in a little bowl. Eat with fingers.

*The bark-like cassia is better for this, but I had run out of it, so I used the common cinnamon sticks
**If you peel an orange carefully, without the white pith, and let it dry, you have dried orange peel (or tangerine, or grapefruit...whatever)

I used the piloncillo sugar because I had it for a long time. It lasts forever and is a good substitute. If you only have white sugar, you could use that too.
There is no good substitute for the Sechuan Peppercorns.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Peanut-Sesame Chicken Balls ©

This recipe won $500 from the Peanut Advisory Board.
makes 20 appetizers

For the balls:

1/ 1/2 pound ground chicken
2/ 1/4 cup onion, roughly chopped
3/ 1/3 cup peanut butter, smooth or chunky
4/ 1 egg
5/ 1/4-teaspoon red pepper flakes
6/ 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
7/ 1 teaspoon or less of salt

8/ 6 whole waterchestnuts, roughly chopped
9/ 2 Tablespoons roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

10/ 1/2 cup unhulled white sesame seeds
11/ Oil for sautéing
12/ 1 whole Boston lettuce, washed, leaves separated

For the Sauce:

1/ 1 Tablespoon smooth 100% peanut butter
2/ 2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce (Koon Chun brand)
3/ 2 Tablespoons Water
4/ dash or more of Tabasco, to taste
5/ a few squeezes of fresh lemon juice

To make the balls:

Put the first seven ingredients into a food processor and pulse until chopped and combined. Take out and put into a non-reactive bowl. Fold in the chopped waterchestnuts and chopped peanuts. Refrigerate one hour or up to overnight.

Put the sesame seed into a flat-bottomed bowl or pie plate. Wet your hands and, with the help of a teaspoon, roll the chicken mixture into spheres about the size of golf balls. Then roll them in the sesame seeds. (Optional: Place them on a parchment lined baking tray and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap, until ready to cook.)

Heat the oil over a medium flame until hot. Fry the chicken balls about 6 at a time in hot oil, turning frequently until well-browned all around. Add more oil as necessary. Take out and drain on paper towels while you cook the rest.

To make the Sauce:

In a small bowl mix all the ingredients together adding enough water to get the consistency you want. Don't make it runny - a little bit thick is good. Double the recipe for additional sauce.

Place a chicken ball inside a lettuce leaf and coat generously with the sauce. Roll up loosely.
Or, put out the balls, the sauce, and the lettuce and let your guests make their own!
Serve warm or room temperature.
Penelope Casas Cooking Demonstration

Thursday night, the 26th, I went to Chef Central on Route 17 in Paramus, to see and hear Penelope Casas of Spanish food fame give a demonstration based on her new book of Spanish homecooking. She mentioned that in Spain these days it's all about experimenting scientifically with food, started by Adria at El Bulli. All sorts of experiments are taking place such as change liquids into solids. The kitchen has virtually turned into a laboratory and the restaurant into a source of entertainment. But where do the chefs themselves eat? They go home to their mothers cooking.

She demonstrated some simple tapas: Pequino chiles mixed with garlic, parsley, raisins and pine nuts - not even salt and pepper added; Chorizo sausage minced with garlic then wrapped in phyllo and deep fried; shrimp (vein left in) sauted in Spanish olive oil, garlic, and a small amount of Amontillado sherry.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Cooking Today:

I have a client who lives in a building on the western side of the Hudson River with a terrific view of practically all of Manhattan and the river. But mostly it is possible to gaze out the window and view the sky all day and night. If I lived there I could never get anything done because I would always be watching the clouds. This is what I cooked for her today:

Chicken Marbella, Greek Turkey Meatballs in an Avgolemono Sauce, Beef Carbonade made with onions and Belgian beer, Baked Chickpeas and Lamb Greek Style, Creamed Spinach,
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Artichokes, Carrots and Potatoes.

Since she said she loved beets, I also made some beet borscht. This borscht is definitely one of my specialties. It is a sweet and sour borscht and is made just from beets with the addition of lemon juice or vinegar and sugar or honey. Sometimes in the summer I will add enough sour cream to turn it a bright shocking pink! It is fabulous cold or hot. The addition of a boiled potato or a hard-cooked egg and some cubed cucumber turns it into a meal.

I've also made her a sample of the grain 'Quinoa' (pronounced keen-wah) which is originally a South American grain that disappeared for a long while and has been reintroduced in current years. It has a high protein content and is very palatable.
I'll let you know how she likes it.

Bon Appetit!

Cooking on the River is offering a
Special Dinner for Two on February 14th
or the preceding weekend.


WITH A FABULOUS private DINNER for two
simply irresistible!!!




or any menu of your choice, for instance:

• Sea Scallops on a Salad Medley
• Venison with Red Wine-Cherry Sauce
• Rutabaga and Carrot Whip
• Fudge Whip Parfaits with Sweetened Whipped Cream

Saturday, January 21, 2006


On Thursday night I participated in Garrison Institute's Hudson River Project. This is a series of free public 'Conversations' relating to protecting the river and its environs. On January 19th the discussion was entitled: The River and The Beauty of Creation: Preserving Our Pastoral Landscapes. This translates to farms and farmlands.

We were all greeted (it was full to capacity) in the main room and then ushered into the dining room where we sat at about a dozen or more tables holding about ten people at each and shared a supper. The menu: roasted cubed winter root vegetables in a sherry-mustard-hazelnut dressing; onion and potato soup(with a porcini base) with Ouray cheese and sour rye toast; followed by apple, pear & quince tarts and a daub of creme fraiche. All the ingredients were supplied by local vendors and prepared by Garrison's Chef Shelley Boros of Fresh Company, her firm. In between the courses a different speaker presented aspects of the edible environment from meat to farm and then the diners were requested to converse.

Prior to each discussion period, and at the start of the event, a brief moment of silent contemplation was held that supplied a pause or a gap to let go of the busyness of our lives and allow the concerns of the day to abate.

The main concerns voiced were about how to raise awareness about locally-grown healthy, organic and fresh foods and how to keep farms and farmers in the Hudson region. It was stated that in moderation it is possible to eat organic foods when available.

Farmlands are being rapidly turned into residential areas as the value of the land is increasing by 30% or more. It was noted that a great obstacle was the publics habit of getting whatever food they want without thinking.

Conversations at the table I sat at, headed by Shelley, reflected the need for a clearer relationship to 'earth'. Someone mentioned that at a recent farmer's market there were patrons who were repelled that the vegetables still had 'dirt' on them.

It was a very pleasant exchange, an enjoyable evening, and the food was good. The population had more concerned beings than foodies. Everyone wanted the recipes.
Here is a recipe for a chocolate cake that will be in Rockland magazine's next issue. It is expressly for Valentine's Day.

Chocolate Heart Cake to Adore for Valentine’s Day

Certain foods are thought to have aphrodisiac or love-inducing powers. Though there is no firm scientific evidence to affirm the claims, we do know the substances that have been identified to stimulate body and mind. Leading the list is the ‘nourishment of the gods’ …Chocolate…

Following is a recipe for a chocolate cake, adapted from one of my Italian teachers, that is guaranteed to produce a swoon:

Flourless Chocolate Heart Cake with Chocolate Mousse, Gold leaf and Berries

adapted from Stefano Innocenti, Acqua al Due, Florence, Italy

1 teaspoon unsalted butter
3 eggs, separated
1/2-3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Valrhona or Droste)
1/4-1/2 cup whole milk
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Butter an 8-inch heart-shaped pan. Coat the pan with cocoa powder.
Separate the eggs into two bowls. To the bowl with the yolks add 1/2-3/4 cup sugar and beat well until it gets ribbon-y. Sift in the cocoa powder. Beat together until well blended. The mixture will be stiff. Add enough milk to get it smooth but not runny.
Beat egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff. Take a small quantity and stir it in to the chocolate mixture. Then fold in the rest gently.
Pour into the prepared cake pan. Tap the pan gently but firmly on the counter a couple of times to release the air bubbles.
Bake 20-30 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sides. The center will be firm but soft. Take out and cool. The cake will flatten a bit as it cools.
For two cakes, as required in the following recipe, double the ingredients.
You can stop here and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar or continue for a light but intense chocolate experience….

While the cakes are cooling prepare the Chocolate Mousse:
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

In a saucepan boil ½ cup plus 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Remove from the stove and add the chocolate. Stir well to melt.
Whip the rest of the cream into soft peaks then fold it in to the chocolate mixture.
Use the mousse to put between the two stacked flourless chocolate heart cakes and on the top. Decorate with 24K edible gold and raspberries. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. Place on a red heart-shaped doily and serve. Or call me and I’ll make it for you, plus the loving dinner that precedes it.

from Phyllis Segura, Cooking on the River, personal chef, Piermont, New York
info@cookingontheriver.com 845-365-0042

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Here is what I looked like at the start of 2004!

WELCOME to Cooking on the River blog.
Today I had a couple of requests for information about what I do. And especially about dinner parties, which I love to do. Later today I will post some dinner party information and menus. First up will be the special Valentine Dinner for Two which will be coming up in less than a month from today. On February 8th, in Rockland Magazine, there will be an article about a Chocolate Mousse Cake that I created especially for Valentine's Day. You can also find the recipe on this blog.