Tag Archives: recipe

Jammin’ Collard Greens and Leeks

Wheat free * Dairy free * Gluten free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo~~~

CIMG2748  CIMG2739

I never really ate collards until I started working on a cookbook for Sylvia Woods (of Sylvia’s Restaurant fame in Harlem).  She needed a recipe tester for her book “Woods Family Cookbook” (which is really a great book) so I sat with her at her corner table and when she asked about my experience with soul food I confessed I had none.  BUT, I assured her, I was a quick study and once I’ve tasted something I can cook it – and more importantly, create a recipe for it.  So began a great romance – actually two romances…my love of Sylvia, her husband Herbert and their family and my love of soul food.  In her 20’s, Sylvia came up to New York from Hemingway, South Carolina and worked as a waitress in a small diner in Harlem.  Eventually she bought the dinner and started to grow the business to the world famous restaurant and catering business it currently is.

The recipe development process started with me tasting all the dishes Sylvia served at the restaurant – and culminated with one of the greatest weekends of memory.  The theme of the book is recipes from not just Sylvia but also from all her friends and family.  I would test a few in my kitchen and then every Tuesday I would go up to the restaurant and Sylvia would taste them and let me know if they tasted “right” or needed more work.  After about a month, we (Sylvia and her family, the publisher, the public relations person, and I) boarded a plane for South Carolina and we were off for the weekend.  The high point of the weekend was the Sunday lunch at the church where everyone who had submitted a recipe cooked it and brought it with them.  I got to get a real feel for what these recipes were supposed to be and who the people were behind the recipes.  It was  a truly remarkable and memorable experience.  I came back to New York feeling like a real member of the family – and what a wonderful family it is.

We lost Herbert in 2001 and Sylvia in 2012…but just so you get a sense of who they were…in addition to being wonderful people and exceptional hosts, greeting guests making sure everyone was enjoying themselves; every year on the anniversary of the restaurant, Sylvia’s set up a free buffet right outside the restaurant for anyone in the neighborhood who wanted to eat.

Sylvia prepared her collards with smoked turkey wings for seasoning.  I developed this vegetarian recipe which, although different from Sylvia’s is just as good in it’s own way.
Continue reading Jammin’ Collard Greens and Leeks

Ratatouille

Wheat-free * Dairy-free * Gluten-free * Vegetarian * Vegan * Parve * Paleo *

CIMG9295  CIMG9387

I was going to devote this post to explaining my absence of posting last week – but – it’s TOMATO SEASON and I just made the most fabulous Ratatouille I ever made or tasted.  What made it so special were the amazing, home grown, organic tomatoes my friend Irwin grew in his garden in The Hamptons.  This recipe couldn’t wait until next week or the week after because now is when you can get fabulous local tomatoes too.

I have been making Ratatouille since I graduated from college and got my first apartment.  To give you a sense of how long ago that was, let me say that my very large studio apartment with separate kitchen in Greenwich Village rented for $140/month.  My favorite story about that apartment was when my father’s uncle, Walter, who was close to 80 at the time, was visiting from Argentina he entered my apartment and announce that now he had been here twice.  I assured him that it was only his first visit – but he retorted – “yes, my first and my last!” (did I mention it was a 5th story walk-up?)

But back to Ratatouille.  I usually put a little vermouth or wine in my recipe and, if necessary, some sugar and even tomato paste (that’s when the tomatoes are not perfection), but just to give you a hint about what I’ve been so busy doing – I’ve been on the Whole30 – a very strict paleo routine.  This plan eliminates every speck of sugar and alcohol so when I sat down to write this version (there are others in one or two of the books I’ve written) I was worried the end result wouldn’t be as good as my usual recipes.  Imagine how delighted I was when the recipe came out sheer bliss – even better was using it as a nest for my poached eggs for breakfast.

This recipe is written a little less exactly than I usually like because, once again, all the cooking times and ingredients will vary depending on how ripe and sweet your tomatoes are.  Just use the photos as a guide to see what the mixture should look like at the various cooking stages.
Continue reading Ratatouille