Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Simple Summer Soup: Watermelon Gazpacho with Feta Crema

It's the end of summer, but the corn, melon, tomatoes and, depending on the weather, Tri-Star strawberries, have another month or so to go. Inspired by some great tomatoes,

Watermelon and tomato gazpacho with feta crema
I made this watermelon and tomato gazpacho the other day, using the recipe recently published by Bon Appétit. It was excellent. You can use Bon Appétit's recipe, as I did, or substitute any watermelon gazpacho recipe (or even a traditional gazpacho) that you like and add the feta crema, which is what makes it special: chopped toasted almonds, sour cream, milk and feta. Since it was so simple, I decided to kick things up a notch by serving the soup in really wonderful bowls that Joan, a dealer in Japanese contemporary ceramics, found during one of her many trips to Japan.

 Enjoy the summer while you can!

Bobby Jay

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Bobby Jay Sandwich: Summer Surf and Turf

Bobby Jay Sandwich: smoked trout, ricotta, tomato, etc. on sprouted rye
Inspired by a wonderful dense sprouted rye loaf from She-Wolf Bakery that I found at the Upper West Side Sunday farmers market, I made this sandwich for lunch today. I spread hand-packed ricotta on thin slices of the bread, added very thin slices of jalapeno pepper thin slices of red onion, thin slices of super ripe heirloom tomato, flakes of lemon pepper smoked trout and chopped dill. A big success, and a nice concept, but what made it better than good was the bread from She-Wolf, the Brooklyn bakery that makes the best bread I have found in New York.

And here it is:

She-Wolf Bakery's sprouted rye loaf
This would alos be fine with smoked salmon, of course. The key is to use the best and freshes ingredients you can find.

Bobby Jay

Monday, August 8, 2016

Bobby Jay's Corn Soup Revisited

Bobby Jay's corn soup with olive oil
Four years ago, I posted my recipe for corn soup, which I had spent a lot of time developing. It is rich -- essence of corn -- despite the absence of anything but corn, a tiny bit of butter, a small amount of minced onion and a jalapeno pepper. Since then I have refined the recipe some and expanded the array of add-ins that I suggest in the note. In addition, I have experimented with using a pressure cooker and found that it is even richer due to the better extraction of flavor from the corn cobs that the superheated pressurized water permits.

So here's the updated, improved recipe for my own corn soup. This is a perfect time to try it, with wonderful sweet corn abounding at farmers markets everywhere.

Bobby Jay’s Corn Soup


·       5-6 ears of corn (5 medium, an extra if small)
·       1 medium onion, diced
·       1 jalapeño pepper, finely diced (seeds and interior membranes removed), more or less, depending on how hot the jalapenos are and your taste
·       1 Tbs butter
·       4 C water
·       2 Tbs chives, finely chopped
·       Best quality olive oil
·       Salt and pepper


1. Put the most delicate ear aside. Take kernels off remaining 4 ears of corn. Cut the cobs into thirds.

2. Sauté onion and jalapeño in butter with a little salt until soft. Add corn kernels and sauté another minute or so, just to warm through.

3. Add cobs and water. Bring to boil and simmer, covered, for 30-40 mins. [Better still, for an even richer, creamier soup, do this in a pressure cooker, bring to temperature and cook for 20 minutes.]

4. Remove cobs and puree the soup with a hand or standing blender. (I use a blender because I like it very smooth, and the added corn will provide texture.) Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. It may need a fair amount of salt to cut the natural corn sweetness.

5. Separately, bring a pot of water to a boil. Take off the heat, add the last cob of corn, cover and wait 7 minutes. (Or cook it however you like to make corn, including in the microwave.) Remove kernels.

6. Serve soup in individual bowls. Garnish with kernels from the last ear of corn, chives and a few drops of olive oil.

Can be served cold or hot. If cold, chill and garnish just before serving.

Serves 4


Instead of chives, I often garnish with one of the following:

·       Chopped toasted or untoasted pumpkin seeds and a few drops of pumpkin seed oil or pistachio oil
·       Chopped pistachios and pistachio oil
·       Chopped hazelnuts and a few drops of hazelnut oil
·       A very tiny quantity of truffle oil
·       A dollop of crème fraîche
·       A little hot sauce or (preferably green) chili powder, or some adobe sauce from canned chipotles with adobo
·       Small chunks of avocado and olive or pistachio oil
·       White miso, about a rounded teaspoon per cup, whisked in before serving

This soup is really easy to make and virtually impossible to screw up, especially if you start with farm-fresh corn.

I hope you enjoy.

Bobby Jay

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Paris -- An Amazing Lebanese Feast

While in Paris, J and I and our friends Mimi and JoJo were treated to an amazing Lebanese feast at Rimal, one of the best Lebanese restaurants to be found there (at 94, boulevard Malesherbes, in the 17ème arrondissment). The meal was a family celebration organized by our friend Tania, and included Tania's delightful mother Aida, her sister Ruby and her niece Carol, along with some Kuwaiti friends.

Tania planned the meal with Roger Sfeir, the Maître d' at Rimal, who is a kind of legend within Paris' large Lebanese community, as well as Tania's admired friend Fady Khouri, one of Rimal's owners, whom Tania correctly describes as a "grand gentleman."

The meal reflected Middle Eastern principles of entertaining, i.e. way too much food, and lots of special dishes. Here are photos of many of them, taken by Tania, who is not merely a great cook but also an accomplished food presenter and photographer. (The names in captions were provided by Tania, generally French spellings of Lebanese names. You may find anglicized spellings if you try to learn more about this items.)

Garlic tomatoes
Arayess (minced meat, herbs, onions in pita, grilled)
Kebbé nayé (Lebanese veal tartare)
Shanklishe (strong crumbled cheese balls with herbs)
Fatayers (spinach triangles)
Kabab karaz (an exceptional Aleppo specialty)
Kebbé  boulettes and walnut eggplant mix

Makaneks (special Lebanese sausages)
Ra'a'ates (feuilleté "from Heaven")
Cream and rose "chewy" ice creams
Karabiges (pistachio filled pastry brought from Beirut)
Natef (resemblng pine flavored marshmallow)
The ambiance was indeed familial. Aida, in particular, was beaming the whole time at the array of guests and enjoyed every second of making us all happy, and particularly those of us who are somewhat new to Lebanese food.

Aida with Roger and Jo-Jo
See? It worked!

A content moi
What a wonderful memory!

Bobby Jay

Friday, August 5, 2016

Paris -- Restaurant H: An Excellent New Bistro

At the recommendation of one of my partners, we went with friends to H Restaurant, a new néo-bistro located in the fourth arrondissement, near the Bastille. H is named for its owner-chef, Hubert Duchenne, who was sous-chef at the renowned Akrame. H serves very sophisticated modern French cuisine in a simple but elegantly designed space, with an open kitchen and lots of room between tables (a rarity in this part of town).

The five-course menu is just 50 euros, a tremendous bargain for this quality of food. Just look at some images of the food. Unfortunately, I cannot recall what we ate, exactly, and most things are covered with mousses, sabayons or other sauces, so it is hard to tell in retrospect. Indeed, the only criticism that we had was that nearly all the dishes shared that characteristic: while they were all excellent, we would have preferred a dish or two that highlighted the perfectly cooked main element.

Five-course menu at Restaurant H
The menu at H varies with the season, and we are definitely planning to return in the autumn, before the restaurant becomes more widely discovered, to sample the chef's take on that season's products.

Restaurant H, 13 Rue Jean Beausire, Paris 4ème (Métro Bastille).

Bobby Jay

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Paris -- Itinéraires: A Great Gastro-Bistro

Returning to Paris, we finally had a chance to get to a restaurant that I've had on my must-try list for several years: Itinéraires, a Michelin-starred gastro-bistro in the fifth arrondissement, near the Quai de la Tournelle. It was everything we had hoped for, only better.

The decor is simple but elegant, soothing light wood with no tablecloths or place mats but  with interesting and effective lighting, and the tables are not densely packed. We had a lovely round table for six and were completely comfortable, ready and able to relax and enjoy the six-course menu.

The food was creative, sophisticated and beautiful. Portions were small enough that you could eat everything without feeling stuffed but large enough to get a substantial experience of each course.

We started with a mini "croque-monsieur" with a layer of puréed basil . . .
Mini "croque-monsieur"
. . .  and a cauliflower salad.

Cauliflower pre-appetizer
Next up was a an absolutely spectacular beef and langoustine carpaccio,
Beef and langoustine carpaccio
(with a substitution of a gorgeous salad for those who don't or can't eat raw meat).

Mixed vegetable salad
There followed a perfectly cooked filet of rouget with a basil sauce and olives.

Filet of rouget with basil sauce and olives
We were now ready for main courses: lamb chops for those who could eat them, monkfish for the others.

Lamb chops
Finally, two desserts:

Red fruit dessert
Chocolate ganache
This excellent meal was 95 euros, a great bargain. During the week, Itinéraires has a 65-euro three-course prix fixe, which we are very eager to try next time we are in Paris.

Itinéraires, 3 rue de Pontoise, Paris 5ème (Métro Maubert Mutualité).

Bobby Jay