Archive for November, 2009

Musical Treat

I know you are expecting entries about food and cooking and how to defrost a 42 pound turkey in less than an hour. But man does not live by bread alone. Yesterday I went to a concert at the Carnegie Library in Oakland to hear the Ortner-Roberts Duo. That’s Susanne Ortner on clarinet and Tom Roberts on piano. These two are simply amazing musicians and the combination of their talents and musical styles has created a totally engaging and unique musical experience. He’s a stride piano player with the chops to play Willy the Lion Smith, Jelly Roll Morton and Lucky Roberts (no relation).   She’s a Klezmer virtuoso with all the raucous slurs and runs that make that music so much fun. Together they slip in and out of rag time, klezmer, classical, New Orleans, tango, calypso and musette with reckless abandon and incredible artistry. I only mention this because they are local folks and as soon as the rest of the world catches on to how great they are, we’ll prebably never have a chance to see this duo again.   So check out their website

and get on their mailing list so you can find out where they will be playing next. Amazing!


Penn Mac cheesesIt never fails. I walk up to the cheese counter at at Penn Mac and I’m paralyzed by the possibilities.  What do I feel like?  Is there something new?  Something creamy or tangy or sharp and pungent.  The fact is, I’ve rarely met a cheese I didn’t like from the most mundane cheddar to the most sophisticated washed rinds.

Dear Heart cutting me a piece of Locatelli

Dear Heart cutting me a piece of Locatelli

And then my troubles disappear as Carole Pascuzzi says, “Hello, Dear Heart.  What can I get you today?”  And even with hundreds of cheeses behind her and in the case in front of her, she is always excited about some new find.  Raw Milk cheeseShe brought out some beautiful raw milk cheese that had a split personality.  Cold, it crumbled like feta cheese and would be great sprinkled on a salad.  But when it warmed, it smoothed out and mellowed.  And then she took out two young pecorinos that were flavored.  these are fabulous shaved on pasta or salads but are equally good with fruit and bread and a nice glass of wine.Young pecorinos

For something new, I tried a piece of semi-soft cheese called Trugole.  It is a lush Italian cow’s milk cheese from the mountainous region of Asiago.  It is a perfect snacking cheese but it also has great melting properties.  Dear Heart, I’ll be back for more!


Oh – my – goodness!  If they had a food category in Science Fiction, the new Market District store in Settler’s ridge would be the mother ship for all foodies.  I am not even going to try and describe this place to you because you must experience it for yourself.  Leave yourself plenty of time to explore all the amazing food areas and wear comfortable walking shoes.  I was there yesterday for the grand opening and prepared a few recipes in their brand new demonstration kitchen.

Chef Luke

Chef Luke

Chef Luke had everything ready for me including several batches of Stuffin Mufins and Roasted Artichoke Hearts so there would be plenty of samples.

A Young Chef in the making!

A Young Chef in the making!

Everyone loved the idea of baking your favorite stuffing in muffin tins.  It makes for lots of crusty surfaces and easy servings.  the artichoke hearts disappeared like potato chips and people loved the quick garlic aioli dipping sauce we made with one cup of mayonnaise, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and a tablespoon of dijon mustard.   Here are the recipes I did:

Roasted Artichoke Hearts


2 lbs artichoke hearts (steamed or parboiled)

Juice of 1 lemon

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
2 cups bread crumbs
1 TB grated romano cheese
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 TB minced parsley
2 TB olive oil


Drain the artichoke hearts (thaw 2 packages of frozen if fresh are not available). Sprinkle the hearts with the lemon juice and then dredge in the flour (I use a plastic bag to avoid the mess).

Taking a few at a time, dip the floured hearts in the beaten eggs and then coat with the bread crumbs which have been flavored with the salt, pepper, parsley and cheese.

Coat a backing tray with the oil and place the hearts on the tray, turning once to coat with oil.

Bake at 375°, turning once until brown and crunchy on all sides.

Stuffing  Muffins

1 pound bacon, chopped

4 tablespoons butter

2 onions , peeled

2 stalks of celery, peeled

1 large loaf of day old challah bread

1 cup chicken or turkey broth

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

salt and pepper

Fry the bacon in a large sauté pan until just brown and crispy.  Remove with a slotted spoon and pour off the excess grease from the pan.  Coarsely chop the onions and celery and sauté in the pan with the butter until soft and translucent.  Add the poultry season and stir for a minute or two.  Return the bacon to the pan along with the cubed bread.  Moisten with the turkey or chicken broth and stir well to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Allow to cool slightly while the bread absorbs the broth.  Butter the muffin tin.  Use an ice cream scoop or just form portions of the stuffing into 3 inch balls and place portions in each muffin cup.  Bake at 400 degrees until the tops and sides are light brown.  Can be made ahead and warmed just before serving.

Wild Meats

Wild Meats

Just to give you an idea of one of the amazing offerings – they have an entires section of a fresh meat case devoted to fresh game – elk, venison, marinated duck breasts ready for the grill, rabbits, buffalo, etc.  Who knows if there will be enough demand for these kinds of exotic provisions but hats off to Market district for making it available.

QED Cooks Alumni are everywhere and I spotted our cooking fire fighter, Kevin Jackson, of Chicken and dumpling fame behind the meatKevin Jacksoncounter.  He was sampling chicken sausages filled with broccoli and cheddar.  So, if you see Kevin’s smiling face at your local Market District store, be sure to say hello.