Always check your airline
tickets and schedules, right? Can something go wrong? You bet! While
driving my wife to San Francisco airport for a trip to Florence, Italy
to pick up #4 daughter Gia, after eight months of college, we got quite
a surprise. Having given full responsibility to my Gia to make the
flight arrangements for mom's round trip and a one-way ticket for
herself, she reported mission accomplished. She said, "Dad, I got a
deal." That's my girl! My wife, however, was a bit uneasy. When I asked
whether anyone had double checked the itinerary, my wife said, "Gia said
no problem." To be safe, I decided to call Delta airline as were passing
through San Jose. "I'm confirming Cheryle Pisto's flight from San
Francisco to Florence, Italy." "Uh, no", said the Delta guy, "I show her
going to Florence, South Carolina." "How about Gia Pisto?"
"We've got her going one-way
from Florence, South Carolina to
San Francisco." Uh oh - major problem!
Well, to make a long story short, it all worked out (at four
times the price). Mother and daughter finally reunited - worth any
price. Worst thing about ending up in South Carolina would have been Cheryle having to check out barbecue places for me - not bad!
Q). My wife was very enthused after she watched your recent show
on asparagus. She was describing an omelet with asparagus in it and also
asparagus with a cream sauce. She also mentioned diced onions and other
diced vegetables. How can I get the recipes for that show?
David Timme, Via e-mail
A). Lately, I have been roasting almost everything. So I thought,
why not asparagus? Set the oven at 400 degrees. Trim the grass or peel
with a potato peeler. Toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper and
roast for ten or so minutes and drain well.
This works with either green or white asparagus. When cooking white
asparagus, you must peel them first. Then boil in salted water. These
guys take more time to cook than the green. In a small bowl, whisk
together some lemon juice and Dijon mustard with salt and pepper to
taste. Fold in some chopped hard-boiled egg and chopped parsley and
spoon it over the white asparagus. Another great accompaniment for
boiled or roasted asparagus is a home made garlic mayonnaise. Using a
food processor, start with two egg yolks, three peeled garlic cloves,
salt and pepper, juice of half a lemon, a dash of hot pepper and a
teaspoon of Dijon mustard and blend for 30 to 40 seconds. Finally start
adding one cup of olive oil in a steady stream (with the motor running
of course). For best results, make sure the egg yolks and oil are the
Dear Chef, As a Cajun from Louisiana who
feasted on gumbo as I was growing up, I found your article on how to
make an Italian gumbo interesting. It differs significantly from the way
we Cajuns, and the great Cajun chefs Paul Prudhomme and Justin Wilson
make it. What distinguishes gumbo, the Bantu word for okra, from
ordinary soup is the roux and the roux is the starting point for making
Cajun dishes. Justin Wilson cooks his until it is the color of the
Mississippi River at Baton Rouge. For gumbo,
the darker the roux the better. The vegetables are added directly to
the hot roux to cook them and to stop the roux from cooking further.
When the vegetables are done, stock or water is added followed by the
meats and/or fish and then simmered for hours.
P.S. Pastor is, of course, Spanish and my great grandfather came
from Spain and
married French belles. My mother's maiden name is Bordelon and they are natural gumbo
A). What you read in the paper my friend, was "Sicilian-style" gumbo.
First off, I could never understand why anyone would add vegetables to a
hot roux. Way too hard to manage (what do I know?). I wonder how involtini di pesce spada would come out prepared by a Cajun? It would
probably be good, but different - get my point?
Dear Chef, Last week, Susan had a
question regarding whether your wife cooks for you. I wanted everyone to
know that Cher is a great cook, but John's kitchen is his domain. John
does have friends who dare to cook for him, including me. John never
intimidates you, he may make a suggestion, but only in a positive way.
He's always very kind and complimentary even when my flan flopped. So
Susan if you enjoy cooking, cook away!
A). Speaking of cooking for chefs, now that you mention it, did I
ever tell you the story about being invited to someone's home for
dinner and being served microwaved rice (no problem) and microwaved
chicken breast (white
like a ghost) but only cooked 3/4
done? To be honest, I have had a lot of very nice dinners at
folks' houses over the years. Stand outs include steaks at Tony
Riccardi's (or any dinner by Barbara Riccardi); Bobby & Stalee V.;
Millie & Nino; my kids (even Gia); my wife, of course; my sisters
Josephine & Betty; my brother in law Jean; Mary Ellen Thomas; Terice
Clark; the Stemlers; Miles Williams; Sandra & Neal; Wendy Rodrigues and
the owners of the original Mont Grove, Claudia and Robert Roux. I
apologize if I forgot anyone. Like I said, a salad, a simple steak,
barbequed chicken or osso buco some basic dessert and you've got it.
Q). We continue to be confused by the
term "prime" when used with
beef. We see many restaurants
serving "prime cut steaks" or prime rib. You have been
using the phrase "USDA Prime exclusively." What is the
Carol and Fred B.
A). This term prime is being used liberally these days, so it
tends to lose meaning just like "reserve" with wines. When you see the
word prime on a restaurant menu, you should enquire as to whether they
are referring to the USDA Prime grade, or just using it as an adjective.
The supply of true USDA Prime graded beef is extremely tight (often as
low as 1% of all beef graded in the U.S.) and it is expensive. Make sure
you're getting what you are paying for.