Thursday, December 31, 2009


While I did reach 1000 posts this year I did not post enough to cover the year like I did last year. I want to say thanks to everyone who has ever stopped by this little blog of mine and also thank each and every one of you for having your own blogs as well.

Dont forget to eat your grapes

and your blackeyed peas! I hope the joys of the season stay with you throughout the year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

out with the old

In with the new, and as my contribution to this we will be engaging in a variety of New Year traditions from around the world. For example did you know that Buddhists squirt water on each other, strangers included. 4000 years ago the new year was celebrated with the vernal equinox, spring time, as a symbol of new growth and the promise of prosperity. So we will have hoppin john or texas caviar or whatever you want to call them even though black eyed peas for luck dates back to the Pharaohs, and 12 grapes and noodles for longevity and candles to welcome the light for my Scandinavian friends, babies for new year started in Greece in 600 bc so we will have a baby symbol, we will eat fruits in honor of my Tamil friends, we will wait till April for my Sri Lankan and Punjab friends, we will eat some challah and fish, we will celebrate Diwali when it rolls around in the fall, we will laugh for Oshogatsu, we wont forget about Yuan Tan later in the month with a lot of loud noises and on and on and on.

How New Year is said around the world

Arabic: Kul 'aam u antum salimoun
Brazilian: Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo means "Good Parties and Happy New Year"
Chinese: Chu Shen Tan
Czechoslavakia: Scastny Novy Rok
Dutch: Gullukkig Niuw Jaar
Finnish: Onnellista Uutta Vuotta
French: Bonne Annee
German: Prosit Neujahr
Greek: Eftecheezmaenos o Kaenooryos hronos
Hebrew: L'Shannah Tovah Tikatevu
Hindi: Niya Saa Moobaarak
Irish (Gaelic): Bliain nua fe mhaise dhuit
Italian: Buon Capodanno
Khmer: Sua Sdei tfnam tmei
Laotian: Sabai dee pee mai
: Godt Nytt År!
Philippines In tagalog:
Manigong Bagong Taon
: Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Portuguese: Feliz Ano Novo
Russian: S Novim Godom
Serbo-Croatian: Scecna nova godina
Spanish: Feliz Ano Neuvo
Prospero Ano Nuevo
Turkish: Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun
Vietnamese: Cung-Chuc Tan-Xuan

Any traditions you want to share I am open and I will incorporate what I can, as much as I can. This will NOT be my final post before the new year but tomorrows post will most likely be very simple. Eat something special and be aware of why!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

the dawn of a new year

s part of foodbuzz's Tastemaker program I recently received some of Paul Newman's products to check out. I was feeling lazy so a lasagna was made using the 'Sockarooni' sauce and we grazed on that for a couple of days, the sauce was used in the lasagna and a plain sauce was served with the portions.

The sauce is good, its hearty and full of flavor. I distributed (gave away) the salad dressings to people that would love them so when I get word back from them I will pass on the info and I still have the alfredo sauce that I am considering using in a very non alfredo way - stay tuned.

Two thousand and ten is right around the corner and in true Chez What/doggybloggy form there will be nothing going on for New Years Eve. I tend to use this night to reflect on the coming year and the year that has passed it is also the anniversary of me moving to New York City. I purposely came to New York on January first so that I would always know exactly how long I have lived here. I moved here in 1985 so do the math. While I may not hit the party scene there are still some traditions that we maintain like eating black eyed peas, and eating twelve grapes in a minute at midnight to symbolize each month of the coming year with the sweetest ones representing months that would be sweeter than others, and eating tamales- except this year I made pasteles and thats about it.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

the tree

e tend to get a little creative in our Christmas trees each and every year whether its making tons of clay ornmaments or millions of paper snowflakes we try and do something different every year. This year we made our tree. "What" you must be saying "how can you make a tree?" "Its easy" I would say. My son and I went on a mission one afternoon and our goal was to pass by as many christmas tree vendors that we needed to in order to procure enough left over branches that they discard so that we would have the parts for our tree. Two vendors later we had a big bag of fresh pine branches.

A little wire and some old tree branches from the lots nearby and our bag of pine boughs resulted in our beautiful tree. Charlie Brown has got nothing on us!

Memories are what you make of them and good memories take a little extra effort. Merry Christmas everyone!

EDIT: I set my camera up with a motion sensor and this is what I got!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

prognosis positive

Man oh man the relief of passing a thousand is like a purchase that ended up free or more like a prize that you always knew you were going to win or some thing that you knew was going to get here no matter what, kind of like a disease that you survived, well here I am.

Whatevers all around. Lets look at some snow men.

Oh the dilemna...what are you going to do?

Make moonpies thats what! Not even trying to make them pretty, because that's how I roll. Moonpies are a southern tradition and I dedicate these to all those bayou people and everyone else in the south for giving us so much culture. Thanks!

Monday, December 21, 2009

1000 posts

Who would have thought that this little ol' blog of mine would reach 1000 posts? This little blog o' mine - I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine! I remember when I wrote my first posts and then my first few posts after that and quite frankly it was no different than hollering in a well. So many new bloggers out there have been able to jump right into the fray with little to no knowledge of what it was like 5 years ago when most people might have heard of blogs but that was as far as it went. The blog world has grown exponentially and in fact some people say it is the reason for many a magazines demise. I like it and I will keep on keeping on. I am so happy with all the wonderful people I have met as a result of blogging and I am happy for all the things it has taught me. I love to learn and I probably learn way more than one new thing everyday and its all because of blogs. In the most honest way I am glad to have reached this milestone but I am also glad that it is now OVER and I dont have to fret about it until the next 1000 comes up.

Eric.jpg image by daily_male
I have many more tricks up my sleeves and if you want to know a reason to wear big puffy sleeves then there is no better reason than places to keep tricks.
And its the winter solstice - no less - so the timing is perfect!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

candy man can

ow do you say this: pee-can or puh cahn for pecan? I switch off depending on the sentence and when it comes to turtles I say puh-cahn, but if its a cookie like a pee-can sandy then thats the way it is. My friend Snugs, you might have seen her comment here and there, sent me some fresh pecans from her fathers tree in Texas and rather than munch on them mindlessly I decided to make turtles. I have never made turtles before but boy have I eaten my share, I used to gobble down two or three when no one was looking and then gently take one or two when offered like thats all I was having. How do you not like caramel, pecans and chocolate all intermingled.

Easy enough to make really, make caramel, put in pecans (you could arrange them like a turtle but whats the point) cover them in chocolate. Trays of caramel coated pecans waiting for their chocolate blankets.

Coated in rich dark chocolate and eager to be cooled off so that they can be handled - and these are so rich you cant slam two and then nibble on a third.

Unattractive piles of pecans, caramel and chocolate but who cares!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

meet-ups and winnings

Winning can be easy if only it was more frequent. The Diva on a Diet over at Beach Eats gave away a nice bottle of lavender flower syrup and I was the winner. We decided to save on postage since we both live in Manhattan and met at the Chelsea Market for a little walk around.

What can I say other than meeting her was like meeting an old friend and we picked up right where we left off except in this case there is no 'where we left off.' It was so comfortable and casual I could do it everyday.

The beauty and the mystery of the holidays starts at a young age and goes from there, I love this time of year.

Who wouldnt love one of these excellent ginger bread houses?

Thanks for the great morning!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

not all wine and roses

ith all the cool and exotic ingredients I have been posting lately you probably think that we are a pampered bunch around here and while the wish for that to be true is evident, the fact is we are not - I still get up and my assistant puts on my Pradas for me one foot at a time just like anyone else.

My son used to have a hard time in grade school during lunch time since he had more 'custom' made lunches that differed significantly from the average peanut butter and jelly (pb&j) of his classmates. This conflict was so severe that he often asked me to 'just leave out dessert' since it was usually the sweets that threw the other kids into a lunch grabbing frenzy.

When it gets colder soups kick in but until then its a sandwich, in this case nice and rare roast beef with a little DUDEK mustard from my good friend Buffalodick, a little thinly sliced onion and some farmhouse cheddar that all gets drizzled with a little vinegar and oil and fresh black pepper - now thats a nice lunch!

Breakfast is, ironically, how I start my day - I know, a little cliche, but I cant figure out any other way. I have made it pretty clear how much I like eggs and an egg sandwich fits the bill.

Toasted english muffin with bacon, egg, cheese, tomato, and fresh mayo are partners in crime, and you? How do you put on your Pradas?

Three more posts till I hit 1000 - I had planned on presenting the best of those 1000 and I realized I havent had that one yet so who knows what will happen - chances are it will be a day like any other day. Happy Gridlock Alert Days! NYC has that as one of hour holiday alerts......(not the happy part but the warning part)...I wear size 10 -10.5, 43 european if anyone wants to buy me some sensible shoes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

truffles times two

I wrote it then I wrote it again - how many different ways can I say the same thing - you dont want to know! Guest truffle post at Marx Foods, go check it out its not the same old grind! Dont forget to enter their give-a-ways and if you want to review any products let them know!

Monday, December 14, 2009

12 days minus now

Geekiness not your thing, then how about a song?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

spritz cookies

esterday was quite a day in the Big Apple. I am not usually the "fan" type since we see so many celebrities going about their daily business on a daily basis you get kind of jaded to the whole idea. Paul Stanley from Kiss running to catch a cab, Molly Ringwald at the grocery store, Vincent Denofrio playing with his kid in the playground, Uma Thurman in the playground with her children, Jerry Seinfeld going to play softball it goes on an on like that but when I saw Lidia Bastianich through a window at a book signing I had to rush right in.

I seem to get all starry eyed when I see celebrity chefs, I dont know why. I saw Matsuharu Morimoto one time walking down the block and I stopped and then he stopped and it looked like we were going to have a gun fight, we both laughed and he went on his way. Anyway Ms.Bastianich is a very personable and genteel woman and I was glad I went in and asked for a photo.

Traditions and memories are what you make of them and I am in charge of giving my kid memories so what better memory than making spritz cookies, right? I have every kind of spritzer by Mirro ever made, well probably not every kind but four at least.

I think the most fun for him are the "mistakes" that he somehow keeps making and then "having to eat the dough."

Some had cranberries but they kept falling off. Who doesnt like a buttery crispy soft spritz cookie?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ruffled with truffles

The first time I made chocolate truffles I looked like a parody of someone making chocolate truffles, I had more on me and everything else than I actually had on a plate. I wish I was young and cute because the chocolate on my cheek would have really scored points with the cute police. Now granted this was over ten years ago and I havent been young and cute in at least 15 years so I looked like a chocolate, grubby mess. A lot has changed since that time. I no longer get chocolate everywhere and in fact I make these while I am doing other things since I know the whole timing process now. Did I fail to mention that they are easy to do and they make fantastic gifts? Well, they are easy - the second time - that's for sure. This was three years ago so there is a bit of a track record - bad photos - it was before I cared about the photo quality. Let me reiterate - there is a cooling process throughout - the chocolate ganache warms and is unstable. What is the Ganache, some of you are asking - the Ganache is the cream and chocolate and butter that you make in the next steps. Did I forget to say that once you mix chocolate butter and cream you have a ganache? I am so bad at including french words when necessary - New Years resolution - 'incorporate more french cooking terms' - there - done!

The recipe for the ganache is so simple - ready here goes: take 14 ounces of dark chocolate crumbled into pieces and I like to add one and a half cups of the best powdered dark chocolate you can find to add a more rich chocolatey chocolate and save a half a cup to be used later for coating the truffles (I used Scharffen Berger) one cup of heavy cream and 3 tablespoons of butter. Warm the cream to near boiling and pour over crumbled chocolate pieces, powder and butter stirring until it melts and its glossy - cool in the fridge.

When its cool and stiff form into balls, I used a melon baller, and dip into melted chocolate (I forgot to mention that you need to melt 8 ounces of chocolate in a double boiler) after dipping roll around in additional dark chocolate powder or nuts or coconut or some flavored salts. Keep cool and enjoy at your leisure. I coated a few with some dried chile pieces, and I used ground up candy cap mushrooms and some with mint and sugar, some with szechuan buttons and salty sugar some with orange zest and others with black garlic nibs, some were left plain and even others with mukhwas because I am just that way!

Here is the whole graduating class picture.

Here are some of the standouts starting from the front and working clockwise: Plain chocolate powder, minty sugar, candy cap mushrooms, black garlic, red chile, szechuan buttons with salty sugar and in the center is orange zest.

The best of show had to be the one with mukhwas. Crunch and exotica in every nibble, look at all the delights surrounding this mini globe of chocolate fun. Experiment with flavors, find what you like and go for it!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

love me sweet

lvis got that right "Love me tender love me sweet..." I have a new lover and her name is Black Garlic. I have been so eager to receive these that I was flagging down FedEx trucks to see if they had my package. Sure enough my local driver said she did not but the other girl around the corner does so I high tailed over to where she was and waited outside her truck for her to get there. Now, my FedEx people know me and they know I get anxious so she threw open the gate and gave me my box with no hesitation. I ripped it open right there on the spot and I was hit with the wonderful sweet smell of Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans - it smelled like a cigar shop. Had my new lover been cheating on me already?

I dug around in the box to get past the nice little vanilla bean bonus and there they were, my sweet little mistresses waiting for me, calling me with their brown and weathered looking skin. I knew that beneath that rough exterior was a soft black beauty. I gently opened the package and pulled one out and she smelled more exotic than I had imagined so I undressed her right there on the street so that I could feel her supple black interior with my own hands. She was soft, very soft and sticky sweet as I nibbled at her coyishly. This love affair was going to last, I thought immediately!

Instincts kicked right in so I took her upstairs and I knew instantly what I was going to do. Shrimp and grits, but not just any old shrimp and any old grits this was going to be a sweet and spicy chile shrimp with cheesey yellow corn grits freckled with black garlic.

It was so good the first time I had to have her twice and I have to tell you now that if I didnt think there was plenty of this heavenly treat I wouldnt tell you a thing about it - its that good.

My first plate was subtle with barely a hint of the black garlics sweet caramelized goodness, I went easy on her not knowing if she was a vixen in silk robes or a timid and demure cinderella, but my second plate was loaded with a double dose of her soft and sweet pungency. My lover came from so far away, my little mail order bride, and I am going to cherish her and love her forever!
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