Friday, May 15, 2009

Ladies' Lunch

By Millicent K. Brody

How long has it been since you’ve attended a ladies’ luncheon? Westfield resident Lisa Bleich opened her home to more than twenty guests who participated in the planning and preparation for The Westfield Symphony House Tour, which will take place Saturday, May 16.

An array of interesting dishes were tastefully set out on the island in her kitchen. The ladies were invited to gather their tableware and help themselves to a glorious selection of tasty treats. You may want to prepare the Leek Tart for dinner with a salad.

Carol Leone’s Refreshing Raspberry Tea

4 Celestial Seasoning Red Zinger Tea Bags
4 Regular Tea bags
6 Cups water
1/4 Cup sugar
2 cups juice drink: Ocean Spray White Cranberry or Strawberry
Sliced lemons for garnish

In a large saucepan, heat water to almost boiling. Remove from stove. Add all ingredients. Steep tea bags in water until you get strong tea. Remove. Stir in sugar and juice drinks. Let cool. Serve over ice. May also be placed in glass pitcher. Garnish with lemons.

Lisa Bleich’s Pasta Salad
The recipe was originally taken from Better Homes and Gardens Prize Tested Recipe contest. I adapted some of the measurements, but the recipe was originally submitted by Mary Ann Dell.

1 box medium sized pasta (shells, rotini, campanelle)
2 bunches fresh asparagus spears, bias-sliced, 1-inch pieces
4 bunches green onions thinly sliced
4 large navel, Cara Cara, and/or blood oranges
1 package feta cheese
1/3 C. fresh mint
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt

Cook pasta according to package directions. Add asparagus the last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain. Rinse with cold water. Drain. Transfer pasta and asparagus to large serving bowl. Add green onions, mint, and feta cheese. Using a serrated knife, remove peel and white pith from three of the oranges. Halve orange lengthwise, then slice crosswise. Add to pasta mixture.

For dressing: From remaining orange, finely shred 3 teaspoons peel. In a screw-top jar or tupperware squeeze juice from 1-2 oranges. Add orange peel, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Pour over pasta mixture; toss to combine. If too dry, make more dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Toss before serving. Makes 10-12 servings.

Lee Corcorcan’s Delicious Leek Pie

6 leeks, white part chopped
1 prebaked pie crust (Try Trader Joe’s).
3 tsp. butter
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/3 lb. Gruyere cheese
1/4 lb. Parmesian cheese
salt and pepper to taste.

Heat oven to 375 degrees
Follow directions to prepare pie crust. Melt butter in saucepan.
Sauté leaks in 2 Tbs. butter and 1 Tbs. oil. until soft. (about 10 minutes). Remove from pan. Add 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 cup chicken broth. Stir to blend. Add cheese, half and half, salt and pepper. Blend all ingredients. Place leeks into the bottom of the pie crust. Cover with cheese and cream mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until top is golden. Remove from oven. Allow to set for ten minutes. Slice into wedges and serve.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Salmon Sez

By Judith Garfield

It’s been said the secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat healthfully, sleep sufficiently, work industriously, and…lie about your age.

This is great advice, but it’s difficult to do if you own a magnifying mirror.

My recommendation: if you want to keep thinking you look as young as you feel - ditch the mirror.

Magnifying mirrors should come with warning labels. “Approach with great caution. May be hazardous to your health and cause heart palpitations, fainting, and serious depression.”

We can run to the dermatologist to be refreshed and rejuvenated, but this usually involves needles and machines that make disturbing noises.

Or… we can eat foods that are said to be anti-aging, like nuts, grains, leafy greens, and salmon.

I’m going with the salmon.

Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which is supposed to reduce the body’s production of inflammatory substances that can cause wrinkles and dehydration. One very famous dermatologist recommends eating it up to ten times a week for optimum results.

I love this simple, delicious salmon recipe from my cousin Donna. She is a great cook and has a beautiful complexion.

4 salmon filets
juice of one lemon
l large purple onion, sliced thin
2 T olive oil
2 T balsamic vinegar

Brush salmon with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze lemon over salmon. Grill for 8-12 minutes, turning once.

Put olive oil in non-stick pan. Add onions and cook on low heat until they begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. When ready to serve, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and heat through.

To serve, top salmon with onions.

For really great salmon and recipe tips, visit Metropolitan Sea Food in Clinton. Kyle, Colin, and all the guys are happy to share fish stories and delicious samples.

There is no empirical evidence that eating salmon will make you look younger, but as the old vaudeville joke goes, it couldn’t hoyt.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

By The Glass Gripes

By Maureen C. Petrosky

In each issue of NJL, the wine page sports the tag By The Glass. It’s a clever nomenclature carrying multiple meanings in the world of wine, including the ever- popular way to order. I frequently order by the glass and just as often am disappointed. It’s true you tend to pay more for a single glass than you would if you buy the bottle, but it’s not the nickel and dime difference that troubles me as much as the actual wines that end up on the neglected “By The Glass” list. For some reason establishments choose to tout watery Pinot Grigio or house Chardonnay (a.k.a. something oaky from California) for whites and the reds are just as boring. As a wine drinker I find the careless attempts to make a buck insulting. Why bother creating a list at all? I mean, would your cocktail crowd continue to return if they only could be served well drinks? I think not.

Last night my girlfriend and I had an excellent dinner at CafĂ© Con Leche in Newtown, PA. It’s a teensy tiny BYOB, and we brought along a Pouilly Fuisse that was divine. Afterwards, we walked to a nearby bar/restaurant for a final glass of wine. This venture turned out to be more like the search for the Holy Grail. The offerings were as expected- Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay. We went for the PG and with one sip my friend said, “This is like sugar water.” Not wanting to end on a bad note, we headed to yet another establishment and were offered the same two whites with the addition of Riesling. It sounded so exotic, and she took the bait. I politely requested to taste first and was glad I did. If the last place served sugar water this was straight up simple syrup. In a final attempt to please my palate I asked the server to bring me the driest white wine he had by the glass, to which he actually replied, “No offense but people around here don’t drink wine like that.” No offense buddy, but people don’t want to drink swill either. So get it straight. If you’re offering wine, especially if it’s by the glass, make it a memorable one. If you are so completely sold on Chard and Pinot for your whites, for goodness sake taste them before you put them on your list. You don’t have to be a sommelier to trust that if you want to spit it out then you shouldn’t serve it. Restaurant owners, managers, and bar managers take heed: take as much pride in what comes from your bar as you do in what comes from your kitchen. Believe me, a nice glass of wine goes a long way.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Paws Cause(s)

By Brianne Harrison

Almost everyone is suffering the effects of the bad economy. Tragically, non-profits and charity organizations are being hit especially hard, and animal shelters and adoption charities are being dealt a one-two punch: as they deal with budget cuts and constraints due to smaller donations coming in and shrinking endowments, many of them are also facing near-record influxes of animals as owners give them up because they can no longer afford to keep them. It’s not surprising, then, that so many shelters throughout New Jersey are having fundraisers in the coming weeks. They’re not out with a begging bowl, though—these fundraisers could be great opportunities to get out, enjoy the spring weather with your family (furry and human members!), and maybe learn something new.

If you’re after relaxation, head to the Greyhound Friends of New Jersey’s Annual Spring Picnic this Sunday, May 17, at Duke Island Park in Bridgewater. Bring your dog, have a bite to eat, and sample the wares from the vendors in attendance. All proceeds benefit the Greyhound Friends of New Jersey. The same day, Bernardsville hosts Bark Fest 2009—a dog walk and family festival. Events throughout the day include a non-competitive stroll through the pet-friendly, private Upton Pyne Estate, refreshments, shopping, games and activities for children, and an “Adoption Alley”, where you may just find a new best friend! No dog? No problem—you don’t need a canine companion to participate. For more information or to receive a BARK FEST registration form, call 973.377.7094 ext. 229. Proceeds benefit the pets at St. Hubert’s animal shelters. At the end of the month is the 8th Annual “Paws 4 a Cause” dog walk in Ocean County Park in Lakewood. Collect pledges from family and friends to support the Jersey Shore Animal Center.

If you’re in a more competitive mood, you may want to check out the Hair of the Dog 5K race and pet expo on May 17 at Silver Decoy Winery in Robbinsville. The event, presented by the Tri-state Weimaraner Rescue and Res-Q-Pets of New Jersey, starts off with a 5K race (feel free to bring your dog along!), followed by wine tastings at Silver Decoy (5K runners get the first tasting free), book signings by Animal Planet’s Good Dog U trainer Joel Silverman, adoptable pets, a K9 kissing booth, and more. To register, visit

Somewhat more low-key events include yard sales at the Ocean County Animal Shelter in Jackson and SAVE, a Friend to Homeless Animals in Princeton. The Ocean County sale (to be held May 30) features “take tables”—for a $5 donation, you can choose four items from the tables. A $25 donation gets you a table at SAVE’s sale, where you can sell as many items as you have. For more information on the sale at SAVE, call 609.921.6122 .

Monday, May 11, 2009

New Jersey Restaurant Patrons Have Their Say

By Pat Tanner

The economy be damned: we New Jerseyans enjoy eating out as much as ever. But we are making some adjustments, according to the most recent survey by Zagat, which released its 2009/10 New Jersey Restaurants guide a few days ago. The 6,377 avid diners who shared their opinions (and numerical ratings) of 1,003 eateries statewide also responded to a series of questions on their dining habits. Forty percent said they are dining out less frequently and, when they do, many are trimming the tab by cutting back on alcohol and dessert. (Full disclosure: I served as an editor on the guide, as well as the 09/10 Jersey Shore Restaurants pocket guide. As always, the ratings and reviews are by consumers, for consumers.)

Congratulations go to top scorer Restaurant Nicholas, which came out number one (again) in the categories of Most Popular, Top Food, and Top Service. I was personally gratified to see that Ajihei – a tiny, modest, below-stairs Japanese b.y.o. in Princeton that’s notable for its pristine, classic sushi – is ranked fourth in the state for food, behind Lorena’s (Maplewood) and David Drake (Rahway). A word of caution, though, before you gather up all your foodie friends and descend on Ajihei: owner/chef Koji Kitamura does not take reservations and refuses to seat parties larger than four. (For a full explanation, look for my review of Ajihei in the September issue of New Jersey Life.)

In budget-conscious categories, DeLorenzo’s Pies on Hudson Street in Trenton (and now Robbinsville) is tops for pizza, and in the coffee shop/diner division Edison’s Skylark Diner leads the pack. My review of that, as well as the Summit Diner and East Brunswick’s Seville are featured in the June/July issue.

Something to think about as we head into summer: Almost one in three American adults got their first job in a restaurant. For many New Jerseyans, it was a summer job at the Shore that paid for a first car or college tuition. That’s still true today - and just one more reason to continue patronizing local restaurants during down times.