Thursday, February 23, 2006

Gilded Fork awarded Food Site of the Day!

The Gilded Fork has been awarded the Food Site of the Day for Thursday Feb 23rd over at Go check it out!

Podcast #26: Frank Marchetti on Olive Oil, Mamma's Pasta and the Cuisine of Puglia

#26: Interview with Frank Marchetti of Columbus Park Trattoria in Stamford, CT. We talk about Olive oil production, houses in Umbria, Mamma's hand-made pasta and his family's rich culinary heritage from Puglia, in the southeast of Italy.

Jennifer's Weekly Meditation: Cooking with the Senses - Smell

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Kitchen Quick Tip: The magic of sieves

Music: "New York Cheesecake", by Adam Buker.
"Can't Hold It Down", by Andy Sullivan.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Sparkling Wines Around the World

Who doesn't love Champagne? Sparkling bubbles bring an elusive magic to white wine, and this special wine from the Champagne region of France deserves it's place on the top shelf.

However, the Spanish, Italians and Germans also have their own home grown sparkling wines, each with their own unique flavor profiles and bouquets. In my latest ReMARKable Palate article at The Gilded Fork, I explore the history, production and special tastes of these cousins to Champagne: Cava, Prosecco and Sekt.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Podcast #25: Part 2 of Janet Amateau Interview

#25: More Food, Less Whine.
Part 2 of my Interview with Sephardic Cooking expert Janet Amateau.

Also - Food News in the Media:
Killer Shrimp, foreign menus, and
When is a Cheese Sandwich more than just a Cheese Sandwich?

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Kitchen Quick Tip: Instant Counter Space

Music: "Can't Hold it Down", by Andy Sullivan.

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Photos of Valentine's Proposal Dinner

Here are photos from the lovely Romantic Valentine's Proposal dinner I did last weekend:

Hors d'Oeuvres: Assorted canapés of Roasted Vegetable Bruschetta, Artichoke Bruschetta, and Smoked Trout with Caramelized Onion and Fig Compote (and a bottle of Cristal!)

Spicy Tuna Tartare Parfait
with Masago Roe and Vinaigrette

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and Vinegar Glazed Beets

Asparagus Risotto with Truffled Lobster

Chocolate Fondue with Fresh Fruits

Some of the nearly 20 dozen roses the gentleman had around the apartment!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Edna Lewis Remembered

Edna Lewis, a giant of down home southern cooking, died on February 13th at the age of 89. From's 2001 profile of Lewis:

"No one has done more to take down-home cooking beyond the Grits Belt than the indomitable Edna Lewis — the granddaughter of slaves, a chef and cookbook author who is the unofficial ambassador of Southern cuisine. Her groundbreaking career was capped in 1999 with her designation as Grande Dame by Les Dames d'Escoffier, an organization of female culinary professionals from around the world.

Lewis's life is a great American story. Born in 1916 in Freetown, Virginia, a tiny farming community founded by her grandfather, she traveled to New York and became a chef at a time when female chefs, let alone black female chefs, were few and far between. Her landmark 1976 book, The Taste of Country Cooking, was one of the first cookbooks by an African-American woman to reach a wide audience, and it is credited with helping spark a nationwide interest in genuine Southern, country-style cooking."

Cheese Sandwiches...Yum

Today I ate a cheese sandwich

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Podcast #24: Valentine's Day, and Sephardic Cooking Expert Janet Amateau

#24: Notes on Valentine's Day, plus Part 1 of my Interview with Sephardic Cooking expert Janet Amateau.

Also:Metrosexual Moments: Truffle Wrestling, Adam Curry and the battle of the Chefs Marc/Mark

Jennifer's Weekly Meditation: Culinary Romance with Brillat-Savarin

Featured Websites:,

Kitchen Quick Tip: Getting the "milk" out of ears of corn

Music: "New York Cheesecake" by Adam Buker.
"Can't Hold it Down", by Andy Sullivan.

Valentine's Podcasts

It's been a big week of Valentine's celebrations around here, and tonight's the big night. If you haven't got Valentine's plans, or if you're working like I am, you can listen to some cool podcasts about Valentine's Day, (or about not liking Valentine's Day), all assembled by the fine folks over at They even mentioned our own ReMARKable Palate Podcast!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Not Having to do the Dishes...Priceless!

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by an editor at Mastercard's new lifestyle guide,, and cited in their article "A Restaurant at Your Door":

New York City personal chef Mark Tafoya, president of the USPCA's New York chapter, believes there's no reason for people not to get pampered in their own home. He goes from kitchen to kitchen with a rolling suitcase filled with food and a tackle box of cooking utensils. He's prepared everything from roast turkeys served on private beaches to simple romantic dinners that a couple can enjoy without having to worry about the groceries or the dishes.

"It's all about getting pampered in your own home," he says. "But sometimes when I'm cooking for two people for a special occasion like an anniversary or a proposal, they'll get so curious about me and what I do that they end up asking me question after question and I want to say 'No! Stop talking to me! This is a romantic dinner. Focus on each other.'"

A Succesful Valentine's Proposal

Well, the Saturday night Valentine's Dinner was a success. This one was a surprise proposal, my favorite kind of Dinner to prepare. The lady was quite surprised, in fact, her boyfriend and I were afraid she would hyperventilate when she walked in to the apartment which he had decorated with 10 dozen roses and aout 40 candles, with a fully set table ready for the surprise dinner. He proposed to her over a glass of Cristal and some of my yummy hors d'oeuvres, and she screamed yes! I'll have pictures of the dishes soon...

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Notes on Kuku Sabzi

Just after posting yesterday's recipe, I ran across this description from the James Beard Foundation website:

Kuku sabzi [kookoo SAHB-zee]

Iranian frittata. The herbs used to make kuku sabzi symbolize rebirth and the eggs fertility, which is why this Persian omelette is traditionally eaten at Noruz, Persian New Year. The herbs (sabzi), in fact, are key to the celebration; they are one of seven traditional items-symbolizing seven guardian angels—that are part of every table setting for the New Year's feast. According to Margaret Shaida's Legendary Cuisine of Persia, kuku sabzi is the most famous and popular of the many varieties of kuku (omelette). It can be eaten hot or at room temperature. Iranians cook one side of the omelette in a frying pan, then cut it into wedges before flipping each slice to brown. When done, the outside of the kuku should be a crispy bronze, the interior tender and green from generous handfuls of cilantro, dill, mint, chives, and other herbs. Chopped barberries (a sour red berry) or walnuts are sometimes added to the filling as well.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Kuku Sabzi

I spoke about this dish on Podcast #23, when Donna Mintz and I sampled it at a great Persian restaurant. As I mentioned, this is a version that is baked in the oven, and uses much less oil than a traditional stoove-top fried version.

Kuku Sabzi
(Persian Herb Frittata)

4-6 servings

8 eggs
1/4 teaspoon powdered saffron
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon zereshk (dried barberries)
2 tablespons finely chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups total of mixed chopped fresh herbs:
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek

Preheat oven to 350° F
Soak the barberries in cold water for 15 minutes before cooking. Drain well.
Reconstitute saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water.
Beat eggs well, then add saffron water,baking powder, salt, black pepper, flour, barberries, and walnuts. Add chopped herbs and mix gently.

Coat the bottom and sides of an oven safe baking dish with oil, and pour egg and herb mixture in. Cover with foil to prevent over browning of the top, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Remove foil halfway through the baking process.

Cool and cut into wedges for service.

(Zereshk, or barberries, are similar to red currants, so you can substitute these if you can't find zereshk)


Imagine there's no country.....

Avanti! E buona fortuna a tutti!

Friday, February 10, 2006

"I'm In The Mood For Love"

Well, the blizzard of Valentine's Day dinners is about to hit, and I love being able to help bring pleasure to couples with my meals. I'm cooking the first of several Romantic Dinners of this Valentine's week on Saturday, and whether we get a foot of snow, or an inch, it will be hot in the kitchen!

Hors d'Oeuvres
Assorted Canapés

First Course
Spicy Tuna Tartare Parfait
with Masago Roe and Vinaigrette

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese, Walnuts, and Vinegar Glazed Beets

Main Course
Asparagus Risotto with Lobster

Chocolate Fondue with Fresh Fruits

I've still got some limited availability in the upcoming days, so contact me, or if you're a really late planner, rather than sleeping in the dog house, give your sweetie a gift certificate for a Personal Chef.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Sage of sage

Check out this GREAT POST about Sage and it's uses over at Papa Geno's Herb Blog. Papa Geno is a real genius at growing, and he provides herbs, plants, and vegetables for a variety of uses. Here's an excerpt from the full article:

Most common among the culinary sages is garden sage, known botanically as Salvia officinalis. Hardy enough to grow in most of North America as a perennial, the subshrub has woody, wiry, square stems and pebble-grained grayish leaves. It's the sage most often found in dried poultry mixes.

Other varieties of S. officinalis worth trying in the kitchen include Berggarten sage, with broad, round blue-green leaves and Purpurea, or purple sage, with reddish-purple leaves.
Several varieties of garden sage are available as seed.

Given full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil, S. officinalis is generally an easy plant to grow. It also comes in gold (Aurea), green and yellow (Icterina) and white, purple and green (Tricolor) forms.

Another type of sage, Salvia elegans, has special value on the dessert table. Varieties include pineapple sage, a three-foot-tall plant with sweet, pineapple-scented leaves and scarlet flowers, dwarf pineapple sage, and honeydew melon sage.

Leaves of S. elegans can be used in teas and other beverages, or finely chopped into salads and dessert batters. The flowers work nicely as a garnish and add color to cookie and cake batters.

You can order dirctly from Papa Geno at

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Podcast #23: Interview with Donna Mintz, Personal Chef and Personal Trainer

#23: Interview with Chef and Personal Trainer Donna Mintz of Basil and Barbells Personal Chef Service. We discuss her unique approach to business over a fun Persian meal, and talk about the dishes we sample, including Kuku Sabzi, Albalu Polow (Sour Cherry Rice), and Lamb Khoresh.

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Jennifer's Weekly Meditation: The sensual value of a hand crafted Valentine's Meal.

Kitchen Quick Tip: An easier way to dry greens after washing.

Music: "New York Cheesecake" by Adam Buker.
"Can't Hold it Down", by Andy Sullivan.

The ReMARKable Palate Podcast, a co-production of Mark Tafoya and The Gilded Fork.

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Champagne and Caviar and Valentine's Menus

This month is not only my birthday, but also the birthday of The Gilded Fork, and we're celebrating with Champagne and Caviar as the Main Ingredient and the Indulgence. Read all about champagne's history and production, and check out the unusual recipes we have concocted using bubbly.

Also new this month is the Mise en Place section, where we present an entire menu you can make at home and lead you through it step by step. This month, what better occasion to celebrate than an elegant yet easy to prepare Valentine's Day Menu for Two of recipes developed by yours truly.

And speaking of Valentine's Day Dinners, I still have a couple of openings during the week of Valentine's Day for Romantic Dinners for Two (alas, not on the 14th itself, but on the 12th and 13th). If you're in New York and want a special chef prepared meal for your sweetie, give me a call.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Mon Dieu!

It seems the French have finally adopted an American culinary innovation! More and more French people are hiring Personal Chefs to cook special dinners in their homes. This article in French Entrée talks about Un Chef Chez Vous:

"Employing a Chef to cook all your meals is traditionally the preserve of royalty and the super-rich. But now a phenomenon imported from the US is changing the culinary habits of France. Instead of going out to dinner, the French are increasingly likely to employ a chef for the evening, entertaining friends or business colleagues in the comfort of their own home.

Emmanuel works alone, but manages to find the time to choose all of his ingredients himself. He emphasises the importance of quality ingredients in creating a gourmet dish, and enjoys making his selections from the colourful local markets. He has settled in Antibes, on the glamourous Côte d’Azur, where there is always plenty of fresh, local produce to choose from, and a wealth of customers wanting some luxury."

Hey, we American Personal Chefs do the same thing! ;-)

Thanks to faithful reader and listener Sandy Scolnick in Bretagne for the heads up.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Creamy Crab Bisque

Since I've recently offered a New Mexican Posole and a Butternut Squash Soup, it only seems fitting to continue the winter soup theme with this New England style classic.

This creamy soup is great in the winter, and warms the bones. This version is quite simple and easy to prepare, but still evokes long simmered creamy seafood soups from New England. If you can get fresh crab meat, that would be ideal. If not, then buy the best canned crab meat you can find.

Crab Bisque

5 servings

2 tablespoons butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups crab meat, picked over
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
(you may substitute fish fumet for more intense seafood flavor)
2 cups light cream
cayenne pepper, to taste

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook slowly until translucent. Add the crabmeat and parsley and cook over low heat stirring constantly for 3 or 4 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the crab mixture, stir to blend and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring constantly. Stir in the chicken broth or fish fumet and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Partially cover the pan, but not completely. Finish the bisque by adding the cream, stirring to blend. Do not boil after adding the cream. Add cayenne pepper and salt to taste.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Chef Mark featured in Time Out New York Magazine!

I'm thrilled to have been mentioned as one of four notable New York based food podcasts on page 27 of the Feb. 2-8 issue of Time Out New York!


The latest way to get your local food news and reviews: gastronomic podcasts

Ever wonder what the guy on the subway is nodding to on his iPod? Could be hip-hop, but then again, he might be listening to a cooking show. Yes, gastronomic podcasting—a sub-genre of downloadable radio shows—has arrived. Websites like point to all kinds of “food and drink” programming and list the contents of every episode. You can download the shows you’re interested in to your hard drive or use iTunes to locate and subscribe to the ones you like; there are thousands and most are free. We found four local, noteworthy programs whose production values are as varied as their audiences (the hosts claim between 1,000 and 90,000 regular listeners, though it’s hard to quantify such a thing). Bon appetit."
Wendy G. Ramunno

Manhattan-based actor-turned-personal-chef Mark Tafoya combines his two greatest loves, food and performing, in his weekly show that usually runs about a half hour. His episodes have an unpredictable, New Agey vibe: One week it’s an in-depth interview with his neighborhood Greenmarket manager, another week it’s a discussion of Michelin stars or his favorite recipe for broiled salmon."

Podcast #22: Soundseeing tour of Balducci's Market

#22: Banking on Balducci's: Soundseeing tour of the newly reopened Balducci's Market on 14th St. in New York City

Jennifer's Weekly Meditation: Gastronomic Greats - MFK Fisher

Kitchen Quick Tip: Chopping nuts without making a mess

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Don't argue with the chef!

The ReMARKable Palate Podcast, a co-production with The Gilded Fork,

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