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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Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Today is the start of Chanukah, 2014. And I noticed I've never posted my recipe for potato latkes nor any photos. That needs to be righted! I'm going to be making some in the next few days so photos will likely follow. Meanwhile, if you want to make your own follow this recipe. Feel free to ask questions.

makes about 60


5-7 pounds potatoes, combine Russets and Eastern
1 large Vidalia or yellow onion
3 large eggs
½ cup cake matzo meal, matzo meal, or unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup potato starch
coarse salt
2 bottles grapeseed oil and/or light olive oil, or any oil with a high smoke point

Prepare a cookie or sheet pan to drain the pancakes after they are fried, with a couple of layers of newspapers and/or paper towels, and a cooling rack, as for cookies, on top so any fat can drain off.
Wash and peel the potatoes taking out the ‘eyes’. You can leave the peel on, if you like. I do now all the time. Cut the potatoes small enough to fit into the feeding tube of your processor. Reserve the peeled potatoes in a bowl of cold water.
Process the onions and potatoes with the grater blade, the round disc with holes. First put in a bit of onion through then the potatoes until the processor bowl is filled; remove to a bowl. Continue grating with the rest of the onions and potatoes. Optionally, use a box grater and grate by hand. Good luck.

After everything is grated remove the grater blade and put in the rotator blade for fine processing. Put the grated potato/onion mixture back into the bowl of the processor and pulse to fine grate.  You might have to do this in a few batches. Put the fine grated potatoes into a fine sieve over a bowl. Drain and push out as much liquid as possible. Reserve the potato starch at the bottom and discard the rest of the liquid.

Mix in the matzo meal, potato starch and additional potato starch, eggs and salt. Combine very well. Let rest about 30 minutes.
Pour the oil into two frying pans to at least 1-inch. Use either all grapeseed oil or a combination of light olive and grapeseed oil. Heat the oil to very hot. Test by putting a small amount of the potato mixture into each pan. When it sizzles madly, it’s hot enough to start making the pancakes.
Using a tablespoon, put a heaping tablespoon of the potato mixture into the pans. Smooth it out gently but don’t press down. The pancakes should be about 2” x 3”, roughly. Turn after you see the edges turn golden. When golden on both sides, take out and drain on the prepared draining rack. You want them golden crispy on the outside and just cooked inside. Sprinkle some salt on the hot latkes.

Serve right away with selected condiments: sour cream, yogurt, sugar, or applesauce. Some people like them sweet.  If made a bit smaller they make a good base for serving smoked salmon and caviar.

To freeze: once a batch is drained and cooled put them directly on to another baking or cookie sheet and put into the freezer. Once they are frozen put them into plastic bags or use your vacuum sealer to store. 

To reheat: preheat oven to 450 degrees F, put the desired quantity of pancakes on a baking sheet and heat about 7-8 minutes.

Monday, November 17, 2014


This past weekend I presented a dinner party for a lovely group of friends, one of whom was going to be married soon. It was a bachelorette party.  The intended's photograph was on the refrigerator door. If one was to judge by pulchritude alone, they both scored high. I wish them all the best.

As for the dinner, after a brief discussion with Esther, who wanted local and organic foods as much as possible, and a light starter and dessert, I decided on what I call a Modern Classic for the entree, the likeable Chicken Marbella.

I always request my clients to have a chat with me on the phone. I need to speak with them to get a sense of what might be the right menu. It might sound silly and mystical but I get an intuitive feeling for the basics. The numerous garnishes come later.

Most often people send me an email that asks about cost alone. This give me very little to go by. Like where, how many people, what type of food, how many courses, and so on. I can't give anyone a price or an estimate until I know all those things at a minimum. And I need to hear their voice. I really only want to cook for people I like. It's what makes the food good.

So that said I'd like to share with you the menu for this particular dinner and a couple of photos. It's very rare, in the midst of cooking and plating that I even remember to take any photos so that is why there are so few on this blog.

Here is the menu:

Autumn Salad Greens with pecans, grapes, persimmons
Rusty Plough Farm, Ellenville, NY

Ginger or Citrus Vinaigrette


Bread Alone, Woodstock, NY

Chicken Marbella with prunes, capers, olives
Creamy Polenta
Butternut Squash Ribbons with garlic & thyme
crispy Brussels Sprouts with balsamic
Fried Leeks garnish

Free Bird Farm, Palentive Bridge, NY
Maynard Farms, Ulster Farms, NY
Wild Hive Community Grain Project, Clinton Corners, NY
Chickens : campenelli’s poultry farm, kenora lake, ny
Milk & cream : ronnybrook farm, amcramdale, ny

Pears poached in white wine, vanilla & cinnamon
Stuffed with Mascarpone,
coated with semi-sweet Chocolate ganache, mint
Homemade langue du chat cookie

Maynard Farms

Assorted Cheeses
Toussaint - Sprout Creek Farm, Poughkeepsie, NY
Chevre - Acorn Hill Farm, Walker Valley, NY
Red Beard - Chaseholm Farm, Pine Plains, NY

Concord Grapes - Tousey Farm, Clermont, NY

Autumn Salad

Chicken on a bed of creamy polenta, butternut squash ribbons,
crispy Brussels sprouts, topped with crispy leeks

Stuffed Poached Pear with Chocolate Sauce

the party
Me in the kitchen


Wednesday, October 29, 2014



Fish Chowder can be very simply made with just a few ingredients: a fish stock, salt pork or bacon (optional), potatoes, and fish. You can use clam broth for the fish stock, if you like.

There are other ways on days when you have some enhancement time. Make your own fish stock (instructions follow below).

I purchased an assortment of very fine quality, never before frozen, fish from the vendor at the local Saugerties Farmers' Market. Though the prices are a bit higher than the supermarket, the quality makes it worthwhile. I only purchased small quantities of the most expensive scallops and shrimp. I happened to find at one of those Ocean Job Lot places that have name brand foods, a lovely bottle of lobster stock. Sorry I only bought one...

2-3 slices bacon, sliced in small pieces
1-2 leeks, white part only, fine dice
1/2 to 1 onion, fine dice
1 stalk celery, fine dice
1 garlic clove, fine dice
1 pound fingerling potatoes, semi-peeled, cubed
1-4 bottles lobster stock, or clam juice
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
2 anchovies
dash Tabasco
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
bay leaf
nutmeg, a few scrapings
sea salt and white pepper
1 pound haddock fillets
1/4 pound sea scallops, quartered
1/4 pound large shrimp, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
potato starch

In a medium sized soup pot, render the bacon over medium heat, then remove to paper towels. Add a few slices of butter to the fat and saute the leeks, onion, celery and garlic only until transparent - do not brown. The quantity of leeks and onion should be equal. You could also use one or the other. 

Add the potatoes and lobster or clam juice, milk and half and half. (If you want to use a different sort of milk, that's up to you. I also added some water to increase the quantity.) 

Add the anchovies (or fish sauce, nam pla), Tabasco, thyme, bay leaf, salt and  pepper. Simmer until the potatoes are done. (If you've cut them into smallish cubes they'll cook rapidly.) Once the milk is in the pot don't boil it. Get it to that point of boiling and just let it simmer while quite hot. It's best to do this over medium heat, rather than high heat and let it come up to temperature slowly. You'll have to watch it up to this point. 

Add the haddock. Don't cut it up, add it whole. It will fall apart in the soup all by itself. Add the rest of the fish, whatever you are using. Continue to simmer until the fish is cooked through. It won't take long. I like to keep it over a low heat so that the flavors marry.

Add a little bit of butter, if you like. Now you'll want to thicken it a bit. Take a tablespoon of potato starch and a tablespoon of water in a small bowl and mix well. Pour it into the chowder while stirring. Let it thicken. If you want it still thicker do the same thing a second time.

Serve hot. I like oyster crackers, if you have some.

Fish Stock:
Take an assortment of fish scraps: head, tails etc. and barely cover with water. Boil then skim. Add vegetables: onion, celery, carrot, peppercorns, parsley leaves and stems, thyme stems, bay leaf. Don't let it cook too long or it will get bitter. Cook 20 minutes. Steep for 10 minutes. You can use chicken stock which has a neutral taste, or clam stock but it will taste like clams - or chicken. Strain. Lightly salt. Chill as quickly as possible if you are not going to use it immediately.

Friday, October 24, 2014


I did a cooking demo at the Woodstock Farm Festival this Wednesday, October 22nd. It's basically a Farmers' Market but it's Woodstock so they call it a festival is anyone's guess. It was very windy. I mean like "Blowin' in the Wind" kind of windy. Not the best for keeping a gas butane flame going, or for keeping my hair from blowing all over my head and face.

Click on the link below to view the video:


Usually at Farmers' Markets I go around to the farmers and select a carrot here, a potato there, a Japanese turnip, whatever looks good. Sometimes I figure out a flavor profile beforehand. This time I wanted to make something with coconut milk and some odd, not commonly used, spices. The profile, besides the coconut milk was with some ground Persian limes, cardamom powder, turmeric, ginger, pomegranate molasses and a bit of chili. Fresh cilantro for the top.

I started off by caramelizing some red onion. It's just slow-cooking until the onion somewhat "melts."
Then, in a soup pot, I sauteed some finely chopped ginger and added some cut up carrots. You can cut the carrots small. Usually I will start a soup with a few more aromatics, like onion and celery but did not in this case.

People are always asking about "rules" for making soup. If I had to come up with any "rules" I'd say that you start with some finely chopped vegetables, like onion, carrot and celery, or any other three. Each type of cuisine seems to vary what these three might be. For instance, New Orleans cooking, uses onion, usually scallion, green pepper and celery to start. I just used some ginger and carrots this day. It's an improvisational soup.

Then I cut up some of the vegetables I'd chosen, at random, from the stands: a tomato, Japanese turnips, a potato, garlic,  an apple, delicata squash and some Swiss chard.  I just cut them up, really helter-skelter while fighting the wind.

There was entertainment at the market that day: an accordion player. While he was a very good accordion player, there is something about accordion music that, (how else can I say this) makes me grumpy. The accordion music never stopped the entire time. Added to that, my friend and videographer, Bart, came by to record the windy cooking event. (Bart Friedman) With the accordion going that's going to be all anyone will hear. Oh well, thus the joy of serendipity.

I kept peeling and cutting up the vegetables in small pieces so that they would, hopefully, cook more quickly. The wind made the flame go out several times. After all, but the Swiss chard, was added and tossed about, plus about 1/2 teaspoon of the ground Persian lime,  1/2 teaspoon or more of the cardamom powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, salt and pepper. I added a can of coconut milk and some water to cover.

We just had to wait for it all to boil...and wait and wait. You know a watched pot never boils and that pretty much sets the stage for this event. Blowing and boiling.

Rule two: put in your seasonings and ingredients, saute briefly, then add liquid. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer until done, that means, when all the flavors meld and everything is cooked through. Simmer means a very light bubbling boil..just a little blurp every now and then.

After everything got hot, I julienned the Swiss chard leaves and tossed them in. Swiss chard tends to cook quickly. I'd also brought with me some cooked jasmine rice and cooked quinoa. I added those. I think I added too much of the grains as the liquid got absorbed...given more time and better weather I'd probably have added more liquid or less grains.

The tent started blowing around, the wind picked up and rain began to fall. A good day for soup.

Meanwhile, the caramelized onions were doused with some pomegranate molasses. I tasted them and they needed a bit of sweeting. Bart went over to the people selling maple syrup and came back with a piece of maple sugar! In it went, a little into the onions, a little into the soup, and we ate the rest.

I'm aware that this recipe sounds very much more complicated than the actual event. In a restless flurry, at the end, rather than saving the caramelized onions as a garnish, as originally intended, I add them to the soup. It was beginning to be more of a stew.

By now, the few people who had hovered around the pot were getting hungry and restless and they didn't care that the soup hadn't boiled: it was time to taste and eat! So I just gave in. I chopped up some of the massive bunch of cilantro (only $2, but no roots), spooned some into the little cups I was given, topped it with the cilantro and everyone ate. I kept going this way until there was no more left in the pot.

By then the rain had definitely begun, the farmers were packing up; the tents were blowing. As soon as I got everything packed up, drove my car around, the tent fell on my head.

It was quite a soup.

About two weeks previous, I'd done a cooking demo at the Saugerties Farmers' Market. Though the approach was similar the ingredients and resulting soup was quite different. I didn't take note but that soup had more of a rosemary and thyme flavor profile, plus I made some croutons with oil and garlic and topped the soup with some Toma cheese.

I'm looking forward to seeing Bart's video. I'll post it here when it's done. You can also hire Bart to make your videos.

It looks as though the outdoor market days are done around here for now. I'm looking for a place to have cooking demos locally. If you know of anything, give a shout. I also like to do lessons in people's homes privately. A popular approach is to have a dinner or dishes worked out. Everyone helps with the prep and they get a lesson. Then we all sit down and eat it.

Happy end of October.


Tuesday, October 07, 2014



I'll be doing a Cooking Demo at the Saugerties Farmers' Market this Saturday, October 11th, at 11AM. I'm giving out recipes for a Mushroom, Blue Cheese, Fennel Galette, and for an Autumn Persimmon and Pear Salad with a Ginger Vinaigrette. Stop by and see what I'll be making from gathering vegetables from the farmers who sell there.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Last night I spoke with my sister who lives in Florida and usually gets together with her friends for Rosh Hashonah. She was having twelve friends for dinner and they were all bringing something. They seem to stick to the traditional eastern European style of cuisine for these events. The foods from that time were based on the hearty fare of the cold weather that had undoubtedly started by then and to feed those hearty souls who farmed the land. Somehow that became the tradition in the US. In Israel the foods are now different and more Mediterranean and I’ve been told they shun the eastern European traditional foods.

My sister was making a chicken dish recommended by David Leibovitz with shallots. It sounded interesting so I took a look and found it online. I had a chicken in the fridge. I’ve been purchasing the Halal chickens at my local supermarket. The process they use is the same as kosher and the products are much less expensive. I found them to be really good and very clean with no bloodiness. They made a really good chicken soup that was very clear. I was impressed. I wanted a dish with lemon and honey. I have some Sumac, a berry with a lemony flavor, I seem to have purchased a couple of times forgetting that I already had some! Now I want to use it every chance I get. It’s red and looks a lot like chili or paprika.

Here is the recipe I came up with:


3 lemons
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoon honey
4-5 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
1 leek, white part only, thin sliced
1 garlic clove, thin sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
sea salt & black pepper
2 tablespoon Sumac
potatoes, peeled and chunks
1 chicken, cut into 12 parts – 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 breasts cut in 2 parts, back cut in 2 parts
3 T chopped parsley

Oven 425

Juice 2 lemons. Put into pan with the butter, honey, rosemary, garlic, and soy sauce and leave until the butter is just melted. Stir and put aside.

Put the cut up chicken into a roasting pan toss with salt and pepper and Sumac.  Pour the butter sauce over and toss with your hands. Toss in the leek slices. Cut the 3rd lemon into small wedges and place them between the chicken parts along with the chunks of potatoes.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes then turn the pieces over. Roast another 30 minutes until the chicken is well browned.

Sprinkle and toss with the parsley, some more Sumac and a finishing flurry of salt.

You can make this recipe your own by varying some of the components. Perhaps a different herb or no herbs at all, olive oil instead of butter, and so on. You can’t go wrong as long as you use a lavish amount of seasonings. If you don’t have a leek, use an onion, or shallots. No potatoes? Leave them out.




I have been storing my spices in these round metal containers with a clear covering on top. I bought them in a dollar store and the tops stay on very firmly. In my new place there are few drawers to store them. So I bought some magnets and glued them on to the bottoms of the containers, some required more than one magnet. It's a great solution. You do have to use some sense of awareness that they are there.