Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Yesterday at camp while I was eating my breakfast of blackberries and raspberries (yes, all you parents out there, the salad bar is chock full of fruit) I noticed one of the campers come in with his underwear on his head and socks stuck in either side to resemble long ears. And I thought, how great! Here is a child so comfortable with himself and his environment that he can go to breakfast with his underwear on his head. I have 3 kids of my own and underwear on the head is generally a good sign!

Well, a few minutes later more campers appeared sporting similar fashion statements with underwear on heads, swimsuits over jeans and layers of t-shirts on backwards and upside down. And then their counselor came in dressed as Buzz Lightyear. I watched the kids interacting with each other and their counselor and the joy and exuberance was contagious. I felt myself grinning like a fool. It was all of 8:30 in the morning and the dining hall was abuzz with merriment. I was no longer concerned about my lack of Starbucks or whether or not it was going to be hot, I was just happy. This was Monday.

Today, one of the Australian lifeguards came in to the dining hall wearing a backpack with a blow-up kangaroo poking out of it and handing out sparkly Australian flag stickers. Again, the energy in the dining hall was one of delight.

You simply cannot have a bad day at camp. The energy is vibrant and so alive. The counselor who thought to pack a costume, only for his camper’s enjoyment and, who he did not yet even know, is just aces in my book. The lifeguard packing a blow-up kangaroo for children’s amusement is so thoughtful, it is touching. The soul of any organization can be judged by its employees. This camp has soul.

When you come to a Jewish camp there is a feeling of community, a real sense of belonging that just does not happen anywhere else. This past Shabbat I had the pleasure of spending some time with the Executive Director of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces. She told me about a wonderful program taking place here at Camp Chi.

Camp Chi is hosting FIDF(Friends of the Israel Defense Forces) LEGACY. The LEGACY program hosts the children of fallen Israel Defense Forces. The kids take part in camp activities alongside the American kids. I have seen the Israeli kids swimming, playing ball, participating in Shabbat services and often asking for any leftovers from my culinary classes. (all the campers line up outside the kitchen looking for leftovers!) The kids look like they are having fun.

The LEGACY campers are bar/bat mitzvah aged kids who come together to Camp Chi to be in a community of friendship and support. They are kids who have the chance to just be kids for a few weeks.

I cannot express how impressed I was to hear about this program and how proud I felt to be a part of the camp hosting these brave kids. Leave it to a Jewish camp to not only provide a fun, safe environment for kids, but also to reach out and help some kids remember how to have fun in a safe and inclusive environment.

Last week, I mentioned how lucky I was to be part of a Jewish camp. Well, I still feel lucky and I urge everyone thinking of sending their kids to camp next year, to think of a sending your kids to a Jewish camp. Think of sending your kids to Camp Chi.

More Culinary Camp Food-My Way

Chilled Corn Chowder

I love chilled soups. I think I love chilled soup more than hot soup. While I am not a fan of summer and hot weather, I enjoy the produce and the opportunity to make some great food.

Fresh corn, in season, is sweet and tastes like sunshine. Purchase your corn from a farm stand if you can. If you must purchase corn from the supermarket, be sure it is grown locally. Old corn, even a few days old tastes starchy and flat. Buy your corn as close as possible to when you want to eat it.

Serves 4

6 ears fresh corn, shucked and silk removed
3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves of garlic, grated on a microplane (the kids love doing this at camp)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 cup whole milk
Salt and pepper

Garnishes: popped corn, grated cheddar cheese, fresh herbs, basil pesto, roasted red peppers, diced jalapeno peppers chopped scallions

1. Run a knife down the ears of corn to remove the kernels squeeze as much liquid from the ears as possible.

2. Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the butter or olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic to the pan and sweat the vegetables for 2 minutes until they are fragrant and soft.

3. Add the corn kernels and fresh thyme and continue cooking until the corn is soft and cooked through (about 5-7 minutes).

4. Transfer ½ of the corn mixture to a blender or food processor. Process the mixture until it is smooth. Add the mixture back to the pan and combine with the whole corn kernels. Cook the mixture for an additional 10 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

5. Chill the soup. Garnish with suggested garnishes.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Attention Comfort Food Lovers and Culinary Campers0Here is the Macaroni and cheese recipe!

-1 pound macaroni or favorite pasta shape (I use whole wheat pasta )
-3 tablespoons butter

-3 tablespoons flour

-1 shallot, minced

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-2 cups of milk (I use Whole or 2% milk)

-½ teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

-2 teaspoons hot sauce

-3 cups shredded cheddar cheese or a mix of favorite cheeses (I use white sharp cheddar and Swiss)

-1 cup of sour cream

-½ cup bread crumbs-Panko* is perfect for this

-2 tablespoons melted butter

-Salt and pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Bring a large saucepan with water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dente (about 10 minutes depending upon size of pasta). Drain and set aside.
2. Place a large sauté over medium heat. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add chopped shallot and garlic. Cook until light golden brown (about 3 minutes) Add flour and stir together. Cook the mixture for several minutes to remove the raw flour flavor.
3. In a separate pan heat the milk until simmering. Add all at once to flour mixture. Whisk to prevent lumps. Cook until thickened (about 3-5 minutes). Add the nutmeg and hot sauce and whisk until combined.
4. Remove from heat. Add grated cheese and stir until melted.
5. Stir sour cream with cooked pasta. Add cheese mixture and stir to combine. Place in a lightly greased casserole.
6. Combine bread crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle on top of casserole. Bake at 350 until bubbly and golden (about 30 minutes). Serve with salad. The macaroni and cheese casserole can be made 1 day ahead of serving and can be assembled but not baked and held in the refrigerator.

*Panko breadcrumbs are a Japanese style breadcrumb that are very crispy and make a perfect topping or crust. Panko breadcrumbs can be found, hechshered in most grocery stores.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Going Back to Camp

Every summer, when my kids were young, I spent months gathering supplies for my kids to take to camp. In the early years, I actually ironed name labels in all of their clothing and painstakingly labeled all of their sunscreens, bug sprays, flashlights and other camp necessities. I thought that I was being Super Mom and that surely an award would be mine.

Well, a couple of visitor’s weekends and tours of cabins cured me of all of my obsessive labeling. Clothes heaped in corners, scary debris strewn showers and orphaned t-shirts and sweatshirts left hanging on tree limbs left me wondering why I had bothered.

At the end of the camp, the kids would arrive home sun-burned, bug bitten, happy and smelling of sunshine, you know that smell that only children get when playing outside. All of my fanatically labeled clothing was either lost or so scary that I would not allow it in the house.

This summer I packed myself up to go to Camp Chi. I am teaching Culinary Camp to groups of eager-young gastronomically inclined minds. I did not label my clothing, but I did pack sunscreen (which I have actually worn-unlike my children), bug spray, and a ton of recipes . I forgot my flashlight and did need it one night during a storm when we lost power, but other than that and a massive heat wave, I am having a blast. Camp is awesome!

The spirit at camp is amazing. The people running the camp are models of everything right in a world where many professionals are unhappy or dissatisfied in their jobs. These people rock! There is an infectious CAN DO attitude and a MAKE IT HAPPEN theme that pervades every corner of the camp.
I have been blown away day after day when challenges that seemed daunting were handled with cheerful enthusiasm. Storms and power outages-no problem. Prolonged suffocating heat wave-no problem. One by one, difficulties are met and throughout everything, the campers are treated with respect and TLC.

They are learning how to have fun without the day to day technology so pervasive in their lives. The kids are learning important life skills, making new friends, tolerating differences in others and just plain, being kids. I love it!
I urge everyone who has a chance, go back to camp. Go to a Jewish camp. Go to Camp Chi and hang out in the woods with some great people. Turn off the world for a week or two, teach some classes, stand tall and proudly belt out the Birkat Hamazon after a meal , sing and dance your way to the lake, tie dye some t-shirts and come to culinary classes. We are making some great camp food-my way.

Take the Heat out of Summer

Sorbets are one of my favorite treats. I make them all year round but especially in the summer. The farmers market offers inspiration for my flavors. Recently, the stalls were abundant with gorgeous tempting blackberries. Typically eaten out of hand, blackberries are fragrant and complex. Simple to make and a crowd pleaser, sorbets are perfect for summer or anytime.

Blackberry Sorbet
1 pound fresh or frozen blackberries
12 ounces granulated sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pinch of salt

1. Puree the blackberries, sugar and water in a food processor or blender. Try not to blend the seeds completely of the sorbet will be bitter. Strain out the seeds and any solids through a mesh strainer and discard the seeds.

2. Add the lemon juice and salt and mix completely. Chill the sorbet mix for at least 4 hours or overnight.

3. Process the sorbet in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer’s directions.

4. Store the sorbet in a container with a tight fitting lid in the coldest part of the freezer.

Garnish with cut up fruit, chopped mint, whipped cream, nuts

Blackberry Cobbler

I like simple rustic desserts in the summer and am not interested in fussing too much in the kitchen. This delicious cobbler is the perfect summer old fashioned dessert. Crispy crust and sweet tangy fruit make this a wonderful way to end a meal. Serve the cobbler with a big scoop of Blackberry Sorbet.

1 ½ cups flour
1 ¼ cups sugar + 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons chilled butter or non-hydrogenated shortening (for pareve)
¼ cup ice water
3 pints blackberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter, cut up in small pieces

1. In a food processor, pulse the flour with the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar and the salt until combined. Add the cold butter and pulse 5 or 6 times, until the mixture resembles peas. Add the ice water and pulse 5 or 6 times, just until the pastry is evenly moistened.

2. Transfer the pastry to a lightly floured surface and knead just until it comes together. Flatten the pastry into a 6-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°. In a large bowl, toss the blackberries with the remaining 1 1/4 cups of sugar, the lemon juice, cinnamon and 1/3 cup of flour. Let stand at room temperature, stirring gently once or twice, until slightly juicy, about 15 minutes. Transfer the fruit to a round 2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Dot the fruit with cut up butter.

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to a 1/4-inch thickness that is slightly larger than the baking dish. Drape the pastry over the berries. Trim the overhang to 1/2 inch and fold it under itself, pressing the pastry onto the rim of the dish. Crimp the edge decoratively and make several slashes in the center of the pastry to allow steam to escape.

5. Bake the cobbler for 1 hour, or until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden. Cover the edges with foil if the crust browns too quickly. Let cool for 20 minutes before serving

Wednesday, July 13, 2011



My favorite summer memories begin with a great meal and friends. I love the warm nights, catching up with friends and great food. My summer menus begin with simple, one pot meals. Similar in ease to my winter stews and casseroles, my summer one pot suppers are light and loaded with flavor.
Several years ago I purchased a Paella pan. I knew I wanted it, but did not know much I would come to rely upon it. If you do not have a Paella pan, any large sauté pan will do. Paellas are one pot meals typically made with a short grain Spanish rice and either fish, chicken and or meat, usually pork. Fideua Paella is made with toasted pasta. The pasta takes on a toasted wheat flavor and becomes saturated with flavor from the saffron and other spices.
This version of Fideua features fresh tuna. If you cannot find tuna, you can substitute any firm fleshed fish such as bass, salmon, grouper or halibut. Serve this Paella with your favorite fruity red wine or Sangria.

Fideua Paella

Extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
2 roasted red peppers, peeled, seeded and diced
½ pound of capellini, broken into 2 inch segments
½ teaspoon saffron threads
2 teaspoons pimenton*
Pinch of crushed red chili flakes
2 teaspoons tomato paste
½ cup crushed tomatoes
½ cup white wine
2 cups fish stock or vegetable stock or water
2 pounds tuna filets, cut into large chunks
Chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Garnishes: lemon slices, extra virgin olive oil, garlicky aioli

1. Place a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the pan with olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and red peppers and cook until the vegetables are very soft and fragrant (about 10 minutes).
2. Add the pasta segments. Cook the pasta until it is toasty brown, (about 10 minutes).
3. Add the spices and tomato paste and continue cooking until the tomato paste turns dark (about 3 minutes). Add the white wine and cook until the wine evaporates. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until the pasta is cooked through and the tuna is cooked but not dry.
4. Garnish with chopped parsley and drizzle of extra virgin olive.


This fruity beverage is perfect for a hot summer evening and is the perfect complement to Paella.
Enjoy summer’s precious moments with friends relaxing over glasses of Sangria

1 750ml. bottle fruity red wine (I prefer Zinfandel)
1 cup brandy
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
2 lemons sliced
2 oranges sliced
2 limes sliced

1. Stir all of the ingredients together. Serve over ice