Cooking Drinking Eating Food Recipes Travel Wine

Heat Wave

Trying to acclimate to NYC, with its inexplicable absence of spring or fall seasons has been more painful than watching the Red Sox sweep of the Yankees.  Having recently returned from France where the flowers were blooming, the skies blue, the sunshine bright and the breezes blowing, this weather makes me want to defect.  Maybe New York is just not the place to be in the summer months any more.

There are some saving graces such as the Highline, food truck mania, the upcoming BBQ festival at Madison Park, reservations practically anywhere, but who wants to go out into a thicket of humid air mass?  My only solution is to treat this summer like a winter.  Hibernate.  I hit the 97th St. Farmer’s Market and bought everything in site.  In the comfort of A/C, I will make pesto, tomato sauce, pickle vegetables, hot sauce, and ice cream.  I will freeze all the fresh meat products for a balmy day and only come out of my cave when the temperature is below 85 degrees.  With food, wine and a/c, I will survive this harsh summer.  Cooking will take the heat off.  Being in the kitchen, where it is supposed to be hot is far more gratifying than the alternative – traveling via train anywhere.

Let’s start with a simple pesto recipe, one I used recently with some fresh spinach and cheese ravioli from Eataly.


2 cups basil, 1/2 cup evoo, 2 cloves garlic, 1/2 cup pignoli (pine nuts), 1/2 cup grated parm reggiano/pecorino romano

In a food processor, add all ingredients while slowly drizzling olive oil.

Store in a tight jar with a film of olive oil on top to preserve color and freshness.

Drinking Recipes The Chef


The holidays are upon us, and seeking out the right wines to serve with holiday meals become my primary focus, as well as some well deserved proper cocktails at some of my favorite city haunts.  Recently at Apotheke, located in Chinatown, whose cocktail list is designed by a Venezuelan consultant known for aggressive flavor profiles, I imbibed on a tomato basil libation, which sounds like a salad, but was understated.  Clean tomato, then a hint of fresh basil, surprising and effective.  I am no mixologist, save for a proper sidecar, so I need to make a holiday drink for me that is not too taxing and for the masses.

Enter eggnog, a milk and egg drink spiked with brandy or Madeira, one of the true gifts from our neighbors across the Atlantic.  Eggs and milk were very expensive during the 18th century, brandy too, so rum from the Caribbean became a natural, cost-effective substitute.  But New Americans soon switched to whiskey and bourbon, anchoring the eggnog of present day.

Good recipes travel fast, as our Mexican neighbors have a version called rompope. Originally made by the nuns of Puebla, vanilla flavoring is added and extra egg yolks, imparting a more yellowish color.  In East Harlem, at a cakery called Pasteles Capy, the Dorado family have a rompope flavored version that would sweeten any holiday table.

Heading to El Caribe, the center of rum production, variations of these eggnogs became traditional national beverages.  In Puerto Rico, the Borinquen version resides in the coquito, made with coconut and condensed milk, spiced by cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

In Haiti, the drink is called kremas, comprised of creamed coconut and often evaporated milk, which is less expensive than condensed or regular milk.  Aside from cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, anise is also added.  The following is my family recipe:

Kremas Recipe

2 egg yolks
2 cans evaporated milk
4 cans sweetened condensed milk
1 can cream of coconut
1 Vanilla Bean or 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 star anise
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp grated nutmeg
2 cups Haitian rum like Barbancourt

In a large sauce pot, add all ingredients. Whisk until well incorporated. Bring to a simmer and stir until mixture thickens. Cool down mixture for 15 minutes.  Add mixture to blender for thirty seconds.  Pour into large glass container with a lid and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Serve cold.

Drinking Recipes The Chef


As the holidays are upon us, I often feel like having a large glass of egg nog.  In the Caribbean, islands have different variations and recipes for this traditional drink.  In Haiti, we drink what is called cremace.  I have many relatives in Puerto Rico, and this is the recipe we use for coquito.

Coquito Marcelin


2 egg yolks, beaten

1 can evaporated milk

1 can cream of coconut

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup good rum

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp nutmeg


Quick Recipe

Blend all ingredients in a blender on high for 5 minutes.  Refrigerate.

Original Recipe

Using a double boiler, combine egg yolks and evaporated milk. Stirring constantly, cook over lightly simmering water until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Transfer mixture to a blender, and add cream of coconut, sweetened condensed milk, rum, water, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and vanilla. Blend on high for about 30 seconds. Store in refrigerator overnight.  Serve cold.

Happy Holidays!

Drinking Recipes The Chef


While looking for a respite from my beloved favorite late nite cocktail, the sidecar, I have been experimenting with other mixed drinks.  I like to make mojitos at home because I get to muddle and shake my drink.  Muddling takes some frustration out of the day, and shaking makes you feel invigorated, if not somewhat scientific. Recently I ran out of light rum and substituted tequila.  Finally I settled on some leftover vodka I had in the freezer and it worked like a charm.  My latest crave is an adaptation of a recipe by Fidel Vasquez, head bartender of Barrio Chino.  This drink will transport you to a cigar plantation in Cuba even if you’ve never been there.

Vodka Ginger Mojito

2 slices fresh ginger
¼ lime, halved
8 leaves fresh mint
1 ounce lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
2 ½ ounces smooth vodka
1 tbsp light brown sugar
Seltzer or club soda

In a heavy bottomed glass, muddle ginger and mint until aromas release.

Add limes and sugar. Muddle some more.

In a shaker, add three broken ice cubes, vodka,
seltzer, lemon juice, & simple syrup.

Add muddled mixture to shaker.

Shake vigorously for ten seconds.

Serve and enjoy!

Eating Recipes The Chef

Turkey Some More

The word leftover doesn’t inspire any great enthusiasm to me. It sounds like a castaway meal. The concept of leftovers has always been foreign to me and my family, as we usually begin the Thanksgiving meal at noon, invite as many guests as possible, and continue to eat throughout the day and night. Naturally, there are no leftovers. I imagine the rationale behind leftovers is that the food may possibly improve in flavor overnight like a duck ragu, choucoutre, or cassoulet. This theory doesn’t hold well for turkey, which tends to dry out over time.

If you subscribe to leftovers, then here’s a tip to ensure that the turkey stays as moist as it should. Set aside a portion for the next day right after you carve the turkey for serving. If you leave it on the bone for several hours during the repast, the meat will dry out more quickly. Then, place the meat in a plastic container and cover with gravy. If you don’t have enough gravy, mix some with fresh stock and drippings. The turkey slices will stay moist overnight, and reheating the next day will be short and sweet. Then you can make turkey sandwiches, turkey tacos, or even recreate a shorter version of the main event.

Use the carcass for a great turkey stock.  Just simmer for a long time (at least 12 hours).  Add your mirepoix and water and behold a cure for the winter blues.

For a quick fire marinade, I whisk three cups of chicken stock with a teaspoon of achiote, a tablespoon of olive oil, four ounces of tomato paste, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add a cup of white or red wine. That should do the trick. The rest is up to the bird.