Category Archives: Ask Chef Phyllis

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 […]

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 […]