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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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

THE GRAND AIOLI

 THE VERY GRANDISSIMO AIOLI

THE AIOLI IS ON THE UPPER RIGHT

All summer, or so it seems, I have been thinking about making a "grand aioli" and finally got to do it last night as the long, hot summer has been winding down. I have been surprised by the amount of people who do not know what this is. It is a large array of freshly steamed or lightly boiled vegetables, some beans, of the season, with additions of white fish, like cod, and sometimes mussels and/or small octopus. All these things act simply as a delivery system for AIOLI, which is a garlicky mayonnaise, preferably made fresh.

I gathered my vegetable ingredients: fingerling potatoes from the farmer's market, green beans (not haricot vert, tho you could,  but whopping big fingers of green), large carrots (not baby carrots or newly pulled thin ones and certainly not those things called baby carrots you can buy in packages), a hefty cauliflower, a fennel bulb with fronds, small zucchini (the only kind I like because of fewer seeds).

Then I made some dried chickpeas in the pressure cooker that only took about 40 minutes. And they are oh-so-much-better than the canned variety. Though the canned ones, once rinsed and drained, are fine and I use them all the time, still when you do make some fresh you can taste the difference. I drained them and added extra-virgin olive oil, pimenton, salt, and lots of freshly ground black pepper. I also chopped up some of the fennel fronds and tossed them in. Stir well. Pile on.

 I purchased some fresh cod.

First I made the Aioli. Alas, I must admit that I used the food processor. Though I have many mortar and pestle sets there was just not one large enough to do this task. I keep promising myself to make a trip to NYC Chinatown to purchase one of those large Thai sets...


THE AIOLI
3-6 large cloves of organic garlic, minced (not the stuff imported from China, okay?)
3 egg yolks
juice of 1 lemon
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
Salt

With the processor running, drop the minced garlic in through the feeding tube. Add the 3 yolks, quickly followed by the lemon juice. Keep the processor running and slowly, slowly drizzle in the oil until it is all used. You should have a thick emulsion with a beautiful yellow and slightly green color. Stir in some salt. If you think it's too thick turn the processor on again and drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of water. Check it. Taste it. See if it needs more lemon juice or water or salt. Take out and put into a non-reactive container, like glass or ceramic. Cover and refrigerate.


When you are ready to cook the vegetables. Put the potatoes into a large pot and add a little salt and enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. (Since all that is required is to boil all the vegetables to the perfect doneness your task and attention is well-defined.) Remove the potatoes to a platter when done.  (I like to slice them in half to serve.) Next, add the carrots, I have cut these fat ones on a very diagonal slant. Cook about 3-5 minutes. Done. Take out with a perforated spoon. Put on platter. Then the green beans, after they have been tipped and tailed. Cook until perfectly crisp and not toothy. Then the zucchini, cut in wide sections, for about 2 minutes - just a quick bath. The fennel that has been quartered will only take another 2 minutes. The cauliflower that has been cut into flowerettes to be submerged and cooked for 2-3 minutes. Don't make it too soft. Attention must be paid. What else, did I forget something? The choice of vegetables is really up to you. Maybe a sliced sweet potato would be nice...or save that for the autumn grand aioli...

The cod needs to be salted the day before. Rinse and dry. Then salt on both sides. Place in a bag and leave for 24 hours. When ready to cook it, rinse again and dry. To poach you can either use all white wine, or, as I did, about 1 cup of white wine and the rest water. Use a wide pan and cut the cod to fit. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so that you don't see any more bubbles and slide the cod in to cook. The poaching liquid should cover the fish. Cook about 5 minutes.

THE PLATE

Everything should be warm, room temperature, not hot. If you have one large platter it's nice to arrange everything on it. I don't have one so I used an assortment of deep vessels. It's colorful and very lavish. Have a good white wine and maybe a warm crusty bread.  Everything should be clean and well-arranged. For color you can toss on some smiggens of chopped parsley and black olives.

Sit yourself down and gawk at the beauty presented before you. Enjoy this well because you have now figured out how to eat lots of vegetables and love every bite. It's soooo healthy. But please don't smear any of that Aioli on your face though you might well be tempted; it's so good.

Bon Bon Appetit!
Le plat du jour.



Tuesday, August 21, 2012

COOKBOOK FROM CHILDREN

 All you parents, here is a cookbook put together by Michelle Obama and others with the winning recipes submitted. Over 1,200 recipes were submitted and these are the winners. It's interesting to look at and might help you with inspiring your children.

http://www.letsmove.gov/sites/letsmove.gov/files/pdfs/healthy-lunch-challenge-cookbook.pdf

I would have a children's cooking class if I had a space to do so. We could make some of these recipes. If anyone wants to donate their kitchen for an afternoon, call Cooking on the River and we will see what we can do.

Friday, August 17, 2012

SUMMER OR AUTUMN CAPONATA

 
Caponata is more familiar as a dish made with eggplant. Here eggplant is used instead of the eggplant  try substituting butternut squash in the autumn. Using different seasonal vegetables keeps the tastebuds awake and surprised. This is simply a mouth-watering vegetable medley soaked in flavor. Taste at the finish to get the right balance of sweet and sour. Good as a starter with a crusty bread, or as a side dish.

2  red onions, peeled, quartered and sliced
½ - 3⁄4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 can tomato puree or peeled and seeded whole tomatoes
1⁄2 cup dry red wine
1⁄2 cup sugar
2 butternut squash, or 2 eggplants, ½-1 inch cubes
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 head celery, stalks separated and peeled, large dice
1⁄2 pound pitted green olives
1-2 tablespoons capers, preferably the salted capers, well rinsed
1⁄2 cup parsley, chopped
1⁄4-1/2 cup pine nuts
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Saute, quartered and sliced onion in olive oil in a large thick bottomed saucepan. Add the tomatoes or tomato puree, wine and sugar. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, and stir occasionally.

Peel, seed and dice the squash or eggplant.  I left the peel on the eggplant.

Stir the vinegar into the saucepan, stir and scrape up from the bottom of the pan.

Add the eggplant or squash. Season with salt and pepper.  Stir to coat the squash with the sauce.

Blanch the diced celery (it is really important to peel the celery) in boiling water then drain and dip into ice water. Add to the mixture. 
Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. The eggplant should be soft and silky and cooked through.


Chop the olives, or just break them up with with your fingers. Stir in the capers, parsley, olives, and pine nuts for final five minutes. Taste and correct the seasoning. Add more vinegar or sugar if necessary. If you taste this immediately after it is made the vinegar will be the top note, if you let it rest for a day or two it will smooth out and loose it's bite.
 
Let the mixture sit and cool off the stove. This Caponata is better the next day. 
Remove from the saucepan and place in a jar or covered serving containers.

Serve room temperature with an additional flurry of salt and pepper, a drizzle of very good 
quality extra virgin olive oil, maybe some torn and tossed genoa basil leaves and several 
slices of crusty bread.
EGGPLANT CAPONATA

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

JULIA CHILD'S 100th BIRTH DAY

In honor of Julia Child's birth day here is a menu for an Informal Dinner from her cookbook, Julia Child & Company:

Beautiful ingredients prepared with loving care but little effort: this simple menu is an example of the wisdom and sane good taste of civilized cookery.

Menu

Asparagus Tips in Puff Pastry, Lemon butter Sauce

Casserole Roast of Veal with Carrots and Celery Hearts
Wok Saute of Grated Zucchini and Fresh Spinach

Floating Island

Suggested wines

A light white wine with the first course, like a Chablis, Chardonnay, or dry Riesling
A red Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon with the veal
A Champagne or sparkling white wine with the dessert

Bon appetit!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

SERVICES AND RATES

Listed below are current general pricing guidelines that include the initial consultation, menu planning, grocery shopping, meal preparation, clean up, and reheating instructions.
    
With a continuing service agreement, take $50 off of each category.

Meals include an entree and a side dish. Add-ons $15 per item.
Five Meals / Four Servings$325 plus the cost of groceries
Five Meals / Three Servings$300 plus the cost of groceries
Five Meals / Two Servings$275 plus the cost of groceries




Four Meals / Four Servings$300 plus the cost of groceries
Four Meals / Three Servings$275 plus the cost of groceries
Four Meals / Two Servings$250 plus the cost of groceries




Three Meals / Four Servings$275 plus the cost of groceries
Three Meals / Three Servings$250 plus the cost of groceries
Three Meals / Two Servings$225 plus the cost of groceries

Cooking Classes in your home kitchen and Dinner Parties from 2 to 12 people are available.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

HOME BISTRO

Fresh vegetables in the fridge. A couple of pieces of fish. A Romesco sauce made a few days ago. All these ingredients made quick work for a simple and nutritious dinner at home last night.

Here is what I did:

STEAMED VEGETABLES WITH CAPERS AND OLIVE OIL
Take the carrots and yellow summer squash and cut them in irregular shapes on an angle. Pop into a pan with a little water and steam briefly. Put into a bowl, add some rinsed capers, a coating of good extra-virgin olive oil (the kind you have saved for a condiment and not for cooking), and some dried calendula petals (optional), and flaked salt.
SAUTEED EGGPLANT AND ONION

For the eggplant: Take two thin Japanese eggplants, an onion - white in this case. Saute the sliced onion in some olive oil. These onions came with their green parts attached and I saved them. They look like gigantic scallions. I sliced up some of the green parts too. After the onion was sufficiently sauteed with a bit of browning I added the diagonally sliced eggplant to saute down to a soft and velvety consistency. Then I added the juice of 1 orange and a splash of vinegar...you can use what you like...in this case Ume Plum vinegar, and some flaked salt. Toss well.
PAN FRIED ARCTIC CHAR

The fish was rinsed and dried off, sauteed in the olive oil with some flaked salt on top. I added the Romesco sauce (recipe for that on another day) and a dab of coconut butter...that's what the white blob in the picture is... also, a squeeze of lime.

ARCTIC CHAR WITH ROMESCO SAUCE AND COCONUT BUTTER



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

TASTING

 
A little while ago I did a tasting for a client. They paid for the groceries. Here is the menu:

Appetizer
   Artichokes a la Grecque
   with anchovy toast,
    garlic scape & parsley vinaigrette

·       
Entree
     Spiced Duck with Cherry Sauce
     Maple-whipped Yam
     Steamed Pattypan Squash
French-Fried Shallots

·       
 Dessert
     Blueberry Tart
      Stilton Cheese with  Blueberries


The Entree
Would you like a three-coarse meal like this? Great for a dinner party.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

ARTICHOKES


I recently purchased a case of 30 artichokes. Why? Because I could. First I went to a couple of supermarkets to buy maybe two artichokes...none there. So I went to the restaurant supply depot to check and they had an entire case for a very good price. What to do? I bought the case. And now I have to start cooking them. It's your lucky moment because I am going to go through the cleaning and preparation of artichokes in numerous ways. I'm taking photographs as I go. Ready? This is the simplest technique for preparing an artichoke that I know and you can do it quite quickly.

Here we have the 30 beautiful
Globe artichokes.
Are you ready for the Artichoke Journey?
This is the box.
I recommend going to the website
www.oceanmist.com
for some interesting videos about artichokes.
It says "from the artichoke capitol of the world - 
Castroville, CA. I drove through there once and they
have a huge banner over the road that says that.
Let's take them one at a time. Look at this beauty!
First wash the artichoke and scrub it to remove the
 bitter coating.Then cut the artichoke in half 
using a serrated knife.
See all that fuzzy and purple growth in the center?
That is the choke. You want to remove it 
as it is inedible.
Use a serrated or grapefruit spoon to remove the choke.
If you use this tool it will be easy. 
Then rinse the choke.
Pull off some of the lower small leaves and trim off
the dark outer skin. Also trim the stem
 as it is an extension of the heart.
Put the cleaned artichokes in a pot with water and 
some flavorings. I used some salt, garlic, 
a few bay leaves, and half a lemon.
 Squeeze some lemon juice into the water.

Cover the pot and bring the liquid to a boil then
 lower the heat to a gentle simmer.
Cook about 25 minutes
or until a leaf can be pulled away very easily.




That is lesson one. It is the simplest and the easiest way I know to cook an artichoke. When they are done remove them to a bowl and let them cool. Sprinkle with some olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice and salt and pepper and whatever else you might want to add. Swish them around to get all the sides covered with the flavors. If you add enough you can let the artichokes marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour. Otherwise, you can eat them at room temperature.
Here is what the finished, cooked artichokes look like:
The artichokes cooling.


This is all the debris from cleaning the 4 artichokes.
Makes great compost.


NEXT WILL BE STUFFED ARTICHOKES.

The cleaned and trimmed artichoke.

Put the artichoke in a pot with some water, salt and lemon.
 Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer gently 
until you can insert afork into the heart. 
Some people like to cook the artichoke and
remove the choke after. You have to let it cool first
if you are going to do that. Either way is fine.
You will only cook the artichoke partially because 
you are going tocomplete the cooking after it is stuffed.
Cook it for about 10-15 minutes. You want it softened.





Chop some onion, garlic and saute in olive oil.
I think I had some garlic scapes that I added to this.
 Make the stuffing while the artichoke is cooking.
 For 2 artichokes use about 1/4 onion, unless you
really want more, and 1-2 garlic cloves.

Chop about 4-5 mushrooms. You can see here that I 
discarded the stems and peeled the mushrooms. 
I like to do that because I think you get a cleaner flavor 
and the stems and caps taste differently.
The caps have a fuller flavor.
 Chop the mushrooms finely. And add to the pan.
Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. 
Add some more oliveoil if it looks dry. 
I also chopped up about 6 pitted oil-cured
black olives, 1/2 roasted red pepper, 
1 tablespoon parsley, 
1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary, 
1 teaspoon fresh thyme. 
Stir all that together then add some 
breadcrumbs a little at a time while stirring. 
I might have added about 1 cup.
If the mixture looks dry moisten with a bit of water or
vegetable broth. Be careful not to add too much 
because itwill get soupy. If you add too much liquid,
 just add some morebreadcrumbs. Taste the mixture.

 The stuffing with some lemon zest and capers added. 
Instead of the breadcrumbs you could use 
cooked grains like bulgar or barley or quinoa.

Carefully remove the choke if you haven't done so 
already. Fill the center with the stuffing and then 
separate the leaves and add stuffing between each leaf. 
This is a great job for someone who is compulsive. 
I poured some vegetable broth on the bottom
and added a drizzle of olive oil and a piece of lemon. 
Then I covered the pot and brought it to a boil, 
lowered the heat to a simmer and let the 
stuffed artichokes steam for about 25 minutes.


Here they are in the pot. You could also put them into a 
baking dish, cover the dish with foil and put them
 into a 350-375 F. degree oven to bake 
for about the same amount of time.
Serve it with a slice of lemon and a bit of the 
broth on the bottom.The leaves come off easily. 
Just put them in your mouth and pull.
Supply another plate or bowl for the leaves. 
Add a splash of areally good olive oil on top!



Keep scrolling - there's more:


Here is a little surprise for you! A picture of me.
See the dish of artichokes there? 
The next entry on this long post will be how to make:

ARTICHOKES A LA GRECQUE

 

Here is a lovely artichoke with the green leaves 
pulled off. Keep pulling until you get to the 
yellow part.

Slice off the top leaves to expose the choke.


Using a paring knife, and grapefruit spoon, 
remove the choke.

Get in there and get those fuzzy things out.

Turn the artichoke over and remove the dark green
 fibrous part and trim the stem.

 Drop into some water into which you have squeezed 
a lemon. Also add the squeezed out lemon.
 This helps to keep the artichoke from turning brown.
Set up a large pot with water and add some 
pickling spices and herbs: shallots, garlic, coriander 
seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns, bay leaves, 
dill, parsley, lots of lemon juice, olive oil 
(does not need to be extra-virgin).

There is everything in the pot.

 Well, almost everything. Bring it to a boil and simmer 
for about 10-15 minutes before you add the artichokes.

Now add the beautifully trimmed artichoke hearts. Yum.
Let them boil in the brining mixture until they are 
quite soft:10 minutes boiling, 15 minutes simmering. 
You might want to put something on the top to 
keep them submerged,or else keep turning 
them to cook evenly.

This is what they will look like when done.
Cook down the liquid by about a third and strain it.

Artichokes with some chopped parsley and dill.

The liquid after cooking down and straining.
Pour it over the artichokes. I like to refrigerate this 
for a while, then serve it room temperature.

Serve it like this, or

serve it like this with some parsley, dill, mint, the
 juices and some crusty bread. Drizzle some good
quality extra-virgin olive oil on top.


CARCIOFI ALLA GIUDIA 
This is the style of Roman Jews. It's a very popular
way of preparing Artichokes.   
Pull off the outer leaves and remove the upper leaves
 layer by layer. Cut the leaves off in layers.
Trim the bottom fiberous outer parts. I used a scissor 
but if you have a very sharp paring knife,
or a curved paring knife which is what Italians
use for artichokes, use that. You can also rub your
hands with a cut lemon so they don't turn brown.
 Remove the choke the usual way,
as explained above. Here I am using a grapefruit
spoon and a paring knife. It's often suggested to rub
the artichoke with lemon to avoid it turning 
brown, but we are going to fry the artichoke and they 
will turn brown so what's the point?
 Here is the artichoke with the choke removed, we hope.

 Soak the artichokes in water that has a whole lemon
squeezed into it and add the lemons. 
This process reallycleans the artichoke more. 
Soak them for about 10 minutes.
Turn the artichokes stem up and drain them well 
on a towel. Dry them all over. Then, holding the stems, 
beat the artichokes into each other. 
This will help to open the leaves.
Season the artichokes all over, inside and out,  with a 
mixtureof salt and pepper. Rub the seasoning in well...
this also dries them.

Heat the olive oil (or canola oil or a combination)
 to 300-350 F.  in a deep fryer or deep saucepan.

 Fry, submerged, for 10-15 minutes. They need to be fried
 long enoughfor the fibers to break down to make 
them edible. The first time I did this I didn't cook them long 
enough. Take them outof the oil, turn them over and 
let them cool. You could inserta fork in the heart (ouch!) 
to see if they are done. Pull some ofthe leaves apart. 
If you did not season them earlier, do so now.
Fry them again a couple of minutes upside down, 
push them down so that the leaves open. 
You can also sprinkle some water or white wine. 
Just be careful because the oil will splatter. Put some
water into a bowl and place a fist in the water, then quickly
open your fist over the frying artichokes. 
This helps them cook byadding some steam to the process. 
Let them cook long enough
so that they are quite crispy but not burnt.
 Take out the artichokes with a strainer or tongs. 
Let them drain.Repeat with the other artichokes. 
They taste like potato chips and
should be quite crunchy.