Chasen’s Chili and Champagne

Chasen’s Chili.  Once upon a time, Hollywood stars served it at Oscar parties and soirées. Legend has it that Elizabeth Taylor loved this chili so much she had orders of it flown to Rome while she was filming Cleopatra (and conducting a torrid affair with co-star Richard Burton). The list of ingredients is pretty simple in comparison…

Chestnut Flour Quick, Chestnut Flour Slow

With so many bakers exploring gluten-free options, here’s one to try: chestnut flour. When this traditional Italian ingredient turned up in local markets recently (fall is the best season for the new crop of chestnut flour), it seemed an interesting alternative for cookies or pastries, like the crescents (a.k.a. Russian tea cookies, Mexican wedding cookies)…

Flipping the Bird

For some oddball reason, we managed to roast the Thanksgiving turkey upside down, without anyone even noticing until the master carver of the house, preparing to slice up the bird, asked why it was placed breast down on the presentation platter. We still can’t explain that one, but the surprise result was a turkey that yielded…

Ah, the Forbidden Fruit

Pomelos were prevalent in local markets during the winter. And so, after seeing them in Chinatown groceries over the years, and hearing that they were something like a less-acidic grapefruit, I finally got around to picking up a couple. Looking much like an overgrown grapefruit, the pomelo is indeed like a milder version of that…

Little Jewels

We were dubbed The Macaroon Gang by one of the husbands of our little group, incredulous as he was that his wife and her food-obsessed buddies would devote an entire day to tracking down macaroons on the Lower East Side. But by then we had our route plotted out, starting at the little shop that…

Spice Island

Fresh from a rare side sojourn to Zanzibar—pinch me, Zanzibar!—after a work trip to Tanzania, I can still almost feel the hot East African sun on my face and taste the delectable Swahili delicacies that I could not try fast enough when I was there. Oh, but for more hours in the day—or for the…

Chocolate Kissed by a Rose

The signboard outside a neighborhood sweets shop offered the enticing promise of rose-flavored hot chocolate. A promise that, as is so often is the case with rose-flavored/scented foods, did not quite stand up in the bargain. The Valrhona hot chocolate was indeed luscious and lovingly prepared, but a bit heavy-handed in the addition of rose flavoring….

Corn Bread vs. Cornbread

Over the years a vendor at the local farmer’s market has occasionally offered a corn bread. Not cornbread, the often sweet quick bread, but a yeast bread with some cornmeal added to the dough that was baked into a round loaf. During the summer it made a marvelous BLT. But its appearance was sporadic, and…

Sir Mix-a-Lot

The cocktail shaker gets a workout whenever Dave, the family mixologist, comes to town. Cocktail of the Day offerings this time around included a mix of classics with a twist and Dave’s own specialties, all gin-based: Waldocot: A true original, created to utilize Allspice Dram, a Caribbean liqueur that’s not an easy mixer. Dave hit on the idea…

Q is for Quince

There’s something old-fashioned about quince. It could be partly because the fruit is rarely seen in U.S. markets these days, despite its likeness to the apples and pears that overflow grocery bins. That very scarcity, coupled with the fact that quinces have a dry, astringent flesh that needs to be cooked, and so can’t be…