The Diva That Ate New York

Garlic Fried Rice, Will You Marry Me?

The first time I tasted garlic fried rice, I thought, “HELLO BEAUTIFUL, where have you been all my life?.” It was when the Maharlika-Jeepney crew, a local Filipino restaurant group, ran a pop-up in downtown Brooklyn. In addition to being very happy to eat it, I remember feeling a little cheated. It was as if my life had been retroactively diminished by not having eaten this simple, five ingredient, vegan side dish before.

Was I being dramatic? Hello?!?!?!—DRAMA is my middle name! It was like finally meeting the man or woman of your dreams at senior citizen home and wishing you’d met way earlier. You know you’re going to stay together the rest of your life, but so wishing you’d met in kindergarten. Yes, I realize if I met him that early on, it might not have worked out. However, if I’d eaten garlic rice in kindergarten I’d certainly still be eating it and we would have had so much more time together…. SOB!!!

This recipe makes perfect use of leftover rice of any kind—perhaps not sticky rice, but you could use quinoa, buckwheat or another already cold, cooked grain that you want to use up. Whatever you use, make sure it’s COLD, not just cooled.

Cobb Salad Over Imagined

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Cobb Salad Over Imagined

The way you remember what’s in the classic Cobb salad is by using the acronym EAT COBB: Egg, Avocado, Tomato, Chicken, Onion, Bacon, Blue cheese.

I tend to be rebellious when it comes to food, plus I love a bit of overkill and I like to use up leftovers in the fridge.

When my boyfriend and I came back from eating our way around the Berkshires for my birthday, it hot and humid in the city. We decided it would be best to offset our gluttony with something light. I suggested a salad. Here’s the one I made. I’m not sure you’d call it light, since it weighed five pounds. Let just say I took liberties with Cobb. I did a job on the Cobb. Did I rob the Cobb? (Stopping the rhyming now… )

The acronym for my Cobb Salad Gone Wild would start with EAT COB (mine had ham instead of bacon) on, say, a Scrabble board. Then, imagine a two-year-old appearing magically from nowhere, grabbing the Scrabble tile bag and throwing it on the floor, with completely random letters falling out—doesn’t that happen at your house? It’s unlikely the resulting letters would spell anything in English: EAT COB HRCCCYGKM. Perhaps you could spell something in one of the Slavic languages. If you come up with something coherent let me know in the Comment section.

However this salad does spell D-E-L-I-G-H-T-F-U-L and D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! Your guests will love all the contrasting colors.

I served it with Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette because it’s my latest addiction. You can use a classic red wine vinaigrette or any dressing you love.

Pavlova Dances on My Tongue

Vanilla Bean Pavlova with fresh fruit

Vanilla Bean Pavlova with fresh fruit

Ethereal… that’s my experience of a well-made Pavlova. I fell hard for this dessert when I first had it in Australia. There’s something about the contrast of the pillowy soft sweetness of the meringue against the cool lusciousness of the whipped cream and the sparkle, tang and varied flavors and deliciousness of the fruit. Passionfruit is very common in Australia, but not so much in New York. Whenever I see it here it’s a SIGN that I must make a “Pav” as it’s called down under.

Of course, I wanted to be a ballerina. What little girl doesn’t? I took ballet lessons and I had a purple tutu that I loved with sequins and tulle. I’m pretty sure I was not serious about becoming a ballerina, but I was serious about wearing that tutu. I’m very serious about my love for eating Pavlova and spreading the “Pav-LOVE” far and wide.

Alas, my tutu days have long since passed and I don’t even have the attention span to watch a ballet. But I can appreciate the beauty, strength and grace of the ballerinas. I imagine that’s what the chef (was it an Aussie or a Kiwi?), who designed this dessert for the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova had in mind. This dessert is beautiful, melding and taming bold flavors, but ever so gracefully.

I think the thing that made me fall in love with Pavlova was the fresh passionfruit squeezed over the top. Passionfruit is plentiful and cheap in Australia, but scarce and expensive here in New York. I rarely make Pavlova, when I can’t find fresh passionfruit, but if you never had it, you won’t miss it. If you have had the dessert with passionfruit you may experience a pang of loss until you bite into the Pavlova. It’s like getting the best massage in your mouth. All your cares and woes just slip away.

Don’t skimp on the vanilla in this recipe—use a good one. I received a sample of Nielsen Massey’s Vanilla Bean Paste, which I used in this Pavlova. It gave the Pavlova a lovely flavor and speckled it with vanilla beans seeds. But, it also made the meringue a little grey. I might just stick to vanilla extract in the future.

Daikon to Die for

Braised daikon and mushrooms

Braised daikon and mushrooms

Just looking at Japanese people can make me hungry. Looking at this picture of braised daikon and mushrooms does the same. Japanese is one of my favorite cuisines that I rarely cook at home. The recipes can be complex and time-consuming and require a lot of ingredients, some of which can be a schlep to find even in New York. Then you wind up with a lot of odd ingredients in a city where space is limited and Japanese restaurants are plentiful.

I like to preserve the “magic” of Japanese food by eating it out. By “magic,” I mean I can just enjoy the flavors and the artistry of the food someone else has made without deciphering it and and figuring out how to replicate it at home.

However, this dish of braised daikon radish and mushrooms is very simple. Although the flavor of daikon radish varies from plant to plant, I find them to have a more delicate flavor than the more common red radishes. Braising helps mellow the flavor of the radishes even more. The umami combo of the mushrooms and the soy sauce balances beautifully with the sweetness of the mirin. Although this is a vegan dish, it packs an almost meaty punch.

Green Tomato Roulette

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Green Tomato Roulette

Gardening is like going to the casino these days with global warming causing such wild fluctuations in our weather. Spin the wheel and you may get to make Bread & Butter Green Cherry Tomato Pickles, but you have to be lucky.

You’re lucky if you have a veggie garden or at least a place you can grow some tomatoes in containers. You’re really lucky, if a few of those tomatoes fall on the dirt and “volunteer” the following year in the shape of tomato seedlings. I feel very lucky and am extremely grateful for having a garden. I grow a wide variety of tomatoes; last year I had about 25-30 plants going, which is a lot in a New York garden.

I buy what I call uppity tomato seedlings from the my favorite organic farmer, Trina, who runs Silver Heights Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket. Her catalogue has hundreds of tomatoes and other veggies. It’s often hard to control myself because I want them ALL. I pop them in and hope they will grow up to the expectation that the catalog description has lured me with. But some of them don’t make it.

Bacon, Goat Brie, Leeks & Pear Walked into a Pie

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Bacon, Goat Brie, Leeks & Pear Walked into a Pie

If you hear a gasp or a groan, you’re on the right track. That’s the barometer I use to measure delight when I make up a new recipe. Does it sound good?

For this year’s Pie Party Potluck LIVE, I devised a bacon, goat brie, leek and pear pie in a roesti crust. Gasp! Groan… That’s what I’m talking about… It’s like the listener can taste it with their imagination. While a vivid imagination is a definitely a bonus, I can assure you this pie is even better in real life, in your mouth.

It involved a couple of experiments. First, the roesti crust. If I can, I like to make gluten-free dishes that never had gluten in them in the first place, so I can guarantee that they will be tasty and that they will work. I’m not a big fan of substitutes like gluten-free flour, although it’s great for frying and binding in certain dishes. It’s also easier for my reader to make dishes with common ingredients, so that’s also an aim, but I may have missed the mark with goat brie. The good news is you can use any brie for this pie, and I’ve made it with cheddar. Aged gouda or blue cheese would also work. But back to the goat brie.

Go Beyond Seaweed Snacks: Nori Chips

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Go Beyond Seaweed Snacks: Nori Chips

Don’t you just love the sensation of food crunching between your teeth. I do. You need to try nori chips made from seaweed.

I admit it, I’m addicted to CRUNCH!!! potato chips, tortilla chips, popcorn, etc. I can’t get enough of them, and the good thing is they’re all gluten-free—or is that a not-so-good thing… I light up when I’m served something new and gluten-free to crunch on. I really like roasted seaweed snacks that you get in Korean and Japanese stores. When you’re craving a little something that’s not a sweet, they’re perfect. BUT they’re just sorta crunchy, more crispy, but flimsy. These nori chips and crunchy and sturdy. You can use them to scoop or dip and you can put food on top of them, too. I made them for the first time as scoopers for tuna poke.

Herald in the Spring with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Herald in the Spring with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Be careful with rhubarb. When I first cooked it this season, I overdid it. Since it’s only available once a year, for a short time, it’s hard to remember best uses. I was whipping up a pie and I cooked it and the strawberries into a slurry. I saved it by adding some cooked apples to give it some body. It was delicious, if not ideal, so watch it or it will be like soup—mmm… chilled rhubarb soup… but I digress.

For this recipe, I cooked the strawberries first and then the rhubarb in the strawberry juices in order to be able to get the texture that I really wanted, keeping some shape to the fruit. Cutting strawberries in half helps, but if they are small you could leave them whole. I have to give props to OXO for the strawberry huller we got in the gift bags for Pie Party Potluck LIVE! It worked beautifully.

That’s a Wrap: Salted Caramels

Salted pistachio almond cardamom caramels

Salted pistachio almond cardamom caramels

Swoon… that was my reaction to eating well made, homemade caramels. I believe the first salted caramels I ever tasted were from Fran’s Chocolates in Seattle. All hail the Queen! It was many years ago and I remember thinking,“Oh my god! What HEAVEN is this?”

At that time, I put caramels on a pedestal—I decided they were out of my area of expertise and my ability. Looking back, I don’t really know why.

Well, it could have something to do with the fact that when I finally decided to make them, they did not come out right… twice. Perhaps I had premonitions of failure…

Don’t Throw Roses, Throw Endive!

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Don’t Throw Roses, Throw Endive!

Many years ago my doorbell buzzed. SURPRISE!!! It was a delivery from the California Endive Farms that totally charmed me—a bouquet of purple endives (a perk of being a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals). Everyone loves getting a surprise bouquet, but this one was edible, which in my book is even better. Flowers are gorgeous, but they die! A bouquet of endives has longevity, so much so that the memory of this delivery inspired the dish I made for the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance spring potluck—endive stuffed with an asparagus, radish and cucumber salad and topped with bacon lardons, egg, “crouton-ettes”  and a mustard-tarragon vinaigrette.

The theme for the potluck was “Springtime in Paris,” and I tried to come up with a dish that hit three marks:

  • Fit the theme by being French-ish and using spring ingredients
  • Easily served at room temperature
  • Looked attractive.

SOLD OUT! Pie Party Potluck LIVE

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - SOLD OUT! Pie Party Potluck LIVE

THERE WILL BE PIE! Lots of it!

Apologies to the many wonderful members of our community of food bloggers, writers and professionals who missed out on tickets to Pie Party Potluck LIVE May Day 2014. Ken and I set out to create events that this community would LOVE to go to and this event is back-by-popular-demand for the third time. It was sold out in about two hours—so you like it, you REALLY like it!

While we’d love to move this event to a bigger space so more of you could come, we’d would miss out on the generous hospitality and sponsorship of Paula Cecere, Chef Tagere and the team at GE Monogram Design Center. Julia Stambules, who works with WÜSTHOF and Anolon—two of this year’s sponsors—asked me, “What do the attendees experience when they walk in the GE showroom?” I said, “The most common reaction is asking, “Can I stay here forever?” The space is gorgeous with kitchens and appliances any of us would be thrilled to have. Plus, there’s a sea of pies to eat and discuss over hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Why would you ever want to leave?

We very excited to have Kerrygold, Jarlsberg, OXO, Dub Pies and Woolwich Dairy and more on board as sponsors as well. This event would not be possible without them and we are extremely grateful for them and our community for their enthusiasm and support of this event.

Yo, Bill! Get Real about the Pudding

Swoon… chocolate pudding!

Swoon… chocolate pudding!

Dear Bill Cosby,

How could you lead people astray all these years by plugging commercially made pudding with such glee?

It’s painfully clear to me that you’ve never had homemade chocolate pudding or you would have never taken the money for promoting that sad comparison.

Please let me know when you would like me to come by and make you some homemade chocolate pudding. I’m slightly concerned from judging from your past reaction to commercially made pudding and your current age, you might just have a stroke when you taste my pudding.

I do believe that it’s worth the risk.

Yours truly,

Save-the-Date Pie Party Potluck LIVE 2014

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Save-the-Date Pie Party Potluck LIVE 2014

It’s Pi Day Peeps!!! That means all over the world smart people will be celebrating pi (π). The even smarter people will be celebrating with PIE!!!

It’s the perfect day to officially announce the SAVE-THE-DATE for Pie Party Potluck LIVE 2014 that will take place at GE Monogram Design Center on May Day, May 1st, 2014.

Pi (π) is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi is a constant number, meaning that for all circles of any size, pi will be the same.
The diameter of a circle is the distance from edge to edge, measuring straight through the center. The circumference of a circle is the distance around.

So you can use pi (π) to measure pie, at least pies that are circular.

BUT pies come in many shapes and forms including:  tarts, galettes, pop tarts, hand pies, quiches, empanadas, turnovers, pasties, pizza, tartlets, strudel, pie in jars, pie-lets, etc.

PIE /pī/ noun
1. a baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry.
synonyms: pastry, tart, turnover
“the enticing aroma of fresh-baked pies”

Pie Party Potluck LIVE 2014 is an industry-only event for food bloggers, food writers and food professionals.

I’m Dreaming of a White Salad

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - I’m Dreaming of a White Salad

As Billie Idol sings, “It’s a nice day for a white salad, Yeah!”

Want a salad that will make your guests GASP!!! when they see it?

My mom had lunch at A Di La, a wonderful restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn, the other day. When she got home, she was still licking her chops over the roasted vegetable ravioli with a browned butter and sage sauce and she casually said, “We also had a white salad.”

My eyebrow raised, “A white salad? Do tell.” When she told me what was in it, I decided to make one. I thought we’ve had a lot of snow this brutal winter and the last thing anybody wants to see is a salad that looks like a snowball, but I thought it would look really striking as well.

This is a pretty easy recipe, but it’s easiest made with a mandoline and a sharp knife, depending on which vegetables you choose.

Creamy Parmesan Dressing

I needed a white dressing to go with the White Salad, so I whipped this up out of a few things I had in the fridge. White food can often equal BLAND food and I definitely did not want that.

I wanted an umami punch from the Parmesan cheese. I wound up with a one-two punch. First the cheese, followed by the garlic. Or is it the garlic that comes out swinging first. I’m a garlic freak—maybe that’s why I don’t like vampire movies, books or TV—I put a lot in and LOVE IT.

If you are not-so-much of a garlic fan, put in less because it’s STRONG!!!