Author Archive for Chaim Szmidt


Va Bene – Yes, Any Meal Here Goes Well!

Last Wednesday the 22nd, during the 9 days, my good friend and mentor Irving Schild, and I had lunch at Va Bene (1589 2nd Avenue – between 82 and 83 – New York, Tel: 212.517.4448)- Tevere 84‘s dairy sister restaurant.



Irving ordered Fettuccine Alfredo Alla Doppia Crema, house-made fettucine in white sauce. The fettuccine, he said, were cooked just right, the sauce flavorful but not overwhelming. In fact he liked the food enough that he took his wife Regina there, for dinner, last eve when they came back to Manhattan for an overnight stay from their summer home.


I had the Ravioli a la Giudia, their house-made ravioli filled with artichokes in a delightful tomato sauce. My ravioli were perfectly flavorful and juicy.  Both dishes were generously garnished – in front of us – with grated Parmeggiano cheese.

The right ambiance, delicious food, and fair pricing, make this dairy restaurant one worth visiting again and again… and again!



A Tale of Two Restaurants – Variations on a Theme

Last week, SYR and I went to Tevere 84 (155 East 84th Street; New York, NY 10028 – 212.744.0210); just as every time before, we found their Roman fare superb. Whether we had the Carcioffi alla Giudia (Jewish Style Artichokes, one of the jewels of Italian cuisine!), Carpaccio di Manzo, Gnocchi al Sugo di Carne, or Scallopine de Vitello al Marsala, everything was cooked to perfection! The artichokes were crisp and tasty, the beef carpaccio was citrusy and tender in the extreme. The gnochi in meat sauce, were bursting with flavor; the veal, sauteed in wine, with mushrooms  was juicy and delicious. We washed it all down with 2 cups, each of us, of the house red, which happened to be an Ovadia Estates selection, smooth, well balanced and with hints of vanilla and spices, an excellent pairing. Definitely a restaurant to go back to again and again!


Carpaccio di Manzo - Thin raw cold beef with mixed salad..

Carpaccio di Manzo – Thin raw cold beef with mixed salad..

We tasted a French version of the Carpaccio, at Chagall Bistro (330 5th Avenue – in Park Slope – Brooklyn, NY 11215; Tel: 718.832.9777), on various occasions…

Steak Tartare - Prime beef raw tartare with cornichons, capers, shallots, chives, yolks, mustard and potato chips...

Steak Tartare – Prime beef raw tartare with cornichons, capers, shallots, chives, yolks, mustard and potato chips…

Both dishes are variations on a theme, so similar and yet… so deliciously different.



Grilled Chicken Skewers With Habanero Chile and Allspice

From Williams Sonoma New Flavors For Chickens – Classic Recipes Redefined, by Rick Rodgers and photography by Tucker + Hossler:GrillChickSkew

Grilled Chicken Skewers With Habanero Chile and Allspice

Allspice tastes of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg combined. Its warm flavor blends with the fiery heat of habanero chile in this rendition of Jamaican jerk seasoning. The heat is tempered by fresh-tasting green onions, salty soy sauce, and sharp vinegar.


  • habanero chile, 1
  • garlic, 2 cloves
  • green onions, 6, coarsely chopped
  • cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons
  • soy sauce, 1 tablespoon
  • ground allspice, 1 tablespoon
  • dried thyme, 1 teaspoon
  • kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon
  • canola oil, 1/2 cup, plus oil for grilling
  • boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, 3 (about 7 ounces each)
  • red bell pepper,1 large, cut into 1-inch squares


Cut the chile in half and remove and discard the seeds. Reserve half of the chilew for another use (or both halves if you like your food very spicy).

Turn on a food processor and drop the garlic and chile half through the feed tube to chop them. Stop the motor, add the green onions, vinegar, soy sauce, allspice, thyme, and salt. Pulse a few times to finely chop the green onions. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream and process until the mixture is smooth.

Cut each chicken breast into 8 pieces each about 1 inch square, to make a total of 24 pieces. Transfer the pieces to a nonreactive bowl. Pour in the marinade and stir to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 6 hours.

Soak 6 bamboo skewers in water to cover for at least 30 minutes.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill direct-heat cooking over medium-high heat. * Replace the grill grate and lightly oil it.

While the grill heats, drain the skewers. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Thread 4 chicken pieces, alternating with 3 red pepper pieces, onto each skewer.

Place the skewers on the grill, cover, and cook, turning the skewers occasionally, until the chicken feels firm when pressed with a fingertip, 10-12 minute total.

Transfer the skewers to a warm platter and serve right away.

Makes 3 – 4 Servings

* Direct-heat grilling over medium-high heat

Preparing a charcoal grill

Ignite about 2 1/2 pounds of coals and let the coals burn until covered with a layer of white ash. Spread the coals in an even layer on the fire bed and then let the coals burn until medium-hot 20 – 30 minutes.

Preparing a gas grill

Make sure there is enough propane in the tank. Turn all the burners to high heat. Close the cover and preheat the grill for 10 – 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-high.

Enjoy, gentle reader. Enjoy!



Italian Ice

From Country Italian, page 340; published by Publications International, Ltd., in 2001:

Photo from page 341

Photo from page 341

Italian Ice


  • 1 cup sweet or dry fruity white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 2 egg whites


  1. Place wine and water in small saucepan , add sugar. Cook over medium high heat until sugar has dissolved and syrup boils; stir frequently. Cover, boil 1 minute. Uncover, adjust heat to maintain simmer. Simmer  10 minutes without stirring. Remover from heat. Refrigerate 1 hour or until syrup is completely cool.
  2. Stir lemon juice into cooled syrup. Pour  into 9-inch round cake pan. Freeze 1 hour.
  3. Quickly stir mixture with fork breaking up ice crystals. Freeze 1 hour more or until firm but not solid. Meanwhile, place medium bowl in freezer to chill.
  4. Beat egg whites in small bowl with electric mixer at high speed until peaks form. Remove lemon ice mixture from cake pan to chilled bowl. Immediately beat ice with whisk or fork until smooth. Fold in egg whites, mix well. Spread egg mixture evenly into same cake pan. Freeze 30 minutes. immediately stir with fork, cover cake panwith foil, Freeze at least 2 hours or until firm.
  5. To serve scoop Italian Ice into fluted champagne glasses or dessert dishes. Serve with berries. Garnish, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!



Raspberry – Rosė Sorbet

David Liebowitz is not only one of the greatest food bloggers, but as a Pastry Chef in LA few were his equals, now that he lives in Paris he writes cookbooks, following is one of his easy to make recipes from The Perfect Scoop – Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, And Sweet Accompaniments. The following recipe appears on page 130:

Photo by: Lara Hata, page 131

Photo by: Lara Hata, page 131

Raspberry – Rosė Sorbet

Makes about 1 Quart

Creating a whole book with lots of recipes for sorbets means that you run the risk of using the word “refreshing” too often. But this sorbet is truly the most refreshing of them all, so I saved that word to describe it. Each bite is pure, frosty bliss.

I use a rosė wine that’s not too sweet, with a touch of fruitiness. You could use almost any blush wine that leans toward the dry side as well, though in saying so I risk losing cred in the eyes of wine lovers and oenophiles. Because of the quantity of wine in this sorbet, it will not freeze very firmly in your ice cream machine and will be somewhat soft when you scrape it ou. But don’t worry . When you go to serve it a few hours later, you’ll find it’s the perfect texture, and yes, very refreshing.

  • 2 cups rosė wine
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups raspberries, fresh or frozen

In a medium nonreactive saucepan, bring the rosėand sugar to a boil. Remove from the heat, add the raspberries, and let cool to room temperature. Press the mixture through a food mill fitted with a fine disk, or puree in a blender or food processor and the press the puree through a strainer to remove the seeds.

Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

VARIATION: To make Strawberry -Rosė Sorbet, substitute 1 pound fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, and sliced, for the raspberries. Press the mixture though a strainer to remove the seeds.

PERFECT PAIRING: Raspberry – Rosė Sorbet is so perfect on its own that you should resist serving it with anything except a handful of luscious raspberries.

Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!



Vitamin A Odyssey Apricot Peach Smoothie

It’s summer, it’s hot and humid and we need something to help us cool down. Nothing better than a smoothie, especially if it is also healthy, filled with vitamins and antioxidants. We scour the net and cookbooks of all kinds to bring you the most delicious recipes, like this one from Ellen Brown and Karen Konopelski‘s Super Smoothies – 100 Recipes to Supercharge Your Immune System, on pages 140 and 141:

Vitamin A Odyssey Apricot Peach Smoothie

ApPeachSmThe bright orange color of apricots and peaches should serve as your clue that the are both good sources of of beta-carotene, which helps protect your cells from free radicals and lycopene, which may lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease. these two fruits have complementary flavors as well as colors, as you will see when enjoying the frosty smoothie.

  • 1 cup chilled apricot nectar
  • 1/2 cup silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured dried apricots
  • 1 1/2 cups peach slices, frozen
  • 1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
  • 4 peach wedges for garnish


  1. Combine apricot nectar, tofu, and dried apricots in a blender or smoothie maker. Blend on high speed for 45 seconds or until mixture is pureed and smooth.
  2. Add peach slices and frozen yogurt, and blend on high speed until mixture is smooth.
  3. Serve immediately, garnished with peach wedges, if desired.

Yield: Four 1-cup servings

Nutritional Analysys: Each 1-cup serving provides 180 calories; 1 g total fat; 0 g saturated fat; 3 g protein; 43 g carbohydrate; 4 g dietary fiber; 2.5 mg cholesterol

Tip: Most commercial dried fruit has been sprayed with sulfur dioxide, a gas used for fumigation. the gas destroys much of the fruit’s natural B vitamins, so make sure the dried fruit you buy is marked unsulfured.

SUPERCHARGE NUTRIENTS                                      % DAILY VALUE

  • Vitamin A                                                             3628 IU (73%)
  • Vitamin B6                                                           0.1 mg (5%)
  • Vitamin C                                                             25.7 mg (43%)
  • Vitamin E                                                             0.5 mg (3%)
  • Magnesium                                                          27.4 mg (7%)
  • Manganese                                                          0.2 mg (4%)
  • Selenium                                                             2.7 mcg (4%)
  • Zinc                                                                     0.5 mg (3%)

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values
may be higher or lower depending on your caloric needs.

It tastes delicious, it is good for you and it’s truly refreshing. Enjoy, gentle reader, enjoy!



Fancy Foods Show 2015

Yesterday was the last of the three day Fancy Foods Show at the Javits Center, since I wanted to see what kosher products were being shown – and being an addicted foodie – I had to find out what it was about. Needless to say, it was packed with people….



There were quite a few kosher products, while I didn’t get to visit every kosher exhibitor I did see and speak to a few. The first booth I stopped by was part of the Uruguayan Pavillion…


…where I spoke to Levi Shemtov – the son of the Lubavitch sheliach in Montevideo, Uruguay. Levi’s been busy running the famed Brooklyn Pizza in the Punta Del Este summer resort. Together with Juan Manuel Lopez, from TALAR Ltd, he will be marketing two cholov Yisroel cheese types (Mozzarella and Danbo, with more types coming later) and a cholov Yisroel Dulce de Leche, they expect to have these products in the US, by the beginning of 2016.

I found the Mozzarella a bit more subtle and softer in texture than what what we are used to in the US, but it brought back some great memories of yesteryear… I had never tasted a Danbo type cheese before, in fact I had never heard of it, so I had to inquire what it was. It’s a Danish semihard cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk, the smooth, supple interior has a scattering of eyes and a mild, buttery flavor. I found it a perfect choice for sandwiches!

As for the Dulce de Leche, I used to be able to get an Argentinian product in Boro Park, but it unfortunately is no longer cholov Yisroel. Having grown on my mother’s version of it (made by cooking a can of condensed milk for hours (while immersed in a huge pot filled with water) and acquires a deep golden (actually it’s more like ochre) color. In the US what is normally called Dulce de Leche is really a variation of caramel rather than the real thing. I can’t wait to get indulge my habit again, I’ve been going cold turkey for too long!!!

Next I went to the Pereg booth…


Pereg has a very large selection of spices, rice, couscous and a brand new Quinoa Flour.

Then I passed by the White Coffee Corp. They make all types of flavored coffee, including my favorite Keurig cup: Hazelnut with an OU hechsher, as are all their coffees. They also make a very popular Chocolate Donut (yes I got a 10 oz pack from them!) under the Entenmann‘s label…

Koppers manufactures over 450 types of chocolates…


Since the 1920’s they’ve been producing kosher chocolates, they were the first company to make Rum Cordials which I always liked, BUT… my new favorite is their New York Expresso Mix.

Next week we will broadcast some of the pre-taped interviews we did at the show, we will announce the time here.



Basil – Finally Again

Late afternoon yesterday, SYR and I had the pleasure of stopping by Basil (see here and here) – 270 Kingston Ave; Brooklyn, NY 11213; Telephone: 718.285.8777. While many eateries, in the kosher world, become too complacent as their quality declines, Basil still maintains their high standards.

I started my meal with an ice cold Weihenstephan Beer. Brewed in Germany since 1040, at the world’s oldest existing brewery, it is a golden-yellow wheat beer, with its fine white foam, with aromas of cloves and a refreshing banana flavor. It is full bodied and with a smooth yeast taste. It paired superbly with the Wild Mushroom Pizza I shared with
SYR (it comes with a delicious goat cheese, mozzarella and truffle oil)…


and the Garlic-Truffle-Mayo and Parmesan Fries I had. SYR opted for a Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Breadcrumbs side.


they had a “delicate buttery and lemony taste,” she said. She washed it all down with a 2011 Baron Herzog Chardonnay. She described it as having, “intense floral aromas which were followed by notes of fresh peach, pear and citrus with hints of toasty vanilla oak. Soft in texture and well-balanced.”

We finished the meal with a selection of in-house pastries, which included a melt in your mouth chocolate croissant, an apple turnover, a cinnamon danish and more; a great finish for a great meal! We shouldn’t have waited so long to come back…



An Azerbaijani Grill

This past Friday, very early in the morning, I left for Shabbat – with friends – to their Eagle Lake summer home in the Poconos. This community is located about 20 minutes out of Scranton, PA., next to man-made Eagle Lake. It was a very beautiful day, perfect for barbecuing. Since we had just arrived, done some shopping, and were getting ready for Shabbat there was little time to properly marinade the meat. My hosts put me in charge of barbecuing; after checking out the pantry to see what was available and checking the refrigerator to see what kind of meat, I decided to make a rub. The meat turned out to be 3 lbs of a nice London Broil, they wanted it very spicy I was told.

Considering the limited choices I picked:


I ended up using more than 1 bottle of some of these...

I ended up using more than 1 bottle of some of these…

CS Fast and Spicy Meat Rub


  • 1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence (for a superb aroma)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground Lemon Pepper 
  • 1 teaspoon Steakhouse Onion Burger
  • 1 teaspoon Magic Salt Free Seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Meat Magic


  1. Mix well and the above quantities will yield enough rub for one skewer of pieces of meat
This is a very low and interesting Azerbaijani barbecue. It sits very low and the skewers are inserted on 5 sets of parallel grooves.

This is a interesting Azerbaijani style barbecue. It sits very low and the skewers are inserted on 5 sets of parallel grooves.

I cut up the meat into 2 inch cubes, each cube was then rubbed with the above mixture, put on a skewer and barbecued for about 7 minutes (having turned the skewers once at the 3.5 minute mark). Each skewer had 8 pieces of meat.

The first 5 out of the 7 skewers of meat I barbecued.

The first 5 out of the 7 skewers of meat I barbecued.

Between the three adults and two preteens there was nothing left!

The meat came out juicy, spicy but flavorful, and very aromatic. Shabbos day and Sunday rained non stop, but even then we ate all the meals outside in the wooden 12 ft by 12 ft gazebo, the windows were covered with mesh and plastic to keep the insects. On motzey Shabbos the temperature went down to 49F, I guess the mountains – 120 miles out of Brooklyn – are a different world. In fact, my Brooklyn allergies did not affect me even once during the three days in the Poconnos!

We saw quite a few deer throughout, and on Sunday as we were leaving back to New York we even managed to see another visitor by the community’s garbage containers…

A black baby bear, busy foraging through the garbage bags, seemingly unconcerned about the five golf cart and two vans filled with humans surrounding him...

A black baby bear, busy foraging through the garbage bags, seemingly unconcerned about the five golf cart and two vans filled with humans, armed with cameras and iPhones, surrounding him.

I wonder how far Mamma Bear was…



Lunch and a Walk in Central Park North

Yesterday, SYR and I had the pleasure of having lunch with the famed Lévana Kirschenbaum at her apartment, in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. While everyone who has read this blog over the years knows of my love/hate relationship with fish (more hate than love, actually), I really enjoyed her sushi grade tuna steaks. Juicy, flavorful and without a hint of fishiness they were truly delicious!!!


A delicious tossed salad, a cup of sake in the lower  left corner and a some tuna steaks in the back...

A delectable tossed salad, a cup of sake in the lower left corner and a some tuna steaks in the back…

Grilled Mushrooms, Grilled Zucchini and Carrot Salad...

Grilled Mushrooms, Grilled Zucchini and Carrot Salad… Fantastic!

After such a great lunch (which we capped with Lévana‘s superb Chocolate Chip Cookies) the three of us went for a walk in Central Park North…

...a wooden bridge

…a wooden bridge

Some of the Park's inhabitants...

Some of the park’s inhabitants…

Great company, great meal, great walk, great afternoon, what more can one ask?


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