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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Thursday, June 14, 2012


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
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.


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:



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.

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.

Friday, June 08, 2012


beets with beet greens, carrots and walnuts

Gorgeous beets are now at Farmer's Markets and elsewhere. Always check the size of the beets and see if their greens are in good shape, not too browned or torn up. The only part you don't want are the stems so beets selling now for about $3 a bunch are really a good buy.

I'm forever trying to create new recipes that use greens. Steaming then sauteing them with a bit of olive oil, garlic and some chili peppers or raisins is always a good classical stand-by.

Here I first boiled the beets whole, then peeled off their skins and sliced them into chunks. This was going to be a quick meal. I had also purchased a bunch of rather skinny carrots in multiple colors: purple, cream and orange. They got sliced up. The beet greens got washed, pulled away from their stems then added to the saute. I didn't bother to steam them. Some garlic got sauteed and walnuts were added. Toss, toss, toss, stir, stir, stir until the greens wilted and the carrots cooked through but stayed crunchy. Some halved grape tomatoes were added. Herbs? Sure. Got some fresh thyme? or rosemary?  A douse of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a bit more water topped with a swirl or two of a good olive oil to serve as condiment and you have something that feels like your cells are filling up with deep satisfaction at every bite. 

I'm going to add a list of greens here in the coming days. Stay perched!