Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a companion recipe for a story I posted a while back.  The theory was to post them both at the same time, but that's why it's called a theory, and not a law. Peanut butter cookies can be made with or without the chocolate chips for this recipe.  The companion story can be found here, if that interests you. Either way the cookies were always a bit hit.

  • 1/2 lb unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups smooth peanut butter
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Total Time: 10 minutes to prep the dough. 20 Minutes to cook and cool.

Start by melting the butter. Yes, that's right. I melt the butter for my cookies. Not sure why it works so well for me and others tell you not to, but it does.  I use a microwave and get the butter just to the point where the butter has not more pieces. If there a few small ones, it will work fine.

Place your sugars and butter in a mixer or a bowl, and whisk to blend the mixture. Once they have combined, add you eggs, and whisk again to combine. Don't overwork the eggs, but give it enough time to come together.  

Next add the vanilla and the peanut butter and thoroughly mix, stopping to scrape down any excess peanut butter that has stuck to the sides of the bowl. 

Sift together your dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda) and combine to the wet mixture. Be sure all the dough is smooth and there are no lumps or stray peanut butter clumps. 

The last step for the dough is to fold in the chocolate chips. If you use a stand mixer for this you risk melting the chocolate and changing the consistency of the dough. 

Once the dough is done, it is best to refrigerate it for at least an 2 hours, but this dough is often firm enough to bake right away.

Sometimes this happens, and it really was random!

Preheat your oven to 360 degrees, and spoon or scoop out 2 1/2 oz balls of dough onto a greased cookie sheet. I do not use parchment paper for my cookies as I find they have a tendency to spread out, and I like thick gooey cookies.

The bigger picture

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Entry #3

The Big Picture?

After finishing my interview on’s podcast, I wanted to clarify a few of the economic issues I brought up with host Chris Lindstrom. Topics we merely touched on but deserve further investigation in my opinion.

I have written about my fight with the city over the business license and the outcomes. I have told you tales of skirmishes with the locals. And I have told you of my behavior modification  experiments and my starring role as the “Catalyst at Large”. Now I’d like to venture into a little economic theory with no credentials to do so whatsoever.

In a piece about the “Portal” in the story section, one might think my greatest nemesis over the years existed in that hole in the ground, but I am more apt to believe otherwise.  The most constant and persistent battle for all my years was with Parking Enforcement, specifically the policy makers that influenced that department. This is not going to be a rant about getting parking tickets but rather a discussion of the macroeconomic issues of parking tickets, red-light camera, and the dreaded yellow boot that we see all too often in our city.  I will attempt to entertain you along the way, but this will have undertones of survival for a mid-size city and some business principles as I see them.

The number of tickets I received over the years on State Street is staggering. The number of tickets that I paid was barely a stumble.  I have no reason to complain about the money I had to spend over the years, but the time, aggravation and favors used are another story.  There were ways to get around this particular process of taxation on the small business owner, but the customers were usually on their own. It wasn’t without risk, and certainly it was a small minority of business guys who were successful at ridding themselves of this horrible and outdated nuisance. I consider myself very lucky in this regard and any complaining about what I have paid is certainly inappropriate. 

Before we get started, let me quell the usual strategy you hear in response to these problems. “Why don’t you just park in a lot or garage, like other downtown workers?” This is a great idea; limit the risks of tickets and free up space on the street; and all is well. Nope. It just doesn’t work that way for small places. Every owner I know in the food business is out of the store at least once a day, usually more often than that. Product outages - usually because we have limited storage and it is impossible to predict demand and delivery; banking requirements; life issues; employee problems; things that break that have to be fixed, now! 

Whatever the reason. In and out of a food place is mandatory. If you think otherwise, you don't know the industry. 

Back to the problem at hand. Parking. Over the years the assaults came in waves, like any good armed forces campaign. There would be periods of relative calm and peace and then a  big push arrived. This usually occurred with a change of personnel in the enforcement team, either city management, the staff at the PVB (parking violations bureau) or the police department when they were in charge of the foot soldiers. I remember well the gates and faces of those enemy combatants and of those friendly allies that patrolled our streets. The learned behavioral response to those sitings would give B.F. Skinner plenty of data for his conditioning experiments.  

The foot soldier took the brunt of assaults from most people, but the true  target of my ire and disgust were the policy makers. Those street soldiers were the enforcers of the code with some leeway on how to proceed. If we couldn’t negotiate a reasonable truce with each soldier, they often were the recipient of retribution that was better saved for their superiors. Superiors, I might add, that were usually hiding behind some desk, hidden in some office, without the balls to out themselves. Chicken shits. All of them. 

So the war raged on. A new monitor would be assigned to our area and the terms of the battle depended on their particular interpretation of the orders given.  Although we experienced periods of peace with one, the next would dig their teeth in with such force, you would have thought world peace was at stake. 

For a period of time I was so annoyed with them I started papering my wall with the tickets accumulated since renewing my registration. This was all prior to the ugly process of booting cars began. Registration renewal was the turning point for anyone with outstanding tickets in the early days. You had to find a way to wipe the slate clean of violations before you could reregister your vehicle. This happened every two years. That’s when action was needed on the part of the ticket recipient. That all changed with the “Boot”.  Thanks Susan Olley. She brought us the program of booting cars with 3 outstanding tickets. Nice job furthering the economic devastation of our community. Not that it’s all her fault, but that was just another step deeper on our “Dante-esque” like  path down the inferno to economic hell.

My wall was getting pretty full, somewhere in the neighborhood 35-40 tickets, all unpaid, and I had no certain plan on how to alleviate myself from the impeding doom of registering my car. For those of you who have never received a parking ticket, you are given 30 days to pay before the fines start to accelerate, with increasing fines topping off at about 3 times the original face value after 90 days.  At that point there is no reason to pay the fines until you plan on registering your car, especially if you have ever studied the time value of money. I think someone told Susan Olley about that financial theory and that’s when the “booting” started. 

Parking restrictions served a purpose at one point in our city’s development. That point occurred during the end of the boom time or our downtown area and the beginning of the automobile revolution. Car ownership was increasing and people worked and shopped downtown. The need for short term parking for customers was getting larger as fewer people took public transportation and the subway system disappeared. 

Businesses were asking for a reprieve from cars parked all day on the street, limiting customer turnover when availability was scarce. Years later when businesses asked for a change in the system the city’s addiction to the revenue could not be broken. Like a drug addict with a $15.00 dollar a hour habit (When I opened meters were had a one hour limit and the fee for exceeding that limit was $15.00). Like most drug addicts, the city’s habit has grown to $50.00 for an hour and one minute, when your meter expires. There is not only an inflationary principle here but a dopamine sensitivity principle as well. “Addiction is a bitch”, as it is said by whoever says those things. 
This is one circumstance where lagging 2 years behind the rest of the country on topical issues and ideas in government came in handy.  This perpetual lagging our community insists upon in creativity and sometimes economic growth can prevent the downside risks associated with unproven ideas and bad decisions.  It can also limit us in attracting a young and trained workforce and progressive businesses. It would be nice if we had an original idea on occasion and went forward with it, or at least supported more creative ideas that could attract new people to our city (think Jazz Fest with year long influence). But we can’t have everything. 

Now that we are booting cars in the city for parking violations the city sees more of the money that they are owed much faster.  An argument can be made that they would receive their money in due time (registration time) but as stated earlier, there is a time value to money. The downside to the consumer is the increase in fees that occur if you are booted.  There is a boot charge; a daily charge for having the boot, and a not returning the boot charge.  

When you car is booted you are required to call an “800” number (not local) to pay for your indiscretion of parking somewhere without paying or somewhere you shouldn’t have.  You will need to pay for all your tickets and the fees associated with getting caught for this horrible debasement of the city codes. You are required to plead guilty to any infraction and have no recourse of appeal.  All this to get the boot removed, and if you do not or cannot, you will be charged $50.00/ day from that point on. A fairly un-American style of justice, at least in principle.

Understand that to get to this point you will have had to acquire at least three tickets, and not paid them within the 30 day rule. It might be argued that you deserve all this if you willing to let things go this far. Maybe, but the jury that you are not granted here, is still out for me on that argument.  And this discussion does not plan on heading in that direction. 

Let’s start with the bigger picture.  Part of that additional fee that is collected above and beyond the original parking fines and late fees (over 50%) is sent to the company that is processing the booting and the payments. That means that in order to collect the money owed the city (money the would have collected at the end of the 2 year registration process) you are charged additional money.  Money that is removed from the flow within the city. It is being sent to some other state, and they will get the advantage of that money being spent within their community.

Remember that money spent inside your community will continually get cycled through the local economy and retains local wealth. Money that is spent outside the community or is removed from the local system does the same for the community where is it spent. This decreases the overall wealth of the local economy. This idea is often proven in the form of money spent on luring tourism dollars. “Come to our town and spend the dollars you earn in your own community. Leave your wealth with us and enjoy whatever we have hyped up for your entertainment.”

Let’s move on to the next level of all this deficit thinking.  Red light cameras. I think anyone who had been captured on camera for this violation will just agree with me upon hearing those three little words. But let’s keep going with this a little. The car that is registered to you gets filmed violated a yellow or red light and the magical line at the intersection that indicates you are guilty.  As the registrant you are sent a notice of violation and a fine.  Up until recently there was no reporting to the DMV or insurance agency, nor was the enforcement anything more than a report to credit agencies for ignoring the fine.

If after receiving the ticket you choose to challenge the accusation, you have a few options.  But the one that sparks my attention is the “I wasn’t driving the car” excuse.  If you were not driving, you are required to provide detailed information of the person driving, incriminating them, to exonerate yourself. They do not have to prove it was you, but you are on the hook until you give up someone else. 

This was a bad idea when it first started and many people have challenged it under several principles of law.  Since red light cameras are still up and operating I assume they have had limited success..  The money collected for these grave violations has an even greater negative impact on our community wealth than the parking tickets.  The Arizona company contracted to operate these cameras are creating the penalty and the violation. They take a larger total percentage of the money the violater is being penalized. In the parking tickets example there is an existing violation where the fines are split between the city and state.  Not so with red-light tickets.

Now the city has started booting for unpaid violations of these red light cameras. This is an accelerant of the bonfire of our diminishing economic issues. Create the infraction. Send most of the money elsewhere. And then enforce the created infraction, and sent that money outside the community as well. Brilliant. You know that symbol of our city? That disconnected pentagonal image with softer edges. It’s starting to make sense to me. Disconnected from the people of the city; from creativity; from reality; from common sense; from existing economic understanding; from the core of the issues.

More money leaving the community for behavior that is happening within the community. I have not even addressed the legitimacy of the cause.  Penalizing your citizens to raise revenue is an overall negative for any locale. Sending more that 50% of that money to Arizona is just stupid. 

I once told a sitting Mayor of the city, sometime around 2009, that a good indicator of the severe economic demise of our community was that middle level managers of the city of Rochester were wearing more expensive suits that the businessmen of the community they are charged with governing. Think about that for a few minutes. It is pertinent. And most of those city officials do not live in the city either. Another travesty. Take the money from the city tax roles and give it to the suburbs with whom you are competing.  Genius. But that is for another rant.

Sweet Basil Pesto

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Basil Pesto and Fresh Pasta

At some point in the growing season, we find ourselves with a volume of garden delights that could go unused. When your basil runneth over, it's time to make pesto. If you add your parmesan cheese last, you can freeze the mixture prior to adding the cheese.  When you thaw it out for use in the winter months, finish with the freshly grated parmesan or Romano. If you are not a gardener, you can often find basil in larger quantities and cheaper at farm markets late in the growing season.

Here we combine a fresh fettuccine with our fresh basil pesto and create a multilayer delight.

Fresh Pasta - deconstructed with some symmetry. 

Pesto ingredients


Pesto                                                Fresh Pasta Dough 
  • 4 cups plus, Fresh Basil                                      3 cups 00 (double zero) flour
  • 4 Garlic cloves                                                    1 cup Duram Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Pine nuts                                                 3 Tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup Olive oil                                       Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup Parmesan                                                   3 Eggs
  • salt/pepper to taste                                              2 tbsp cold water                                
  • One lemon for juice                                          
Time for pesto : 10 minutes
Time for fresh pasta: 50 minutes (Including the 30 minutes in the fridge)
Total time should be about 50 minutes if you make the pesto while your pasta in resting in fridge. 

The oil difference will depend on how tightly you cram the basil in the measuring cup. Just make sure it all incorporates and you don't have oil pockets.

Special tools: Food processor or immersion blender for pesto.
                       Pasta machine for rolling and cutting the pasta dough

If you plan on making this whole recipe in one day, make your pasta dough first and put in the fridge for the 30 minutes and then return to the pesto.

Add your basil and garlic to the processor with about 1/4 of the olive oil and start mixing. Add your pine nuts, salt and pepper to the mixture and mix again. Start adding the rest of the oil slowly until combined. 

At this point you can freeze the mixture for a later use, or add the parmesan for immediate enjoyment.
Basil mixture and parmesan

Place both flours and salt in a bowl. I like to mix my flours and salt first and then plop them on my work surface. Alternatively you can make a nice design on the work table because you have artists helping out on the camera.

The artist shot

Either way, combine the dry ingredients and me sure they are incorporated.

Next make the traditional well in the middle of you flour pile, with about a one inch edge all around the well.

Creating the well

Crack your eggs in a separate bowl so you can fish out any runaway shell pieces. It's easier to do this in a bowl than in the flour mixture.  Add the olive oil and one egg to the well in the flour.  Use a fork to start mixing the flour into the egg. Don't worry if it starts to overrun your well, just shore up the outer edges as best you can and keep working. Add the other 2-3 eggs, one at a time, until the dough starts to come together.

Eggs in a basket?

From flour to dough, here we go

Work the dough lightly into a ball. It should not be as pliable as a bread dough, but be sure it had some smoothness to it.

Coming together

Wrap up your pasta dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes. You can keep the dough for a day, but it starts to darken in  color and the freshness changes quickly.

Cut the ball of dough into quarters and work quickly so the dough does not dry out.  One quarter at a time, take each piece and form it into a torpedo shape. On the thickest setting of your pasta roller, feed the dough into the machine lengthwise.  Use one hand to feed the machine, one to crank the roller, and one to catch and guide the dough as it comes out. See the problem here. Not to worry, you will get the hang of it by the time you are done, as you will roll quite a few times.

30 minutes (or one drink on the porch) later.

The plan here is to make some long thin even sheets that will be run through the cutting attachment on the machine.  I will work with the output a little each time, cutting and shaping to get the end product in a shape easiest for the final product.

Chelsea and I working the dough, Laura working the camera

Run the dough through the roller twice at each level. After level 2, the pasta should start to get too long to work as just one unit. Cut the piece into 2 to 4 (12 to 14 inches long) sections at this point and continue to run each piece of dough through each level of the roller twice.  When I get to 5, I call it a day for thickness. Set the sheets aside on a floured surface, and continue on to the rest of the pasta dough.

. . . and working

Now that the pasta is rolled into sheets, it's time to cut it into the desired shapes. For this recipe I have used the fettuccine setting. It's a good starting point and a little easier to handle.  To make the pasta look uniform, you can trim the edges to make perfect rectangles.  None of the participants needed that uniformity here.

The light at the end of the "cutting board"

The pasta machine has an attachment to run the sheets through to cut into strips. Be cautious not to pull the pasta through but merely guide the sheets in and out. Place each batch on a floured surface and sprinkle a little more flour on top to avoid sticking.

From here, it's a 2 minute cooking process in boiling water and simply adding the pasta to the pesto sauce. I like to place the pesto in a skillet on very low and add the cooked pasta directly to the pan. Add a little pasta water if the sauce looks to dry.

Mix thoroughly in the pan and serve with parmesan shavings for an added touch.

One course of our afternoon cooking and drinking

A final shot before we enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Hummus - not humus.

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Photos by "Bay" productions, which includes Laura Quattrociocchi

           A multi use product that is handy to have in the fridge for many occasions. Easy to prepare with a food processor or immersion blender. A good work out by hand, but it can still be done. We made this by hand (with the help of flat bottom jars) during all the years at o'Bagelo's.  I think you can make a small batch at home without the power equipment.  Great snack to have around all year round.


  • 2 - 16 oz cans Chick peas
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 oz. Tahini (ground up sesame seeds in a liquid form)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp Tamari - high grade soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. Black pepper - because you need more than "to taste"
  • 1 tbsp. Fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 green onions, mostly white parts, coarsely chopped
  • salt to taste
Total time: 15 minutes

Special tools: Food Processor is helpful but not mandatory.

My hummus is a much thicker version that most commercial brands or those you see in mediterranean restaurants. It can be used as a spread or as a primary filler for a sandwich (think tuna here).

(obligatory picture of cook in action)

Start by draining and rinsing the chick peas and set aside.  I like to begin the processing with a little more than half of the chick peas so as not to burn out the machine.

Add 1/2 of the drain chick peas to the processor with 3/4 of the lemon juice, smashed garlic cloves, and all of the tahini. Mash away until the mixture forms a smooth consistency. Add the rest of the chick peas and lemon juice and continue to mix.

Next add the black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt and mix again. I like to add the parsley and green onions last finishing the mixture by hand. This also lets me break up any of the peas that were stubborn in the processor. It also lets me get the hummus to a thickness that I want without destroying the end product.

 In this cooking session I had the benefit of two artist friends helping in the kitchen, not only with dishes and the eating, but in the food styling of the end product.

Serve with fresh bread, crackers, and any colorful accoutrements you find desirable. Here we have a few kalamata olives and we also drizzled some extra virgin olive oil to finish.


Find the biggest container you have that can stand up to a little pressure. A stainless steel bowl or a cast iron dutch oven works well.

Add the drained chick peas to the container. With a sturdy flat bottomed coffee cup or jar in each hand, start smashing your chick peas. Be patient. After a good portion are broken up you can add 1/4 of the lemon juice for moisture and to aid the process. Keep this up until all the beans are mostly smashed.

Minse your garlic separately, and add to the chick peas with the rest of the lemon juice and the tahini. Keep mixing and smashing any loose chick peas.

I find that I have to pinch many of the stubborn peas as I keep working the mixture. Now I add my black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt. Keep mixing and smashing. Add your parsley and green onions last and throughly get all those ingredients into a consistency you find attractive.

Starting out well

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Entry 2

August 21, 2015

         I have been wanting to expand the website to include a section on the lessons learned about business over the years, specifically the things that relate to small business and the current environment. I will do my best to keep it interesting and colorful, but I really hope that some of the mistakes I have made over the years can be useful in the current market.  

Figs and Figs and Figs

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Figs, Figs, & Figs
Fresh, a few alternatives

Fresh fig season is short and I wanted to make sure I posted a few ideas on prepping these little joys when you can get them.  Don't be afraid, they are one of the great joys in life.


  • 6-9 Fresh figs (Purple or green, whichever look best)
  • 1 to 2 oz Goat Cheese - a good zingy flavored goat cheese. I have here a local brand. Not bad at all.
  • 6 Pieces of Prosciutto de Parma 
  • Balsamic reduction - reduce a good quality balsamic, it will make a difference.
  • Field greens for garnish
Total time: 15 minutes. Total Joy: Off the charts

Trim the stems off the figs and slice them through the top vertically. Take each half and slice into 1/3's You can leave them larger if you like, But this allows for more options when serving.

Slice your prosciutto in strips that can easily wrap around each piece of fig.

Now you can start to build your different fig appetizers.

If you have never had fresh figs, I suggest you eat them in this progression to experience the flavor development.

1. Fresh fig, on it's own.

2. Fig piece, little goat cheese, and drizzle of balsamic reduction.

3. Fig piece wrapped in prosciutto strip

4. Fig piece wrapped in prosciutto strip, dollop of goat cheese, and then balsamic drizzle.

Four may seem like a lot, but it can be a delicious combo.

To serve, place the greens on a serving plate, and place your fig concoctions on the greens. Spread dollops of goat cheese over the plate and then drizzle with balsamic reduction.

Please excuse the photography on this post, it was all me. On occasion I have to take things into my own hands to keep up.


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This is the start of the new section on the website.  I will be highlighting businesses, both within and outside the food arena that are owner-operated and on the smaller side.  Some you may know about and others I hope will be new to you.  This is not a review in the traditional sense but you can be sure that if I choose to write about them, I am a fan. The plan is to make the postings about the people as much as the place and the products.  I hope you will  enjoy my perspective and visit the places to create your own.

* Photos by Laura Quattrociocchi

This is Esan, 696 Park Avenue, Rochester NY. A small family run restaurant specailizing in the cuisine of Thailand.  Below are Bounkong Douangratdy and his wife, Kinalone, who have owned and run the place for 21 years.  Before that, Bounkong was chef and one of the owners of the Bangkok Restaurant, on State Street. They were there for 9 years. That makes 30 years of cooking Thai food for the local community, if you are math impaired.

I met Bounkong when I started the construction on my State Street store in 1990 and have been a regular customer ever since.  He and his wife are from Laos, a neighboring country of Thailand, but they both visit Thailand often, to perfect the preparation process of their food. Both greet me by name every time I visit, and Kinalone recognizes my voice (and my order) when I call for take out. I am certain that this is more the norm than the exception.

      Esan takes up two storefronts on Park avenue, one dedicated to the dining area, and one has the kitchen and an upstairs dining room.  A beautiful outdoor area abuts the other Park Avenue restaurants near Berkley.  The food is enough to bring me here on weekly basis, but every time I see the two of them working, I feel even better about my spending choice.  This is part of what I call "My Mother's economics". I know who is making my food, that the money is going to a family run place that in turn uses local purveyors and spends their income in this community.  This is an overall macro-economic windfall.  And frankly, I just like them. Local place, local people, local spending, and terrific food.  And yeah, that makes a difference.

This is a delicious summer drink we just had to order. It is a Thai Iced Tea. Made with Thai tea and sweetened condensed milk and spices.  A refreshing drink with  a pinkish red color.

As an appetizer, we had two orders of veggie spring rolls, one fried and one fresh.  I can't order a meal, in house or take out, without adding this to my order. Speaking of that, this is not only a great place for al-fresco dining in the nice weather, but one of my go to places for take out during those rough winter evenings.  Quick and reasonable. Don't bother asking for delivery, it's not that kind of place.

      For lunch we ordered two dishes. The main courses came in separate bowls and we each had a plate of rice. Very convenient for sharing.  The first photo is Veggie Coconut Green Curry, and the second is Panang Chicken- a red curry coconut sauce. I am not going to hyper-evalutate every ingredient and mouthful, but rather tell you that everything I have had here, I would order again. This visit, and over the last 20 years.  Our lunch came to $24.80 without tip, and that included the hot tea we ordered. 

       Other dishes that Buonkong recommends are their authentic dishes of Thailand, including "Hell Beef" and "Drunken Master Noodle".  I recommend a visit to get the full info.

      Pictured above is the outdoor verandah and "Thom", the long time waiter and absolute personality of the dining area. He has been serving and entertaining the customers for over 20 years and is much a part of the place as Buonkong and his wife.  He tells me he is semi-retired now, between his gentile ribbing and teasing of his customers (including me), most of which he knows by name. If you are lucky enough to be there on the days he is working, the show is worth as much as the meal.

      Look for the green and white awning if you are driving down Park Avenue, as it can hide the signage. But this also adds to the allure of the place for me.  It may be "On the Beaten Path", but I think it is overlooked too often, by too many. After all, there are only two other places on the block that have been there that long, so you know they are doing at least a few things right.

Esan Thai Restaurant   
696 Park Avenue                   Mon - Thurs: 11:15 am - 9:30 pm
Rochester, NY 14607            Fri - Sat: 11:15 am - 10:30 pm, Sunday: 3:00 pm -9:30 pm    

Beer and wine available.    Tell them you saw it here, if you're a first timer.

"The Discount Double Talk"

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Entry 1 
August 4, 2015

         I was sitting in a pub early one evening and I reluctantly entered in a brief conversation with a couple sitting next to me. A nice young couple, engaged and getting ready for their first time down the aisle.  They were both teachers in the same district, and looked full of hope and happiness. The pub is a business version of the “Tiny houses” you see people running to these days, maximizing the space utility of every square foot and minimizing the overall area. 

       There are a few tables that were behind me and out of view. Four men were sitting at the table of varying ages and cultural background.  I learned soon enough that that three worked  worked at a nearby Salon and the fourth was the owner. That’s the scene. The pub also has more outdoor seating on the well travelled sidewalk of a trendy city neighborhood.  Since it was summer, there were plenty of patrons outside enjoying the summer sun and the moving scenery. 

chicken french - printer friendly version

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Chicken French

     Pollo Francese is usually seen on menus in english because it seems hard to trace it's roots back to Italy.  And when you start talking about the history of the dish, the former "Brown Derby" always comes up in the conversation.  For a full history, just google Karen Miltner's 2005 article about the subject (I did put the link here, because it appears to be part of some "pay for" library on the local paper's website).

     The highlights are as follows. Looks like it started as a veal dish, either in the northern section of Italy, or perhaps somewhere here in the states. The local restaurant changed it to chicken when the morally fickle public turned against veal. He added artichokes to the dish, and soon customers started asking for more of those. Now we can "french" anything.


  • 2 lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast - I split them horizontally so they are even and thin.
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/4 lb (one stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 lemons - zest and juice needed.
  • !/2 cup Sherry wine - You can use another dry white wine, if you want to experiment
  • Fresh garlic is also an option when you make the sauce. I prefer mine without. 
  • Salt/Pepper
  • One more lemon for garish
Total Time: 45 minutes.

          Start by slicing your chicken breast lengthwise, so you have thinner and consistent sizes for frying.

          Next prepare your breading station, just 2 parts in this recipe.  Place your eggs in one bowl, and whisk.  Combine your flour, salt, pepper, and Parmesan in the next bowl and mix thoroughly.

          Set up a frying pan on medium high heat large enough to hold half of the cut chicken.  Add your oil to warm up while you prep the chicken.

          Dip the chicken in the egg mixture and hold over the bowl to drain well. Now run the chicken through flour mixture and let excess flour fall off. Place on a separate plate and continue with chicken until you have enough to fill the frying pan with one layer.

          Place the chicken in the frying pan carefully and cook for about 5-6 minutes per side, or until the chicken reaches a golden brown color on each side.  I like to prepare the next batch of chicken while the first is frying. Flip the chicken once, and remove to a clean plate when done.

          The chicken can be prepared ahead of time and finished when you are ready to serve dinner.

          The sauce is where we find some controversy in the recipe.  Amounts and type of alcohol vary, and I am a big fan of finding your own sweet spot through experimentation. My recipe is a little lemon friendly, but I like it that way.

          I have used the same frying pan (with most of the excess oil removed, but not the "bits" from the breading).  On a medium heat level, add the butter and let melt in the pan.  When the butter is almost melted, add the lemon zest and juice. Let sit for a about 2 minutes and them add the wine.  Turn up the heat to a medium high, and let the sauce reduce and thicken.

          The final step is to add the chicken to the sauce and finish cooking the meat through, about 5 minutes. The sauce will incorporate into the breading some, and the rest should be served over the chicken.

Serve immediately. I have used a spinach and fusilli pasta dish
here to brighten up my plate and grated some more parmesan when presented.

Enjoy a Rochester Favorite!!

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July 7, 2015

      I big thank you to Chris Lindstrom and his website for inviting me to appear on his podcast. Quite a fanciful setup and I really enjoyed the opportunity and the time chatting with Chris about a variety of subjects. You can check out our chat at his website or click here to go directly to my piece. Thanks again Chris. Great stuff.


Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

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Chocolate Raspberry Truffles

The first time I made these at home, I was hooked. It's really an easy dessert to prepare and can be done ahead of time for guests. And it packs a huge "Wow" factor.

Photos by Jon Feldman

  • 1 1/2 cup Semisweet chocolate
  • 3 large squares 70% (or higher) cocoa dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp. Heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
Raspberry Compote:
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp high quality fruit balsamic vinegar reduction 
  •  or . . . 2 tbsp high quality fruit balsamic 
           (Balsamic Reduction: Place balsamic in a small pot and reduce to about half, or until it has a syrupy consistency)

Special tools: double boiler (bowl on a pot - without bowl  touching water in pot.)

Time: Prep time is about 30 minutes. 2 hours in fridge (or more). And 15 minutes for rolling.

 First, let's start the compote. Add berries, water, sugar, and balsamic reduction to a small pot on medium high heat and heat until a thick syrup.

While this is reducing, set up the double boiler. Place just enough water in a pot with a bowl set on top of the pot, so the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.

Turn heat to a medium setting. Add semisweet chocolate, dark chocolate, heavy cream, and let melt together.  Do not try to rush this process as you will burn your chocolate.  Patience is the key to almost all pastry type of production. I know this because I have very little of it, and have ruined many items by rushing things or not adhering to the specifics of the recipe.

When the compote has come together, it's time to add that mixture to the chocolate.  You have 2 choices at this point. If you prefer a smooth texture to your truffles, strain the mixture in a sieve to create a smooth liquid. If you do not mind the seeds and want  a little texture, you can add it just the way it is. I have done it both ways, and my the flavor comes through very well either way.

       As the chocolate melts, stir to make sure any lumps melt.  Once the mixture is looks smooth, add the butter and mix thoroughly.

Once the chocolate mixture has melted and the butter is combined, place the bowl in the fridge for at least 2 hours to firm up.  I have placed the bowl in another bowl of ice to help the process along and that has worked well.

When the chocolate has firm, it's time to roll. This process is going to be messy and the warmth of your hands will help to smooth out the truffles.

If you have a melon baller, it will be very helpful. If not, just use a spoon to scrape out 1.5 oz chunks of chocolate. Roll in your hands to form the balls, and drop in the cocoa to cover the outside.  Roll the truffle around in the cocoa and place on a separate plate.

Serve immediately or chill for service later.  Here they are served with a garnish of fresh raspberries and a dusting of extra cocoa.

I would now like to apologize for presenting this recipe. Those that I have served these little delights to get distracted and stare at the plate until the truffles are finished. Good luck.