Books Serge the Concierge Weblogs

Chicken-Dos, No Weaves, V Comb to Buttercup, From Upcoming 'Chickenology' via Princeton Architectural Press

Jan 15
Chicken-Dos, no weaves, V Comb to Buttercup, from upcoming Chickenology (Princeton Architectural Press, February 2021) by Barbara Sandri, Francesco Giubbilini, Camilla Pintonato (* Image above from upcoming 'Chickenology' courtesy of Princeton Architectural Press)
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Consumer Products Food and Drink Personal Organizer Serge the Concierge Weblogs

Low Tech Brew, Great Coffee Taste, You Can't Rush Taste, My Pick, Chemex Glass Coffee Maker

Jan 13
After my last coffee maker died, I was planning to buy a new, better, fancier one, I had somehow settled on the Brewsly 15 Bar (at just under $200). Since it would take a week to 10 days for it to be delivered, I hit pause on my buy and decided to give the Chemex (6 Cups) Glass Coffee Maker a chance (around $45). It was in stock at my local Williams Sonoma so I...
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Entertain, Yourself, Relaxed Cooking with Stuffed Artichokes from Miss Maggie's Kitchen by Heloise Brion

Entertain (Yourself?) in these still Covid times...

Here's to relaxed cooking with Stuffed Artichokes from Miss Maggie's Kitchen Relaxed French Entertaining by Heloise Brion (Flammarion, September 2020).

Stuffed artichokes

Serves 5

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Stuffed artichokes rizzoli1024_1


5 globe artichokes
3 lemons, preferably organic
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups (10½ oz./300 g) bread crumbs
Leaves of 3 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped
Leaves of 3 sprigs fresh basil, chopped
1½ cups (5¼ oz./50 g) Parmesan, grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Cut off the base and the top 1¼ inches (3 cm) of each artichoke and remove the tough outer layer of leaves.
  2. Grate the zest and squeeze the juice from 2 of the lemons. Set the zest aside and pour the juice over the artichokes to prevent browning.
  3. Steam the artichokes for 20 minutes and let cool.
  4. Meanwhile, juice the remaining lemon, then sauté the garlic in a skillet over medium heat with a small amount of olive oil and a pinch of salt. When the garlic begins to color, stir in the lemon juice, bread crumbs, parsley, and basil.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper, stir in the lemon zest, and remove from the heat.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/Gas Mark 4). Remove the inner leaves from the center of each artichoke and scoop out the chokes with a teaspoon.
  7. Stir the Parmesan into the bread crumb mixture, then stuff this filling into the cavity of each artichoke, packing some between the leaves as well. Sit the artichokes close together in a single layer in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, and bake for 15–20 minutes, until the artichokes are completely tender and the bread crumbs golden.

       Serve hot or warm.

For more from the author, visit her Miss Maggie's Kitchen website

(* Reprinted from Miss Maggie’s Kitchen by Heloise Brion -Flammarion, September 2020- Photographed by Christophe Roue)

Vehicle Loose Handbrake Led to Discovery of Fuel Tank at Risk of Bursting, Concierge Mondays Number 1

Since March 2005, I have been serving travel tips, food recipes and the like.

In one of my irregular chats with a good friend, Ramon Ray, a few weeks back, he asked me if I ever pondered blending in some of my concierge life.

The idea came back to the fore so I decided to bring it to life. Here is the very first of my Concierge Mondays.

While driving back a client's vehicle I had picked up after a minor repair, back in 2015, I heard a rattling noise.

I stopped and looked under the vehicle and noticed the handbrake cable close to the ground.

I went straight to my mechanic to get this fixed. This is the kind of minor thing that could turn into a headache if you were unlucky enough to have that loose cable caught in a branch or a piece of metal on the road and ripped something off the car underbelly.

That was not the end of my surprises.

After mechanic put vehicle on the lift, he called me right away to show me large scrape on nothing less than the fuel tank.

Car fuel tank 2015

I found out later  that vehicle had run over a hidden cement cinder block during a recent snow fall.

Nobody at the time had realized the damage done. 

Thankfully, I caught it in time to prevent fire or worse.

Fixing that damage as well as the radiator (and more) turned into a gift that kept giving.

Fuel tanks and handbrakes for Concierge Mondays #1

You Can't Wear that Bonnet of a Galette des Rois from Lenotre Epiphany Cakes 2021 designed by Camille Ortoli

You cant' wear that bonnet of a Galette des Rois from Lenotre 2021 Epiphany Cakes selections on January 6.

It was designed by Camille Ortoli who I guess is the same artist best know for her Designer Papier creations.

Bonnet galette des rois lenotre camille ortoli

Galette des Rois comes in 3 versions, Chocolat, Dried Fruits and Candied Citrus.

For more mouth watering, check Épiphanie : Les plus belles galettes des rois 2021 on Elle-A -Table (December 18, 2020)

The article is in French yet even those whose French is halting can enjoy the visuals of the piece.

Learn more about the January 6- Epiphany tradition, read Having an Epiphany on January 6 with Galette des Rois, a French Treat (January 2010, from our pages).

(* Galette des Rois image from Lenotre Facebook page)


Putting A Stamp On Portuguese Food, Pastel de Tentugal, A classic from the 16th Century

One of the things that stayed with me from a July 2018 visit to Portugal is stamps.

I had bought a few too many stamps that were not used as airport clearing for flight back was a little slow.

Pastel de tentugal

So I brought back Portuguese food memories, exhibit # 1 is 'Pastel de Tentugal' or Pastéis de Tentúgal.

History has it that they were created by Carmelite nuns in the town of Tentugal (Coimbra district) in the 16th century.

Want to try your hand at baking some check this Pastel de Tentugal Recipe from Milly's Kitchen

Feeling Crabby, Think Louisiana Sunshine with Garlic Crabs Recipe from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin

Feeling crabby! Think Louisiana sunshine with Garlic Crabs recipe from Mosquito Supper Club (Artisan Books, April 2020) by Melissa Martin.

Garlic Crabs with Parsley and Lemon

Serves 2 to 4

In Louisiana, when temperatures start rising to sweltering highs and the brackish water heats up, it’s peak crab season. From June to September, you can open just about any icebox on the bayou and find a tray of boiled crabs. We eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There are endless ways to eat leftover boiled crabs. You can eat them cold, stew them, throw them in gumbo, or roast them like this, with garlic and lemon. The crabs are already cooked, so you are just warming them through and creating a delicious sauce that will be partially baked on. You’ll need lots of crusty bread or rice to soak up the buttery, garlicky jus.



Leaves from 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley

12 garlic cloves, peeled

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

6 boiled large or medium blue crabs, halved and cleaned of their gills and lungs (see Note)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cracked black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably Original Louisiana Hot Sauce

3 bay leaves (see Note)

½ cup (120 ml) canola oil

½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter

Crusty bread or cooked rice, for serving


Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C).

On a cutting board, combine the parsley, 6 of the garlic cloves, and the lemon zest. Finely chop them together, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

Put the crabs in a large bowl and season with the salt, black pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce. Add the bay leaves.

Warm a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then add the oil and the remaining 6 garlic cloves. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant, then use a slotted spoon to transfer it to a plate; set aside.

Working in batches to avoid crowding the skillet, add the crabs to the hot oil and cook until starting to brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then flip and cook until starting to brown on the second side, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the crabs to a roasting pan and repeat to brown the remaining crabs.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the skillet and let it melt. Return the crabs to the skillet and turn them to coat evenly with the butter. Transfer the crabs and the reserved garlic to the roasting pan and place the pan in the oven. Roast, flipping once after 3 minutes, until the crabs are golden, about 6 minutes total.

Remove from the oven and add the remaining 6 tablespoons butter and the parsley-garlic mixture to the pan. Toss until the crabs are evenly coated. Season with the lemon juice and serve with crusty bread or rice.

Note: A cleaned crab is a live crab that has had the top shell, gills, and back flap removed. Ask your fish market or seafood purveyor for fresh cleaned crabs, or ask if they’ll clean some crabs for you if they’re not already on hand.

Note: I like to leave the bay leaves in the final recipe. They’re not meant to be eaten, but it makes for a beautiful, rustic presentation.

(“Excerpted from Mosquito Supper Club by Melissa Martin -Artisan Books- Copyright © 2020. Photographs by Denny Culbert")

Italian Capon Christmas Recipe for New Year, Cappone Di Natale with Bra Sausage from Old World Italian

Italian Christmas recipe for New Year's table, Why Not?  Christmas Roast Capon with Chestnuts, Marsala, and Bra Sausage from Old World Italian 'Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy' (Clarkson Potter, September 2020) by Mimi Thorisson.

Cappone Di Natale Ripieno Con Salsiccia Di Bra

Christmas Roast Capon with Chestnuts, Marsala, and Bra Sausage

Italians like to eat fish during the holidays, but like in many other countries, Italian Christmas traditions often involve stuffed birds. This is the recipe I cooked last Christmas, with a Piemontese touch. A fatty bird stuffed with goodness, including chestnuts (one of my favorite foods), Marsala from Sicily that adds sweetness, and Bra sausages, famous for their flavor and quality and made from lean veal and a little bacon.

Serves 6

Old World Italian_ Capone di Natale_Page_1_Image_0001


Stuffed capon

1 whole capon

(4½ pounds / 2 kg), entirely deboned (ask your butcher to prepare)

2¼ pounds / 1 kg chestnuts, cooked and peeled

1 slice stale bread, crust removed, torn into pieces

⅓ cup / 80 ml whole milk

10 ounces / 300 g ground pork

½ pound / 230 g bra (veal) sausage, casings removed

2 large eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons / 100 g grated parmesan cheese

⅓ cup / 80 ml dry marsala wine

12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces / 140 g pancetta, sliced (about 20 pieces), or thinly sliced bacon

extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons / 30 g unsalted butter, at room temperature gravy

⅔ cup / 160 ml white wine

3 tablespoons / 45 g unsalted butter

1 tablespoon cornstarch, sifted

fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Prepare the stuffed capon: Preheat the oven to 350°F / 180°C.

2 Clean the capon and pat dry.

3 Place half of the chestnuts in a bowl, mash them with a fork, and set aside.

4 In a small bowl, combine the bread and the milk and soak until softened. Squeeze out the excess milk.

5 In a large bowl, combine the ground pork, sausage meat, and soaked bread. Add the eggs, Parmesan, Marsala, sage, mashed chestnuts, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

6 Lay the capon skin side down on a work surface and spread the filling over the flesh, then roll up, starting from a long side. Wrap the top part of the rolled capon horizontally with the pancetta. Tie the roast in several places with kitchen twine. In a roasting pan large enough to hold the bird, drizzle a little olive oil. Place the rolled bird in the center of the roasting pan and drizzle with more olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Dot the bird with the butter.

7 Transfer to the oven and roast, basting the bird regularly, until cooked through, about 2 hours. About 15 minutes before the end of cooking, add the remaining chestnuts to the roasting pan. Transfer the bird to a cutting board and the chestnuts to a bowl, cover the bird with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

8 Meanwhile, make the gravy: Place the roasting pan over medium heat. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, stirring constantly. Scrape up all of the browned bits and bring to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, add the sifted cornstarch and whisk it into the sauce. Cook until glossy and thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

9 Carve the capon into slices ¾ inch / 2 cm thick and serve with the gravy and chestnuts on the side.

Note: Instead of capon, you can also make this recipe with a chicken or a turkey, adjusting the stuffing amounts and cooking time. For the Bra sausage, you can use an herbed pork sausage

(*Recipe reproduced with permission from Old World Italian 'Recipes and Secrets from Our Travels in Italy' -Clarkson Potter, September 2020- by Mimi Thorisson. Photograph by Oddur Thorisson)

Smaller Party Still Needs Amuse Gueule, Fig and Cheese Toasts from Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten

A smaller party still needs Amuse-Gueule, Fig and Cheese Toasts by Ina Garten from Modern Comfort Food (Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House- October 2020).

Fig & Cheese Toasts


Fig and Goat Cheese Toasts


(1-pound) loaf country bread, halved, and sliced crosswise ³⁄₈ inch thick

1 (8.5-ounce) jar good fig spread, such as Dalmatia (see note)

8 ounces plain creamy cheese, such as goat cheese or cream cheese

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 ripe fresh figs, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise

Microgreens Syrupy balsamic vinegar


Toast the bread in a toaster and while still warm, spread the fig spread on each slice to cover it entirely. Place the cheese in a bowl and heat in the microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, until it’s creamy and spreadable. Spread a layer of the cheese on the fig spread, leaving the edges of the fig spread visible. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cut each toast crosswise to make appetizers that will be easy to eat. Lightly drizzle each piece with the balsamic vinegar, and top with a few microgreens. Serve at room temperature.

Note: I prefer fig spread, which has less sugar than fig jam or fig preserves, but of course you can use either. Choose a fig spread that is quite thick or it will be hard to spread the cheese on top

(* Recipe courtesy of MODERN COMFORT FOOD. Copyright © 2020 by Ina Garten. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photo by Quentin Bacon)

Breathe Better with these Spiced Turmeric Mashed Potatoes from Simply by Sabrina Ghayour

Breathe better with these Spiced Turmeric Mashed Potatoes from 'Simply' by British-Iranian chef, food writer and culinary teacher, Sabrina Ghayour (Mitchell Beazley, October 2020).

Spiced turmeric mashed potatoes with cilantro

I’ve always loved mashed potatoes, but this is the next level taste-wise. It’s so comforting, and I’m not sure how it could be improved. I am mad about turmeric and it’s no secret that I love chiles, and the natural sweetness of the potatoes means they can handle the spices and chile heat easily. This is a dish I can’t recommend enough, even if you are simply looking for an alternative to your usual mashed potatoes on the side.

Serves 6 to 8

Spiced turmeric mashed potatoes from Simply


4½lb russet potatoes, peeled and halved, or quartered if large

 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

½ cup butter

1 to 2 teaspoons chile flakes, to taste

¾oz fresh turmeric, scrubbed and very finely grated

1 small pack (about 1oz) of fresh cilantro, finely chopped

sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper


Cook the potatoes in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes, or until cooked through. Drain in a colander and set aside to steam dry.

Place the saucepan over medium heat, add the cumin and mustard seeds, and toast them for a few minutes, shaking the pan until they release their aroma. Add the butter, chile flakes, and turmeric and stir until the butter has melted.

Return the potatoes to the pan and season generously with salt and pepper, then mash with the spiced butter until just combined (I like to keep some chunkiness in the texture). Check and adjust the seasoning, and when you’re happy with it, add the cilantro and mix well to serve.

Simply delicious with:

Spice-rubbed Spatchcocked Squab (see page 55) or Yogurt & Spice Roasted Salmon 
(see page 62). 

(* Recipe from 'Simply' by Sabrina Ghayour -Mitchell Beazley, October 2020- Photography Copyright Kris Kirkham...Reproduced with permission)

10 Plus Years after Slow Planet and In Praise of Slowness , Carl Honore now brings us 30 Days to Slow

10 plus years after Slow Planet and In Praise of Slowness , Carl Honore now brings us 30 Days to Slow (November 2020, Carl Honore)  his step by slow step guide to a saner life.

30 days to slow

He is continuing his take on The Hare and The Tortoise, that little fable from all the way back to 1668.

It seems that Carl Honore 'Slow Planet' which I mentioned in Do revolutions start on Friday? back in March 2008 is no longer live.

I did my best to incorporate some of that thinking into Mediterranean Work and Play, my new venture.