Archive for May, 2009

Summer grilling

May 26, 2009

Summer has unofficially begun with the passing of Memorial Day!  And with summer comes entertaining, and that means grilling and cocktails long into the evening.   So now comes the question, what kind of grill?  The query is beyond just the usual gas vs. charcoal (gas is the obvious choice at this point, it has a smaller carbon footprint) for some people there are limitations because of where they live.  You might have a swell backyard deck, replete with pool and fancy umbrellas.  Then again, maybe you live in the city and have a balcony or terrace. Or maybe you do not have a balcony, terrace or summer house and would like those nice grill marks on your steak or fish … now what?  We have suggestions for everyone.

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For the man who has everything and wants the BMW of grilling, sleek, sexy and nice handling, there is the Viking Outdoor Series.  I love cooking with Viking indoors and their outdoor equipment comes highly recommended.  They have a feature, called “TruSear which is 30,000 BTUs of searing infrared power.”   You want the hottest grill possible and this is one of them.  In addition, Viking has everything you could possibly imagine to create an elaborate outdoor kitchen.

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Viking 30" Ultra-Premium Gas Grill
Viking 30″ Ultra-Premium Gas Grill

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I imagine you thought I would recommend one of Weber’s charcoal grills, in truth, I do not recommend anyone use a charcoal grill unless you are camping.  Why?  Because it is not a responsible choice for the environment.  Research into this question by the Oak Ridge National Labratory has determined, “the majority of carbon dioxide emissions are from grills using charcoal briquettes, because the amount of carbon per Btu of gas is about one-third that of charcoal … A liquefied petroleum gas grill operated for an hour would emit 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide while a charcoal grill would emit about 11 pounds.And then I read on Huffington Post, “Bobby Flay in Boy Meets Grill expresses his preference for his gas grills, because, he says, “the real flavor boost (from grilling) comes from marinades and seasonings, and from quick searing directly over a very hot fire—which a good gas grill does as well as charcoal.” So there you have it from the mouth of the master.

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That being said, Weber does make some of the very best gas grills on the market.  If you are not creating an entire outdoor kitchen with a suite of matching appliances, then I recommend the Weber.  Their Genesis EP-310 series has 42,000 BTU-per-hour output and really, what more could you ask for since the hottest grill possible is always the best.  Searing the outside, seals in  juices and creates a delicious, moist product with a beautifully caramelized exterior.   How do you know that your food is done?  Firmness is the answer.  Do not cut into the meat, touch it, as it cooks the flesh gets firmer, the more firm the more cooked.  As the grill master, Bobby Flay says on his website, “A rare steak feels squishy; a medium steak feels more springy; a well-done steak feels as taut as a trampoline.” It will take a bit of experimenting until you get it just right.  Allow your meat and chicken rest for a few minutes before serving to allow the juices to congeal inside the meat, keeping it moist.  Since your food is still cooking while it rests, it is a good idea to under cook your food slightly.

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Weber Genesis Series Grill
Weber Genesis Series Grill

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For those of you who would like to grill and feel impeded by the lack of outdoor space there are several easy solutions.  All-Clad, one of my favorite kitchen suppliers, has a wonderful indoor electric grill.  This will not have the very high heat of an outdoor gas grill, it will produce nice grill marks and use less oil than pan sauteing your food.

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All-Clad Electric Indoor Grill

All-Clad Electric Indoor Grill

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If the thought of another indoor appliance has you running out of your local kitchen store, and you still want those lovely grill marks and some of the flavor, then a grill pan is a great alternative.  I recommend Le Creuset’s cast-iron square grill pan.  Their enameled cast iron is industrial strength , it will last your lifetime and beyond.  As Le Creuset says “Cast iron has been used as “the” material for cooking pots since Roman times.”  And the Romans know something about cooking.  Their products come in several colors, just in case that is more inspirational for your cooking.

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Le Creuset Square Grill Pan
Le Creuset Square Grill Pan

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Lastly, marinades and dry rubs are the key to enhancing the flavor of anything you throw on the grill.  A marinade can be as simple as salt, pepper, olive oil and a dash of balsamic vinegar.  A friend of mine from South American used to marinate his lamb chops in a serious layer of sea salt and vodka.  They were incredible!  For steak, often salt is all you need.  For fish and chicken I recommend something more elaborate.  Experiment with dry spices, fresh herbs and citrus.  If that seems a bit too risky, Whole Foods has their own pre-packaged dry rubs and bottled marinades, which are wonderful and take all the worry out of getting it right.  Make sure you have a few basting brushes to apply the marinade and a good set of kitchen tongs to work with.

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Footnote, if you are going to use a charcoal grill because that is your only choice, I have two footnotes.  One, use a chimney starter to heat your coals, it is easy and does not require the use of lighter fluid.  Two, buy only charcoal that is made of wood ONLY.  Typically charcoal that you find at your local convenience store is composed of saw dust and lighter fluid. Really you do not want that in your food. Additionally, Oak Ridge National Labs did research and found that “Common charcoal has a heating value of 9,700 Btu per pound while solid wood charcoal has a heating value of about 13,000 Btu per pound.”  As I mentioned before, the higher the heat the better the better it is for searing.

Happy grilling!

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dale b. cohen

new york city

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sofa shopping, lesson one

May 15, 2009

To err is human, to choose well, is divine!

So often I find that people assume that because you are buying something for your home, you feel that you should be able to choose the right item – meaning the shape, scale and color of say, your new living room sofa.  In fact, this is rarely the case and when you choose the wrong item, it is a very costly mistake.

In most areas of our lives we believe in the division of labor, leaving work we are not trained to do to the professionals.  As most of my clients are not trained in architecture, interiors or design, they understand that it is best to leave these decisions/suggestions to a professional.  Goodness knows I leave my legal work to my lawyers and my accounting work to my accountant.

And while you may spend a bit more working with a professional – the look of your home will be appreciably improved.  Additionally, you will avoid those expensive mistakes, buying a sofa that might be too large with a fabric that is possibly too dark or not durable.  Therefore when you move to your next home, there is a good chance that the sofa might stay behind or if it does move with you, you might get it in place and realize it does not work.

All of that being said, how do you buy a sofa?  I laugh when friends call and say “I need a sofa, where should I go shopping”, as if there was just one place to go.  I then retort, that would be like me asking you where to buy a pair of black pants?  There are hundreds of resources, price points, sizes and styles to choose from.  Where does that leave you when you are shopping for a sofa?  When I work with clients, all upholstery (ie. your sofas, lounge chairs, arm chairs, etc) is custom, in some manner.  And that can mean different things.

One custom option is to choose a sofa from a manufacturer like Lewis Mittman.  Your designer places the order with them and sends in your own fabric to be used to upholster the sofa (this is called COM – customer’s own merchandise).  This fabric is chosen from a fabric showroom, samples will be selected by your designer.

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Lewiss Mittman, Bond Street Sectional

Lewis Mittman, Bond Street Sectional

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Another custom option is to choose a sofa from a manufacturer like B&B Italia.  In this instance you choose your fabric from their showroom since they have stringent fabric requirements and make it a bit of a chore to use your own materials (you have send fabric samples to Italy for approval, and if approved sending your fabric to Italy is fraught with problems.  Thereby making an already lengthy process, interminably long).  They have a wide selection of neutral fabrics and leathers.

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B&B Italia, Sofa by Anthony Citterio

B&B Italia, Charles Large Sofa by Anthony Citterio

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And then there is a hybrid option at showrooms like Holly Hunt.  Here you choose from one of the lines that they rep, like my favorite Christian Liagre, and you have the option to choose one of their wonderful fabrics or send in your own materials.

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Holly Hunt, Augustin Sofa by Christian Liagre

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There is much more to know about purchasing a sofa, things like seat depth, seat height, back height, what is most comfortable is determined by the owner’s size, height and the length of your legs.  In the end I feel it is important to work with a designer because to a person there are two mistakes that are made by just about everyone who buys a sofa on their own – the piece is too large for the space and the finishes are much too dark.  In order to have a happy beautiful home, one that will sing either “swinging bachelor bad” or “I am looking for a wife and family”, it is imperative that you employ a professional to the task at hand.

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dale b. cohen

new york city

the 10 essential items for breakfast in bed

May 6, 2009

This list comprises the 10 essential items you need to prepare a simple breakfast in case she stays over.  Since a woman would rather lie around your, hopefully, tidy apartment than wander out to breakfast wearing last night’s outfit, running out to the grocery store and stocking-up might be a good idea. Most items will keep for a long time so you will be covered in between conquests.

1 Coffee

It goes without saying that one of the most important items you have to have for breakfast in bed is great coffee.  Many people like electronic coffee makers, I say it’s just the two of you, make it the old fashioned way.

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This stylish coffee maker is designed by the German designer Tassilo von Grolman. Cafino can be found at Mossonline.com.

pph_6112_lMany people like a french press.  This modern interpretation of the french press coffee maker is designed by the Italian architect, Aldo Rossi.

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My preference is the old fashioned Italian stovetop type.  This one from Oliver Hemming’s 66 Collection is simply beautiful.

drip_group_trio_250x250Make sure you buy the proper type of coffee grounds for the type of coffee maker you actually own.  I only use Illy Coffee.  It is like having a little piece of Rome right at home.

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Tea

Because not everyone drinks coffee, have at least one black tea, Lipton or Earl Grey or English Breakfast or Green and at least one herbal, mint, chamomile or a mixed floral.

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Bread

Buy sliced bread, one loaf of whole wheat and one of sourdough or rye and put them in the freezer (make sure sure you have a toaster).  Far and away the best sliced bread I have ever had, and I always have a loaf of in my freezer, is Eli Zabar’s Health Loaf.  Toast this bread and spread a little sweet cream butter and all is well with the world.

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For those of you who like old fashioned white bread, you are on your own.  I left white bread in the dust years ago along with fluffenutter sandwiches.  They were great, but our tastes have grown more sophisticated since then.

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Salt and Pepper

I love the flaky crystals of the Scottish salt, Maldon.  I have asked many chefs what their favorite salt is and to a person they all say Maldon is their every day salt.

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Eggs

Eggs, unbroken last a very long time, you might want to do what my dad does, write the purchase date on each egg, they will keep for 6 months.  Always best to buy cage free and organic, if possible.

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Butter

Buy a pound of organic sweet cream butter or unsalted butter, it is better for breakfast, and keep it in the freezer. It lasts practically forever in there.

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Milk

This is the only item with any real temporal issues, I buy organic low fat milk, which is healthier.  As an added bonus it has a much longer shelf life. If you want a very very long shelf life then buy Lactaid, it seems to last practically forever, but I have no idea what’s in it.

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Sugar and Sugar substitute

Pick your poison, I have organic Florida crystals at home and the “yellow” packets for those who prefer synthetic sweeteners. Choose from the Pink, Blue or Yellow artificial sweeteners and have at least of few packets of one of them.  They will all last even after a nuclear holocaust, which is why I stick with the real stuff.

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9 Pancake mix and real Maple Syrup

My favorite pancake mix is the Multigrain Pancake mix from Trader Joe’s, it makes fluffy hearty pancakes every time.

traderjoesmultigrainbakingmix

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10  Oranges, Orange Juice

Of course, what could be better than fresh squeezed orange juice.  Either you acquire a small juice press and keep some oranges on hand in the fridge – they do keep quite a while in there – or you find the best fresh frozen organic organic juice (from Whole Foods).

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The OrangeX Chrome Juicer is nicely styled, a bit retro and simple to use.

The elegant Breville Citurs press is easy to use, simply pressing the fruit in the press activates the motor.

The elegant Breville Citrus Press is easy to use, pressing the fruit activates the motor. Just lovely.

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If you are a very lucky man, the woman you choose to be with will be a great cook and can prepare breakfast with the materials laid out in this blogpost.  I know, this is wishful thinking.  Many women I know do not know how to cook, which always mystified me … until one day when I was living in Los Angeles and preparing an elaborate dinner party for 20 or so friends and I asked my adorable and very slender friend V.M. “Why don’t you or any of our girlfriends know how to cook?”   To which she replied, “My mother always told me not to eat, so why would I learn to cook?”  And with that I understood so much about my many years in Los Angeles and moved back to New York the following year.

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dale b. cohen

new york city