The Diva That Ate New York

Make Those Wings You Make

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Make Those Wings You Make

Them:
“Hey, can you make those wings you make?”
“If you’re gonna make those wings you make, I’ll be there.”
“Can you come over… and bring those wings you make?”
Me: Which wings?
“The crunchy ones with the sticky sauce.”
Me: The cooked the sh*t ones?
Them: “YES!!!”

This is the recipe for my Cooked the Sh*t Wings, famous amongst my friends and family, that I sort of learned from my father, whom I’ve hardly seen my whole life—long story.

He’s a wonderful cook and loves food (it’s hereditary). I watched him make chicken when I visited him in San Francisco in the mid 80’s. He sprinkled it with salt and just cooked it and cooked it. The chicken skin came out really crunchy. I don’t recall if they were wings because I’m old, but it must have been some small-type pieces of chicken. No matter, because that moment from long ago inspired my Cooked the Sh*t Wings.  I simply salt and pepper the wings and cook the crap out of them, then put some sort of sticky sauce on them and possibly something crunchy as well.

Wings have a lot of fat, from the skin, so they can take a long roasting. I say it makes them lighter because a lot of the fat cooks off. I don’t know if that makes them healthier, but they’re damned good.

You don’t have to sauce them, but I always do. I find some sticky stuff in the refrigerator and turn it into a sauce and baste them at the last minute, then throw them back in the oven for a minute. You can also buy a sauce. I made these with my friend Erika Kerekes, who has just launched a new line of fruit-based ketchups called Not Ketchup. I made a glaze based on the Spicy Fig one. I use 1/2 cup of Spicy Fig Not Ketchup, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sweet chili sauce and some sesame seeds because sometimes I put an additional layer of crunch on top of the sticky glaze, because I can and I love another layer of flavor and MORE CRUNCH! (Queen of OVERKILL)

Smoked Duck Is My Fast Food

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Smoked Duck Is My Fast Food

The 10-15 minutes it takes for me to cut a smoked duck breast out of its packaging, score the skin in both directions, put it in a cold pan, turn on the heat and render the fat is about as fast as I want any meal to occur.

The three things I love about a smoked duck breast are

  • Smoked duck breast: countless uses
  • Smoked duck fat: save it for frying eggs or roasting potatoes and veggies in. Maybe make a warm duck-fat vinaigrette to take a bath in?
  • Smoked duck skin: if you can manage to not eat it as soon as you pull its ultimate, crunchy goodness out of the pan, chop it up and put it on anything.

You want to get as much mileage as you can out of the breast because they can be pricey.

Smoked duck breast adds class to any dish. It just sounds fancy. Doesn’t my Smoked Duck Breast, Mango & Avocado Salad sound like it should be “today’s special” at the country club? I can totally hear Muffy saying, “Dahling, you simply must try the smoked duck salad. It’s to die for and only 100 calories.” Clearly Muffy is a lying scamp!

I always have one in my refrigerator so I can just eat it or turn it into a salad or make smoked duck hash, maybe smoked duck fried rice with duck cracklings on top, or a smoked duck stir fry. How about smoked duck breast bao or smoked duck breast summer rolls?

I encourage you to keep one on hand for emergencies. My favorites are from Larchmont Charcuterie and D’Artagnan.

Garlic Fried Rice, Will You Marry Me?

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - 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?” 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-citizens’ home and wishing you’d met way earlier. You know you’re going to stay together the rest of your life, but wish 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 was 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’s 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.

Waving the Watermelon Salad

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Waving the Watermelon Salad

Apparently, I will invite myself to your house on the 4th of July, if you have a fantastic view of the fireworks.

We’d been invited to a number of 4th of July events this year—okay, that made us sound douchey and much more popular than we really are. It may have been a coincidence, but I do give good potluck.

The Macy’s fireworks were being moved back to the East River for the first time in many years [insert round of applause]. New Yorkers no longer had to share our fireworks display with New Jersey. Once again, I’d be able to watch the fireworks from my own neighborhood, as it should be.

When I mentioned our invitations to Paul, my boyfriend, he said he wanted to go to some friends who had not invited us. I thought, “Well, that’s presumptuous!” Granted, these friends had recently bought an apartment, in the Heights, with a stone’s-throw view of the skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge…

We went out to dinner with them at Saul, at the Brooklyn Museum—FAB MEAL, just go—and “sparked” the idea of their hosting a 4th of July party. They were pretty excited to realize that they’d purchased an apartment with an amazing view of the fireworks and said, “Yes!”

Their theme was ’MERICA Baby!, and I jumped on it by making a red, white and blue watermelon salad. I realize that my stars were six-pointed Jewish stars, but since it was a New York party it seemed kind of appropriate.

The fireworks were stunning. The salad was a hit, bringing a nice level of ooh’s and aaah’s to delight the other guests at the party. I dressed it with my homemade elderflower champagne vinaigrette, but that will not be easy to find or make unless you have a couple of years.

After the Grucci family rocked our world with a stunning fireworks display, it was nice to be able to walk home from Brooklyn Heights. As I watched the hordes and masses trying to get on the subway, standing in lines that were four blocks long, I did the Brooklyn happy dance. Paul did a zombie walk because it totally looked like a scene from a sci-fi movie “Tourist-nado.”

If You Knew Sushi, Like I Knew Chicken Sushi

What if you left the rice out of the sushi?

My chicken sushi recipe was inspired by a sushi restaurant on Greenwich Avenue that I used to go to back in the late 80s; I forget the name. They served a dish called “Tiger’s Eye.” It was a green bean and carrot wrapped in nori, then wrapped in salmon, wrapped again in nori and stuffed into squid body and steamed. When you sliced it, it looked like an eye, not necessarily from a tiger, but Tiger’s Eye sounded much better than Human’s Eye on the menu.

I like the idea of sushi without rice, so I made chicken sushi, which I’ve been making for years. It looks really cool when you plate it. It scares people a little when you tell him you’re bringing chicken sushi, but then they see it and they get it and they light up.

I made this dish for a potluck last year, where I stuck skewers in each roll and made “Sesame Chicken Sushi Pops w Teriyaki Glaze & Scallion Ginger Oil.” You know the effect of turning anything into something that resembles one of our favorite childhood treats, don’t you? More DELIGHT! Put a stick in it and they will come. LOL!

I love that this dish is also low-carb and gluten-free, as long as you serve it with gluten-free soy sauce.

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.

Just Hand over the Pies and Nobody Gets Hurt

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Just Hand over the Pies and Nobody Gets Hurt

Pie Party Potluck LIVE! didn’t happen in 2013 and it almost didn’t happen in 2014.

The last Pie Party was in October 2012. I was too busy with my show Chocabaret in 2013. Plus, that was the year we tried to throw the ill-fated Tea Party-Dance Party: where a high tea party meets a boogie down dance party…, when we might have normally thrown Pie Party. We pulled the plug on the tea party because too many forces made it risky (I WILL MAKE THIS HAPPEN!!!). We didn’t really plan to host another Pie Party, but our blogger friends kept asking when it was going to happen. Are you doing another Pie Party? When is the next Pie Party? When? When? When?!!!

Finally, the demand won us over and the crowd got the best Pie Party Potluck LIVE! 2014 we’ve hosted to date. Most of the guests were food bloggers from my Tri-State Food Blogger Mailing List and local culinary professionals, but folks traveled from Pennsylvania, too, and we had attendees that came from as far afield as the West Coast. They brought their finest sweet and savory pies to feast on while enjoying each other’s company. This year it was like the Pie Oscars because we had a step and repeat banner; guests posed on the “bread” carpet with their creation before adding it to the spread of over 75 divine pies. Check out the list of the pies in attendance on my partner Ken’s post, Hungry Rabbit, “NYC Parade of Pies”.

I always go gluten-free for Pie Party Potluck LIVE! because I want to make sure the gluten-free guests have enough pies to eat. I made a Bacon, Goat Brie, Leek & Pear Pie in a Roesti Crust and a Brûléed Lemon Curd, Chocolate Tart in a Coconut Rice Crust. The latter was delicious but didn’t work out. I made the crust much in the way that you would make a cookie crust. I combined crisp rice crumbs, coconut and butter, pressed it into a pie pan and baked it. It looked quite gorgy. That was topped with a dark chocolate ganache, then a layer of lemon curd. Sounds great, but physics prevailed. When I brûléed the lemon curd, the heat melted the chocolate and the crust below it. When I started to pull the tart ring off, the crust showed signs of a landslide, so I carefully adjusted the ring and served the tart with it on. Taste-wise, the reviews were great, but I’ll be working on that recipe.

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.

Bacon Makes My Breakfast Better

Jackie Gordon Singing Chef - Bacon Makes My Breakfast Better

Sometimes it seems if it weren’t for bacon, I might starve. Like I wrote in my song, “Bacon Makes Everything Better,” and it often makes my breakfast better. But not by in the traditional way of a side of bacon, but better with bacon fried rice. If you have just one strip of bacon, one egg and some old rice and any sort of veggies, you, too, can make a delightful breakfast.

It never ceases to amaze me the quantity of fried rice I can consume. Maybe it’s because I grew up in New York, and Chinatown was my first experience of anything other than home-cooking.  It’s almost like an addiction.

My tip for you is always make extra rice. Keep it in the fridge or keep it in the freezer. If you invite me to your house, always have cold rice in the refrigerator and I’d be happy to make fried rice for you—and me.

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.