In Memorium, Chef Paul Bocuse


I don’t know why I was sort of expecting him to live forever because who does. But his legacy will certainly live on.

I have several sweet stories of Paul Bocuse--one that even took place in Germany, on a wine trip, when we were having dinner at the restaurant of one of his best friends. I was given the privilege of visiting the men’s room when it was empty to view a huge photo over the urinals of Bocuse and the restaurateur, as young men, christening a shiny black locomotive with gleeful smiles on their faces, turned sideways to the camera. I will leave it to your imagination exactly what they were using and it wasn’t champagne. 

I have had the great fortune of eating chez Bocuse twice—the first time with a group of engineers from Proctor and Gamble, whom I was escorting on a chocolate trip through the Rhone valley and Paris. But the most memorable story took place after I was after I was visiting the Daguin’s in Auch, Gascony with my brother Michael.

We were planning to continue on to Lyon for a special reason. Bocuse’s daughter is the wife of Jean-Jacques Bernachon, whose book La Passion du Chocolate I had just translated. I thought it would be fun to visit the Bernachons and read to them in French my English introduction to the book that was a few months away from publication. So it seemed like it would be a perfect celebration to have dinner chez Bocuse with my brother.

There was a huge storm in Gascony and our plane was delayed by several hours. I had made a reservation at Bocuse and was anxious to call and tell them we’d be several hours late. I was one of the first in a long line for the one public (and I mean public) phone, but I had to call information to get the number. To my amazement, the operator had trouble finding it and what's more had never heard of Paul Bocuse!

The people behind me in line were getting unruly and impatient, and the business man directly behind me asked me to hand over the phone. At first I refused (I am a New Yorker after all) but he explained that he would speak to the information operator in my behalf. And to my delight he soundly berated her for being French, living in Lyon, and here I was, an American, who knew about one of the greatest chefs in all of France of which she was toute à fait ignorant. He got the number and we got our reservation moved up a couple of hours.

Chef Bocuse made a lasting contribution to the culinary world. You can read about the many aspects of it all over the internet, but only here can you read this story.

The Perfect Frying Pan of My Memory


This is the little copper-bottom Revere Ware frying pan I’ve been wanting to find for over 40 years and here’s the story why:

In my 20’s, whenever I travelled abroad, it was always to France. But one day I received a letter from an old family friend, Rosalind Streeter, originally from Wales, who had moved back to the UK, inviting me to “come to James Herriot country” to visit her and her husband Ted in York.

I had grown up with stories of the Streeters and their four children as the entire family were favorite dental patients of my mother’s, and we had even attended the same school for two years. So I knew I’d feel right at home with their parents.

It was my first trip to England so I spent two days in London before taking the train to York. I felt like as I was coming home. Ted Streeter, an inspired guide, took me to the newly excavated Viking village nearby. And I was delighted when Rosalind confided that she had always wanted to learn how to make a génoise, so we made one together. I brushed it with my usual Grand Marnier syrup but Ted complained that I hadn’t added enough Grand Marnier, which changed forever how I syrup génoise, and I always think of him when doing so!

Rosalind was a wonderful cook, but what I remember best was breakfast, when she would make me an egg fried and served in the smallest Revere Ware pan I had ever seen. She said that she had always wanted to find more of these pans but never succeeded. All these years I wished I could find this pan and recreate the warm memory of the visit. Two weeks ago I was suddenly inspired to check e-bay! Voila! Or should I say lo and behold. I can imagine Rosalind smiling from heaven. I know that my mother would be so happy to know that I am back in touch with her beloved Streeter ‘boys’.

Gingerbread Competition at Mohonk Mountain House 2017

When I think of something being constructed out of gingerbread, I always think of a  house. Although Rose took house building to the extreme with her made to scale Nôtre Dame Cathedral, in Rose’s Christmas Cookies, with 10 pages of architectural drawings. So when Nina Smiley asked if we would like to judge a gingerbread competition at the magical Mohonk Mountain House, of course we said yes!

Rose and Mohonk Mountain House built from 1869-1910 by the Smileys

Rose and Mohonk Mountain House built from 1869-1910 by the Smileys

This was their second year for holding the competition, which had 3 divisions: for juniors (ages 10-17), adults (ages 18 and over), and their employees, with over 60 entries. Some guidelines were: that the entry had to be on a base up to 2 feet square, less than 2 feet high, and edible for all exposed surfaces. A key guideline was that gingerbread had to be exposed for 50% or more of the surfaces.  What we discovered, as we walk around the rows of entries, was that this was way beyond ginerbread houses--it was a competition of highly artistic and imaginative gingerbread displays.


We were surprised and delighted by the imagination and ways in which the competitors used gingerbread, in both cookie and bread forms and beyond. Besides us, there were several judges including chefs, Mohonk’s own talented pastry chef, the mayor of Kingston, and others.

 Rose called my attention to one of the most displays by Vanessa Greeley, who had worked for years in the finance world before making a career change to run her own specialty cake decorating business. She stopped by our book signing table and Rose asked her how she came up with the amalgamation of gingerbread and chocolate, which was the composition for Mr. and Mrs. Moose. She explained that her goal was to give adequate structural support while maintaining delicious melt in the mouth quality. Clearly her analytic approach from her prior occupation came into play. We gave her high marks, for its uniqueness and precision.


The winning gingerbread display was Flower Tower, which was sculptor Matt Maley’s first ever dive into making a gingerbread constructed display. Along with his prize from Mohonk House, Rose gave him an autographed Pie & Pastry Bible.



Other works of art by their title in the order below.

WInter is Coming-3rd place, Lighthouse-Viewers' Choice, Bah! Humbug-2nd place, Night before Christmas

A Christmas Message

A Christmas Story

 When I was a young child, my great aunt Polly Horwitt Kozma gave me this treasure of a little book written by her mentor Eleanor Roosevelt and published by Knopf in 1940.

 What was most extraordinary about this gift was that Polly was the daughter of a rabbi and yet, in the years shortly past World War II, she had chosen to give a book with the message of Christ’s love to her Jewish orthodox sister’s granddaughter.  But Polly was a woman of the world. In fact, she went on to win the Eleanor Roosevelt award as a member of the American Association for the United Nations.

 How fortunate I was to have had my great aunt Polly as such a shining example of intellectual and spiritual values.


Thanksgiving Pies from Gramercy Tavern


Pie Contest # 5 2017 "Fifth year and a big one," Chef Miro Uskokovic informed us about the annual staff pie contest to welcome in the holiday season at Gramercy Tavern. This was to be our fourth invite to judge the talented staff's pies. And the great news is that for the first year, Miro is making two fabulous pies available for sale from Gramercy Tavern for Thanksgiving: Spiced Marshmallow Pumpkin Pie and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie for pick up on either Tuesday 11/21 or Wednesday 11/22. You'll need to order right away as I'm sure there will be a great demand. Ten judges this year, including executive chef, Mike Anthony, general manager Scott Reinhardt, pastry chef/author/director of the baking programs at the Institute for Culinary Education (and dear friend) Nick Malgieri, Merrill Stubbs co-founder of Food 52, and Emily and Melissa Elsen, owners of Four & Twenty Blackbirds Bakery. After taking our seats once again at the 15 foot long table, in the very familiar banquet/meeting room, Miro went over the criteria for this year's judging. Although we had a scoring card, it was to be used only for taking notes, as we would all have our say after a fork full of the last pie tasted to choose the Best Overall Pie and the Most Creative Pie. And this year, all entries had to be made in a pie plate as opposed to a tart pan. Also this year both winners (and the judges!) would receive the same generous gift: a prized blender from sponsor Vitamix. Each contestant was to bring out her or his creation, give the story behind the pie, and then answer our questions as we tasted the pie. The highest number of entries ever, 22 pies, were presented, dissected, tasted, talked about, and a whole pie shown to each of us by Miro and then placed on the table and discussed some more. Miro gave us two breaks to calm our taste buds and give our tummies a temporary relief. Since in most prior years a cream pie beat out the rest, this year was a cavalcade of mostly cream pies. A couple of entries were from the front staff. Also, we were delighted that for the first time Scott was one of the judges. Nick, as always, was a delight, with his charm, honesty, and spot on critiquing of the pies. With all pies tasted, chef Mike gave his choice for his favorite--the Pomegranate Pie--and it made the move to the other end of the table to be with seven of its favored peers. This year, it was extremely hard to decide whether to go with something more unusual or an upscale version of a standard. We discussed, debated, and decided on our winning pies. The awards presentation was done during the staff's family style dinner before the evening crowd. By the time we joined the staff, there were mostly just remnants of those 22 pies on table 61. The Best Overall Pie for this year was made by Heather Siperstein. It was a Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cream Pie with a whipped cream topping, adorned with chocolate and peanut butter candy pieces. It will be featured on the Gramercy menu at some point in the near future. The Most Creative Pie was awarded to Amanda Taylor for her Figalicious Pie. She was thrilled to receive my signature series Synglas, non-stick rolling pin by American Products Group. I autographed a Pie & Pastry Bible for Heather, which Miro accepted in her behalf. All of us were then invited to my favorite table at the front of the Tavern to enjoy some of Gramercy's wonderful appetizers and a glass of wine or beer with Miro. Epilogue, next morning: Day prior: a wonderful lunch, consuming close to a half of an entire pie, and enough appetizers to make for light dinner. But to my relief, my scale was kind--it showed me that I actually lost a pound. (The new "pie diet" is born! We hope to be there for Miro Pie Day #6 next year.

Pastry Chef Par Excellence Randy Eastman

aIMG_2765.jpgThe last time I saw my friend Randy, was almost 20 years ago, when he volunteered to make all the desserts for the launch of my book The Pie and Pastry Bible. I never forgot his sweetness, generosity, and incredible skill. For the past 17 years, prior to being pastry chef at the Metropolitan Opera Dining Room, Randy has been pastry chef at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Growing up in New York, I spent many a Sunday with my cousin Joan and uncle Bernard, either at the Museum of Natural History or the Met. So it was a very sentimental visit, sitting in the main dining room, with a spectacular view of the obelisk, the park, and the dearly familiar Central Park West skyline. But the best part was when Randy came to the table. IMG_2755.jpg Woody and I had shared a light lunch to ensure that we would have plenty of room to enjoy the sampling of desserts which Randy presented to us. My top favorite was the caramel glazed banana sundae IMG_2772.jpg but a close second was the perfectly silky and delicious chocolate Gianduja custard. IMG_2769.jpg Randy and I had an equally delicious catch up, exchanging news of mutual friends and family. We promised each other that we would not let so many years go by again without reconnecting.

Icing Smiles--an Inspiration


My friend, Lenny Taub, send me these photos of cakes created by his friend Aimee Lambing for a special charity. He wrote that Aimee has never had a baking lesson but loves to bake and took a cake decorating class at a community college. Not only is the quality of her work impressive, her generosity is on equal par: She is creating these cakes for a charity called Icing Smiles that delivers cakes to critically ill children.

June LeBell--The Loss of a Treasured Friend


JUNE & ROSY--(not named after me)

June died yesterday with the same grace with which she lived. Her last words to her many friends, fans, and family were to comfort all of us: I am calm and at peace. Her last words sent to me were: I cherish our friendship. Music, food and just plain love. Thank you my friend. June died the day after her birthday and the day before her 8th wedding anniversary to Ed Alley. I'll always remember the day I was on a help line for my computer, waiting for a response from the slow typist on the other end, when I chanced to see an email from June saying: Big News! Then, with great joy, I saw the rest: I got married! This was June's first marriage and she had waited almost a lifetime to find the love of her life. I was so happy for her I 'screamed' onto the computer: June LeBell is married! The tech on the other end responded with: That's wonderful! To this day I'm not sure if he even knew who she was but very likely he did, based on his response and also on June's 'visibility.' June was the first female announcer on WQXR--a career which spanned almost 30 years. Her exquisite voice, knowledge of music, and sense of humor delighted millions of listeners. I'm surprised that there is no obit in The New York Times (WQXR was the radio station of The New York Times.) Maybe it will come. (It did--3-2-17!) Here is the introduction to her first and only book, The Kitchen Classics. June had asked me to write the intro to the dessert chapter, saying that Julia Child was writing the intro to the savory one. But when Julia heard I was writing the one for the dessert chapter she said: "Rose knows you so much better; let her do the whole thing." Thank you Julia! Until I wrote it I had no idea how very much I had to say--how deep was my music background, and my friendship with June.

Introduction to The Kitchen Classics by June LeBell I was born with music in my ears, in my heart, and in my soul. I am sure this is because my mother, who as a young girl studied with Nadia Reisenberg, played womb concerts (the ultimate chamber music) on the piano when she was pregnant with me. She was convinced that even though I had not yet been born, I would still hear something, if only vibrations, and would grow up familiar with and open to music--one of life's greatest joys. Her theory apparently worked, because as soon as I could walk I approached the piano and picked out tunes by ear. If I had been offered the choice of any talent in the world (if I couldn't have been Mozart) it would have been to have a glorious voice and be an opera singer. But since I did not have even a passable singing voice, my instrument became the violin. One summer, when I was at music camp near Tanglewood, studying with the second violinist of the Boston Symphony orchestra, my great uncle, who had engineered this arrangement, came to visit me and posed the dreaded question: "exactly what kind of talent do you possess; concert or drawing room?" The only possible answer was the disappointing truth: neither. As it turned out, despite the fact that I graduated from Carnegie Hall (the High School of Music and Art held all its graduations there) I was an extremely mediocre violin player who preferred listening to performing; but then, the music world does need some appreciative listeners. Our family had its share of them. Legend has it that my great aunt Beck was so moved by a concert at Lewisohn stadium she got up in the middle and started to dance, explaining afterwards that she couldn't help herself. My mother's theory was that since she had grown up in Russia she had the passionate Russian soul. We also had two bonafide performers: Aunt Beck's husband, appropriately named Fiddler and Uncle Tibor (Kozma), who conducted at the Met under Rudolph Bing and then went on to become head of the music department at the University of Indiana. It is thanks to him that my first "grownup" birthday party, when I was twelve, was at a Met production of the Fledermaus. The kids were all very bored (including me--the Fledermaus has never been one of my favorites), but their parents were quite impressed. And it was never really a surprise to run into one of the great aunts during intermission at the opera. This generation had my cousin Andrew Schenck (pronounced Skenk), also a gifted conductor, and perhaps the next generation will have my little nephew Alexander who, when he first started to sing had that surprised look, bordering on awe, which clearly said: can these bell like sounds be coming from me? Ravi Shankar once said that for him music is the bridge between the personal and the infinite. It is my feeling that all acts of creativity, approached with the same reverence of total devotion, offer that possibility. Somehow, though, music soars above all others. My soul has been transported by a bite of still warm from the oven Chocolate Domingo Cake, but no food has given me the total corporal and spiritual orgasm music is capable of inspiring. My mother, whose profession was dentistry, held dear a theory that senses located in the region of the head are the most exquisite and also the ones most intimately connected. As a "food person," I see more and more how true this is. Taste, smell, vision, and hearing have a profound effect on each other's perception. As a very young child, I would not let my mother play the song Ramona because it reminded me of chocolate pudding (which I detested). I suppose I must have experienced it as equally thick and sodden with sentimentality. The connection between food and music is found even in the words used to describe them. In the food industry, the most common word used to analyze flavor is note. Texture is another word food and music have in common. One of my favorite musical memories is of the time I met Isaac Stern at a party celebrating the birth of Jenifer Lang's book Tastings. I had provided the Chocolate Oblivion Cake that was featured in the book. When George Lang introduced me to Isaac Stern, he rose up, took my hand, and bowed deeply from the waist saying: "Your cake was like velvet." My response: "That is the very word I used to describe your playing the first time I heard you play the Tchaikovsky violin concerto when I was sixteen!" (If any breath had been left I would have added that it was at Tanglewood.) When June LeBell and I were classmates at Music and Art, what seems like only a few years ago, it seemed inevitable that her future would be in music. My fate was far less certain. When we met again, it was when I came to WQXR to advertise my cooking school on the radio. I brought with me my then favorite cake: Grand Marnier et Chocolat. I must admit, I felt that I was entering into a musical temple with something, though quite delicious, perhaps not quite worthy. But June did not seem at all surprised or condescending regarding my transition from violin to cake. In fact, to my relief, it seemed that as far as she was concerned, I was still in the "arts." Several years later, when she started "The Kitchen Classics," featuring recipes accompanied by "appropriate" music, I became a frequent guest on the show, which gave us a chance to renew our friendship--often on the air. In fact, we had so much fun catching up and reminiscing, we often forgot that we were on the air! The best part was that we share a similar sense of humor, which is most likely to happen between people whose frame of reference is so similar. Often we felt like we would make a great vaudeville team. I would read my favorite buttermilk cake recipe, to which June would play a recording of what she referred to (with a gleam in her eye) as "Madama Buttermilk"! We laughed almost the whole show through and got lots of delightful "feedback" from the audience. When June told me about her plans for this book, it seemed like the perfect joyful extension of her show. The book turned out to be so multi dimensional and entertaining, it's difficult to do full justice to its depth and breadth. On a personal note, it's great fun for me to find old childhood friends, now famous musicians, between these covers: the guy who teased me at Music camp (Paul Dunkel), the high-school friend who accompanied me home after ice-skating in Central Park, walking his bike alongside (Stephen Kates), the tall dark and brilliant harpsichordist who dated my cousin and whose father was my English teacher (Kenneth Cooper). The humor, intelligence, generosity, and charm June possesses make this book unique. She serves up each "personality" in the most personal of all possible ways: in his or her own voice. These delightful anecdotes, peppered throughout the book, have as their counterpoint favorite recipes contributed by each performer. We know their music but now we know another side of them, and they become friends. And as the proverbial icing on the cake, this book is graced with the incomparable caricatures of our beloved Hirschfeld. It is a great honor to participate in the 150th celebration of the Philharmonic by being a part of this special book. For me, it is a deeply sentimental and personal book and I think in its own way it will be for everyone who reads it and, most of all, for anyone who cooks from it.

Hector's Labor of Brotherly Love


A wedding cake is a huge production, and if you don't have a bakery to work in, or at least your own home kitchen with reliable equipment, it is a true labor of love and demands meticulous orchestration. Come to think of it, it is always a labor of love. Hector has chronicled his year long process preparing and executing a wedding cake for his brother an ocean away. Here is how he pulled it off (brilliantly): (Written by Hector on Tuesday April 4th, 2017) Sometime ago, my brother Miguel asked me to make his wedding cake. 16 months later, and 10 hours flying from Honolulu to Pasco, Washington, I am arriving to his house to make his cake. I have made many big cakes, and traveled near and far, but this is the first time I will do so on location! All my cakes are always made at my home kitchen! The initial plan was to assemble a passion fruit tiramisu style dessert as the cake, with store bought ladyfingers. But since so much time was available, the project started to walk on its own. A new refrigerator, 2 stand mixers, a chocolate melter, an upgraded turn table, were ordered and arrived! The very best passion fruit syrup, and the ultimate best chocolate were purchased and sent! During the last 3 weeks, I shipped by USPS flat rate everything I need, literally everything. No piece of equipment has been was shorted. No ingredient quality has been shorted. The project is a 6 tier Génoise with ganache. The wedding is Saturday, and I am writing to you on Tuesday, from Seattle airport, during my connection to my final destination! (Written by Hector on Friday April 14th, 2017) Normally, I bake everything at my home kitchen, and travel with a partly finished product. I was on house lock down from 5 am until midnight on Wednesday, to bake all the 12 layers. And on Thursday, I was on a similar schedule to torte and frost all 6 tiers. On Friday, I took a baking break and did family things pre-wedding. I delivered the cake at noon on Saturday, the day of the wedding, and spent 2 hours arranging the gum paste rose petals. The petals were purchased at Etsy, and individually luster glitter dusted in bronze and yellow by the bride and bridesmaid.

Hector and his sister


The finished cake made me happy. The taste, the chocolate aroma, and the floral design surpassed my expectations. I did all the cake cutting myself, and the moment when I started to disassemble the cake, a line of hungry wedding guests mobbed me. The catering staff was awaiting with carts and serving trays to pass the cake, however they had to step away, and just let the mob throw themselves on me! Literally, people were panhandling for cake, and cake serving went very fast. 300 slices and all. I am home on my island now, and I have many memories to share about the cake, the wedding, and the family gatherings. The only word of wisdom I have for everyone, including myself, and my brother is: You only get married once (or twice), in reference to what I believe is true: no groom or bride will ever ask you to make their wedding cake at their house more than once. The experience is so intense, almost traumatic, yet when love is abundant, I will always say yes. Note from Rose: here's how we differ slightly: I always say "never again" and then, when the occasion presents, I say "yes"!

My Top Favorite Photo & Travel Adventure



Image 1.jpg

Over the years, I have had many wonderful travel experiences, but if there had been just one to choose from, without hesitation it would be my visit to the Sakumas in Kyoto. Yoko Sakuma was my student when I ran the Cordon Rose Cooking School. She took several of the classes more than once, and when I asked her why, she explained in her now exquisite English: There were two reasons. First, you were so kind and patient to teach an actually novice like me at baking. So, I did not hesitate to avail myself of the opportunity to learn till I understood what you taught. Second, as I had just begun NY life and could not understand English well, your baking classes were also English classes for me. You were not only a teacher of baking but also an excellent English teacher though you might not recognize it. Accordingly, I could learn more English than in the actual English class at NYU. Never have I met a more dignified, truly sweet, and beautifully spiritual soul, who became my life-long friend. When finally Yoko and Ushio returned to Japan, Yoko wrote to me that they would be living for a very short time in Kyoto--exquisite city of artisans. She explained that the apartments were very small and that the only oven she would have room for was a toaster oven, which either burned the bottom of the cake or the top. She said that she could not live too many years in a place which had no oven, and urged me to come and visit them while they were still there. I promised that I would and that when I came, I would teach her how to bake a cake in a toaster oven. When I arrived, Yoko presented me with a carefully detailed itinerary of my stay, saying that it was not a rigid schedule and that if I wanted to change anything that would be fine. I did not! What followed was more than a week of amazing dinners and trips including to Nara, and to a visit to Horyuji--the oldest wooden temple in the world that exists at present, dating back to 607 AD. The dining experience that was most profoundly unforgettable was at a tiny sushi restaurant "Matsu (pine tree) Sushi." There were only 5 seats, all at the counter, and we three watched in fascination as the sushi was prepared. Yoko and Ushio explained to me that the fish, which was white on the outside and black on the inside, was called Sayori. Mr. Hiroshi Yoshikawa told them that there was a phrase of "Sayori beauty? in Kyoto. According to him, "Sayori beauty" means a woman who is very beautiful but malicious at heart. Sayori is very beautiful lean silver fish but its inside color is ugly black. Mr. Hiroshi Yoshikawa, the master, did not speak english so the Sakumas carefully translated everything. They explained that his father before him owned the restaurant and was so respected he had access to the best fish which was a rarity for this inland city. But Mr. Yoshikawa would not allow his son to take over because he felt he did not have the proper spirit. It was when he was deftly shaping one of the sushis, and his hands curved around it like a dancer's, that I started taking photos, hoping to catch that exact moment. I must have tried about 5 times as that was before digital cameras so I had no way of knowing if I had gotten the shot until he said something emphatic which was translated as "she got it!" He had intuited what I was hoping for and with the precision of a Zen archer who can shoot an arrow into his target with eyes closed, knew when it had arrived. Before leaving he asked the Sakumas if I would send him my book which, of course, I was honored to do on my return to the US. Mr. Yoshikawa is now over eighty years old. He has been saying that the climate change has had a serious effect on fish, shellfish, and other seafood. They are often too small or too big, and accordingly not tasty, but also are not caught by fishermen or bay men in the right season. So he has decided the time has come to close the restaurant. Now for the solution to that toaster oven which had two levels. If baking on the higher level the top of the cake burned; if baking on the lower level, the bottom of the cake burned. So I suggested that we try double panning to protect the bottom and to bake on the lower level to protect the top of the cake. It worked. The most special treasure I brought back was this antique traveling sake cup gifted to me by Ushio after we visited a sake manufacturer and museum. The metal stand enables it to swing back and forth so that the sake doesn't spill a single drop during a train ride! Elizabeth Andoh, a former New Yorker and much esteemed colleague who has been living in Tokyo most of her life, writing wonderful books on Japanese cooking, once told me a story which I cherish. She said that there was to be a contest of two renowned culinary sensei (master teachers) but only one showed up. The other sent his best student. If I were in that position I would send Yoko.

The Cake Bible is Inducted into the IACP Culinary Classics


Scenes from the IACP 2017 ConferenceThis amazing lifetime honor is the International Association of Culinary Professionals Hall of Fame. The award ceremony, which celebrates culinary teachers, cookbook writers & journalists, digital media and photographers, is an event to which we look forward all year. The conference this year was held in Louisville, KY, which was the headquarters of IACP for many years. It was such a joy reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. George Geary, once a student at a class I taught in LA, is now a recognized writer of "bibles" in his own right. One of the highlights was a party previewing and honoring the completion of the upcoming book(s) Modernist Bread. There will be 6 large volumes. Nathan Myrvold, of Modernist Cuisine fame, put together a team of 27 notable bread experts, lead by baker/author Francisco Migoya, and including Peter Reinhart. As with Myrvold's previous books, the photos are drop dead stunning. It was great to see Franscisco and the ever delightful Carla Hall, who also emceed the awards ceremony. The ceremony was held in the 'jewel box' Paradise Theater. I thought that only the palaces of King Henry VIII had ceilings like this one! I was so delighted that the amazing photo of my wonderful friend Erin McDowell, taken by photographer Mark Weinberg, won one of the Food Photography & Styling Awards. It was also wonderful to see Sam Sifton, food editor for the New York Times, running up onto the stage 4 times in his tennis shoes to receive awards for his staff on their behalf, a strong statement for the value of the printed newspaper. I was delighted to see that my fellow author and restauranteur, Rick Bayliss was also inducted into the Culinary Classics for his book, Authentic Mexican. It was also a joy to see Vivian Howard winning the Best Cookbook of the Year as well as a couple of other awards for her tome Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South--her first book. You can also see all of this year's award winners, including previous winners on the IACP's website. Another dear friend, Anna Thomas, was a finalist for her Vegan Vegetarian Ominivore, but unable to attend the conference. I asked her to write an acceptance speech as she had given me the honor to accept a possible award in her behalf. This short speech contains such an important message I will follow up this very long posting with a photo of why Anna could not attend and what she would like to have imparted.

A Buswoman's Holiday: Montclair Expedition to Bake a Cake and Taste a Doughnut

1.jpgMy dear friend, Marissa Rothkopf Bates, who is a gifted journalist, baker, and equipment reviewer, invited us to her house to test a new 'smart' countertop oven that she is reviewing. Together, we made one of my favorite 'butter' cakes, the "Whipped Cream Cake," which is in Rose's Heavenly Cakes. This exquisitely soft cake replaces the butter with whipped cream providing both the butterfat and the liquid. It actually contains more butterfat than is present in a basic butter cake. I have been yearning for an oven that is perfectly even top to bottom and front to back and have yet to find one, including the one we were using as an excuse to visit Marissa who lives an hour's drive away. The cake's texture was perfect but it did not brown entirely evenly nor was the top perfectly even. 2.jpg While the cake was cooling, Marissa took us for lunch to one of her favorite restaurants, Villalobos. Chef/owner, Adam Rose, gives an eclectic twist to his Latino tacos. They were served "open-face', using homemade soft tortillas. We enjoyed them topped with an enticing combination of carnitas made with Berkshire pork belly, roasted corn, chipotle morita, and another variety topped with chipotle braised chicken, pork chorizo, potato chips, and onion. 3.jpg Homemade taco chips accompanied chunky guacamole with the most unusual topping I have ever experienced-- fried little cubes of Nuske's slab bacon, jalapeno, and blackened crispy brussel sprouts. For dessert, Marissa insisted that we try the churros served with chocolate dipping sauce, especially when she heard that I had never tasted a churro. Of course I liked it as churros are made cream puff pastry that is with deep fried. We shall return! 4.jpg We next stopped at the Montclair Bread Company. Owner Rachel Crampsey, was a total delight. It turned out that one of the many places where she and apprenticed or worked was Amy's Bread and we both attended a book party there for Amy's book, though at the time we never met. Loving baking bread above all other baked goods, we became instant friends. And Rachel invited me to me to return and fry doughnuts with her. I adore brioche doughnuts and they are very rare to find. Rachel told us the story of how she and her friend were just experimenting with making brioche doughnuts in the early hours one morning and they turned out to be so addictive they ate the entire batch. She put them on the 'menu' and they were an wild success. She says that: The doughnuts encapsulate everything I love in one bite. image1.jpg Rachel has expanded her business to include opening a fish and chips shop next door to her bakery with a clever name, Oh My Cod. Back to Marissa's to enjoy slices of the Whipped Cream Cake with a dollop of non-ultra pasteurized high fat whipped cream (although her son, Oliver, who is the family's most verbal and enthusiastic appreciator of baked goods, seemed convinced that three dollops of whipped cream were the perfect accompaniment. Do I spy a future food writer in the making?).


IMG_4737.jpgI am usually inclined to write about food and wine, baking, roasting, grilling....but with all that is taking place in the world today, I am moved to share with you the Desiderata (things that are desired) which is hanging on my bedroom wall. I have forgotten to look at it but suddenly some of the words highlighted below came to me. I'll type all of it here as it's hard to see in the photo: Go placidly amid the noise & haste, & remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly & clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain & bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs for the world is full of trickery. But less this not blind you to what virtue there is: many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all axidity & disenchantment it is perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue & loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees & the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe if unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, & whatever your labors & aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery & broken dreams it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Gramercy Tavern Pie Contest 2016

1.sea_of_pies.jpgMiro Uskovic, Executive Pastry Chef of Gramercy Tavern, invited us for the third time to be judges for the annual Tavern's pie baking challenge. This is a fun and potentially career-advancing contest for the staff. Two of the previous best pie winners not only had their pies featured on the menu for months but also were promoted to sous chefs. As we walked in the door, my dear friend Ron Ben-Israel, internationally known wedding cake baker/decorator extraordinaire, greeted me with a hug. Susan Ungaro, another early arriving judge, joined us for a tour of the kitchens. Miro also showed us this beautiful array of Christmas cookies for the upcoming holidays. 2.cookies.jpg The familiar meeting room, with its room length table adorned only with nine place settings of score sheets and pencils, forks, and glasses of water, but not a pie in sight. This year, Miro and Executive Chef Michael Anthony, also a judge, decided to "amp things up a bit" with the judging. Along with several staff members, the prestigious group of judges included Ron Ben Israel, host of Food Network's "Serious Sweets," Susan Ungaro, President of the James Beard Foundation, and Ghaya Oliveira, Executive Pastry Chef at Restaurant Daniel (and one of my favs). Then, to my utter joy, in walked Alex Guarnaschelli, Chef/Owner of "Butter" in New York, one of the judges of Food Network's "Chopped," and one of my long-time friends. 3.you_miro_alex.jpg Miro had a hard time getting us all seated because we wanted to hug and catch up, but there were 19 pies to evaluate so we finally took our seats. Miro announced that this year each contestant would bring out and talk about his or her pie, as we tasted it. We were then able to give our critiques and comments. Unsurprisingly, Alex was in her delightful 'A game' judging mode, amazingly able to give a stream of articulate commentary without needing to take a breath. Also, unsurprisingly to me, in almost all cases we shared the same opinion, exchanging expressive looks as she and I at times changed our top choices, as a sea of pie plates filled the table. 4.judges.jpg

There were many different types of pie crusts including one made with black sesame seeds. One of our favorite flaky pie crusts adorned the walnut pie, baked by one of the pastry chefs who had worked at Tartine in San Francisco. 5.walnut.jpg After pie #19, was tasted, judged, and happily the last, Miro took a quick consensus of everyones' choices for the most creative and the best pie. The family dinner for the staff, designed to familiarize them with what was on the night's dinner menu, was next. It included all of the pies, which were quickly devoured. I was pleased that one of the contestants had baked his pie in my Rose's Perfect Pie Plate. 6.employees.jpg It was now time to announce the winners. Jumping up from her seat and waving her hands as if she were on "The Price is Right," a jubilant Shante Dorsett, pastry cook, came forward for The Most Creative Pie with her "Ant Hill" pie. She explained that it was inspired from a childhood savory treat. The cookie crust contained an unusual and delicious filling of cranberry compote, celery root, and white chocolate mousse. I've never before had celery root in a sweet expression and it worked brilliantly, its presence staying in the background but still identifiable. 7.creative_winner.jpg I was pleased to give a Pie and Pastry Bible to this year's Best Pie winner: Maya Ferrante. As a fish cook, her sensibilities called out for less sweetness which was appreciated by all of the judges. 9.winner.jpg Her "Buttermilk Coconut Pie," in all its deceptive simplicity, was the one that most of us ate the most of. A pecan and crushed lady finger crumb crust was filled with a coconut buttermilk custard, and topped with a dreamy coconut cream which was lightly sweetened with an infusion of dates, then topped with large flakes of toasted coconut. When asked if she now planned to move over to the pastry kitchen she smilingly shook her head and softly said: No! 8.best_winner.jpg Our Gramercy pie-filled tummies were then refreshed and balanced by an exquisite Fall salad and charcuterie plate, and an even more delicious chat with Miro. 10.Fall_Salad.JPG

My Author Portraits by Matthew Septimus


January, 2010, the Fashion Institute of Technology featured me in their first bi-annual magazine to feature graduates who ended up with a career in the food world. They assigned photographer Matthew Septimus to do the portrait. I told FIT that I had many press photos so there was no need to waste everyone's time with yet another one, but they insisted that Matthew was so gifted it would be worth doing it. And boy was I glad they did. He shot this candid photo which I have been using ever since because it was the only one that managed to capture the mischievous side of my personality! In parting, Matthew said that it was his hope that someday we would work together. Seven years later, I chose Matthew to become the photographer for our upcoming Rose's Baking Basics. He has driven all the way from Brooklyn, NYC to Hope, New Jersey for 21 days of step-by-step photo shoots, usually three days a week. And he took this new portrait for the upcoming book. When we were enjoying our end of the day espresso and desserts, Woody tried to take a photo of Matthew and me together but Matthew, ever humble, resisted. If you'd like to see a sampling of his exceptional work you can view his site. And here is my favorite photos of him and his son Ezra.

A Tribute to Dorothy Cann Hamilton of ICC


Many of you have already learned of Dorothy's untimely and tragic death this month and that she was the founder of the French Culinary Institute in 1984 which gave birth to a litany of renowned chefs and restaurateurs such as Dan Barber, Bobby Flay, and David Chang. Dorothy was an extraordinarily valuable, influential, and cherished member of the food community and will be missed greatly. As a neighbor (I lived a 10 minute walk from the school) the French Culinary made me feel like I had a second home. If I needed an emergency ingredient, they welcomed me to run over to the store room. I audited chef Amy Quazza's bread and Dieter Schorner's Danish courses and frequently judged final exams of the graduating pastry classes. And if I needed a venue for a demo, French Culinary was always my first choice. When my Pie and Pastry Bible was published, Dorothy generously offered to host a book party in the pastry kitchen suggesting that I do a small demo. I don't remember exactly what I made but what I will never forget is how she introduced me. Inspired by the press material which played upon the theme of "bible," Dorothy opened with: Rose is a worshipped woman--something I wish someone would say about me!If only she could have seen the standing room only turnout of worshippers--students, friends, and family--that filled Saint Malachy's--The Actor's Chapel Roman Catholic Church, on Tuesday October 25th. A celebration of Dorothy's life followed the service and was held at the school which is now called the International Culinary Center. In the crowd there were so many familiar faces--Deans Jacque Pépin and Alain Sailhac and his wife Arlene Feltman (who started DeGustabus at Macy's) Marion Nestle, Drew Nierporent, Jenifer Lang and her daughter Georgina, Mitchell Davis of the Beard House, Danny Myers--an endless stream. Matthew Septimus, who is the photographer of our upcoming book, also did several books for the French Culinary Institute and showed us photographs on each floor which he had taken of the Deans and other food celebrities--in fact--he designed this wall of photos. In every kitchen on every floor there were samples of delicious food such as shredded duck confit tacos, boeuf bourguignon, cassolet, rabbit paella....and video memories of Dorothy, all accompanied by Abba's "Dancing Queen" playing in the background. Here are a few of the photos Woody managed to capture of me with some of my all time favorite people.

Matthew Septimus, Me, Dean Jacques Torres, and chef Mark Bauer


Dean Cesare Casella

Chef Kir Rodriquez


Pastry Chef Tony Lynn Dickson, Chef Daisy Martinez and Me, delighting in a photo of her first grandson


François and Patrice Dionot of the famed L'Academie de Cuisine


The bread baking kitchen with an array of bread and charcuterie


A fabulous rabbit paella


Enjoying it!

A New Way to Dinner (via Food52)

Amanda_3.jpgThis week, Woody and I drove into New York for a most delightful book launch. A New Way to Dinner, by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. The subtitle says it all: "A playbook of recipes and strategies for the week ahead." And we got to taste an array of recipes contained in the book. I almost passed up the chicken fingers because they are always so dry but, knowing Amanda and Merrill, I put my initial resistance aside and was richly rewarded by a crispy panko crust and deliciously juicy moist interior. When I met Merrill and her mother I learned the secret. This is the recipe her mother made on a regular basis when she was growing up and instead of the usual sawdust chicken breasts she employed the more flavorful and moist chicken thighs. I would buy this book just for this recipe alone and I can't wait to try many of the others. Merrill_2.jpg We were so happy to see our old friend Eunice Choi, whom we first met 7 years ago at KitchenAid's Epicurean Classic in Michigan when she was a recent graduate of Cornell University and was working as a prep assistant. We knew she would have a wonderful career in food and sure enough she went on to work at Food and Wine Magazine and now is on staff at Food52. Eunice_1.jpg And what a great surprise to discover that our terrific publicist, Allison Renzulli, who worked with us on The Baking Bible, is now at Ten Speed Press--the publisher of A New Way to Dinner.Allison.jpg On a final note, I am so proud to have my best pie crust featured in the book as a Rhubarb Galette. Book.jpg Food52 A New Way to Dinner: A Playbook of Recipes and Strategies for the Week Ahead

A Return to Troisgros


It has been 19 years since I visited and wrote about Claude Troisgros's restaurant CT when it was in New York City (the review and recipe is at the end of this posting). And it has been 44 years since I visited his family's renowned restaurant Les Frères Troisgros in Roanne, France. Claude and his Brazilian wife moved to Rio, where he is now owner of five restaurants. He is considered to be the top chef in Brazil and, of course, I was determined to visit at least one of his restaurants during our recent trip to Rio for the Paralympics. Claude was on vacation in Sicily, so sadly we were not able to see him, but he alerted the restaurant of our impending arrival at CT Boucherie in the Barra Design Center, which was the closest one of his restaurants to where we were staying near the olympic stadium. Chef/manager Didier Labbe and chef Jessica orchestrated a fantastic array of the restaurant's specialities. As there were eight of us family members (from both coasts of the US) enjoying the experience, and four preferred white wine, we were able to order one bottle of white and one of the house recommended Salentein Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Mendoza, Argentina 2012, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We began with two delectable appetizers.















Written for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate A food and wine lover never forgets her first pilgrimage to France. Mine was in 1972 and it served to crystallize in me the determination to devote my life to the pursuit of flavor. The expedition was shared by a friend, Elaine Kohut. We rented a typically powerless small car and tooled our way from Paris to Provence, enjoying many adventures, some of which included revelatory meals. But only one dining experience actually brought me to tears of joy at its conclusion and this was at Troisgros in Roanne. I had read in awe about the degustation menu starting with lark's liver paté with an intriguingly bitter edge from the larks' diet of juniper berries, the velvety texture of which resulted from the gentle technique of heating the terrines and then removing them from the oven and wrapping them in heavy blankets to cook overnight by indirect heat. I anticipated that food so lovingly prepared would be extraordinary beyond anything I had ever experienced. But nothing had prepared me for thrilling intensity of the signature dish Saumon à l'Oseille (Salmon with Sorrel). The moist, rich salmon, cloaked in a fish stock embued cream sauce was magically lightened and enhanced by the most exciting counter balance of acidity I had ever tasted--flecks of bright green sorrel (also known as sour grass). It made me more than gasp in astonishment, I was so overcome with pleasure I actually dropped my fork with a loud clang right into the sauce. Within moments, the waiter appeared with both a large plate containing a clean fork and an amused if somewhat supercilious smile, charmingly informing me that there was no need for concern because there were many more forks in the kitchen. He seemed decidedly less amused however when I proceeded to subject the second fork to the same fate experienced by the first. I managed to hold onto the third fork long enough to polish off every last morsel of the fish and used an ideally flat sauce spoon designed by Jean-Baptiste Troisgros, the founder of the restaurant, to consume every bit of the sauce. Over the years, I have occasionally reencountered salmon with sorrel in other restaurants and wondered if it had been the newness of the experience that had made it so memorable because no subsequent version ever caused me to come close to losing my grip on the fork. But when Jean-Baptiste's grandson Claude opened his restaurant, CT, in New York, I finally had the opportunity to rediscover and understand the dish, not only as it had been but side-by-side with Claude's up-dated lighter and even more brightly flavored version. When asked how this wondrous balance of flavors had been conceived originally, Claude explained that the Troisgros family has a particular passion for acidity. This was fascinating to me because I realized that often I find something missing from an otherwise well-conceived recipe and that it is most probably the enlivening acid component. I brought Claude my cherished signed menu from Troisgros and we both laughed with disbelief when we saw the price of the six course degustation menu from 23 years ago: 65 francs (about $13). Claude said: "It's gone up a bit since then."

Saumon à l'Oseille CT

Serves: 4
Decor: 4 scallions 4 medium potatoes (preferably purple) boiled in lightly salted water with skins on, then peeled and sliced

Sauce: 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/2 cup water 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped 1 medium onion, quartered 2 cloves garlic bouquet garni (thyme, parsley, sage, tied together or wrapped in cheesecloth) 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) softened butter, preferably unsalted 2 teaspoons tomato paste 2 cups fresh sorrel, washed, stemmed, center veins removed, then torn into 1-inch pieces 2 salmon steaks, about 2 pounds, cut 1-1/2 inches thick, bones removed sliced in halves olive oil fresh coarsely ground black pepper salt.

Trim the roots and most of the green from the scallions. Use a sharp knife to make several long cuts to within a half inch from the green end. Drop the scallions into ice water until shortly before serving.

In a medium saucepan, combine the wine, water, carrot, onion, garlic, bouquet garni, celery and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Sieve, pressing well to release all the juices. Discard the solids and return the liquid to the saucepan. There should be about one-half cup.

Over very low heat, gradually whisk in the softened butter until incorporated. Season to taste, remove from the heat and keep warm.

Salt and pepper the salmon. Brush a little olive oil on skin sides. On medium heat, preferably using a Teflon pan, cook 5 to 6 minutes per side for rare, 6 to 8 minutes for medium. (Claude & I both prefer slightly translucent rare in the center to opaque as the texture of the salmon is more moist.)

Place each piece of salmon on a plate. With the tip of a knife, make a small hole in the center of the skin side to insert the scallion. The curled white section will have the appearance of streamers. Arrange the potato slices alongside the salmon and spoon the sauce over the potatoes and around the plate.

A Lesson in Pasteles with Maria


Maria Bonawits visited our booth at the Monroe Farmers' Market in Stroudsburg, PA two summers ago as part of our book tour "The Baking Bible." She brought several of my books for me to sign and also to get the newest one. I was enchanted by her exceptionally vibrant and charming essence. Since that day, we have become dear friends. When we did a demonstration and book-signing event at the Buck Hill resort last month, Maria and friends came to see us. Over dinner, we made plans to stop by her house the next morning to see her and her husband, Malcolm. Maria is originally from Puerto Rico so when the subject of pasteles, one of my favorite Puerto Rican specialties came up she offered to teach us how to make it. Maria told us that it normally takes her three days to make but that with three of us working we should be able to accomplish the task in one day. We picked a day for Maria to come to my home and kitchen and she offered to make the pork shoulder filling ahead to speed up the process. This dish is traditionally a seasoned pork shoulder, cubed and mixed with ham, garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, peppers cilantro, olives, capers, and raisins which are encased in a dough made of taro root, green bananas (and plantain, and in her version also potato and pumpkin), which is then wrapped in banana leaves and finally in parchment paper which is tied with string as individual servings. The packets are then placed in a pot of boiling water to cook for 45 minutes. It could be considered as a relative of the tamale--a meat filling encased in a masa harina dough, wrapped in a corn husk, and steamed. This version of pasteles is an old family recipe which Maria had been preparing since childhood, when she and her sister helped her aunt make dozens upon dozens of them, using a hand grater instead of a food processor. After Maria arrived and was given a quick tour of the kitchen, she set up two stations for making, assembling, and cooking the pasteles. Maria explained to Woody what to purchase for banana leaves which are readily available under the Goya brand at his local Shoprite. Woody was given the task of boiling, drying, and cutting the banana leaves into individual servings. Maria and I took the task of preparing the dough. With vegetable peelers, knives, food processor, and many stories to share, we made the paste like dough. Maria did a couple of tests on the dough, frying up small spoonfuls in oil before she was convinced it had the balance of flavors she remembered. At first Maria thought the banana was too predominant but when more meat juices were added it turned out to be perfect. She explained that the dough has to be extremely soft because it firms up on boiling.


After a speedy cranberry scone lunch on the porch, it was back downstairs for the assembling phase. The three of us each assembled individual pasteles, perfecting our newly learned technique. A 13 by 9 inch sheet parchment with a rectangular piece of banana leaf was then smeared with an oval of the dough and topped with a heaping spoonful of the filling. The banana leaf and parchment are then folded over lengthwise and then each end folded over to form an encased packet. Two pasteles are then tied together with string. (We took a short break to see a Daisy Martinez video to see how she tied the string.) We next enjoyed a short needed break for the three of us with Elliott to take a tour of the Hope area, as Maria had never been to this part of New Jersey. The final task was boiling enough pasteles to have for dinner. Maria also brought ingredients for a salad of leaf lettuce with slices of avocado, Vidalia onion, and fresh local tomato. On the porch the four of toasted with margaritas for our enjoyable bonding day of making pasteles. The folded open banana leaf served as a surface for the pasteles and salad. The banana leaf lent an intriguing flavor to the filling. Maria commented that for many, pasteles is an acquired taste. Any of her doubts disappeared as Woody and I were splitting a third one. She explained to us that this is a traditional Christmas entree which, due to its lengthy preparation, assembling, and cooking, is frequently made as a family participation event. Since they freeze well for months, we made 24 to enjoy in the future while many families make dozens and share them amongst the many participants. Hopefully, more future "family participation events" will be in the kitchen for us with my dear friend Maria.