Tag Archives: WDVR

See You on the Radio;NOFA-NJ Winter Conference; Tiffin Service; Drunk History; Italian Dried Pasta Recommendation

Listen in to Sergeantsville’s WDVR on Monday, 1/9


I will be co-hosting “Let’s Talk” with my friend Walt Haake from 3 to 5 pm. We’ll be discussing restaurants and dining in Hunterdon and Bucks counties, food and dining trends for 2017, and myriad other food-related topics.

Joining us are those inimitable Canal House Cooking gals, Melissa Hamilton & Christopher Hersheimer, who host the “Canal House Cooking Hour” on WDVR each Wednesday at 4 pm.

For me, it’s a blast from the past, bringing me back to my radio years hosting “Dining Today” in the Princeton area. WDVR can be streamed live or listened to on 89.7 FM in Bucks & Hunterdon, 96.9 FM in Trenton/Princeton, and is simulcast over WPNJ 90.5 in Easton, PA. Please join us!

Calling all NJ Organic Home Gardeners & Farmers Market Aficionados


The 27th annual conference of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey (NOFA-NJ) is taking place at Rutgers New Brunswick on Saturday & Sunday, January 28 & 29. Many of the scheduled expert speakers and 25+ workshops address cutting-edge issues of concern to home gardeners, cooks, and CSA members. Among them:

  • No-till vegetable gardening
  • Uncommon fruits for every garden
  • The past, present, and future of CSAs
  • Fermentation

Elizabeth Henderson will speak on the past, present, and future of CSAs

Among the presenters is Elizabeth Henderson, who founded one of the nation’s first CSAs almost three decades ago. She will speak on a subject near and dear to my heart: food justice for farmers, farm workers, and consumers. Read my preview interview with Ms. Henderson here in the January issue of The Princeton Echo.

For cost and registration details, click here.

January’s Wide-Ranging Food for Thought Column: Tiffins, Food History on TV, Traditional Dried Italian Pasta from an Historic VillageFood for Thought logoMy Tiffin Express is a Plainsboro-based business that delivers home-style Indian meals daily to 6 pick-up locations around the area. I tried it and report on the results.

Much to my astonishment, I am recommending you tune in to the Comedy Central show, Drunk History, which is as informative as it is amusing. Find out why. Hint: artichoke wars and the great molasses flood.

I was tickled to read the story in the 1/4/17 New York Times about the resurgence of Italian dried pastas made with 100% Italian durum wheat, which appeared after I shared a recommendation for exactly that from none other than Rome food expert – and Jersey girl – Katie Parla. (p.s.: Look for my profile of Parla in the winter 2017 issue of Edible Jersey, which should hit the streets any day now.)

Specifics on all the above, here in the January 2017 Princeton Echo.




Marsilio’s Review; Getting Kids to Eat Right; Your Cookie Recipe = $1000?; More


This erstwhile Chambersburg Italian stalwart has resurfaced in Ewing. The incomparable chicken cacciatore is back – but how does the rest of it measure up? Here’s my review from the October issue of New Jersey Monthly.


Since 2005 Stacey Antine’s HealthBarn USA in Wyckoff (and now Westchester NY) has been getting real results teaching kids and their parents how to eat well and happily. You may have seen her on Rachael Ray and CNN. Here’s my Princeton Packet profile – with recipes – of her first book, just out. The book’s title: Appetite for Life: The Thumbs-Up, No-Yucks Guide to Getting Your Kid to be a Great Eater.


Like to bake? The founder of Tate’s Bake Shop – you’re probably familiar with her Southampton (NY) company’s high-end packaged cookies – recently published a cookbook titled Baking for Friends, and you can win $1000 by downloading from the website, adapting, and personalizing 1 of 5 cookie recipes. Check out the details on the Tate’s website.


Recently I was interviewed on radio station WDVR, based in Sergeantsville. Host Walt Haake and I had a lively discussion on everything from Mayor Bloomberg’s big-soda ban to what I look for when I review restaurants. Listen to it here.


How is it possible I haven’t mentioned Rancho Gordo heirloom beans here before? I’ve been a fan and customer of Steve Sando’s Napa-based enterprise for years. His October newsletter (You like beans? Sign up – you won’t regret it) includes a recipe for cannellini beans cooked in the oven with a head of garlic, left whole. It’s from the blog of his pal Judy Witts Francini , a talented American woman who has lived in Tuscany for years, where she runs a well-respected cooking school and culinary tour biz, Divina Cucina. I was hooked on her bean recipe as soon as I read this:

an oven-baked version which also creates a cassoulet style crust on top of the beans

I have used other of Ms. Francini’s recipes before and they are uniformly great. Check out her oven-roasted bean recipe here.



Did you catch Mark Bittman’s piece about Alzheimer’s as Type 3 Diabetes? Makes a lot of sense to me. What do you think?

Review of Azure @ Revel; Interview w/Kevin Sbraga; Me on the Radio; Rosh HaShanah Recipes

Alain Allegretti is one of several high-profile chefs brought in by Revel Resorts in Atlantic City to amp up the dining scene. So why do I allot his restaurant only two stars? Here’s my review  from NJ Monthly.

English: Revel in Atlantic City

English: Revel in Atlantic City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking of Revel, I wholeheartedly recommend Amada. Jose Garces has replicated the incomparable Spanish small (and large) plates from his flagship Philly restaurant. I stopped by for a cocktail and am still dreaming about my Broken Hugs, made with grapefruit, tequila, and agave.  Other marquee names at Revel are Michel Richard, Marc Forgione, and Robert Wiedmaier.

Top Chef Winner Kevin Sbraga is Back in Jersey

No, he’s not abandoning his acclaimed 60-seat restaurant, Sbraga in Philly,

Photo credit: Jason Varney

where he offers 4-course dinners for $49 – including desserts by his pastry chef/wife, Jesmary. He is, however, returning to our fair state for one day, as a guest chef at this year’s Epicurean Palette fundraiser on September 30 at Grounds For Sculpture. Sbraga was executive chef at Rat’s restaurant there during the time he was a contestant on the Bravo TV show. I had a chance to catch up with him recently, and here’s what he has to say about life and work post-Top Chef.

Me: With so many demands on your time and requests for your participation in good causes, what was it that made you agree to come back for the Epicurean Palette?

Sbraga: It’s going to be a great time and a lot of fun for me. And I’m not one to forget where I came from.

Me: Speaking of that, I know that as a Jersey boy you tried but failed to find a suitable space for your restaurant in South Jersey, near Willingboro, where you grew up and where you had returned to live with your wife and two young children during your stint at Rat’s. With a restaurant in Philly, where are you living these days?

Sbraga:  Not only do I still live in Willingboro, I still live in the same house!

Me: Friends of mine who dined recently at Sbraga raved not only about the meal, but were particularly impressed that you stopped by their table to chat, as you did with just about everyone in the room.

Sbraga: I do try to visit every table. The restaurant’s small size and open kitchen help [to keep me in contact]. But it’s hard. Sometimes I’ll visit a table just as, say, their fish is coming out and I don’t want to interrupt [the flow of their meal], or I get called back to the kitchen. So, it’s hard. People can and do come up to the open kitchen, of course.

Me: Other than the prize money and the clout it gave you to open your own restaurant, what was the best thing about winning Top Chef?

Sbraga: The creative freedom. That’s what I’ve always wanted. I get to make the calls.

Me: In what other ways has the win impacted your life?

Sbraga: Almost every aspect of my life has changed! The travel! Getting to cook for so many amazing people! The coolest thing I’ve done was for Apple. They had a huge event that I cooked for. It was hosted by Warner Brothers. I had never seen such a huge production!

Me: What will you be serving up at Epicurean Palette?

Sbraga: I’m making salmon sashimi with frozen yogurt and pineapple jicama salad.

If Kevin Sbraga’s Back in Jersey, then I’m Back on the Radio

old fashioned

For those of you who remember my years as the host of Dining Today before WHWH changed formats, I regret to say I do not have a new radio show lined up. But, just like Kevin Sbraga coming back to Jersey for a day, I’m going to put in a one-time guest appearance on a radio show called Stepping Stones. My host will be Walt Haake and we’ll be talking live about food, drink, restaurants, farms – you name it – and we’ll be taking callers. The show airs from 5 to 6 pm this Tuesday, September 18, over WDVR, which is based in Sergeantsville and broadcasts throughout the Delaware Valley. That’s 89.7 FM in Hunterdon and Bucks, and 91.9 FM in Mercer County. You can also stream it live at the station’s website.

A Different Set of Rosh HaShanah Foods

A shofar made from a ram's horn is traditional...

A shofar made from a ram’s horn is traditionally blown in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish civic year. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re all familiar with symbolic foods like challah dipped in honey to welcome in a sweet new year, but for American Jews of Syrian heritage, the traditions take on a Middle Eastern twist. One of the most delightful of these, I discovered, is eating black-eyed peas at the new year, just as folks in the American South do on January 1st. Below are Syrian Rosh HaShanah recipes for leek fritters, veal and black-eyed pea stew, and Swiss chard stew in my September 14 column in The Princeton Packet.

Below are recipes for a Syrian Rosh HaShanah. According to Joan Nathan, the black-eyed pea stew serves eight, but that seems high to me for a dish containing only a half pound of meat. Both it and the Swiss chard stew are terrific served over rice.

www.thekosherfoodies.com (slightly adapted)

2 to 3 large leeks, or 4 to 5 small leeks, washed well and chopped
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or matzo meal
2 eggs
Egg white from 1 egg, optional
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying

Prepare oil for frying: pour about 1/2 inch of oil into a high-walled pan. Place on burner over medium heat. Combine leeks, eggs, and breadcrumbs. Check consistency. If it’s too dry, add the egg white. If too wet, add more bread crumbs. The batter should be loose but be able to come together into a ball if squeezed. Add salt and pepper. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop out batter into balls. Test the frying oil with a tiny amount of batter. Make sure it sizzles but doesn’t burn. Line a plate or tray with paper towels to drain the patties after frying. Using a slotted spoon, drop a few of the tablespoons of batter, one at a time, into the oil, flattening into patties as you drop them. (Don’t overcrowd, because you don’t want the temperature to drop too much, which will make the patties soggy.) After one minute, they should be brown. Flip the patties. Fry on the other side for a minute. Remove from oil with slotted spoon and place on draining plate. Repeat until all are fried. Sprinkle with salt when still warm.

Jewish Cooking in America
, Joan Nathan (1998)

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound veal stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups water
1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in water to cover
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons tomato paste

In a heavy skillet sauté the onions and garlic lightly in the oil. Add the cubed veal and brown briefly. Add 1-1/2 cups of the water, cover, and simmer slowly for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, drain and simmer the black-eyed peas in water to cover for 20 minutes. Drain and add the peas, salt, pepper, spices, tomato paste, and the remaining 1/2 cup water to the veal mixture. Cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour or until the peas and veal are tender. If the stew dries out, add a little more water.

www.culinarykosher.com (posted by rm and slightly adapted)

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups cleaned and chopped Swiss chard leaves and stems
1 pound ground beef
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 cup water

Heat vegetable oil in a large pan and add onion and garlic. When the onions are translucent but now brown, add the Swiss chard. Cook, stirring frequently, until chard is wilted and tender (at least 10 minutes). Remove vegetable mixture from the pan and add the ground beef, stirring and breaking up pieces until browned. Pour off any excess oil and add the cinnamon, allspice, and salt to the pan. Add the vegetable mixture back in and stir well. Add the 1/2 cup water and simmer over very low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.