Friday, December 2, 2011

Knobby Versatile Tuber: Jerusalem Artichoke or Sunchoke

The winter months can bring a less varied selection of fruits and vegetables especially if you eat mostly locally grown produce. Of course we are abound with tubers and root vegetables. All kinds of squash (butternut, kabocha, spaghetti, acorn etc.), turnips, radish, parsnips, parsley root, rutabaga and so on. I for one really enjoy roasting a selection of root vegetables at the same time for a contrast in flavors and texture.
But if your purchase was determined on looks and familiarity you probably will skip the knobby brown little tubers Jerusalem Artichoke, also known as Sunchokes. It is a vegetable that is high in potassium, iron and fiber and is said to reduce cholesterol and act as a preventative of colon cancer. It is also very versatile and holds up well in all cooking techniques or raw.

Neither from Jerusalem (it was first cultivated by Native Americans but became popular in the Middle East) nor an artichoke (its flavor is reminiscent of artichokes) it is great raw, peeled and shredded or julienned in salads (soak in cold water and drain first), sliced and used in stir fries as you would water chestnuts, and roasted like you would a potato. When roasted it takes on a nutty flavor and creamy texture. Here is a recipe I recently came up with for a Middle Eastern themed dinner:

Carrot and Jerusalem Artichoke Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

3 large Jerusalem Artichokes, scrubbed and peeled
2 Medium Carrots, scrubbed and peeled
1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onion
Pomegranate seeds, scooped out from less than half pomegranate (refrigerate leftover)
3 to 4 tablespoons of Pomegranate Vinaigrette (see below)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Small handful parsley, minced (should have about 1/4 cup)optional


1. Julienne (thinly cut sticks preferably with a mandolin) the Jerusalem Artichokes and Carrots. You can soak the artichokes sticks in cold water for a few minutes while preparing the salad and then drain.
2. Mix the Jerusalem Artichokes, carrot, red onion, and pomegranate seeds in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and the vinaigrette and toss again. Garnish with parsley if using.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1/2 cup Pom or other pomegranate juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (add more if you prefer tart)
3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil (or less)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste


1. Place pom juice in a small saucepan and boil until more than half cooks out and you are left with a syrup. Be careful not to burn and when the bubbles start to get really big take off heat and see if it has thickened to a syrup. If not heat again for a few more seconds and check again.
2. Mix the pom syrup with the red wine vinegar and white pepper and salt. Slowly drizzle the evoo while whisking until it is blended thoroughly.

*image borrowed from

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Goorin Brothers Hat By Many Names

Jill and Jack bought me a gift certificate for my birthday to the Goorin Brothers Hat Shop on 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, recently opened in Park Slope and the mini-hat that Spencer is wearing came with the gift certificate in a small box . The Goorin Brothers have been making hats since 1895, originally in Pittsburg Pa selling from a cart, then they moved to San Fransisco in 1949.

I have always had an infinity for hats since I was a kid. When I was little I used to have a few hats that matched my favorite tv shows and would wear them while watching. My dad always wore hats as others from his generation did. If you see film clips of baseball games from the 40's and 50's everyone was dressed up (seems odd by today's standards)and wore hats. I believe it was President Kennedy, probably the first President to not wear a hat,that changed the fashion of wearing hats baseball hats not included. Funny because his wife Jackie had the opposite affect on women, remember the pillbox?

Fast forward to later in my life and I reconnected to the love of a good hat. For awhile I was wearing a pork pie hat, a la Lester Young, that I bought from an old hat store on Delancy (sorry forget the name). I basically wore it out and recently sent it to old hat heaven. But now with the thoughtful gift from my family I get to choose any hat I want.

I have yet to go to Goorin Brothers store to view the hats but I have been on the website. The hats look great and some of the names are really cool. So if you were choosing by name alone which one would you go for? Here are some of my favorites: Vinny The Brains, Wiley Cutter, Tommy Goldfingers, Whiskey Pete, Butterfingers, Left DeCarlo, Old Gulph, and Mortimer.

Little Buddy Biscuit Company to Miss Its First Holiday Season

Regrettably this will be the first holiday season that Little Buddy Biscuit Company will not be able to offer gift boxes to all our customers, due to no current space available for baking. We thank all our loyal customs for prior support, some of whom have been ordering gift boxes for 6 years, and apologize for any inconvenience this might cause this year.

On the positive side there is a very good chance that we will be back baking our treats in early 2012 and if so we will plan on offering gift boxes again in the near future. We will keep you posted as soon as we have more details.

Once again thanks for staying in touch with us and please continue to do so in the future. Happy Holiday Season to all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chef Pete's Birthday Dinner Menu for Himself

Middle Eastern Inspired Menu

Olives Marinated in Preserved Meyer Lemons and Rosemary
Feta Cheese
Stuffed Grape Leaves
Oven Toasted Pita Bread with Cumin and Garlic
Baba Ghanoush
Quinoa Tabouleh
Carrot & Jerusalem Artichoke Salad with Pomegranate Seeds and Pom Vinaigrette
Merguez Sausage (spiced lamb)

Flour-less Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Crust and Frangelico Whipped Cream

Happy Birthday To Me, Happy Birthday To Me, Happy Birthday Dear Chef Pete, Happy Birthday To Me!!!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Memories of Dad via Vintage Cavatelli Maker

When I was growing up in the late 50's and early 60's I doubt the term "stay at home" mom was in our vocabulary, but my Mom with 7 kids to look after certainly was one and as she will say now at 91 very happily so. She worked hard raising us Solomita's and did more than her share of of laundry, cleaning, cooking, helping with homework and numerous other tasks a parent has to do.

In order to feed a large family my Dad worked multiple jobs most of the time. So needless to say he was not in the kitchen very much, if at all. But I do remember him making Italian ices with a ice crushing machine that he had once in a while and also making homemade Cavatelli, a fresh pasta that is about 1/2 of inch long with a slit running down the length with ridges. You can still find Cavatelli in Italian specialty markets. I sometimes buy them at Caputo's on Court Street a family owned business that makes handcrafted Mozzarella and pastas. They have two types one with ricotta cheese and one plain.

With Little Buddy Biscuit Company temporarily out of action, I am in the process of testing different recipes that I might want to use professionally in the future. I am also doing a lot cooking for the fun of it, the kind that you don't have time when you are working full time. I thought it might be fun to try my hand at Cavatelli, which I made once before but not since I first received my Dad's Cavatelli Maker #50 made by Vitantonio Manufacturing Company of Cleveland Ohio, at least 35 years ago but my guess longer than that. I tried to locate them on the web but could not find an active web site and I found one post that said they went out of business.

I took the box upstairs from the basement and took the maker out of the box. Inside the box there is also an envelope filled with notes and recipes. There is an original sheet of paper from Vitantonio with two Cavatelli recipes, one with potato and one without. Uncle Tony also gave his own recipe "Uncle Tony's Style" to my Dad dated 1976. I love the fact that he signed the recipe "Get Fat Woody, Uncle Tony" Woody being my Mom's nickname (long story there).

My Dad also took notes when he made the pasta, not sure if he did each time but there is one from 1976, 1979, 1982, and 1983.
I would guess he made them more often than that but who knows.

I decided I wanted to try a recipe that I found on line that adds eggs and ricotta. Unfortunately this recipe produced a dough that was too soft and sticky to go through the rollers of the machine. I wound up rolling, cutting and shaping the dough by hand. After reading all the notes and setting up the maker it was kind of anti-climatic and disappointing, though the resulting pasta surely tasted good. Oh well I guess that means making Cavatelli again soon because I really want to crank out some pasta on the Cavatelli Maker #50 made by Vitantonio Manufacturing Company of Cleveland Ohio.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Growth of LBBC Hits a HUGE Pothole.

If you've read past blogs you have been witness to the growth of Little Buddy Biscuit Company from a small company that sold wholesale to local cafes in Brooklyn to opening a bakery in South Slope in August of 2009, to then having to close the bakery at the end of 2010. Despite a loyal following and good press we were beaten down by a tough economy. Then in the Spring of 2011 we gave the concept of combining our business with a local cafe a try. Unfortunately combining the two businesses didn't quite work out.

So now what is the next move for Chef Pete and Little Buddy? To be honest I have worked too hard on developing my repertoire as a chef and a baker to give up just yet. I am determined to continue my career in the food business as an entrepreneur and more specifically as the owner of LBBC. I know I won't be able to do so as a solo owner so I have to have faith I will find the right business partner or partners who want to take the concept to the next level.

In the meantime I am continuing to hone my craft as a chef and a baker. I will develop new recipes and tweak ones that I liked from the past. Maybe I'll even take a few classes to improve skills and learn from other bakers. I am also visiting other cafes and bakeries to see what other successful business owners do well. The one thing about cooking is the learning is endless and it's kind of nice to have the time to focus on getting better at what I do.

I also am enjoying the extra time I have with my son Jack and my wife Jill. Jack is now in 3rd grade and helping him with his homework everyday is an important activity that I hope we both can succeed at. There are museums I haven't had the time to visit in a while and plenty of books and movies to catch up on. I'm also playing the drums again so while I want to see the business back in action I am enjoying the downtime too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Continuing Journey of Chef Pete & Little Buddy Biscuit Company

It's just after 9:00 am on a Monday morning, so what is a baker doing home on the computer instead of baking muffins, biscuits, scones, cookies etc? Well Root Hill Cafe, as you should know as the new home of Little Buddy Biscuit Company, is closed for the next two weeks to "refresh" our space and to build a new and improved kitchen for Chef Pete! I will now be out of the basement and upstairs in the cafe. I am really looking forward to the new design and to continue my work at Root Hill.

It's been a great 5 months, yes time is flying by, and we've accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. Little Buddy Biscuit Company has been welcomed by both the staff and the customers at Root Hill. Our baked goods sell out quickly each day.

In addition I have also had the opportunity to expand the breakfast and lunch menu at Root Hill while going back to my roots as a chef, taking advantage of my culinary training at Natural Gourmet Institute for Health. Each day we make delicious sandwiche, salads and other prepared foods using fresh vegetables, grains and quality ingredients. When we reopen we will continue to add new specials to an already expanded menu. The target date for reopening is Tuesday, September 6 so come by and check out the new digs!