What’s cooking in Westchester and Fairfield counties? Plenty, it seems. Last month, WAG’s first Wonderful Dining column under lockdown brought you seven of the best local restaurants for takeout or delivery of terrific restaurant food to your door.
This month, thanks to a new cookbook cooked up by three local industry stalwarts, Wonderful Dining wants you to enjoy restaurant-standard meals that you cook yourself, at home. Johnny Livanos of City Limits Diner in White Plains and Moderne Barn in Armonk, Susanna Sussman of Meals-on-Wheels of White Plains and restaurant public relations maven Jessica Rosen Klein, have teamed up to create “Westchester Cooks,” a cookbook filled with recipes from chefs, restaurateurs and local cookery writers. There’s a suggested donation of $10 for the online copy and all proceeds are being donated to Lifting Up Westchester, an organization that provides food, shelter and support to those in need, right here in our own community.
Recipes come from across our region, so that there is a palpable (if perhaps inadvertent) sense of local and seasonal,and more than $5,000 has already been raised.
The New York Times recently reported that COVID-19 has seen a return to dependence on tinned and processed foods. Well, what goes around comes around and one of the many pleasing aspects of “Westchester Cook”s is that not only does this cookbook give us the opportunity to eat more healthily at home, it simultaneously gives some of the most hard-hit people in our community some much-needed help.
The book is divided into breakfast, starters, mains, sides and desserts and there are more than 40 recipes across the pages. Featured restaurants include X20 Xaviar’s on the Hudson in Yonkers, Sonora in Port Chester, The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry and Lulu’s in Scarsdale.
Here are three recipes that I have already sampled from the book, reproduced with kind permission from the publishers, as easy to make as they are delicious to eat.
To download “Westchester Cooks” and make your donation, visit liftingupwestchester.com.
Seafood Paella for Five
By Elmer Oliveros, Brothers Fish & Chips
(JW notes: This is the perfect dish for a family or a group of caring, sharing roommates looking for a bit of variety during lockdown. I also happen to love the restaurant it hails from, Brothers Fish & Chips in Ossining. Just like the Andalusians, chef Elmer Oliveros understands that a paella doesn’t have to be complex to be good. Just be generous with the saffron and use pingingly fresh shellfish, which Whole Foods will obligingly deliver if you are sheltering in place.)
32 to 40 ounces of seafood stock
8 whole shrimp
1 red pepper
1 white onion
32 ounces white rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1. Start with olive oil over medium heat.
2. Add diced onion and pepper. Cook 1 to 2 minutes. Then add salt, Cajun seasoning, saffron and chili flakes, with 8 ounces of stock. Place the clams around the pan, leaving the middle empty to add rice.
3. Add shrimp and mussels with the rest of the stock and let it cook uncovered for 15 minutes on medium heat.
Note: Mussels and shrimp can be taken out of the pan after 10 minutes to prevent overcooking them.
Roasted Free Range Chicken
with Star Anise Brine
By Peter X. Kelly, Xaviars Restaurant Group
(JW’s note: Nothing coos “comfort food” more than roast chicken, while the star anise brine in this wonderful dish from Peter X. Kelly of Xaviars Restaurant Group adds a touch of Eastern razzle dazzle. I served this with creamy mashed potatoes and a simple green salad. It was heavenly.)
1 large whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the brine:
1 gallon water
1⁄3 cup kosher salt
1⁄2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons soy sauce
6 to 8 tablespoons black peppercorns
2-inch piece peeled ginger (optional)
8 pieces star anise
6 bay leaves (optional)
In a large non reactive bowl, place all brine ingredients and stir till sugar and salt dissolve. Submerge whole chicken in brine and leave in refrigerator for 10 to 12 hours (no more). Remove chicken from brine and rinse under cold running water. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Chicken is now ready to cook.
1. Place a large oven proof sauté pan or roasting pan over medium high heat. To the pan add the butter and olive oil.
2. When butter and oil are hot, add chicken to pan and brown chicken on all sides.
3. When brown, place chicken breast side up and place pan with chicken in a 400°F preheated oven and roast for 50 to 60 minutes till juices run clear.
4. Remove chicken from oven and allow to rest 15 minutes.
5. Slice chicken and serve
Barbra’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
By Jessica Rosen Klein
(JW’s note: Who doesn’t love a chocolate chip cookie? Well, me actually. The chocolate chips always leave me wanting more chocolate, while the ‘traduced’ cookie leaves me wanting more cookie. Then, I tried these. They take minutes to make and bake and are a rich and satisfying delight of a bite. Now I’m a convert. Thank you Jessica Rosen Klein, and Barbra!)
1⁄2 cup salted butter (1 stick)
6 tablespoons white sugar
6 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 1⁄8 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1⁄4 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Cream butter.
3. Add sugar, vanilla and egg. Mix well.
4. Add dry ingredients.
5. Blend nuts and morsels.
Drop by spoonful on a lightly coated baking sheet (butter) and cook for 10 to 12 minutes. Place on wire rack to cool.