Thursday, December 28, 2006

Good FAT vs BAD fat!

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly!

A Primer on Healthy Fats

What is so GOOD about Fat?

I am just a chef --- and as a chef I am in constant contact with food. The food that I am in contact with has been changing at an alarming rate over the last decade. Finding food that is not made with genetically modified ingredients, that hasn't been injected with chemicals and hasn't been sprayed with stabilizers is getting quite challenging. My mission is to convince you that there are definite health benefits to seeking out and eating what I like to call Clean Food. Clean Food means food that has been grown, harvested and prepared in a traditional manner. Real Food is Good.

As we venture forth into the jungle of health information, there is one reoccurring truth that continues to surface through the marketing muck. The truth is that the traditional diets of regional peoples are the healthiest diets of all. Are they low fat, low calorie, high carbohydrate diets like the one the FDA recommends for us? Not exactly. The healthy, ancestral diets of the world are based on fresh local ingredients in balance and harmony with the seasons. Clean fats combined with fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes is the optimum diet. Thinking about food in this way is the healthiest approach possible.

Many of my recipes contain a fair amount of fat, yet all of it is unprocessed, "good" fat. Most traditional diets contain considerably higher amounts of fat than our own FDA recommends. They also contain more calories. Our bodies need fat and a fair amount of it to operate properly. Fats carry the vitamins A, D, E and K. Fats are found in every single cell of the body. Why do you think they are called Essential Fatty Acids? The challenging task is learning the difference between good and bad fats and then learning where to get good, clean fats. We all know that extra virgin olive oil is a great fat. We know this because there is published evidence that the Mediterranean diet is a "heart healthy" one. Consuming a tablespoon of cold pressed olive oil daily not only increases your HDL or "good" cholesterol but it actually lowers your LDL or "bad" cholesterol.
What are we doing that is so BAD?

Until recently, many cultures traditionally used cold pressed oils. Grapeseed, peanut, corn, coconut, sesame and palm oil are prevalent in the diets of some of the world's most vibrant people. Unfortunately, technology and the global economy have brought higher yield processed oils to the far reaches of the earth. More and more, the statistics indicate that a rise in cardiovascular disease is directly related to the worldwide distribution of American processed foods and food processing technology. Are we a help or a hindrance?

Here are some stunning statistics. Americans have one of the highest rates of Type II diabetes per capita in the world and the numbers are rising yearly. Over 15.3 million Americans suffer from this disease which leads to heart disease in many cases. The evidence that our processed food culture is the culprit behind this unfortunate statistic is only now trickling into our media stream. Sadly, other countries which have embraced our fast food, processed fat culture are experiencing a similar rise in circulatory diseases. The rise of juvenile obesity in China directly correlates to the rise in sale of American soft drinks and fast food in that country. We Americans don't fare very well in the cardiovascular world over all.

Sure, through our technological advances we've learned to prolong life in those who are afflicted with heart and blood maladies. But maybe we are missing the point. Maybe we should be addressing the reason so many of us are becoming sick in the first place. Over 40% of the deaths in America are due to disease of the cardiovascular system. Countries which have maintained their traditional diets have a much lower ratio of heart and circulatory illness.

In Brazil, where traditional cuisine includes abundant meat dishes seasoned with raw palm oil, the percentage of deaths due to diseases of the cardiovascular system is only 28%.

In Peru, where the traditional diet of grass fed meats, native corn varieties, legumes, vegetables and chiles has remained the same for centuries, the percentage of deaths due to diseases of the cardiovascular system is 13.8%!

My conclusion is that our dilemma in America has nothing to do with eating fat or lean foods. It has to do with eating processed foods, especially processed and hydrogenated fats. It is the commercial processing of fats which creates bad fats.
What is a processed oil and why is it UGLY?

When commercial oil is processed for human consumption it is combined with caustic acids. The introduction of the caustic acids removes the beneficial free fatty acids. The oil is then filtered, degummed, bleached, deodorized, scented, stabilized and colored. Often, synthetic antioxidants are added to replace what was lost in the refining process. Lastly, a defoamer is added before it gets to market. The oil is often sold in clear containers even though sunlight and florescent light destroys most of the remaining advantageous fatty acids.

The process of hydrogenation is intended to create a solid fat with smooth, rich mouth-feel. The hazard lies in the process of shattering fat molecules into smaller parts which are much more easily absorbed into our intestines than are fat molecules in their natural state. Additionally, all of the essential fatty acids are destroyed in the processing, leaving an indigestible product.

A quick walk through a modern American supermarket will reveal to you that the staggering majority of the foods we are sold contain processed and hydrogenated fats. Just about any deep fried food is fried in processed oil, also. So, if the FDA means that we should consume less of those foods, I agree. But without essential real fats, we become out of balance and our vital organs and blood cells will begin to break down.

On the question of animal fat, I have arrived at a similar conclusion. There are distinct differences between good and bad animal fats. Animals raised on the pasture get adequate exercise. They are grass and green fed without processed feed, antibiotics and growth hormones. When this is the case, moderate intake of their fat is a healthy and beneficial addition to our diets. When the animals are raised in boxes and are fed processed fats themselves, such as genetically modified high yield corn and soybeans, they pass these unnatural, damaging fats right into your body when you eat them.

An animal raised naturally on a diet of organic vegetation and insects contains elusive and vital minerals and nutrients from the earth. Those wholesome nutrients become assimilated into their fat, flesh and eggs for we humans to consume. It is a REAL and healthy chain of events. This is what nature intended for us. Immune system invigorators like Selenium and CoQ-10 are found in abundance in grass fed meat and free range eggs. The same cannot be said for commercial grain fed meats and eggs.

The same is true for seafood. Farm raised seafood is also fed high yield grains to fatten it up more quickly. Hence, we consume more of the same when we eat farmed seafood. Wherein wild seafood subsists on a diet of mineral rich plankton (or smaller prey who have eaten it) and pass it to us via their fat and flesh. This is the real deal.
As you prepare the food you choose to cook, file the info I just gave you. Real food can't be wrong. We are not smarter than the infinite wisdom of our ecosystem. We can't improve it, either. We are a part of it. Buy the cleanest food you can. It is a small investment in yourself and your family

Sunday, October 29, 2006

I just blasted an email to update y'all!
I am bringing back the Wine and Food Pairing Dinners
at New World Home Cooking for 2006-2007!
They are now called
“The Chef’s Having Fun” Dinners
I cook and pair the wines
and you relax and enjoy
I am making it my business to have time to focus on the events that make me happy!


We have constructed a schedule for this winter which includes…

Savoring Apulia November 17th
Our 10th annual Champagne Dinner December 14th
Our First Hot Luck “Hell” night on January 12th
( where the course get hotter and hotter as the dinner goes on!)
A Cajun Wine Dinner and Lecture February 9th
(complete with a recipe book held the week BEFORE Mardi Gras weekend!)

And more to come…

Here is what is next!

Savoring Apulia
Poetic Food and Wine from the “Heel of the Boot” of Italy

Friday, November 17th
6:30 PM
A tasting menu complete with wines
$69 per person plus tax and tip

I made my first visit to Apulia in 2006, visiting my wife Liz’s family in historic Gravina.
We also stayed for a few days in a Trullo overlooking the Adriatic. That’s it above—Trullo Montezuzzo.
We cruised the hilly highways in our Opal convertible searching for wonderful food.
Though I can’t deliver all of the people and personalities
we encountered, I can bring you my interpretations of their food.
Like a perfect poem, Apulian cuisine is simple in preparation but complex in effect on the soul.
Its impact on me will last a lifetime.
We are importing as many ingredients as we can to truly
recollect the flavors as I experienced them.

Menu and Wines

Three courses of Antipasti
The Best Apulian Olive Oil, Semolina Bread, Cerignola Olives, Marinated Anchovies,
Grilled Eggplant, Lambascione, and the great Apulian cheese Burrata

Salume of Apulia - Bresaola, Spada, Mortadella, Salami et al

Insalata di Frutta di Mare
With squid, octopus, mussels and langoustine

Botromagno Gravina Bianco (Greco-Malavasia)
D’Alfonso dal Sordo Casteldrione ( Montepuciano, Sangiovese and Uva de Troia)

Three Traditional Tastings
Orecchiette with Broccoli Rapini
Favas and Chickory
Stuffed Cuttlefish
> Wines
Bombino Bianco “Catapanus”
Amano Primitivo

Three Modern Tastings
Apulian Lamb with Olives
Rabbit Agrodolce
Fennel Gratinata
> Wine
Tormoresca Boca di Lupo (Cabernet and Aglianico)

Cheese Course
Fresh Figs, Caciocavallo and Vin Cotto
>Wine – Noci (Walnut Liqueur)

Sighs – Olive oil pasty puffs filled with espresso custard
Ric’s Home Made Limoncello

Reserve Today

To find some great Apulian ingredients visit

New World Home Cooking Company
1411 Route 212
Saugerties, NY 12477

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Let's talk about the availability of Organic, Sustainable and Free Range food.
So I Insist that Sustainable food is the way to go.
But can you get it?

So, Organic vegetables are now available all of the year. In the winter lettuces come from Southern California, Arizona and now Mexico. Root vegetables and some stalk vegetables are also in the market year round. However, committing to sustainable produce also means committing to common sense. We have caused the corporate agri-culture to produce less than desirable food due to our unreasonable expectation of finding everything under the sun all year round, especially organic. As I said before, businesses will do what they can to respond to our demands. If we want red tomatoes in February, someone will figure out a way to make them happen, even if it means genetically engineering them to grow in ice cubes! Or in the case of organic, flying in foods from New Zealand, Israel and Chile in the winter to feed our appetite for the ingredients we "need".
What do we really need? Does it all have to be perfect? Remember that food is alive and responsive to its environment. Anyone who has ever had a vegetable garden knows that real produce has variations in size and color. When all of the tomatoes on a shelf look exactly the same, don't you get a little suspicious? Are these the Stepford tomatoes?--and is that what you really want rushing through your bloodstream en route to your heart and brain?

To help keep our produce marketplace clean and sane, try to think seasonally when buying stuff. Baby greens, root vegetables, apples, allium and cabbages all are reasonable products that either grow quickly or cellar well. Insisting on white asparagus, yellow tomatoes or fresh peas in winter will just bring us more of the same chemically assisted suicide we have commissioned all along. Shop for produce in your local co-op or health food store. And don't be afraid of canned stuff. Real nice canned tomatoes are full of nutrients and that is the way that most peasants get their tomatoes in the off season.
Good canned tomatoes are excellent!

Did you know this...Frozen greens are often more nutritious than the fresh ones that you may find in the supermarket! Most frozen spinach and kale is picked, blanched and frozen within 24-48 hours of harvest. This locks in many of the water-soluble vitamins. If you don’t live close to the farms, most greens are up to 10 days old by the time you buy them. The nutrients are pretty much shot by then. Surprise!!!!

What about the price of organics?
Organic produce is more expensive than commercial produce. In most cases it is about double the price. But does that mean that it is expensive? I suppose that it is a relative question. We do have the cheapest food in the world. That is one of the great yet strange American truths. Our insistence on cheap food has created this monster of genetically engineered, chemically fed foodstuff. Let's try doing some math. A regular head of romaine is .89 in Walmart, an organic head is $1.59 in the health food store and a MacDonalds hamburger is .89 .Two people can have a beautiful organic romaine salad for the same price as they can each have a Macdonald's hamburger.
Notice the value? These absurd comparisons are fun. Is an organic loaf of bread half the price of a pack of cigarettes? Is an organic apple cheaper than Blue Gatorade? Are you having fun yet? I have costed out dinner for four made with an organic roast chicken, organic brown rice, organic carrots and an organic salad to be about $4.75 per person. That is the same as a Banquet frozen turkey dinner. Duh! The price of organic food is really a matter of perspective. If you are cooking at home with fresh stuff for your family, using organics is about the same as buying frozen prepared dinners or eating out in a chemical rich "Budget" restaurant.
Be wise, be your grandparents! Use the stuff that is on hand and don't encourage the chemical farmers!
Eat seasonably!

Marry the Ketchups!
Ric the chef
My Views on the Sustainable-Organic-Local Food Issue from a restauranteur's perspective.

Ah, Marketing, Marketing...everybody wants to be on the right side of the consumer's conscience these days. So, how does it feel to be a consumer? Do you feel---Confused? Guilty? Perplexed? Bombarded? Folks, let me tell you that as a chef the simple notion of buying clean food is frighteningly complex! The complexity has increased tenfold over the last five years. Sourcing real food---unprocessed, that is---is a full time effort.
We chefs are approached by waves of salespeople---some innocent though ignorant and some bordering on diabolical---with hundreds of "Money Saving" or "Value Added" items. When the name of the game is survival, many restaurant operators are blinded by the initial price of the food they purchase. The industry press has us all in a state of fear, and for the uninformed operator, the panacea is CHEAP FOOD!
The idea that cheaper is better has divided the industry. Fine restaurants are offering a greater selection of locally grown, free range and organic items because they have an informed and well heeled customer base that appreciates their effort and will not cringe when buying a conscientiously created menu item. On the other hand, those who are not informed, either through naivete or willful ignorance, have ventured much further from fresh and clean food than ever before. Dangerous chemicals and genetically modified ingredients are in EVERYTHING! The shiny produce items we all see on the shelves at the supermarket are coated after harvest with preservatives and pesticides. I know this because, though this is not listed on the actual apple that is displayed in such a fine still life pose under nutrient sapping florescent lights in the store, it is stated in small print on the packing case it was shipped in. Unless you are an investigator, you are sold and are reselling poison.
I wish that every person who is not in the food service industry could attend just one corporate "Food" show. There are many types of product expos---fine foods, fancy foods, health foods, etc. But the Industry "Food Shows" run by Sysco, Kraft, US Foodservice etc are at once fascinating and ghastly. Imagine a conference center filled with rows of tables sporting plastic tablecloths and disposable serviceware laid out for you to taste the latest in portion control wedding fare? How about the "Grab and Go" line--pastries that stay "Soft for a week!" Folks, of the thousands of items on display, my guess is that fewer than 10% of them are products that you would pick up if you saw them in a supermarket. The saddest picture, though, is the army of fervid sales reps vying for your attention to sell you their latest concoction. As you walk by any given table you're bound to see a tired looking guy in a polyester suit holding out a plastic fork with a sample of something scary like a new heat and serve Cajun Sausage popover while he looks past you into the freckled cleavage of the Uneeda Bicuit lady across the aisle!
My feeling is that the dumbing down of America has made it into the food chain. Food service buyers are being sold on the concept that the consumer is clueless. Operators who have been groomed (and intimidated) into thinking only of immediate cash savings serve these unseemly victuals to contain costs so they can stay in business.To assuage their fear of demise, they have resorted to the lowest of the low. And believe me it is low.
Ah, but there is a catch---and it is a catch that doesn't affect the corporate factory food producers who are designing this arsenal of unhealthy slop. The catch is that when a restaurant or diner degrades the product that they sell, they also degrade the quality of patron that their establishment draws in. And the lower they go, the lower the expectations become---including an expectation of unrealistically low prices. And then--poof---the little guy who bought the cheap processed food to save a few bucks is out of business because he could not survive selling at the low prices his customers have come to expect. So now the corporate food producer's sister company---the cheap food chain shop--moves in and thrives. Because of their deep pockets, they have the ability to market and purchase on a grossly larger level. They also have the financing to sustain lower profits for a longer period of time. Bye, bye Mama Mia's. Hello Olive Garden!
So there you have it---the food you might eat is all in the hands of a few publicly held corporate giants who must show quarterly growth or their portfolios will shrink and their CEOs will lose their heads. WOW--and I thought I was just going out for lunch! Look at this simple chain of events --the chemical makers sell products to the food producers who use them to create cheap but diminished ingredients. These products are sold to the food wholesalers who turn it over to the food retailers. You buy and eat this food which is not wholesome or nutritious and ultimately over the years you develop diabetes or worse from all of the processed food in your diet. Your doctor prescribes you a few medications that you have to take for the rest of your life----Have you looked at your stock portfolio lately?

Chemicals, Processed Food, Fast Food Chains, Drug Companies--- all working in harmony.
Well---it doesn't have to be so bleak. My hope is to get everyday people to think about this. Let's talk to the kids and the moms and pops of the world. Many of us chefs are preaching to the converted at these wonderful conferences and retreats. That is good for networking and brainstorming but we need to address this on a more populist level. This is MY MISSION. I believe that we as humans want clean food and we want to be healthy. And I believe that if I can convince people that cooking in itself is not a chore or a skill left to the star chefs, even those with little means could begin to enjoy a healthier lifestyle.

The following are my basic rules for survival
1. As often as you can, buy sustainable, free range, local or organic, or what I like to refer to as CLEAN FOOD. Make one of the most important statements in your life--- and keep yourself and your family healthy by buying CLEAN food. The more we use our consumer dollars to buy clean food, the louder the message is to big business: WE WANT CLEAN FOOD.
Remember that businesses respond to our demands. In the 1950's and 60's when we decided that we wanted year round access and simplicity in the kitchen, the huge commercial food producers responded by forcing production, limiting the variety available in the market place and lowering the standard of flavor in our food.
2. Our food supply has become so driven by chemicals that it isn't even as nutritious as it once was. Greens raised in depleted soil don't bring anything to the table. It is the minerals from well composted soils that make greens a desirable form of food. Though there is conflicting information in the lobbyist-polluted American information system,
The Organic Retailers and Growers Association of Australia have recently completed an extensive study comparing organically raised vegetables from well composted soils to commercially grown "supermarket" tomatoes. Their study concluded that the organic tomatoes were "20% higher in vitamin C, higher in beta carotene, ten times higher in potassium, seven times higher in calcium and six times higher in zinc. Higher levels of vitamins and minerals were also found in beans, silver beet and capsicum." It is reasonable to believe that naturally composted soil and rotated crops will provide better nutrients than dirt pumped with Round-Up and steroids.
As they say in Woodstock, You don't have to be an Einstein to figure that one out! Organic farming brings healthy food back to the table. In order to grow organic, composting and crop rotation are essential. When the soil is made healthy, the plants are actually stronger themselves and are more resistant to pests and diseases. On the other hand, the more artificial the growing procedure, the more the producers rely on pesticides and chemical growth stimulants to keep bringing food to market.
Remember that the word pesticide includes sprays for weeds, insects and other vermin. Many of these are WWII-era neurotoxins and are notoriously destructive and carcinogenic, regardless of what the bought FDA has to say.
Check back for a quickie on availability and price issues.

Don't disturb the rice,
Ric the chef

Thursday, September 28, 2006

If you read in the last week's post that I was planning on making Roasted Garlic Bread pudding for my Sunday garlic festival demo this year, I changed my mind. I did the same dish in 1996 so I thought it would be cool to bring it back.
Picture this...
It is the peak of catering season, Rosh Hashanah and the NY Garlic Festival weekend.
On Saturday I was in the New World kitchen at 5 am to pack out the garlic festival vending stuff by 8 am---700 lbs of string beans for blackening, 14 gallons of Creole remoulade sauce and 20 chafing dish pans of roasted garlic mashed potatoes! I was down two cooks; one was celebrating his "Birthday Weekend" and the other was a newly hired Culinary grad who just had a bad attitude. We were catering a wedding for 100 in Boiceville and another party for 100 in Stone Ridge. The Cafe had done 250 covers on Friday and was set to do 300 on Saturday, shorthanded, which meant I was going to be cooking on the line.

Back at New World we were slammed all day and I worked until 10 pm, 17 hours, or until the food began to look like something else to me.

I slept for a few hours and got to New World about 7 am Sunday morning to get more mashers for the garlic festival ready and to organize my demo. I decided against the roasted garlic bread pudding demo for two reasons. One was because I didn't have a chance to prep it up on Saturday and secondly because I needed to have about 100 tasting portions ready by 11 am ( demo was at noon) on Sunday and we were so busy Saturday that we didn't have any leftover bread. The busboys had cleaned out the freezers of all bread because it was so busy! There was nothing for me to prep anyway.

I patrolled the coolers to get inspiration. We had three bags of fresh mussels on ice, untapped. I decided to do a neat demo, Mussels three ways---Thai, Mexican and Belgian, and all using beer and garlic. The body may wilt but the brain never rests!
I arrived at the garlic festival at 10:00 am and gave my new crew, Lee, Jill, Ed and the wonder boy--14 year old Jasper--- a quick lesson on how to blacken string beans for the masses.
Two pots of boiling water, a 14" cast iron skillet-- white hot, soybean oil and New World CAGE seasoning. Blanch the beans, toss with oil, toss with CAGE and dance them in the white hot pan making a bilow of white smoke. Dump the pan into the chafing dish and blanch more beans. As soon as the pan has recovered its heat, blacken again, more smoke, more beans, more money!
Around 11:30 Joey Beesmer, Woodstock soul singer and guitarist extraordinaire whisked me to the demo tent on a rickety golf gart. I am guessing we had about 600 pounds of manhood on that cart as Joey is bigger than me. Add my loaded cooler of demo stuff we I know we pushed that cart to the limit!

In the Demo Tent behind the second base I set up all of my mise en place on these corny but cute harvesty tables decorated with Indian corn, baskets of herbs and small glazed gourds. The usual suspects!
I displayed a 10 pound bag of PEI mussels, olive oil, butter, cold pressed peanut oil, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, chiles, clam juice, cream, mustard, a mess of herbs and three beers---one Rolling Rock ( to emulate rice brewed Thai beer), one Duval and and a Corona. I had two portable butane stoves and three woks, ready to go. I took three of the black plastic catering bowls (disposable) from New World to to dump the hot, fresh and aromatic mussels into, one batch at a time. I planned to fill a a bowl and move on to the next recipe.

Picture this...
I was just finishing up a beautiful my first mussel dish Thai style, prepared with lemongrass, Thai chiles, garlic, shallots, basil--it smelled magnificent! I picked up the steamy, shiny wok with two hands and with plenty of chef-like theatrics, poured the hot mussels into the first plastic bowl. I was cool. But as I turned back to the other wok the audience began to make sounds ranging from giggles to gasps. The hot mussels had melted the bowl. No, it wasn't just a small warp around the edge. The entire bowl slowly widened and sank until it was essentially a big deflated ballon. Within 15 seconds there were mussels and broth and herbs and garlic all over the fastidious, harvest themed table. The Demo Tent volunteers were scrambling to clean it all up. Bounty to the rescue.
That was is good theater. I urged the vidoegrapher to capture it on tape! It was so funny that I may even do it again on purpose at my next event, this time staged of course, but I will have real glass bowls hidden and extra mussels for actual use.
Never waste the opportunity to make memories!
Visit to get my three mussel recipes from the 2006 Garlic Fest.

Make sure to ice the seafood before you leave,
Ric the Chef
For all of you New World wine dinner/slow food dinner/theme party night lovers---
We are at work on our fall and winter schedule.
Stay posted or visit for the schedule.
Get ready to ROCK!

Don't forget to discreetly sniff the cork.
Ric the Chef

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

It is fall 2006 and I am in the depths of Chef Demo Mania!
I am being pushed to the limit but it is what makes being a chef exciting.
There is nothing more rewarding than presenting food and concepts that I believe in to a live audience. I suppose it is comparable to a when a musician performs live in concert. It's not that I don't love being in the "Studio"--er--my restaurant kitchen. Demonstrating is just a different kind of rush. The interaction with the tasters is very challenging. I am literally face to face with critics and fans alike. I think it not only tightens my chops, but it drives me to connect more with my audience.

For the next week or so I am going to journal my live "performances" for fall of 2006—

Friday September 6th.
Hudson Valley Wine Fest Gala Fundraiser for the Cornell Cooperative.
Grieg Farm, Red Hook NY

New World donated a table of Ceviche to pair with Atwater Vineyard's Finger Lakes Riesling. My good bud Katie Marks makes the best Riesling in the Northeast, maybe the best in America. The ceviche was planned to show off the wine while still wowing the crowd.
File this---I love making ceviche! Not only is it one of the most refreshing and clean dishes in the world, but also the fish is so packed with vitamins AND vitality. When the flesh is not exposed to heat more of the Omega 3's are all intact.

Did you know that cooking fish diminishes the Omega 3 fatty acids available to you?

I feel great when I eat ceviche and since I want all of my guests to feel great, I make and eat ceviche quite often!
I make ceviche with all kinds of fish and shellfish, but my favorite is choice is Mahi Mahi. It is meaty but the oils are mild and it “cooks” quickly without over cooking. Once I was in Guatemala and I caught a Mahi Mahi while deep sea fishing for sailfish. We were 150 km out on the Pacific Ocean. There were three other fisherman, two mates and a captain. That Mahi made for a tasty lunch! I made Ceviche right there on the boat---I filleted the fish, chopped it up with a cheap filet knife, washed it with rum (who knew what the sanitation was like in a fishing boat!), squeezed a bunch of limes on it (the limes were for the beers) and tossed it with Pace brand salsa from a jar and local hot sauce. We ate it on Saltines. It was one of the best meals of my life!
At the wine fest, however, I made the ceviche with tilapia, on a tip from an El Salvadorian friend of mine who also cooks professionally. He suggested tilapia because of it’s mild, earthy flavor and also because it was one of the fish of choice for the people of his town. He was right on. The Tilapia was mild enough to cook quickly but it didn’t interfere with the rest of the complex flavors I used to complement the Riesling. I mixed in local mixed bell peppers, lime, orange, a fistful of cilantro, my own tarragon, roasted tomatillo, corn, organic tomatoes and Serrano chiles. I served it on fresh white corn tortillas. The wine on its own was fantastic, but when it was paired with the mild fish, corn, chile, cilantro and citrus flavors it soared.
I love when that happens!
Incidentally, I met a middle aged woman who told me she was Guatemalan. She was so please that I used tilapia for the ceviche and she also said it was the best food at the event. We are all prone to vote for our own.
If you have any ceviche recipes or sagas, let me know.

Cover and label everything,
Ric the Chef

Friday, September 22, 2006

Hi gang--
Here it is--finally...
the Ric the Chef Blog!
Since I am working on a new book, I figure I may as well get my ass in gear and get writing daily. Writing is a lot like exercise---when you finally get over the hump, you are then over the hump and the rest is routine. And though I hope to never be truly over the hump, I will keep barking to amuse myself, and you, I hope...

You'll find me ranting as usual---
I'll rant about food---
about the politics of food, the medical smokecreen, the FDA ( make your own anagram)
about dinners I've had elswhere,
about the quality of the so called food we are offered daily,
about the lies we are fed about food ( remember--all spinach is BAD, BAD, BAD!)
Do you remember the reoccuring punchline of Boston's comic loud mouth Kevin Meany--
What are you reTAHdit???

Oh yeah---since I am a chef you'll also encouter new recipes, food ideas and concepts as well.

ever want to hear a chef's perspective on war, sports, media and whatever else needs seasoning?

Well gang, here it is. The only way to shut me up is to feed me something too tough to swallow---
Even GWB hasn't been able to accomplish that ---so rest assured, I keep keepin' on!

You can find me Sunday at the NY Garlic Festival in Saugerties, NY (
New World Home Cooking has a vending booth and we pump out our Blackened Stringbeans and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes like nobody's bizniss!

I'll be performing a cooking demonstration on Sunday at NOON sharp on Sunday.
Here is what I am making...

Roasted Garlic Bread Pudding
Created by Ric Orlando, New World Home Cooking
Published in:
"Recipes from America's Small Farms"
Joanne Lamb Hayes and Lori Stein
Copyright 2003 Used by permission from Villard Books

24 garlic cloves, unpeeled
Olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
8 cups 1-inch cubes fresh Italian or French bread
5 large eggs
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
2 tablespoons bourbon or brandy (optional)
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or a slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary, or a slightly rounded 1/4 teaspoon dried
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Snip off and discard the tip from each garlic clove; toss the cloves with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until softened. Let cool to the touch and gently peel.

Meanwhile, generously grease a 13- by 9-inch baking pan or dish with olive oil. Arrange the bread evenly in the pan.

Mash the garlic cloves with a fork in a large bowl. Add the eggs and beat until slightly fluffy. Beat in the milk, cream, cheese, bourbon, if using, thyme, rosemary, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, and serve hot.

The authors suggest this dish be served as a side dish as an alternative to potatoes, rice or pasta.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of garlic. This may be the most wonderful garlic dish I've ever had.

Don't let the amount of garlic scare you away. It's really quite mild. While the authors describe one method of roasting garlic, you may use any method that suits you. The internet is full of techniques for roasting garlic.

Who's burning the cream?
Ric the Chef 9/2006

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival Recipes for 2019

Sunday, September 29th I am back at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival in Saugerties cooking some garlic recipes. These two side dishes are ...