Category Archives: Ask Chef Phyllis

Cuban Oxtail Stew for New Year’s Eve

Ask Chef Phyllis: If my grandmother didn’t make Cuban pork for New Year’s Day, she probably made oxtail stew. Both leave plenty for leftovers and are festive enough for any holiday. My experience is too lacking for me to recall what was in this stew except for red wine and tomatoes. But my grandmother’s stew […]

Date and Nut Bread (Baked in a Can): Great for Christmas Presents

Ask Chef Phyllis: My daughter came over the other day and said, “Remember when you could buy a good date-nut bread in the supermarket?” I thought yes, I do. And then, without blinking an eye, we went and looked for a recipe card that my mom gave me when I first got married, and it […]

A Roast for All Seasons

My grandmother’s name was Ruth, but she was known as “Bubbie” for as long as I can remember. My father tells me that at Hanukkah she would make an extremely tender beef roast with prunes or dried fruit in the sauce. He smiles when he tells me that the roast was brought to the baker’s […]

A Glossary of Grains That’s Easy to Understand and Use

Easter Pie

All my life, every Easter my family—guided by three generations of matriarchs—would make a traditional specialty called Easter Wheat Pie (pastiera di Grano). One of the main ingredients is grano, Italian for wheat berries. You might have seen wheat berries in the bulk section at the health food store, but unless you grind or mill […]

What Is Cow’s Milk Paneer Cheese, and Can I Make It at Home?

Mattar Paneer

Ask Chef Phyllis: I just discovered Indian cuisine, which I always thought was just curry. But recently I ate something called Peas with Paneer (Mattar Paneer) at my new and maybe soon-to-be favorite restaurant. It was very good. They told me it wasn’t made from soy (since I thought I was eating tofu), but it […]

“Oven Easy” Casserole Creations for Lent—Or Any Time of Year


Ask Chef Phyllis: Lent seems much longer than 40 days when I don’t have any ideas for new meatless meals. I get tired of mac and cheese and fried fishcakes or BLT’s without the bacon—and certainly wouldn’t serve these to guests. It wouldn’t be so dreary if we entertained more. I need tasty dinners; fish […]

Tuesday Is Fish Taco Night at the Covered Bridge Inn

Many years ago, this New York City girl got transplanted to the Adirondacks. As I look back, it was a good decision for my soon-to-begin-high-school teenagers. Now they thank me when they recall that in New York City they would have been little fish in a very big pond. Upstate, in Glens Falls, they were […]

A Season That Shines…with Holiday Traditions


Ask Chef Phyllis: I want to have a holiday tradition that will make memories like the one I remember most from my grandmother. We only had her German goodies like Lebkuchen and Pfeffernusse at Christmas time, which made them special. But the thing I remember most of all was her gingerbread…it was the best, more […]

Special Sweet Potatoes, 2 Surprising Ways

Sweet potato

Ask Chef Phyllis: The only time I think about or serve sweet potatoes is during the holidays. And I am tired of serving gooey, marshmallow–topped sweet potatoes to my guests for either Thanksgiving or Christmas because I find that most of them only take a taste to remember how sweet they really are. What do […]

Roast Turkey with Sausage, Rice, and Mushroom Dressing: A Thanksgiving to Remember

roast turkey

Ask Chef Phyllis For years, our parents roasted a 25-plus pound turkey that my mom started to cook at 2 A.M. That very large bird was more often than not dry and tough. The side dishes saved the day. Momma made a delicious sausage and Italian chestnut dressing that was bread stuffing. Now with new […]

Garden Ratatouille: Late Summer Variety


Ask Chef Phyllis: My mother never told me of this season in a marriage—I call it “late-summer boring squash season.” My husband (my “can’t waste anything” backyard gardener) brings me ripe zucchinis, some plump as bowling pins and others as skinny as broomsticks, and stacks these and other late summer veggies such as small peppers, […]