Posts from March 2012

Shoulder of Spring Lamb Recipe from A Platter of Figs by David Tanis

In my helping of Spring recipes, i have so far served a cocktail and a salad, today something more substantial from A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes by David Tanis (Artisan Books, 2010).

Shoulder of Spring Lamb Recipe

True spring lamb is not easily found here, as most American lamb (sourced from New Zealand) is raised to a larger size. But some good butchers carry or can order it, and a few excellent American farms now specialize in young pastured lamb. Otherwise, ask your butcher for the smallest lamb shoulder roasts possible. Tender young spring lamb is best cooked almost medium, with a crisp roasty exterior. I’m crazy about pale green flageolet beans, a classic lamb accompaniment. Their wonderful nutty flavor pairs well, too, with olive oil and thyme.


1 1/2 pounds dried flageolet beans (about 3 cups)

1 large onion, quartered

1 bay leaf

A few unpeeled garlic cloves, plus 4 garlic cloves sliced

Thyme sprigs

Salt and pepper

2 boneless spring lamb shoulders, about 3 pounds each, tied into roasts

Rosemary sprigs

Fruity olive oil

2 cups dry white wine,
such as Sauvignon Blanc

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley

Olive Relish (*see below)

64_Shoulder of Spring Lamb

Pick over the flageolet beans and rinse them well. Set them to boil in a large heavy pot with enough cold water to cover by 3 inches. Add the onion, bay leaf, unpeeled garlic, and a large thyme sprig. When the water boils, turn the flame to low and let the beans simmer gently until quite tender, about 1 hour if they are from a recent crop, longer if not.

Once the beans are done, stir a good spoonful of salt into the cooking liquid, and let the beans cool in their broth. The beans can be cooked early in the day, or even a day ahead and refrigerated.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Season the lamb roasts with salt and pepper. Insert the slices of garlic in the loose flesh on the underside of the roasts. Lay a few rosemary and thyme sprigs in the bottom of a roasting pan. Set the lamb on top.

Drizzle a little olive oil over the lamb. Pour the white wine into the pan.

Roast the lamb for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the exterior is nicely browned and the internal temperature reads 130°F. Remove the lamb to a platter, cover loosely, and let it rest.

Scrape up the juices from the bottom of the roasting pan with a wooden spoon, taking care to dissolve the caramelized brown bits clinging here and there. Pour the pan juices through a fine-meshed strainer into a small saucepan. Skim off any surface fat, and reheat the pan juices just before serving.

Drain the flageolets, reserving their liquid, and put them in a shallow pan. Season them with salt and pepper, a little chopped thyme, and a good splash of fruity olive oil. Add a cup of the bean broth and reheat the beans gently.

Chop the parsley and slice the lamb.

Pour the flageolets onto a warmed platter and arrange the lamb slices over the beans. Spoon some of the warm pan juices over the lamb. Scatter the parsley over everything and serve. Pass the olive relish, thinned with pan juices if you like.       

*Olive Relish

A wonderful condiment to have on hand, perfect with the roast lamb, this relish can also enhance grilled fish or roast chicken, or liven up a sandwich or a pizza. Well covered, it will keep for a week in the refrigerator.


1 cup oil-cured Moroccan olives, pitted

1 cup Niçoise olives, pitted

2 teaspoons capers, well rinsed

2 small garlic cloves, smashed to a paste with a little salt

Finely chopped zest of half a small lemon

Juice of 1 small lemon

1 teaspoon chopped thyme

2 anchovy fillets, well rinsed and chopped (optional)

About 3/4 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

Pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes (optional)

Put the olives, capers, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, thyme, anchovies, if using, and 1/2 cup olive oil in a blender or food processor and grind to a paste. Make the texture of the relish to your preference—rough or smooth. Pulsing the ingredients makes it rough; for a smoother texture, let the machine run for a few minutes. (For a more rustic version, hand-chop the ingredients.)

Scrape the olive relish into a small bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding pepper—or a little cayenne or red pepper flakes —as desired and salt if necessary. Thin with a little more olive oil to loosen the paste. Makes about 2 cups relish.

(*Excerpted from A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes by David Tanis (Artisan Books). Copyright 2010. Photographs by Christopher Hirsheimer)

Serge the Concierge Turns 7 Today March 22, 2012

Now that I think about it, it would have been nice to go to Burgundy for 'Grands Jours de Bourgogne' to celebrate 7 years of 'Serge the Concierge'.


My 7 year itch is to meet more people face to face and go places that will surprise me.

I look forward to another year of tasting great wines and foods.

Thanks for reading and keeping me going.

Should I pop the Champagne?

(* Illustration from 'Mansion on Turtle Creek' cookbook by Helen Thompson to be published by Rizzoli USA in April 2012, all rights reserved)

Lucky Dragon No. 5, Fishing Boat is Exhibit A at Daigo Fukuryu Maru Hall in Tokyo of 50's Nuclear Tests

In Lucky Dragon's lethal catch (Japan Times, March 18), Mark Schreiber recounts how an unassuming fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon No 5) and its inexperienced crew got to close for comfort to a nuclear test conducted by the U.S in 1954 near Bikini Island.

In Tokyo, the boat (pictured below) is centerpiece at Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall which aims at keeping memories alive.


Museum is opened from 9:00 am to 4 pm (closed on Mondays).

Admission is Free.

Fishing boat as Exhibit A for Tokyo Thursdays # 228


Modern Song, Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920–1945, Asia Week 2012, March 16-24

(* photo of Lucky Dragon No 5 from official site of Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall)

Warm Enough to Eat Singapore Style Raw Fish Salad, Salad for Dinner Recipe

The 70 degrees temperature that has greeted the arrival of Spring 2012 prompted me to look for recipes to match the weather.

It is warm enough to have salad including this Asian flavored dish from soon to be published Salad for Dinner 'Complete Meals for All Seasons by Jeanne Kelley (Rizzoli USA, April 2012)

Singapore-Style Chinese New Year Raw Fish “Tossed” Salad

4 servings 

My friend Rachel, who grew up in Singapore, introduced me to this unique salad and fun New Year’s tradition. Raw fish, fruit, and vegetables are artfully arranged in a bowl, dressed with a plum-sauce dressing, and sprinkled with peanuts. Once the salad is presented, guests participate in “tossing” it with chopsticks, the object being to fling the salad as high as they can to ensure good luck in the year to come. Fried wonton crisps are said to symbolize gold, and they add a fun crunch to the salad, but they can be omitted if you are looking to save on calories. The best place to find good-quality raw fish is the sushi stand in specialty markets, where they will expertly slice the fish for you. 


1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons plum sauce

2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger

2 small cloves garlic, minced


1 pink grapefruit

1 ripe mango

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into fine julienne

1 (8-ounce) piece jicama, peeled and cut into fine julienne

1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into fine julienne

8 ounces assorted raw fish, such as albacore, salmon, and halibut, thinly sliced into 1x2-inch pieces

Sea salt

4 green onions, thinly sliced on a diagonal

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts

Fried Wonton Strips (page 90; optional)


For the dressing: Whisk all the ingredients to blend in a small bowl.

For the salad: Peel the grapefruit and separate the pieces into sections. Remove the pits and membrane from the sections and, using your fingertips, crumble the pulp into small bits into the center of a large shallow bowl.

Using a small sharp knife, peel the mango. Set the mango on the cutting surface, narrow side on the surface. Using a large sharp knife, cut off the lobes of fruit along both sides of the seed. Place the seed on the cutting surface, flat-side down, and cut remaining fruit off the seed. Cut the mango fruit into julienne slices. Arrange the mango along the side of the grapefruit. Arrange the carrot, jicama, and red pepper around the grapefruit, leaving space for the fish. (The dressing and the salad can be prepared several hours ahead. Cover them separately and refrigerate up to 6 hours.) Fan the sliced fish alongside the vegetables. 

(* Recipe reproduced with permission from 'Salad for Dinner' Complete Meals for All Seasons by Jeanne Kelley- published by Rizzoli USA, April 2012- Photos by Ryan Robert Miller, all rights reserved)

Blue Hawaiian Cocktail To Toast Spring, Recipe from The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook

The arrival of Spring 2012 almost feels like summer.

The weather being what it is, it might not be presumptuous to treat ourselves to a drink from the Pacific from upcoming title The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook (Running Press, April 2012) by Rick Rodgers and Heather Maclean.

Blue Hawaiian

Makes 1 drink

As you shake this sky-blue cocktail, be sure to move your hips in an Elvis style. At this point in his career, the King was just a crown prince, as the previous generation’s stars, such as Sinatra and Crosby, were the big names, and Presley was for kids. This is the kind of drink that gives tiki cocktails a good name. 

1 ounce silver (light) rum

1 ounce blue Curacao

1 ounce cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez

2 ounces pineapple juice

Fresh pineapple wedge, for garnish

Maraschino cherry, for garnish

Mai Tais

Fill a large tiki or hurricane glass with ice. Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the rum, Curacao, cream of coconut, and pineapple juice to the shaker. Shake well. Strain into the glass. Garnish with the pineapple and cherry and serve.

Frozen Blue Hawaiian: Process the liquid ingredients with 1 cup cracked ice in a blender until smooth. Pour into a highball glass.

Blue Hawaiian pictured above alongside a Mai Tai whose recipe is also included in the book.

(* Recipe reprinted with permission from The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook © 2012 by Rick Rodgers and Heather Maclean, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group.)

Organic Wines get the Raw Treatment in London with Raw Wine Fair, May 20-21

Organic Wines get the Raw Treatment in London with Raw Wine Fair, May 21-22, 2012.

Isabelle Legeron concocted a zesty program.

What's Raw?

Here's what Isabelle Legeron and her team's motto for Raw:

"RAW is a two-day celebration of some of the best wine talent in the world. Featuring around 150 growers, RAW will be one of the most exciting collections of fine, natural wine artisans ever to come together in the capital. They are pure, kind to the planet, very possibly better for your health and best of all they're absolutely delicious. 

RAW is leading the charge for transparency. We believe that in an ideal wine world, any processing and additives will be clearly communicated to the drinker so that you know exactly what is in your glass. RAW is a first step in this direction - we will clearly list all additives and processing on both the website and fair catalogue. We are proud to be leading the way."


Will I use Raw as  an excuse to visit London?

Green wine on the table for Green Day # 216

Previously:  Seatbelt Buckles Upcycled into Reopener Bottle Opener,100 Percent Recycled 

Besides Afternoon Facial Massage What I Will Miss By Not Attending Grands Jours de Bourgogne

I looked forward to attending Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne 2012 (March 19-24) in Burgundy.

As the event was getting close, it seemed more and more likely that I would have to wait until 2013 to have a chance to take in all the flavors, wines and food from the Terroirs of Burgundy.

First work requires my presence in New Jersey, second I had not secured a sponsor for my flight (these 3-4 day trips get expensive).

The facial massage offered to members of the media each afternoon is a nice touch.

Structurally, the event emulates theater festivals and other cultural happenings with 'Off' and 'Fringe' tracks.

Fringe includes 4th edition of Bourgognes et Saveurs du Monde "all about taste and unexpected sensory experiences,  unusual combinations of expressive Burgundy wines with international cuisine" at Chateau de Meursault on March 20.

Ladies have their moment in the sun with Exception'elles tasting on March 21.

"The Women in Burgundy Wine Association, which includes some 40 members from estates from all over Burgundy, has decided to celebrate Burgundy’s Wine-tasting Week by proposing wine-tasting focused on vintage years ending in 0."


Amongst these ladies I noticed sisters Juliette and Caroline Chenu (pictured above) of Louis Chenu Pere et Filles who take their wine seriously while having a sense of humor.

A mini interview with Juliette Chenu has her offering as funniest anecdote: "A classic : finding differences between three wines (during a blind tasting) whereas the three bottles were actually identical.."

Domaine Chenu had its first 'certified organic' crop in 2009.

I will miss seeing Alexandrine Roy again.

There's always 2013.

(* photo of Juliette and Caroline Chenu from Femmes et Vins de Bourgogne site)

Monday Morning Goodies, Win Signed Copy of Hello Jell-O!

With sunny weather in past few days and Spring around the corner, I thought it was time to bring back the weekly contests.

Instead of Fridays, here's a Monday morning goodie.

What's for the taking?

I have a signed copy of Hello, Jell-O! (Ten Speed Press, February 28, 2012) by Victoria Belanger aka The Jello Mold Mistress of Brooklyn for the lucky one.


In order to win all you have to do is give us names of 3 creators/ agitators who use Jell-O to create other things than food, art pieces if you will.

Send your entry to info [at] njconcierges [dot] com 

All entries must be received by Noon (Eastern US Time) on Friday March 23, 2012 

There is 1 signed copy for the taking so this contest is on a first come, first served basis.

This contest is limited to U.S and Canadian readers.

Bonne chance!

Tax Day and Malbec World Day 2012 share Stage on April 17 in the USA

If you're one of the millions of American procrastinators who wrap up their tax returns on the last week-end, you can unwind with a glass of Malbec when all is done as Malbec World Day 2012 presented by Wines of Argentina falls on the same day as Tax Day, April 17 in 2012.

For second edition of Malbec World Day, events will be staged in following countries and cities:

Buenos Aires

Washington DC
Los Angeles
New York 



Malbec World Day activities will be held in London and all around the country, with promotions in the main wine shops (more than 250 stores, bars and restaurants around the United Kingdom).

MWD special sales in the main wine shops of the country.

Activities all around the country promoted by the Exito group.
Special events in Bogotá.

Activities held all around the country, promoted by Cadena Vivanda. 

Mexico DF
Punta Mita
Activities all around the country promoted by La Europea stores

São Paulo
Rio de Janeiro

I look forward to hear details on New York tasting so I can join in the celebrations.

Don't forget the original Malbec, Cahors!

(* Illustration from Wines of Argentina website)

Sweet Tofu, Cashew and Cardamom Fudge, Soy Paneer Kaju Barfi Recipe from Asian Tofu

Whether you are ambitious enough to make your own tofu, want to know how to spot best tofu offerings or looking for a few recipes that use tofu to enrich your weekly menu, Asian Tofu (Ten Speed Press, February 2012) by Andrea Nguyen covers it all.

Sweets is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of tofu at least it was not until I layed my eyes on following recipe from Asian Tofu.

Cashew and Cardamom Fudge, Soy Paneer Kaju Barfi

Makes 36 small pieces 

8 ounces super-firm tofu

31/2 ounces unsalted raw cashew pieces or whole nuts

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

11/2 tablespoons chopped raw pistachios




Line an 8-inch-square pan with parchment paper to cover the bottom and one side. Set aside.

Wipe the tofu dry, then finely shred it using the smallest hole on the grater. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Put the cashews in a small or full-size food processor and grind to a texture resembling breadcrumbs or fine cornmeal. Add to the grated tofu and toss to combine.

To cook the fudge mixture, use a medium pan, such as 2-quart sauté pan. It’s easier to evenly cook the ingredients in that kind of shallow pan. Pour in the sweetened condensed milk. Add the tofu and cashew mixture. Over medium heat, stir the ingredients together. Cook the mixture for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally at the beginning as things heat up, and then frequently, and, eventually, constantly. Prevent scorching by scraping the bottom and sides as you stir. The mixture should not boil, but just thicken at a moderate speed. The mixture will transform into a rough mass resembling very thick, rough oatmeal. When stirring results in the mixture pulling away from the sides or slightly lifting off the bottom of the pan, it’s done.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cardamom, then transfer the fudge to the lined baking pan. Spread it out evenly, then pat it flat. Sprinkle on the pistachio nuts and gently press into the mixture. Set aside to completely cool. Because this fudge is on the soft side, cover and chill for a few hours or overnight to make it easier to cut; if you’re in a hurry, freeze until cold, about 15 minutes. The resting time also develops flavor.

Use the parchment paper on the side of the pan to help you remove the fudge. Place it on a cutting board and cut it into 36 small squares for bite-size portions. Or, aim for 16 to 20 large ones. Take liberties with shapes; triangles are easy to achieve, and diamonds are lovely and traditional.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. This fudge keeps well, covered, for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. You can freeze it for up to 1 month but it loses a touch of its oomph. I often eat the fudge as I cut it.

(* Reprinted with permission from Asian Tofu: Discover the Best, Make Your Own, and Cook It at Home by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2012. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc, Photo credit: Maren Caruso © 2012)