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

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

ARTICHOKES

Around mid-April I did a cooking demonstration using Artichokes. On the menu was an Artichoke Tapenade; a steamed artichoke with an aioli sauce; braised baby artichokes  with bacon, baby yukon gold potatoes and rosemary; crispy fried baby artichokes with fried capers, parsley and lemon; and a raw artichoke salad with balsamic and extra-virgin olive oil, over baby arugula with shaved parmesan.  Of course I never managed to take any photos....sorry. There are so many delicious artichoke recipes.

The most daunting aspect of artichokes, for most people, is their preparation and grooming. Since the artichoke is a thistle it has thorns at the tips of its leaves. Cut off the tips with scissors creating a graduated appearance or use a sharp knife and cut straight across. Always rub the cut parts with lemon to prevent discoloration. Snap off two or three layers of the large outer leaves. Then, using a paring knife, cut away the dark green parts at the bottom stem end. Either scape out the center choke before or after cooking.

For baby artichokes, pull off the leaves until the yellow leaves are visible. Then trim the tips. Don't worry about the chokes as they haven't been formed yet. If you slice them paper thin and toss with a bit of a balsamic vinaigrette, you can easily eat them raw as part of a salad.

Use the baby artichokes, sliced in quarters, to fry until crispy. Add some drained and dried capers, and parsley leaves. They will all crisp up nicely. Drain on some paper and toss with salt and squeezes of fresh lemon. Eat immediately.

The tapenade or pesto can be made with steamed artichokes or use them from a jar that has the artichokes in water. Drain well. Into a processor add the artichokes, some chopped garlic, a nut - either toasted almonds or pine nuts, chopped parsley,  parmesan cheese, lemon juice and olive oil.  Use your imagination and taste here. A good one is also made with artichokes, kalamata olives, roasted tomatoes, garlic, lemon and olive oil. Salt and pepper.

If you like steamed artichokes, trim and groom them well, and put into a steamer stem side up and steam until soft. This takes from 25-35 minutes. But check before because you don't want the artichoke mushy.

Most people, when you say the word artichoke, immediately think: stuffed artichoke. They are very good that way but it's not the only way to eat them.  You can make a nice breadcrumb or potato based stuffing, remove the choke, and stuff the center and sneak some stuffing between the leaves. Place in a saucepan tightly bunched, pour in a little white wine and and some extra-virgin, cover and let cook until soft. If you like you can partially steam the artichoke before adding the stuffing.

Here is a list of other ways to prepare to artichokes:
braised with black-eyed peas and spinach
stuff lamb with a honey tomato sauce
fritttata
gratin
with chicken, mushrooms and fennel
jewish style
with lamb shanks
and mushroom bread pudding
sauteed with garlic, onion and parsley
roasted with potatoes
braised a la Barigoule
Bruschetta
Marinated
a la Grecque
Hearts with pureed peas
filled with artichoke souffle
bacon wrapped
soup
Caponata
stuff ravioli

There is even a way to prepare a stuff artichoke using a microwave. Check with a Barbara Kafka recipe and be brave. I tried it, and as usual I have no luck or knowledge of cooking with a microwave. But if you are one of the people who cooks everything in a microwave give it a try. I only got a burnt thistle with melted plastic.

Artichokes are cleansing and are packed with iron. Oh, and don't forget a simple steamed artichoke with a garlic-y vinaigrette. The first time I ever tasted an Artichoke was at Elaine's Restaurant in New York City. I've got to get back there soon because I hear that they now serve it with the heart cut out for you and the leaves separated in a circle around the heart. Sounds too good to be true.

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