Category Archives: Ask Chef Phyllis

Thought You Didn’t Like Lentils? Try Savory Chicken and Lentils

How about a recipe for savory chicken and lentils in a mouthwatering wine-mushroom sauce? Did I get your attention? I’m the first to admit that a plate of lentils didn’t used to thrill me. Post-WWII, my mother made rather plain lentil soup/porridge at least once a week. Though my taste buds have since become much […]

Adobo Pork: The Latin American Favorite

Before I begin this story, I should tell you that I wrote a previous blog post about a Cuban Pork recipe that I discovered during a trip to Puerto Rico many years ago. It was February, and New York City in winter is a dreary affair. So my husband and I, being young and adventurous, […]

Pollo alla Marengo: Napoleon and the Real Story of Chicken Marengo

Ask Chef Phyllis So many stories are told of the dish prepared for Napoleon in celebration of his victory against the Austrians at the Battle at Marengo in June 1800. Legend or food history? Here’s the real lowdown! Though the French were victorious in the battle, as luck would have it, their food carts had […]

Fresh Mozzarella and Its Many Uses

Ask Chef Phyllis I know from your book, Udderly Cultured, that caprese salad and pizza are your first choices for fresh mozzarella. Can I put the fresh cheese I make in a casserole? Are there other uses for fresh mozzarella, which melts so well? Summer is coming, and life should be easier. To me, that […]

Stuffed Cabbage: Slow Cooker Comfort Food

Ask Chef Phyllis I haven’t made stuffed cabbage in a long time, even though my family has been asking for it lately. It takes more than 2½ hours in the oven, plus maybe another hour preparing the cabbage leaves. Besides that, I only remember making it with canned tomato soup, which gave it an almost […]

The Lowdown on Truffles: How to Make Mock Truffles

Ask Chef Phyllis: I recently watched celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck stop by Late Night with Stephen Colbert. He  presented a very expensive gift to the host—a tiny truffle that was worth $300! Colbert smelled it and took a bite, but he didn’t seem to enjoy the taste (although he did like the aroma). Even for […]

A Mother’s Day Pancake Anyone Can Make

Ask Chef Phyllis: I need something special that kids (ages eight, ten, and twelve) can help prepare on Mother’s Day for our mom. She loves pancakes, but I don’t think I can manage frying all those pancakes without help. Is there a big pancake that’s easy and special too? Any suggestions? —Mariead Q. from Cambridge, […]

The Ultimate Waldorf Chicken Salad: A Great Memory

A lady friend came to my house for lunch last week. I was serving my version of Waldorf Chicken Salad (a recipe inspired by the nearly forgotten and long-closed Schrafft’s restaurants in New York City). When she spotted what I was serving, Julie commented that my chicken salad was the best and asked me to […]

For the Busy Family: Slow Cooker Chicken in Milk (Actually, I Use Cream!)

Ask Chef Phyllis: I’m not in the habit of using just chicken breasts or parts and need to find a good recipe for whole chicken. I know how to cut it up, if need be. I’ve heard of a chicken in milk recipe from a neighbor and had something like it in Spain, but the […]

Portuguese Sweet Bread for Easter

Ask Chef Phyllis:  Back in the day, before the supermarket took over every mom-and-pop shop, our town, Assonet (just a few miles from Fall River) had a real bake shop. They sold filozes on Sunday morning and cookies at Christmastime, but what I remember most of all was the Portuguese sweet bread I could get […]

Quick Weeknight Dinners: Pork Tenderloins

I’ve been trying to make dinners that are quick and tasty. With two teenage boys always having to go somewhere in a hurry after school or after dinner, I need nutritious, quick meals. (By the way, these guys are always famished, and they love Mexican food.) In the past I’ve made chicken cutlets, chicken tenders, […]

Breads of the World: Limpa Bread for Lovers of Dark Rye and Pumpernickel

Ask Chef Phyllis: What do you know about Swedish breads? Limpa, pumpernickel, and other really dark ryes are my favorites. But they are, in my opinion, the most difficult breads to make. My mom, who left Stockholm when she was only eight, said dark rye bread has to have orange peel and lots of rye […]

No-Salt Bread (Pane Toscano)

Bread of Tuscany, Umbria, and Marche, Regions of Proud Traditions Ask Chef Phyllis: Is it possible to find a good tasting, really crusty bread like the Pane Toscano that we had in Italy? I understand the reason for a no-salt bread in the past was about money. Flour and water are cheap, but salt was […]

Baccala (Salt Cod Stew)

Ask Chef Phyllis: I loved my mother’s baccala and have tried to make it myself. She was from the Piedmont region of Italy. I used a recipe that called for capers, but I didn’t like them in this dish. Maybe I used too many. After soaking the salt cod in water for three days, as […]

Magical Sauerkraut

Ask Chef Phyllis: Have you heard about the big fermented food craze? What should I know about gut health? My sister Aggie told me that yogurt is good for us (and a good substitute for our favorite double chocolate fudge ice cream) because of its live cultures. But we’ve still never tried kimchi, kefir, or […]

Mardi Gras Feast in a Jiffy: Cajun Shrimp & Chicken Chowder

Ask Chef Phyllis: Lent is early this year, and since my family has Cajun roots, we do celebrate Mardi Gras. After, we will fast forty days or at least give up some favorite food during Lent. We usually make a kind of gumbo (Cajun Shrimp Chowder or Cajun Gumbo) that is unique to our area […]

Coq Au Vin: Easier Chicken Braised in Red Wine

Ask Chef Phyllis: I don’t doubt that people write to you about what festive meals to serve during the holidays, but my question is what to serve in between and after those costly feasts? That’s when I’m so burned out. Do you have any suggestions for crock pot meals, top–of–the–stove meals, or even simple, quick chicken meals that are cooked in the oven? […]

Breads of the World: English Muffin Bread

Ask Chef Phyllis  Everyone knows that English muffins came to America with Samuel Thomas. Everyone knows they’re a pain to make….kneading, rolling, cutting, and griddling. So I decided to make English muffin bread. That sounded like a solution. I tried six different recipes, some old, some new. Easy by definition, yet not so easy as the ones I tried didn’t produce the […]

A Lost Holiday Bread from the Old World

Ask Chef Phyllis: Pain d’Epices from France Have you ever heard of pain d’epices? French for “spice bread,” it’s literally a kind of spiced sweet bread (with cinnamon, ginger, and anise seed), but Europeans think of it as a cake. Compared to the old familiar fruit cake, this version, although sweet, is far less complicated […]