Sunday, November 28, 2010

We've Moved to


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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Interview with Salmon Croquettes, Food Media & Catering!

Welcome to appetizers 101. Thanks to The French Culinary Institute (FCI), you can watch how to make a killer brunch appetizer, salmon croquettes with quail eggs, and get a few chef techniques along the way. Enjoy the brunch, the french techniques and take a sneak peek at my interview about catering, food media and art on The French Culinary Institute’s blog, The Hot Plate (FCI interview sneak peek, below). Enjoy!

Recipe: Salmon Croquette with Quail Egg Appetizer

Interview: A Spoon in Many Pots with Brandon Maya Johnson

Interview Sneak Peek: Taste a few snippets from my interview, A Spoon in Many Pots, with The French Culinary Institute…
Brandon Maya Johnson
Program: Classic Culinary Program, Evenings, March ’09
Age: You don’t get this without a martini.
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Current City: Brooklyn, New York

The French Culinary Institute: What have you been doing since you graduated?
Brandon: “Food media and catering is my life and love. Since graduating, I’ve catered for Danny Meyer’s Union Square Events, I’ve tested recipes for Saveur magazine, and I’ve consulted and written for the Cooking Channel’s, Food Network’s and Saveur Magazine’s websites. I also do chef instructing for Share Our Strength. If you’d ask which is better, I’d say, “Thank goodness I don’t have to choose.” I am wild about food media and cooking. Although, I must admit, there is nothing more enjoyable than slicing, plating, and flavoring food.”

The French Culinary Institute: You have a spoon in many pots right now. How do you see these various aspects of your career coming together or meeting your ultimate goal…which is?
Brandon: “My goal is to use food to fuel various creative avenues. The cooking and media experience blend beautifully. I can cook, then share the technique and recipe on the web, just like in the video we did. I have an ultimate goal, but I’m taking it one step at a time. Stay tuned.”

The French Culinary Institute: What are three ingredients you can’t live without?
Brandon: “Bone-in rib-eye, tomatoes, and garlic (and seafood!). What can I say? I’m a savory girl!”

The French Culinary Institute: You are going to make a salmon croquette for us today. Why did you choose this particular recipe to share?
Brandon: “Thank, Mr. Johnson (my dad) for the salmon croquette recipe. He used to make salmon croquettes for Sunday brunch, and I wanted to make this recipe personal—something that represented my family and my love of creative appetizers. You don’t see brunch appetizers every day, and this is a unique and easy appetizer recipe with good techniques. I hope you enjoy eating it as much as I enjoy cooking it!”

Enjoy the entire interview, A Spoon in Many Pots, here.

Feel free to ask questions and make comments, below. Happy Cooking!.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

CANCELLED! 3 Parter: 1. What’s A Bodega? 2. WT* is Carrot Mob and City Harvest? 3. Why Do I Care? Bonus: FREE FOOD!

I just received an email from one of the organizers saying that this event is cancelled.Apologies to everyone who was planning to come to the event, I was excited to feed you. Though, this event is cancelled there are plenty more in our future so please stay tuned for future Meet and Eats! Apologies again for the inconvenience.

Yours Truly,

Part 1. Not sure what a bodgea is? Me either, until I moved to Brooklyn. Bodega means grocer in Spanish. Usually located on corners, bodegas are tiny, 24-hour, indie-stores that still sell 50-cent bags of Doritos, and vintage candy, we called them “corner stores” in D.C. Any who, while the bodega’s throwback snacks curb the appetites of local patrons looking for late-night munchies, City Harvest, a culinary non-profit organization, is wondering, “where’s the food that doesn’t clog your arteries?”

Part 2. That’s why City Harvest started a program to give healthy cooking demos at bodegas around NYC. The Bodega Initiative has one main goal – to make healthy food more accessible to inner-city communities, one bodega at a time. To blow this project out of the water, City Harvest is joining forces with Carrot Mob, and Oh, Boy! Carrot Mob is a consumer activism program that rewards businesses for having a social conscience. City Harvest and Carrot Mob are having a Bodega Cooking Blow Out this Saturday in Brooklyn (details below).

Part 3. Why care? A. Carrot Mob seems to bring out goo-gobs of cool socially conscious people. B. I’ll be able to meet all of you eater activists as I cook the delicious meal for the social shindig. C. You get to spend a beautiful Saturday in BK, go to the Brooklyn Museum, enjoy Park Slope for a drink or have a picnic in Prospect Park afterwards! Plus, it’s free. See you there.

If you or someone you know is in NYC, here are the details for the Bodega Cooking Class this Saturday from 12 – 4. Join us, won't you?

Location: Village Mart, 310 Nostrand Avenue between Lafayette and Clifton Avenues

Date and Time: Saturday, August, 21 from 12 - 4 PM

Phone: 718.408.1450

In conjunction with Carrot Mob and The Brooklyn Food Coalition

Chef: Brandon Johnson

Menu: Shhh, it's a delicious surprise.

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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Dresses & Appetizers: Grey Area

written by Brandon Johnson, Entertaining Channel

Sharing is a tricky bird especially when EmilyRyan’s Spiral Pleats Dress is a one-off. She only made one and it's @ Nope, I didn't squirrel it away for myself, though my hand was uncontrollably twitching for my wallet. I left this playful dress for you to sport at your next dinner party and I am sharing a mussels in white wine appetizer recipe to go with (curse my home training). To the lucky lady who does snag this dress, you look smashing! All I ask is that you wear her to a dinner party and send me your review of the dress and food .
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Friday, April 30, 2010

Maialino: Danny Meyer Made Ravioli For Me

written by Jason Greenberg

How do we define a good restaurant? Is it simply about the food or is it something else entirely? Is a great restaurant one that you can’t wait to come back to? Or one where you want to try everything on the menu? Or is about the overall experience?
Danny Meyer’s restaurant empire is expanding to Kuwait, Miami, and possibly Boston (Shake Shack). There have been rumors reported that he has interest in the “Plaza Food Court” in Police Plaza down on Centre Street. And he is taking over the food service program at the Whitney Museum. In November, however, he did what he does best opening a proper restaurant, Maialino, in the Gramercy Park Hotel. And whatever your definition of a good restaurant is, Maialino fulfills it.

With New York institutions like Gramercy Tavern, Union Square Café and Eleven Madison Park already in his stable of incredibly popular and successful restaurants, Maialino (which translates to little pig) marks Mr. Meyer’s first foray into Italian cuisine. A rustic Roman-inspired trattoria, it has all the earmarks of a Danny Meyer restaurant: casual atmosphere, friendly, knowledgeable and attentive staff, and of course excellent food.

Formerly of Babbo and Gramercy Tavern, executive chef Nick Anderer’s pork-heavy menu features Italian cheeses and charcuterie from New York, California and Italy; “Antipasti” like fried artichokes with anchovy sauce and tripe with pecorino and mint. The high points come in the “Primi” section. The Raviolo al Uovo (egg yolk ravioli) was rich, creamy and exceptional; the Paccheri alla Gricia with guanciale and black pepper was salty and delicious as was the Bavette in Guazzetto with cod, basil and tomato. Guanciale can also be found in the Bucatini all’Amatriciana. The Malfatti al Maialino, malfatti pasta with almost fist sized chunks of sweet, succulent suckling pig and arugula is a must order. There was little room left for “secondi” (entrees) but the swordfish with fennel fronds and mushrooms was moist and tender. The namesake dish Maialino Al Forno, suckling pig served over roasted potatoes which serves 2-3 people is reserved for those with a major appetite.

Maialino is a serious restaurant but it isn’t out of place to see someone with a book and a glass of wine at the short wooden bar. Others choose to stand around one of the long tables in the small entrance area and order off the bar menu. And with the praise that Maialino has been receiving from both critics and the public, that is very well where you’ll be. And why not? The bar area offers the same menu, service and experience without the wait. Several tables line the perimeter of the bar room, seated on a first come, first served basis.

On a recent visit I was lucky enough to sit next to a couple of serious food lovers who had recently returned from a trip to Italy. They told a story of how they traveled an hour and a half away from the house they were staying in to a restaurant that was one of the best meals of their lives. When they arrived back home, they said to themselves, “What should we do tomorrow?” And the decision was obvious: They decided to drive back to that little restaurant and try more of the menu.

Maialino, despite being in the middle of Manhattan, is just that. You will want to come back to try what you didn’t have and savor once again what you already have.
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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Le Creuset Sex Pot: Brewed Ribs, Cod Stew, Wine & Tomato Stewed Chicken

written by Tracey Ceurvels

There is a pot that will change the way you cook and eat: the Le Creuset French Oven. And it’s perfect for hearty, cold-weather dishes.
I’d been eyeing it for over a year, imagining all the dishes I could cook in this spectacular but very pricey pot. Then one day I decided I had to have it. Passion trumped price. Of course I wanted the best price, so I did my research.

I found it at Sur La Table in Soho, but they were selling it for $350, the same price at Williams-Sonoma at The Shops at Columbus Circle. I looked online and found the 6 ¾ qt. oval-shaped pot for $259 at,, and Still, it seemed too expensive.

Then finally I found the perfect price! The Broadway Panhandler, one of my favorite kitchen stores, was having a sale: 50% off most of their Le Creuset cookware. The flame (“orange”) pot I’d been coveting was now mine for only $175. I raced home with possibilities racing through my mind with the fervor of hot spices.

That first night of Le Creuset ownership I made short ribs stewed in Brooklyn Brown Ale (I threw in some red wine, too), then chicken simmered in white wine and tomatoes, spent a Sunday making classic beef stew, a Saturday night making cod stew with saffron. I bought meat at Ottomanelli’s on Bleecker St. I ordered vegetables from Fresh Direct. I made daily trips to Le Vigne for wine, an essential ingredient for any stewed dishes. My apartment began emanating the scents of a rustic French restaurant. My toddler finally enjoyed dinnertime while my husband seemed to think his wife was auditioning for a stew contest, (but was very pleased nonetheless).

The cast iron French oven (otherwise known as a Dutch oven) is so forgiving and magical I think you could throw in any ingredients you have in the house and a hearty please-anyone meal would appear.

This is indeed a pot that every cook needs in the kitchen.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Comfort Food & Family Traditions

written by Brandon Johnson
Imagine a buttery piecrust with chewy ivory ribbons and a leafy forest green filling. This unusual childhood treat carries a delicious aroma that still lures us to the dining table. In the fall of the 80s, as neighborhood friends visited our home with transforming dolls and ice cream truck treats, my mother baked our favorite pie. As she pulled the pie from the oven, the edible perfume filled our house with a scent so savory you could taste the air. And when the fragrance found our noses, we trailed the scent of garlic and butter. As if under a spell, the pie guided us to the heart of our home - the kitchen. Our little feet stood on their toes as we got a glimpse of what is known as a culinary legend in our family - spinach pie.

It was the blend of warm garlic, tender shallots and baby spinach sautéed in butter and combined with melted Swiss cheese, nestled in a flaky piecrust that brought us to the dinner table. Our family’s legendary spinach pie began as trick. Our mom knew my sister and I loved pie (what child doesn’t) so she covered spinach and cheese with piecrust to get our attention. As our small mouths took big bites, we realized the filling wasn’t warm apple or sweet cherry but was delicious, nonetheless. As we ate, our mom quietly congratulated herself for cleverly finding a way to add more iron and dairy into an 8 and 4 year olds diet. But what she didn’t expect was this pie would become a tradition. To this day, once we smell the scent of spinach pie we rush to the table with a nostalgic spirit and comforting memories. Thanks, mom. Get the recipe here.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010

How to Roast a Lamb

written by Jason Greenberg

It was a tough few weeks there for celebrated New York chef Michael Psilakis. First his partnership with restaurateur Donatella Arpaia took a hit when they decided to dissolve their deal
at Mia Dona, the 3-year-old restaurant on 55th street (they currently still own Anthos and Kefi together). Then his newly opened gastro pub on the Upper West Side, Gus and Gabriel’s, received a less than favorable review from The New York Times. To be honest, the review was a blood bath: The reviewer, Pete Wells, wondered in print if Psilakis had invented a new technology that stripped food of flavor.
Having greatly enjoyed eating at both Anthos and Mia Dona, I was certainly surprised. The meal I had at Anthos last year was one I won’t soon forget. In fact, I have been itching to get back there ever since. I was quickly sold on the talent and expertise that Psilakis possesses. The dishes were subtle and delicate.
Things might turn around quickly for Psilakis, if they ever really went south. His first cookbook How to Roast a Lamb was recently released. In a time when celebrity chefs are a dime a dozen, its comforting to have one who you know is more than just a spokesman for products or the Food Network. Psilakis’ message, his goal, is to tell stories through food, to create memories and history—and more definitively, to share his own. While his book does have plenty of Greek inflected recipes like Shellfish Youvetsi, Poached Goat Avgolemono or Lamb Shanks with Orzo, it is more than a typical cookbook. Alongside pictures of Psilakis and his family, he tells stories that show the rich tradition that informs his menus. This is more than cooking for him, they are origins, memories that he clearly cherishes greatly.
The launch party for his book hosted at Saveur magazine’s test kitchen was also a family affair. His son ran around while Saveur’s publisher and staff gushed with love and enthusiasm. He spent most of his time in the open kitchen preparing small bites like roasted figs wrapped in pancetta, lamb sausages, and scallops with olive oil and juniper berries. When it was time for the chef himself to step out from the kitchen and address the audience, it came as no surprise that his speech also centered around family and friends. He thanked his family for letting him get away with not being around, missing weddings and birthday parties. He said that the book is a testament to them.
On my way out, I happened to share the elevator with Psilakis’ mother-in-law. She reached into the gift bag anxious to see if her copy of the book was signed. It was, as was every copy, with the transcription, “To a lifetime of memorable meals.”

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