Posts from July 2013

My First Look at 2014 Chevy Spark EV Plug in Electric in June at CEWeek

I had my first look at 2014 Chevy Spark EV Plug In Electric a few weeks back at CEWeek 2013 in New York.

I was especially interested as I am considering getting an hybrid or electric car for my New Jersey Concierges work.

2 things might make me consider another option:

-Car is only available to start in California and Oregon

-Driving range fully charged is 82 miles which on some work days might not be enough without a quick charge.


All in all attractive and priced to sell at around $20,000 (after federal tax credit)

Thinking of a green drive for Green Day # 253


Handmade in Bolivia, Fournier, Baby Clothing and Toys, at Playtime New York 2013, August 3-5

Chilled Lemon Souffles, Add Raspberries For Hidden Treat, from Patisserie at Home

After sharing all the way back in April Passion Fruit Delice and also Apple and Calvados Crumble Choux Buns from Patisserie at Home (Ryland Peters & Small, April 2013) by Heston Blumenthal alumni, UK pastry chef Will Torrent, I thought hot summer days call for this third recipe.

As a plus, note it can be prepared a day ahead.

Chilled lemon soufflés

Soufflés are one of the most iconic French desserts and they can take a long time to master. However, this is a simple lemon mousse made in a ramekin and shaped with the help of some greaseproof paper and an elastic band to make it look like a soufflé. What is particularly clever about it is that it is made in advance so you have none of those last-minute nerves about whether your soufflé will rise when your guests are seated at the dinner table! Try the recipe with oranges or grapefruit, too.

4 leaves of gelatine

6 eggs, separated

500 ml/2 cups whipping cream

300 g/11/2 cups caster/superfine sugar

grated zest and juice of 4 lemons, plus extra zest to decorate

icing/confectioners’ sugar, to dust

4 large ramekins

Makes 4

Chilled lemon souffles

Start the recipe the day before you want to serve the soufflés.

First prepare the ramekins. Measure the circumference of the ramekins and add 1 cm/1/2 inch to the figure. Now measure their height and add 5 cm/2 inches to the figure. Take some greaseproof paper and draw 4 rectangles: their length should match that of the recorded circumference; and their height should match that of the recorded height.

Cut out the rectangles of paper and wrap each one around a ramekin. Fasten tightly in place with an elastic band or some sticky tape. Place on a baking sheet and set aside.

Put the gelatine in a bowl of cold water to soften.

Put the egg whites in a stand mixer or in a bowl using an electric whisk and whisk until firm peaks form. Refrigerate while you continue with the recipe.

Put the cream in the stand mixer or in a bowl using an electric whisk again and whisk until soft peaks form. Don’t over-beat otherwise it will go stiff and grainy and will look split.

Put the egg yolks and sugar in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water (not letting the base of the bowl touch the water). Whisk with a balloon whisk for 5 minutes or until light and foamy. This is called a ‘sabayon’.

Put the lemon zest and juice in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and stir in the softened gelatine, squeezed of excess water.

Add the lemon mixture to the sabayon, whisking quickly until thoroughly combined.

Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon sabayon with a large, metal spoon. When evenly incorporated, fold in the whipped cream in the same way.

Divide the mixture between the ramekins with a spoon – it should reach above the rim of the ramekins by about 3 cm/11/4 inches and be contained by the paper to give you that restaurant ‘soufflé’ look.

Allow to set in the fridge overnight.

The next day, dust with icing/confectioners’ sugar and a little extra lemon zest to serve.


For a hidden little treat, add a couple of raspberries to the base of the ramekin before you spoon in the mixture.

(* Recipe from 'Patisserie at Home' by Will Torrent- Ryland Peters & Small, April 2013- photography by Jonathan Gregson-all rights reserved)

Lifting a Leaf on Fig Daiquiri from 'Tipsy Texan'

Our first excerpt  from 'Tipsy Texan' was Strawberry Lime Rickey...

Strawberry daiquiri has become so common, here's a fresh alternative from Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State (Andrews McMeel Publishing, June 2013) by David Alan, the Tipsy Texan .

Fig Daiquiri

There is a sexiness to figs that borders on the obscene; no wonder their leaves were used by censors of ancient art to cover, ahem, objectionable parts. Figs grow especially well in central Texas, if you can keep them away from the squirrels and other critters long enough to let them ripen for picking. The taste of fresh figs when you eat them raw is not just fruity, but also earthy, vegetal, and primordial. When used in cocktails, their sweetness comes forward—any number of classic cocktails can benefit from the addition of a few ripe figs.

4 small or 2 large ripe figs, stems removed, cut in half, plus 1 whole fig for garnish
¾ounce Simple Syrup (page 83)
2 ounces white rum
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

52FigDaiquiri (2)

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the halved figs and simple syrup. Add the rum and lime juice and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Adjust the amount of syrup to taste. Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the whole fig.

(* Recipe from Tipsy Texan: Spirits and Cocktails from the Lone Star State by David Alan- Andrews McMeel Publishing, June 2013- reproduced with permission of publisher)

Add Artichoke to your Hummus Palette with Lust for Leaf Recipe, Serve with Lost Abbey 'Red Barn Ale'

After Summer Sorbets, there was no hesitation on my part in choosing second helping from Lust for Leaf (Da Capo Press-Lifelong Books, June 2013) by Hot Knives Alex Brown and Evan George, a West Coast duo.

Artichoke Hummus

Serves 10 to 12

2 whole artichokes
1 cup pitted Manzanilla olives
1 cup Manzanilla olive brine
1 cup filtered water
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 lemon

1 1/2 cups dried garbanzo beans (or 3 cups cooked, about 2 15-ounce cans)
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
sea salt to taste


1. First, prep the artichokes. (This can be done only 2 hours before making hummus, but is even better the night before.) Remove the first, lowest layer of leaves and discard. Slice both chokes in half vertically, from their tip to their base. Using a paring knife and a spoon, cut out the prickly center and spoon out the fine thistles, and discard them.

2. Strain your olives over a bowl to get a cup of olives and a cup of brine. Mix your braising liquid by combining the olive brine, water, vinegar, olive oil, and salt. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into your braising mix. Reserve the squeezed halves for the braise. Roughly chop the olives.

3. Place the 4 artichoke halves face down in a large, thick-bottomed pot. Add the braising liquid (it wont cover the chokes), your squeezed out lemon halves, and the chopped olives. Place this on the stove over medium heat. Once it hits a boil, lower to simmer and cook covered for about 45 minutes. Watch to make sure liquid doesn’t cook off completely. Turn off heat and let sit covered for another 30 minutes, plus a final 30 minutes uncovered to cool. (Skip the next step if you’re making right away.)

4. Put the artichoke halves into a large food-grade, zippable plastic bag and cover with the brine and olives. Push out as much air as possible and close. Stick in the fridge overnight. If cooking garbanzo beans, soak them in 4 cups water.

5. Cook soaked beans now: strain and add to a pot with 4 cups fresh water and cook on high heat until you reach a boil, then lower to simmer for about an hour or until fully cooked. Strain and cool to use.

6. Remove the artichokes from their flavor bag. Skin the outer layer of rough peel off the stem. Now make a cut at the base of the leaves to separate the artichoke heart. (Reserve the leaves and brine.) Place chopped artichoke hearts in your food processor. Combine the garbanzo beans, tahini, and lemon in the processor and pulse. Slowly drizzle the olive oil, save for the last 2 tablespoons.

7. Measure out 2/3 cup of brine. Keep pulsing and add to blender. Keep blending and add remaining brine as desired, tasting along the way.

8. Top with extra olive oil and a sprinkling of the leftover braised olives. Serve with the braised artichoke leaves.

Beverage :
Lost Abbey, Red Barn Ale

“This Must be the Place" Talking Heads

Are cooked dry beans better for this recipe than canned ones? Was Erasmus all about free will? Duh!

(* Recipe from 'Lust for Leaf Veggie Crowd-Pleasers to Fuel your Picnics, Potlucks and Ragers by Alex Brown and Evan George- Da Capo Press Lifelong Books, June 2013- all rights reserved)

Ernie Singer 'Cuvee Denis Dubourdieu' Domaine Shizen and Japan 'Koshu' Wines

Having only browsed quickly through 'Tour du monde epicurien des vins insolites' (Arthaud, 2010, French only) by Ricardo Uztarroz and Claude Gilois, I took advantage of the 4th of July week-end to read more of it.

A whole chapter on these 'uncommon' (insolites) wines is dedicated to Japanese wines.


One of the most colorful figures in the chapter is American born Ernie Singer who in collaboration with Denis Dubourdieu brings us Domaine Shizen from Fujisan Winery.

Koshu wine for Tokyo Thursdays #259

Previously: PingMag is Back Online from Tokyo and I did not Know

In Historic Albi, Follow the Signs to Chambres d'Hotes, Pigne Bed and Breakfasts

This past August, after visiting Albi's cathedral and Musee Toulouse-Lautrec nearby, I took a stroll around Pigne neighborhood where one can follow signs to Chambres d'Hotes...


Like the Hotel Particulier below restored by painter Lise Humeau, and Bertrand, with 3 options including 'La Tour' with 2 rooms, this one best suited for families traveling with kids.


Visit Chambres d'Hotes Albi (site in French only) for prices, availability and reservations.

Elixia, Organic Artisan Lemonade from Champagnole, Jura

To be clear not all of Elixia lemonades are certified organic or Bio as they call it in France.

Part of their line is including one below captured at Summer Fancy Food Show.

Agave syrup is substituted to sugar and organic selections come in 3 flavors, lemon, rose, orange blossom (pictured below).


Water is 100% Jura.

Baby lemonade for Green Day # 253


Handmade in Bolivia, Fournier, Baby Clothing and Toys, at Playtime New York 2013, August 3-5

Cherry Compote from 'Share: the Cookbook that Celebrates our Humanity'

Until I received my copy of Share: the Cookbook (Kyle Books, May 2013), i was totally unfamiliar with Women for Women International an organization that helps 'women survivors of war rebuild their lives'. Their work inspired Share: the Cookbook.

It is actually more than a cookbook as before the recipes from a certain country, we get a personal story and facts such as population, conflicts, GDP. 

Recipe I chose today comes from Kosovo and is preceded by Sijbije's story.

Cherry compote

Prepare 15 minutes, plus 1 week maturing
Cook 5 minutes
Makes about 750g

200ml brandy
75g caster sugar
500g cherries, pitted

Cherry Compot

1 Pour the brandy into a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the sugar and 75ml water. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.

2 Meanwhile, pack the cherries into a large sterilised glass jar. Pour the warm brandy liquid over the cherries, making sure the fruit is totally submerged in the alcohol. Seal and store in a cool dark place for a week to allow the flavours to develop, then store in the fridge and use within 2 months. Serve either at room temperature or gently warmed in a pan and spooned over vanilla ice cream.

(* Recipe from 'Share the Cookbook'- Kyle Books USA, June 2013- reproduced with permission)

Light Tangy Dressing, Crunchy Vegetables, Farmers' Market Salad from Flour Too

A Breton cake, Kouign Amann, was my first pick from Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Cafe's Most Loved Sweets & Savories (Chronicle Books, June 2013) by Joanne Chang from Flour Bakery in Boston.

Today, vegetarian salad is served.

Farmers' Market Salad

During the summer when the local farmers’ markets are in full swing, our chefs reach out to area farmers to take advantage of the natural bounty of the season. We have a brief but amazing growing season here in the Northeast, with irresistible produce making an appearance for just a few short months. Chef Corey created this delightfully fresh and simple salad from a mismatched box of produce that arrived with our regular vegetable order one day. He wanted to highlight the crispy, crunchy vegetables with a light, tangy classic dressing. This makes a terrific salad for a light lunch or brunch; it is beautiful and simple to put together. Feel free to vary the vegetables to suit what is in season near you and what appeals to your taste. To turn this salad into a heartier meal, crumble some blue cheese and/or some crispy bacon slices over the top and serve with crusty bread.

Serves 4 as a main course or 6 to 8 as a first course

Buttermilk-Chive Dressing
1/2 cup/120 ml nonfat buttermilk
1/4 cup/60 ml sour cream or creme fraiche
2 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup/15 g minced fresh chives
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
8 oz/225 g baby carrots, peeled and trimmed to leave
1 in/2.5 cm of stem
1 lb/455 g English peas, shucked
8 oz/225 g green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
8 oz/225 g small Red Bliss potatoes, unpeeled and quartered
8 cups/170 g loosely packed mixed organic lettuces
One 6-oz/170-g bag radishes, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
1 pt/300 g cherry tomatoes

Special equipment: rimmed baking sheet, sieve

Flour, Too_Farmers' Market Salad

1. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, chives, salt, and pepper until well blended. The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge.

2. Place the eggs in a small saucepan, add cold water to cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water begins to boil, turn off the heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs sit for 15 minutes, or until cool enough to handle. Remove the eggs from the water. Working with one egg at a time, softly and gently crack each eggshell all around and carefully peel it off while holding the egg under running cool water. Pat the eggs dry, halve lengthwise, and set aside.

3. In a large saucepan, bring 3 qt/2.8 L lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. While waiting for the water to boil, fill a large bowl about half full with ice and then add cold water just to cover the ice. Line the baking sheet with paper towels.

4. Drop the carrots into the boiling water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Using the sieve, remove the carrots from the water and plunge them, sieve and all, into the ice bath. Remove the carrots from the ice water, drain, and dump them out onto the prepared baking sheet. This process, called “shocking,” will halt the cooking so the vegetables retain their bright color and fresh crunch.

5. Bring the water back to a boil and repeat with the peas, leaving them in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, and then with the green beans, leaving them in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes, before shocking each of them, in turn, in the ice water and transferring them to the baking sheet. Replenish the ice bath as needed with more ice to keep it ice-cold.

6. Bring the water back to a boil and add the potatoes. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, or until you can pierce them easily with a fork. Shock the potatoes in the ice water, scoop them out, and then dump them onto the baking sheet with the other vegetables.

7. Decoratively arrange the lettuce, radishes, tomatoes, eggs, potatoes, carrots, peas, and green beans in four shallow salad bowls. Serve the dressing on the side.

(* Recipe from Flour, Too: Indispensable Recipes for the Cafe's Most Loved Sweets & Savories - published by Chronicle Books, June 2013- by Joanne Chang, reproduced with permission, all rights by Michael Harlan Turkell)