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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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Cooking on the River
PRIVATE COOKING LESSON - PART 2 - FISH


This from a lesson I gave several weeks ago and just getting to writing about it now. People tend to get freaked out about fish if I can be colloquial here... They say fish comes out 'dry.' Or they overcook it. Yes, that WILL make it dry. Or they avoid cooking it altogether.  I'll admit to having had similar concerns. Fish is delicate but also firm. One of my favorite ways to cook fish is to steam it. No more problem with dryness. Do you have a steamer? Just that metal thing that folds up, eh? Well, if you absolutely have to, but don't forget that you will have to cut up the fish to fit around the sides of the circle. Not the best solution. Bamboo baskets with lids are made for the purpose of steaming. You need to line the baskets with something, like cabbage leaves, or you can steam on a plate inserted into the bamboo steamer. Or, if you have a wok, you can place something like a tin can (empty) on the bottom, then place what you are steaming in a plate on top of the can, cover and steam. Or, get a cake rack you can place in the wok. There are also the three-tiered steamers that I like the best and can be found in some Thai groceries; they're inexpensive and made out of aluminum. Or, be inventive - sometimes that's the best way to go - use what you have. Take the challenge.


STEAMED FISH WITH GINGER AND SCALLIONS
This is simple and delectable. Enjoy it with some stir-fried bok choy and garlic slivers, and freshly steamed Jasmine rice.  Or a boiled potato that has been boiled in soy sauce and dashi...oh, yes.

Take
1 to 2 pounds of a fresh whole fish or fillets (mostly white-fleshed fish)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 Tablespoons rice wine or sherry (Shaoxing, Sake)

Make certain that the fish you purchase can fit in the steamer you have or trim it to fit.
Smear the fish with wine and salt and let sit 5 minutes. Place the fish on a plate and place in the steamer that has water boiling gently at its bottom. Steam the fish on the plate until done which should be about 7 to 12 minutes, maybe a little more. If you are using fillets you can easily see that the fish is now opaque. Done. While it's steaming you can make the sauce or make it before steaming. Up to you.

Sauce:
1 Tablespoon roasted sesame oil mixed with
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil (grapeseed, sunflower, olive)
1/4 cup, or to taste, fresh ginger, peeled then finely julienned
1/4 cup scallions (about 3), groomed white and green parts, finely julienned
3 Tablespoons  good quality soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar, or any sweetener (not artificial though)
2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
Garnish: cilantro leaves, chopped

Heat the oils to hot in a small saucepan or frying pan add the ginger and stir fry briefly, add the scallions and continue heating, about 5 seconds. Turn off the heat. Add the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Keep the sauce hot. When the fish is ready pour it over the fish. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and/or raw scallions.

Now that was fairly simple to accomplish. Let's try another one. The lesson included baking a whole fish in a piperade (pea-purr-ahd).  A piperade is a combination of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions. A piperade is most frequently mixed with eggs. Here we make the piperade, pour it over the whole fish, and bake it. You can add some almost-done boiled potatoes to the pan.


RED SNAPPER OR STRIPED BASS WITH PIPERADE

2 onions, thinly sliced, about 3 cups
1/4 cup olive oil 
2 green bell peppers or poblanos, gutted and cut in strips
4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tomatoes, peeled and deseeded, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon, or to taste, sea salt
1/2 teaspoon, freshly ground black pepper or Aleppo pepper
1/2  ground cayenne pepper, optional
pinch sugar
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 fillets with skin, or a whole fish, cleaned
parsley, 4 stems

Preheat 450 F. degree oven. 
Use a mandoline to slice the onions. Warm the olive oil and add the onions, peppers and garlic to cook until soft and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes.Stir in  the tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar. Cover and reduce the heat. Stir occasionally until all the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Taste the piperade for seasoning.

 If you are using a whole fish make three angled cuts on each side. Coat the fish with some olive oil, salt and pepper, outside and inside. Stuff some parsley stems into the fish and maybe a few slivers of garlic, too. Take a ceramic or metal baking pan, smear a little oil where you are going to place the fish, then place the whole fish, or the fillets skin side down, in the pan. Smother it with the piperade. Place into the hot oven and bake about 15 minutes. Take out and check for doneness. Remove the parsley from the fish.  Place the fish on a warmed platter and spoon the piperade over it. Garnish with chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.  Serve hot.

If you don't want to cook the fish in an oven then use a nonstick pan with warm oil. Place the fish in the pan and cook until the skin is crisp and golden, about 2-3 minutes. Turn it over and cook until it is opaque, about another 2 minutes. Place the piperade in the center of a warmed platter. Lay the fish on top. Garnish and serve.

Whoopie! Dinner! I know you want a picture. And I want to prepare this again. If anyone does make this dish do me a favor  take a picture and send it to me.


Okay, one more for now. 

FISH IN PARCHMENT

This dish consists of slightly sauteed ingredients, some liquids, and then put into a parchment or aluminum pouch and sealed. you can make the pouches in advance then refrigerate them. Bake in the oven  on a sheet pan for about 10-15 minutes. Take out the pouches and place on a warmed platter. let each person open their own pouch so they can experience the waft of steamy aromas. What you add to the pouch is your own choice. The list here contains just suggestions.

Preheat the oven for 400 F.

COLUMN A
Salmon or other filleted fish
Carrot, cut julienne strips or tournee, lightly sauteed
Turnip, cut julienne strips or tournee
Green peas
Snow peas, strings removed, lightly sauteed
Roasted garlic or garlic slivers
Chopped shallots, slightly sauteed
Tofu, cubed, or cubed and grilled
Scallions, 2-inch pieces, slightly sauteed
Potato, peeled, cubed and blanched
Fish broth, white wine or sake
Soy sauce
Basil or thyme or parsley leaves, whole or chopped
Lime or lemon juice and zest
Thin slices of citrus
Oil or unsalted butter
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Take a combination of ingredients, not too much, not too little, add some liquid and some fat, salt and pepper each element. Cut the parchment in a heart shape  or use a sheet of aluminum foil. Put your selection of ingredients on one side and seal well (according to your instructors instructions). You can refrigerate them at this point. Take them out of the refrigerator and pop into the oven about 15 minutes before you want to serve them. Place on a sheet pan and bake about 10-12 minutes. The parchment should puff up. Serve in the pouch.

We made a few more things but I'm tired and hungry now and, besides I am not going to give you all my fish recipes. And President Obama is giving his State of the Fish Fry speech tonight. So later.





Tuesday, January 19, 2010

VALENTINE'S DAY EROTIC FOOD LORE


 Get ready for Valentine's Day 
with a bit of Erotic Food Lore



I didn't make this up, really.

Oysters: documented as aphrodisiac by Romans. Resemble genitals.
Avocado: “Ahuacuati” trans.: testicles tree. Resembles genitals.
Almond: passion and fertility. Aroma said to excite women.
Prawns: Shellfish considered aphrodisiac
Walnuts: Romans again - threw walnuts at weddings - believed they held powers of fertility
Garlic: healing aid and stimulant. Dedicated to Ceres - goddess of fertility
Truffles: Stimulate and sensitize the skin to touch
Pomegranate: the love apple
Honey: Guards against sterility and impotence and stimulates and strengthens
Ginger: Oil enlivens and stimulates body and mind
Aniseed: Greeks and Romans believed it had special powers. 
Sucking on seed increases desire.
Celery Seed: Stimulates pituitary gland and releases good scent
Asparagus: Phallic shape
Arugula: added to grated orchid bulbs and parsnip.
Vanilla: Scent increases lust, especially with chocolate
Pine Nuts: Rich in Zinc. Used in love potions
Saffron: stimulates erogenous zones, excess causes uncontrollable laughter
Chocolate:  the king of aphrodisiacs. “Nourishment of the gods”
Gold: Stimulant and fortifier
Strawberries and Raspberries: invite love. Described as erotic ‘fruit nipples’
Bananas: erotic shape and erotic energy. Rich in B vitamins for sex hormones.
Basil: stimulates sex drive and boosts fertility. Sense of well being.
Carrots: Phallus shape. Aids seduction.
Coffee: Coffee beans stimulate body and mind
Coriander seed: stimulant
Liquorice: Women’s aphrodisiac
Mustard: stimulating effect on sexual glands
Nutmeg: seed , stimulates
Pineapple: rich in Vit C., potent with rum and honey
And sometimes Artichokes, Olives and Mushrooms

Monday, January 18, 2010

YELLOW SPLIT PEA FRITTERS AND TOMATO-Y SAUCE

I've been delving into Indian recipes this winter. People rarely request anything of this sort but I like Indian fare and especially the vegetarian dishes. People are frequently put off by the word spicy, but spicy does not necessarily mean 'hot'. The spices used are seeds and roots that are known to have beneficial health qualities. It's so rare that we use them in any cuisine. I'm a great fan of pulses, legumes and nuts. I made this  the other night to great delight. The original recipe called for making the fritters into patties but I found I liked the balls, similar to Felafal, a lot better and easier to hold together. If you live near an Indian grocery store you will have no trouble finding the spices, or you can get them by mail order. If you buy them in a standard grocery store you'll find that they are really expensive. Then again when you get them in an Indian grocery you can purchase a lot for a little. The problem there is you might have too much. It's better to have too much than a little for a lot, at least that is what I think. Here is a photo of the finished dish, followed by the recipe:



1 cup yellow split peas, chana dal (similar to the kind used for split pea soup)
3 cups hot water
1 - 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 jalapeno or other green chiles - with the seeds if you want a bit of heat - chopped
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, or chick pea flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots or red onion
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted cashews
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
a handful of curry leaves, basil, or thai basil, thinly julienned
Vegetable oil for frying

Pick over the peas for stones and dried up ones. Place them in a bowl and cover it with hot water. Let the peas soak for 3 hours then drain. Place them into a food processor with the ginger, chiles, flour, salt and 2 tablespoons water and puree to a coarse texture - not too pureed or too coarse but totally combined. Add the shallots, cashews, cilantro and curry or basil leaves. Process briefly to combine. Transfer to a bowl.

Add enough oil in a deep saucepan to deep fry the fritters. Heat the oil to about 375 degrees. Using a small ice cream scoop place balls of the fritter mixture into the hot oil. Fry until well browned all around. Drain the fritters on paper towels.

Tomato Sauce with Spices

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1-2 yellow onions, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, or grated fresh turmeric
2 fresh tomatoes or 3-4 canned, finely chopped
2-3 cups water
half or more of the fritters
1 teaspoon garam masala
2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Warm the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and cumin to brown. Then add the ginger, coriander, garlic and turmeric for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and 2 cups of water. Careful when adding the tomatoes as they tend to splash. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer about 10 minutes. Add the fritters and some more water. Mix them in well. Cover again and let it all simmer for another 10 minutes. To serve: take out a portion of the fritters, spoon sauce over them, sprinkle with the garam masala and cilantro.

You can serve this with one or two other Indian dishes as part of a meal, or just by itself with or without some basmati rice.

If you make this, let me know what you think.

Friday, January 15, 2010

PRIVATE LESSON - Part One

Recently I received a request for a private lesson as a gift from a wife to her husband. She told me he wanted to learn marinades, sauces for pasta and some fish recipes. Also, they kept a kosher kitchen. This meant that I couldn't bring any of my kitchen tools and it was best if she did the shopping from my list, just to keep it kosher. My first question was whether they had good knives and if they were sharp.  When I go to a kitchen blind and can't bring any of my tools it's pretty much a 'work with things as they are' situation. These people were quite delightful and the husband was very energetic and anxious to learn. They had gone out and purchased any number of cooking supplies, just in case.   Her shopping was perfect except for the quality of the soy sauce purchased which was Chun King and had all sorts of additional ingredients including high fructose corn syrup. She cheerfully went out and purchased some organic Tamari and I was happy. You are only as good as your ingredients.


It turned out that some lesson in knife skills was a place we had to start. So often I find people holding their knives in ways that make it difficult for them to cut.  Then there is that ubiquitous fore finger that sits on top of the knife and is a habit a lot of people develop. Turned out that the set of knives designated for 'dairy' was fairly useless having been made with blades that were almost flexible, serrated and unable to be sharpened. The hardest part of all this for me was not being able to use my own knives, my wonderful knives that are sharp and are my sceptres.


Undaunted by these obstacles we cooked on and on!! Because the Bolognese Sauce would take the longest we began there. In order to cook this kosher style a lot of tampering with a basic Italian Bolognese recipe needed to be done. No milk products. No pork. But the approach is the same. 

Here is the recipe we used:

BOLOGNESE SAUCE
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
1 medium red onion, small dice
1 carrot, peeled and small dice
1 celery stalk, small dice
1-2 cloves garlic, small dice
salt
pinch sugar
1-2 pounds ground beef (or half beef and half veal)
1/2 cup red (or white) wine
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 cups plum tomatoes, crushed (preferably San Marzano)
3 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley

Heat oil and add the onion, carrot, celery, salt. Cook down slowly about 4-5 minutes then add the garlic. Continue cooking until the onion is quite transparent and has a little color. Add the ground meat while breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring, to evaporate the liquid and brown the meat, about 10 minutes. Add the wine, cook down to evaporate the alcohol, then add the tomato paste, stirring. Add the tomatoes, that you have crushed with your bare hands, and the bay leaves. Salt and pepper. Bring to a boil then lower to a bare simmer. Cook about 2-3 hours, uncovered. Stir occassionally. Add more water or tomato juices when necessary. Taste for seasoning.

Boil up some of your favorite pasta and add it to the sauce. Cook them together gently and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

If you are kosher, no cheese, but if not, add some freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano abundantly over the top. Serve hot.

I also presented the topic of MARINADES with two pages of basic marinade recipes. We chose one marinade to make for chicken legs.  Here is the basic information you need to know about using a marinade:

Marinades impart flavor through soaking. Meat, poultry, fish and vegetables marinate for at least 30 minutes, but generally not more than 2 hours. They are best made just before you want to use them in order to keep the flavors bright and intense.

Marinade mixtures contain three basic elements: one acidic to penetrate, one base, or oil,  to lock in the flavors and moisture, and one or more flavor components.

FLAVORS: Ginger, herbs, spices, garlic, onion, scallion,hot sauce, ketchup, mustard (Dijon, grain, yellow, honey) soy, fish sauce, Tabasco, chutney, jellies, jams, marmalade, Worcestershire, Thai chili, sugars, fruits, maple syrup...to name a few.

ACIDIC: Vinegars (white wine, red wine, balsamic, sherry, unseasoned rice, apple cider, champagne), citrus (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit), wine (red, white, rose, sake, beer).

BASE: Oil, Whole Milk Yogurt, Buttermilk,(extra virgin olive oil, nut oils, seed oils, flavored oils, toasted sesame oil)

If you use pineapple, melon, figs, ginger, kiwis, to marinate shorten the soak because these will tenderize but also break down the fibers.

First choose an oil and an acid, then add the flavorings. Don't add too many sweet ingredients as they tend to burn the food quickly.

Always use glass, plastic or Stainless steel, never aluminum to marinate anything. Use a vacuum sealer or a large, heavy-duty re-sealable plastic bag large enough to contain the marinade and the ingredient.

Here is a the base for a Classic French Marinade: for steaks and chicken:
makes about 3-1/2 cups

1 small jar Dijon mustard
2 cups dry white wine
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon seasalt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
4-5 scallions, chopped

(add any additional herbs you might like, such as: rosemary, thyme, etc.)
Make the marinade. Mix together well then add the chicken or other ingredient. Place into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. When ready to cook, scrape off the marinade. Roast until done.

I'll continue this post another time with the Fish Recipes. And, again, sorry for the lack of photos. I just get so carried away with what is being done that pausing to take photos is just a distraction. I guess I should bring a photographer with me!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Valentine's Day, February 14th, Sunday


'ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE' SPECIAL

How lovely that it falls on a Sunday!


I am offering several possibilities for you to celebrate Valentine's Day this year with your loved one.


Have a chef-prepared meal for two in your own home.
The choices are Breakfast (in bed if you like), Brunch, Lunch or Dinner.


Each meal would be three courses: a starter, entree and dessert for a set fee.


If you are interested in the possibilities, please email me (info@cookingontheriver.com) with your inquiry of preferences and I will let you know the details. 

Don't miss out on this opportunity. Valentine's Day won't fall on a Sunday again for another six years.


Pass this on and recommend me, I'll send you a special Valentine goodie.

Thursday, January 07, 2010


DINNER PARTY FOR TWO.

I recently made and served the following menu to a delightful couple of happy eaters.Though I neglected to take very many photographs, I did manage to take a few that will show up at the end of this post. I have also included some recipes, but not all. As is often the case, since I specialize in providing food for private individuals, I often don't have control over the menu and will, to the best of my ability, give people what they crave. This menu is very rich and is, in the end, rather perfect for a special occasion. Also, this dinner was a beer pairing. At the end of the recipe you will find a note from the client.




MENU

SMALL BITES
Andouille Sausage on Polenta Rounds with Spicy Mustard
Sweet Sausage in Puff Pastry
Shrimp with Bacon
*Fried Mozzarella Balls with Prosciutto
Potatoes Bravas
Olives and Capers
Beer Pairing: Dogfish Light Ale

SALAD
Mixed Greens with fresh vegetables and fruits
Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
Beer Pairing: Defiant Special

SOUP
*Creamy Lobster Bisque with crispy shiitake mushrooms and corn
Beer Pairing: Captain Lawrence Imperial Gold

ENTREE
*Duck Breast with Spices and Smoked Confit of Duck Legs
Tangy Cherry Sauce
*Beer and Cream Scalloped Potatoes
Crispy Spinach
Beer Pairing: Belgian Frambois Lambic

INTERMEZZO 
Blueberry Sorbet

DESSERT
Molten Chocolate Cake
*New York Cheese Cake with Strawberries
Peanut Butter Ice Cream
Beer Pairing: Captain Lawrence Espresso Stout


CLIENTS COMMENTS:




After much research I came across a chef in Piermont right down the street from me.  I called Phyllis and in a matter of days she came over to my house to discuss the upcoming menu for my Fiancé’s surprise birthday dinner.  Together we created a menu based on my Fiancé’s favorite foods, and beverages.  Jonathan does not drink wine, but does love beer, with that Phyllis was on a mission to pair our menu with all appropriate and tasty beers.  We even visited a local brewery to taste beer to pair with our dinner.  On 12/26/09 Phyllis arrived early with all of her ingredients and equipment, she worked diligently and quietly in the kitchen as we received our couples massages in the next room.  The yummy smells filled our apartment!  After our massages we were ready to eat!
Our dinner began with tasty appetizers at 8:30 pm and ended with molten lava cake and cheese cake at 12 midnight.  We ate, talked, relaxed, and enjoyed our lavish meal prepared by our wonderful chef Phyllis Segura.  She encouraged us to take our time and enjoy every bite! We sure did!  We had plenty of leftovers to eat for the upcoming week and shared some tastings with our friends and family. 
The best lobster bisque I have ever eaten in my life!  The food was amazing and the service was spectacular.  We had a wonderful dinner from beginning to end; Phyllis is a fabulous chef and look forward to working with her in the future. We loved every minute of our dinner!
Thank-you so much! Francine




The duck breast with cherry sauce and confit smoked duck legs.


The beer scalloped potatoes.

These are the Mozzarella Balls before they were fried.
Here is the recipe for them:


FRIED MOZZARELLA BALLS WITH PROSCIUTTO
Mozzarella sticks are very common, but have you ever had mozzarella balls and prosciutto together? Try this recipe and see if it isn’t the best ever. Dip them into some hot sauce for added tang. Check the photo for what they should look like frozen and prior to frying.

1 package fresh mozzarella balls
1 package - about 4 oz. prosciutto
1-2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon grated parmigiano cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano or mixed Italian herbs
Oil for frying: mixture of Canola and Grapeseed oils

Mix the breadcrumbs, parmigiano and herbs together.
Wrap each mozzarella ball with prosciutto as tightly as you can.
Dip into the beaten egg then into the breadcrumb mixture. Do this twice.
Place the balls on a sheet pan and put into the freezer. Freeze for about 30 minutes then put them into a plastic bag until you are ready to fry.

To finish: Heat the oil to hot. Test with a piece of bread. Drop in a couple of the mozzarella balls and fry until the coating is golden. This takes about 2-3 minutes. If it happens too quickly the cheese will not melt enough so make sure the oil is not too hot.
Take out and serve hot. Be careful when eating not to burn your tongue! Serve, if you like, with some hot sauce.


LOBSTER BISQUE
makes 4-6 servings
You make this bisque in the usual way: make a broth or stock, thicken it, add flavors. If you like this a little thicker then increase the amount of roux. You can always add a small ball of butter mixed with flour at the end in order to thicken it. Garnishes add that extra crunchiness and flavor component. Everything’s got to have crunch, don’t you think?

1 lobsters, slightly steamed
1 yellow onion, cut in half, skin retained
2 celery ribs, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1-2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning, optional
5-6 sprigs parsley
5-6 peppercorns
2 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup whole milk or half and half
1-2 tablespoon Cognac or Brandy
salt and pepper
2 lobster tails
1 cup heavy cream
Garnish:
6-9 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
1 tablespoon corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 teaspoon chopped parsley

Make the broth:
Open the lobster and remove the meat from the claws and tail. Break up the lobster. Discard the head. Place in a large stockpot with the onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves, Old Bay, parsley and peppercorns. Cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about one hour. Let the broth sit in the pot with the heat off for about 30 minutes. Strain the broth and reserve. Discard the other ingredients.

Make the roux: melt the butter in a large stockpot and stir in the flour with a wooden spoon, continue blending for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste and then the milk. When all is combined, slowly pour in the strained broth and bring to a simmer. Flame and add the Cognac. Simmer to burn off the alcohol. Season with salt and pepper.

Steam the lobster tails and remove the meat. Cut up into bite-sized pieces.

Make the garnishes:
Thin slice the shiitakes and warm the oil. Place the shiitakes in the pan and sauté until crispy. Remove and set aside. Add the corn to the pan and sauté briefly.

To serve:
Add the lobster pieces and heavy cream to the bisque and heat to just simmering. Pour into bowls and garnish with the lobster claw meat, shiitakes, corn and parsley. Serve hot.


POTATOES SCALLOPED IN BEER
Serves 4-6
Ultimate comfort food. Totally rich, but not as rich as scalloped potatoes made with all cream…and yet. Drink with a Belgian Lambic. Serve as a side dish with game or other vegetable casseroles like green beans with tomatoes and/or roasted carrots. Makes a vegetarian feast.

1 large yellow or Vidalia onion, thin sliced
1-1/2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, thin sliced
kosher salt
2 tablespoons flour, AP or Wondra
1 12-ounce bottle good blonde ale or beer
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup heavy cream

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

Slice the onion into thin rings with a mandoline and do the same with the potatoes. Then smear a little butter at the bottom of the baking dish and line with a layer of the onions, then the potatoes, sprinkle evenly with some salt, a bit of flour, and a few smears of butter. Continue layering the onions, potatoes and seasonings, ending with potatoes.

Pour in enough of the ale or beer to cover. If you can’t fit in the entire bottle, don’t worry, just drink it. Place on a sheet pan and put into the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 350. Bake for about an hour or until the potatoes are tender and the potatoes on top begin to brown. 10 minutes before removing it from the oven pour in the heavy cream. Take out and let it rest 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.


DUCK BREASTS
So very easy to do and so very succulent. Serve with a fruit sauce or just some boiled potatoes.

2 duck breasts
Duck Dust:
1 teaspoon cinnamon sticks, preferably Mexican cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon star anise
1 teaspoon ginger powder
salt and pepper

To make the Duck Dust:
Using a coffee grinder, that has been set aside for use as an herb and spice grinder, place
an equal quantity, say 1 teaspoon of each, into the cup and grind to a powder. Mexican cinnamon is softer and easier to grind than the stick kind.

Score the duck breasts criss-cross on one side, through the fat but not to the flesh. Rub the Duck Dust that has been mixed with salt and pepper into the cuts and on the other side. Reserve.

Heat a cast iron pan to hot. Place the duck breasts fat side down and grill to melt, about 2 minutes. Turn over and grill on the other side. Duck should be served fairly rare. Let them rest on a platter covered with some aluminum foil for about 5 minutes. Slice across the grain into thin slices and fan out on a platter. Nap the platter with some cherry sauce.



NEW YORK CHEESECAKE

This is a pretty easy cake to make and worth every minute for its “Wow” value. When I made it in an Aga oven it came out perfectly. Don’t think it’s you if the cake ‘cracks’ on top because I have decided that it depends upon the oven you use. A few squirts of water in the oven prior to placing the cake in might, only might, help. After the initial hour the cake will still look loose in the center. It actually does solidify during the cool down process, though that wasn’t necessary in the Aga roasting oven. Ah, an Aga.

Oven 350 degrees

7 oz. cookies
4-5 tablespoons butter, melted
4 tablespoons sugar
butter for greasing the pan

2 pounds cream cheese, room temperature
1 scant cup sugar
3 tablespoons flour
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

The crumb:
Take your cookies, graham or tea biscuits, and crumble them up in a food processor. Put them into a bowl and mix in the melted butter and sugar. Spread and press the mixture into the bottom, and a little up the sides, of a 10-inch Springform pan that has been well greased with some butter and lined with a circle of greased parchment paper on the bottom.  Bake about 10 minutes.

Beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour together. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition. Beat in the sour cream and vanilla. Pour over the prepared crumb crust. Bake for one hour then turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake inside with the door of the oven ajar until the cake is completely cool. Refrigerate at least 1 to 2 hours.
Serve as is or with a melted fruit jelly glaze or fresh fruit on top. Or sprinkle with demerara sugar on top and brulee with a butane burner. Don’t put it under the broiler.