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TIP OF THE DAY: Ways To Use Fresh Sage, From Cocktails Through Dessert

We love fresh sage, but seem to use it mostly in the fall. We use it in stuffing, flash-fried as a garnish, and with cocktails.

But of course, you can enjoy it year-round. It’s a standard herb blend with parsley, rosemary and thyme, a key component of poultry and sausage seasonings. Our mom put fresh sage under the skin of a chicken prior to roasting.

Salvia officinalis, common sage, is a membr of the Lamiaceae family of flowering plants, also called the mint family.

Members are frequently aromatic in all parts* and include many widely used culinary herbs: basil, hyssop, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, perilla, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme. Some are shrubs, some are trees; in rare instances, some members are vines.

  • Beverages: sage tea (herbal), crush into vegetable juices, make sage ice cubes for Bloody Marys and other savory drinks
  • Breads: biscuits, rustic loaves, stuffing/dressing
  • Condiments: pestle-ground and mixed with mustard, sage-infused honey,
  • Eggs: frittatas, omelets, quiches, scrambles
  • Desserts: apple pie and other apple dishes, custards (infuse the cream), olive oil cakes, pear crisps, savory ice cream
  • Garnishes: serve fresh, flash-fried or deep-fried with fish and seafood, meats and poultry, polenta, potatoes, poultry, salads, soups, vegetable juices and cocktails, winter squash
  • Grains & Vegetables: barley, beans, rice and risotto
  • Sauces: tomato sauce, pesto (combine with the traditional basil and/or other herbs)
  • Proteins: calves’ liver, chicken, lamb
  • Sandwiches & Burgers: garnish, fresh or fried
  • Sage Butter: a sauce for fish and pasta, especially with gnocchi, pumpkin pasta and ravioli; a compound butter for duck, lamb, seafood
    Search for sage recipes and you’ll find favorites like butternut squash soup, creamed onions with sage, pork chops and loin, roast chicken, roasted vegetables, and saltimbocca (a rolled main of steak, prosciutto and provolone with sage).

    On this lovely fall weekend, relax with a sage-garnished cocktail and complementary hors d’oeuvre.

    The Side Ride cocktail, created by blogger Carey Nershi of Reclaiming Provincial, combines Cognac, Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur, sweet and sour mix (ideally homemade) and Sprite (or 7-Up) lemon-lime soda, both to taste.

    It’s similar to a Side Car, but substitutes gin for the Cognac. Carey took this sophisticated approach with a recipe she created for Vermont Creamery, served with hors d’oeuvre made with Vermont Creamery’s Bijou, an award-winning aged goat cheese in the style of the French crottin.

    Carey uses barrel-aged gin, a recently-revived practice that ages gin, like tequila—in bourbon barrels that generate more richness and spice.

    Wood aging also adds color, so barrel-aged gins are the color of whiskey.

    You can use regular gin, or use this as an occasion to try barrel aged gin.

    And, since this is the season for sage, the cocktail has a fresh sage leaf garnish.


    Fresh Sage

    Fried Sage Leaves

    Butternut Squash Soup

    Cranberry Sage Cocktail

    [1] Fresh sage (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [2] Fried sage leaves. Here’s the recipe from Saveur. [3] Butternut soup with a garnish of creme fraiche and a sage leaf. Here’s the recipe from Bon Appetit.[4] Sage as a cocktail garnish in everything from Martinis to this Cranbery Sage Holiday Cocktail (here’s the recipe from Creative Culinary).


    Side Ride Cocktail

    Beefeater Barrel Aged Gin

    Bijou Crottins Vermont Creamery

    Caramelized Apples

    Sarabeth's Chunky Apple Jam

    [1] The Side Ride, a Side Car with gin instead of cognac (photo courtesy Reclaiming Provincial). [2] Beefeater Barrel Aged Gin (photo courtesy Pernod Ricard). Aged gin is a great gift for a gin lover. [3] Bijou, a Loire-style goat cheese crottin (photo courtesy Vermont Creamery). [4] Caramelized apples (photo courtesy All Clad). [5] Sarabeth’s Chunky Apple Jam (photo courtesy SBK Preserves).

    *Beyond leaves and stems, these can include the herb’s bark, flowers, roots and seeds.

    Ingredients Per Drink

  • 1.5 ounces barrel-aged gin (substitute conventional gin)
  • 1 ounce Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur
  • .5 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 dash Angostora or other bitters
  • Garnish: sage leaf and lemon or orange peel

    1. COMBINE the gin, Grand Marnier, lemon juice and bitters in a shaker with ice. Stir 8-12 seconds and strain into chilled coupe glass.

    2. RUB the rub sage leaf lightly on the rim of coupe and float the leaf in the drink along with lemon or orange peel.

    Carey created this hors d’oeuvre to go with the Side Ride cocktail. Slices of Bijou aged goat cheese (from Vermont Creamery) are topped with smoked salmon and a dollop of crème fraiche for a festive bite.

    We had a jar of Sarabeth’s Chunky Apple Jam, and found that we preferred apple jam/preserves to the caramelized apples she specifies. It’s also a lot easier to open a jar, rather than than peeling, slice and caramelize the apples.

    If you have another jam or chutney, that can work, too.

    And if you want to use caramelized apples, Carey’s recipe is below.

  • Vermont Creamery Bijou goat cheese or substitute
  • Good crackers (like La Panzanella)
  • Caramelized apples (recipe below), apple preserves or apple jelly
  • Smoked salmon slices
  • Crème Fraîche (buy Vermont Creamery’s or make your own)
  • Garnish: Fresh dill (substitute sage)

    1. SLICE the Bijou into rounds and place on top of crackers. Top the cheese with the caramelized apples or preserves, and a piece of smoked salmon that’s size-appropriate for the cracker.

    2. TOP with a dollop of crème fraîche and garnish with a small sprig of fresh dill or a piece of sage.


    Caramelizing is the process of converting sugar into caramel. This type of caramel is not thick like caramel sauce or caramel candies. Rather, the sugar and butter combine to create a light, caramel finish to the apples.

    You can use caramelized apples with everything from pancakes to pork loin. Carey uses a dab to add a sweetness counterpoint to the salty smoked salmon in the recipe above.


  • 2 firm apples, such as Gala or Granny Smith
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon

    1. PEEL the apples and cut them into thin slices, as if for apple pie. First cut them into quarters, then slice each quarter into 4 pieces.

    2. MELT the butter over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar, stir to combine, and add the apples. Toss the apples a few times until they are softened and caramelized.

    Let us know how you use them: for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts.



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    RECIPE: Lobster Mashed Potatoes

    There are numerous ways to make that American favorite, mashed potatoes, even better.

    A topping of butter-sauteed lobster might be the most exciting preparation for a special occasion. It’s a perennial favorite at Ocean Prime, a fine steak and seafood restaurant with 12 locations from coast to coast.

    We obtained the recipe from Chef Brian Hinshaw of Ocean Prime (thanks)! and adjusted it as noted, starting with much more lobster topping. With our family of foodies, you can’t start a war over who didn’t get enough lobster!

    We also used Yukon Gold potatoes, which are renowned for their creamy, buttery flesh. Whatever potato you choose, plan on 1/2 pound of raw potatoes per adult.

    You’ll also need a stand or hand-held electric mixer, with a wire whip attachment. If you don’t have a whip attachment, see if you can buy a set to fit your mixer; they’re very useful attachments. Otherwise, use the regular beaters and then whip the potatoes into smoothness with a whisk.

    Or better yet, since Christmas is coming, ask Santa for a stand mixer with all the attachments.


    This recipe preparation actually makes whipped or pureéd potatoes. The difference: Mashed potatoes can be made with any texture, from lumpy to pureé. Whipping the potatoes adds air volume, and whipping them into smootheness is a pureé.

    Ingredients For A Crowd

  • 8 cups Idaho potatoes (we used Yukon Gold)
  • 12 cups cold water
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 tablespoon white pepper* (we used black pepper)
    For The Lobster Topping

    For 12 ounces of mashed potatoes, you’ll need:

  • 3 ounces lobster meat, or more to taste (we tripled it to please our family)
  • 3 tablespoons paprika butter (1 stick soft butter whipped in a mixer with ½ tablespoon paprika)
  • 12 ounces whipped mashed potatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • Garnish: minced chives, optional paprika
    *Peppercorns are the fruit of a vine, Piper nigrum. White pepper is a conventional peppercorn with the black husk removed. While much of the piperine—the compound that gives pungency to the peppercorn—is in the husk, French chefs of yore chose to remove it to avoid black specks in pure white dishes like white sauces and puréed potatoes. Frankly, we like the specks and the extra flavor from the husk, and use black peppercorns universally. Here are the different types of pepper, including pink peppercorns, green peppercorns and dozens of others, none of which is Piper nigrum.


    Lobster Mashed Potatoes

    Lobster Meat For Lobster Mashed Potatoes

    Frozen Lobster Meat

    Chopped Chives

    Lobster Mashed Potatoes: How can you resist? (Photo courtesy Ocean Prime). [2] We purchased cooked lobster meat (photo courtesy Celtic Crab Products). [3] Frozen-cooked lobster meat is less expensive (photo courtesy [4] We love fresh herbs, so added extra chopped chives and some parsley (photo courtesy A Way To Garden).

    1. MAKE the lobster topping: Sauté the lobster meat in 2 tablespoons of the paprika butter. Cover to keep warm and set aside (you can do this while the potatoes are cooking).

    2. PEEL the potatoes; then cut in half and slice into 1/2 inch pieces (if using Idaho russets, you can just halve the potatoes). Place in pot and cover with cold water and a pinch of salt.

    3. BRING to a boil, then immediately turn down to simmer. Never boil potatoes; they will become waterlogged. Cook until fork tender.

    4. DRAIN the potatoes in a colander, then put them back in the hot pot for 3 minutes to steam (dry out). This allows the cream and butter to be absorbed into the flesh. While the potatoes are steaming…

    5. HEAT the butter and cream in a small pan until the butter has melted. Add the potatoes to the mixing bowl and whip for 30 seconds; then add 3/4 of the butter mixture and continue to whip—slowly at first, then adding the salt and pepper and increasing the speed to whip more air (volume) into the potatoes. Use the remaining butter mixture only if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

    6. SERVE the mashed potatoes in a dish, topped with lobster meat and extra. Garnish with the chives and more paprika as desired.


  • Beet Mashed Potatoes
  • Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes
  • Lowfat Mashed Potatoes
  • Flavored Mashed Potatoes: Substitute infused olive oil for the butter–basil oil, chile oil, garlic oil, rosemary oil, wasabi, etc.
  • Holiday Mashed Potatoes: Mix-in theme-colored vegetable bits–chives or scallion stems for St. Patrick’s Day, crushed red pepper flakes or pimento for Valentine’s Day, etc.
  • Mashed Potato Martini
  • Purple Mashed Potatoes
    Plus some food fun, mashed potatoes with a cup of coffee: Mashed Potato Donuts.

    How many different types of potatoes are there? Thousands, worldwide; but check out the dozens of varieties you can find in the U.S.


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    FOOD FUN: Want Fries On Your Salad?

    The Idaho Potato Commission develops many delicious potato recipes, incorporating trending food flavors into conventional preparations (harissa, sriracha), as well as new concepts like this one:

    French fries as a salad garnish.

    “The crisp flavors of a Greek salad harmonize effortlessly with seasoned fries, while a cool, tangy tzatziki sauce extends the Mediterranean theme,” they say.

    The fries themselves are more Greek than “French”: They’re seasoned with Greek spices.

    For a bit of food fun, here’s the recipe.

    For The Fries

  • 2 Idaho potatoes, cut into a french fry (julienne)shape
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    For The Salad Dressing

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
    For The Salad

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, chopped into cubes
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into rounds
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives
    For The Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons cucumber, cut into small matchsticks

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F. In a large bowl, toss together all the french fry ingredients. Place the fries on a baking sheet and cook for 40 minutes, flipping once halfway through cooking. Meanwhile…

    2. MAKE the salad dressing: Combine all salad dressing ingredients in a bowl.

    3. COMBINE the salad ingredients in a large bowl, pour on the dressing and toss. Cover and place in the fridge while fries finish baking.

    4. COMBINE the tzatziki sauce ingredients.


    Salad With Fries

    Classic Greek Salad

    Greek Salad

    Special Greek Salad

    [1] Greek Salad with fries from the Idaho Potato Commission. [2] Classic Greek Salad from The Maiden Lane Restaurant | NYC). [3] Creative plating from Stix Restaurant | NYC and [4] very creative plating: a vertical Greek Salad from Death Ave | NYC.

    5. SERVE the crispy fries on top of the Greek salad, with a drizzle of tzatziki sauce.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Brussels Sprouts On The Stalk, “Bone In”

    Roasted Brussels Sprouts

    Brussels Sprouts & Dip

    [1] and [2] Roast the whole stalk of Brussels sprouts and serve with a lemon-garlic dip (photos courtesy Nutmeg Nanny).


    Last year’s fun cruciferous preparation was the Cauliflower Steak, along with its big brother, Whole Roasted Cauliflower.

    Meet this year’s classy crucifers: Brussel Sprouts “Bone In”, the brainchild of the ever-innovative Chef Eric LeVine who provides the clever name (the conventional name is “on the stalk”).

    This is a nifty way to enjoy Brussels sprouts as an appetizer or first course. Chef Eric serves the roasted stalk of sprouts with a lemon-garlic mayonnaise. The recipe is below,

    You can also make classic aïoli (garlic mayonnaise) or buy it. You can also use a different flavored mayo: curry, lemon sriracha, etc.

    Our favorite brand of flavored mayonnaise is Ojai Cook, a two-time NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week. It’s also one of our favorite house gifts and stocking stuffers.

    You can buy Ojai Cook online. The basic product is Lemonaise—lemon-accented-mayonnaise—but all variations are equally delicious:

  • Lemonaise With Garlic & Herbs (basil and tarragon)
  • Latin Lemonaise With Chiles, Lime & Cumin
  • Wasabi Lemonaise (with cilantro and lemon)
  • Cha-Cha Chipotle Lemonaise, with jalapeño, cayenne, and red pepper


    Yes, with a lot of elbow grease. Unlike broccoli and cauliflower stalks, brussels stalks are very tough and fibrous. You need a cleaver to cut through them. You can, however, easily eat the stems that attach the sprouts to the stalk.

    If you want to try it:

  • Remove the sprouts and chop the stalks into 3- to 4 -inch pieces with a cleaver. Hacking away with a cleaver is enjoyable for stress management.
  • Steam the pieces for at least 25 minutes or longer. Then, try different freestyle approaches to eating them.
  • Try gnawing at the skin. But then, use a paring knife, peel off the tough, woody layer, which truly is inedible by humans. The core inside is not big, but is rich and creamy and worth trying.
    Or, simply enjoy the engaging presentation of cooled sprouts on the stalk, before turning it into mulch.
    By the way:

  • Brussels sprouts on the stalk will taste fresher and sweeter. The challenge is that the sizes differ. When you buy them trimmed and packaged, they’ve been sorted by size.
  • The same roasted Brussels sprouts can be eaten plain, as a main course side, or halved and tossed into a green salad, or used in other preparations.


    We adapted Chef Eric’s recipe with one from Nutmeg Nanny.

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 1 full stalk Brussels spouts
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    For The Dip

  • 1 cup mayonnaise (substitute Greek yogurt)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves garlic, peeled, roasted, cooled and chopped*
    *If you don’t want to roast the garlic, you can use raw garlic: 2 minced cloves per cup of mayonnaise.

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Rinse the stalk and the sprouts.

    2. MIX the oil, salt and pepper and brush or sprinkle the seasoned oil over the sprouts. Place on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan and roast for 45 minutes until slightly soft and browned on the outside. Rotate the stalk one-third of the way every 15 minutes to ensure equal cooking. Check the small sprouts with a cake tester or toothpick. When the small ones seem soft (but not mush), the larger ones will be al dente. Explain this when serving, since people have different preferences.


    Brussels Sprouts

    Ojai Cook Lemonaise Flavors

    [3] Buy brussels sprouts on the stalk—they taste fresher.

    3. MAKE the dip while the sprouts cook. Blend all ingredients and refrigerate until ready to serve.

    4. REMOVE from the oven and placer on a serving platter. Serve with a dip and scissors to cut sprouts from the stalk. You can just pull them right off the stalk, but some people may want a utensil.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Celebrate Diwali With Indian Food

    Tandoor Chef Chicken Tikka Masala

    Tandoor Chef Chicken Tikka Masala

    Amira Rice

    Diwali Rangoli

    You don’t know how to cook Indian cuisine to enjoy a quality dinner at home. [1] and [2] A family favorite, Tandoor Chef Chicken Tikka Masala (photos courtesy Tandoor Chef). [3] Amira rice, an authentic Indian brand (photo courtesy Amira Foods). [4] A relatively simple rangoli made by college students. Some designs are very elaborate (photo courtesy


    This coming Sunday, instead of brunch at home, we’re headed to a buffet at a neighborhood Indian restaurant. It’s Diwali.


    Diwali or Deepavali is one of the most prominent Hindu festivals of India, a five-day festival of lights that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Indians of all religions celebrate.

    The date, based on the Hindu calendar, varies in countries that use other calendars (the U.S. uses the Gregorian calendar).

    This year, Diwali begins on October 30th and continues through November 3rd. Here’s more from

    In India, families make vibrant rangolis, an art form in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards brightly-colored rice, dry flour, colored sand or flower petals. lighting diyas, traditional oil lamps made from clay, sharing sweets and exchanging gifts with friends and family.

    Another tradition is lighting crackers—rocket shaped firecrackers or sparklers.

    Here, in New York City, we eat!

    You can have a joint holiday this year: Diwali on the 30th and Halloween on the 31st. Dia de los Muertos also begins on the eve of the 31st, through November 1st.


    Cook an Indian dish, or go to an Indian restaurant.

    While we have an easy rice recipe below, those with no time to cook have lots of heat-and-eat options.

    that we always have on hand.

  • TastyBite is an inexpensive, shelf-stable brand in pouches. You can gather them all and have your own mini-buffet at home.
  • Saffron Road and Tandoor Chef, two top-quality frozen brands, have just about anything you could want. We often have the entrées and the crisp samosas.
  • Maya Kaimal makes authentic Indian simmer sauces. Add your own protein, and simmer away to a fragrant and delicious dinner.
  • Stonefire naan is a moist and flavorful flatbread we eat year-round, in original, whole grain and garlic (our current favorite). We serve it with breakfast eggs, make sandwiches with it, as well as serve it with Indian cuisine.
  • Swad coriander and tamarind chutneys are must-trys. Like hot sauces and salsas, they can be used with any grilled, fried or roasted foods, potatoes, grains and vegetables. Most Americans only know Major Grey’s chutney, a mango chutney sweetened for British palates. We like it, but the savory chutneys are dynamite.


    The reason America’s home cooks don’t prepare more Indian food from scratch, is that it takes lots of specialty ingredients.

    Unless one cook it regularly, it’s more practical to enjoy the prepared food brands or head to your favorite Indian restaurant. Otherwise, find other ways to use the spices in your regular recipes, from dips to sides to mains.

    Here’s a classic rice recipe that goes with everything, from Sharmilee Jayaprakash, a food blogger who lives in the city of Coimbatore, near the western border of the state of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Follow her cooking at

    See complete cooking photos for this recipe at



  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 3 cups water
  • Spices for pot: 1 bay leaf, 1 cardamom pod, 2 whole cloves, 1 small star anise
  • Dry-roasted spices (list below)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Rice spices (listed below)
  • 1/2 cup mixed carrots and peas
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil for jeera (cumin) powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon roasted jeera powder (roasted, ground cumin seeds—more information)
  • Fresh mint and cilantro leaves to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ghee, divided (substitute unsalted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/8 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • =

  • 10 cashews
  • Salt to taste
    To Make The Jeera

  • 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds*
    For The Dry-Roasted Spices

  • 1/4-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small star anise
    *If you have ground cumin and don’t want to buy the seeds, you can quickly toast ground cumin in a pan (how to toast spices). It will be lesss flavorful, but it’s a hack.

    1. SOAK the rice for 15 minutes; then cook, adding the rice spices to the pot: bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and star anise. As the rice cooks…

    2. DRY ROAST (a.k.a. pan-toast) the spices for 3 minutes in a nonstick pan (how to roast spices) until the aroma wafts up. Then grind them to a semi-coarse powder with a mortar and pestle. You may not use all the powder; Shari reserved 1/2 teaspoon for another use. Set aside until Step 5.


    Indian Pilaf - Pulao

    Indian Pilaf - Pulao

    Amira Rice

    [5] Ingredients for vegetable pulao (pilaf) and [6] the finished dish, from SharmisPassions. [7] Amira, a brand of authentic Indian rices (photo courtesy Amira Foods).

    3. STRAIN any water from the cooked rice, spread the rice on a plate, fluff it up with a fork and let it cool.

    4. STEAM-cook the vegetables until they are slightly soft yet toothsome. (Or, thaw frozen carrots and peas). Set aside. Use the pan to sauté the onion.

    5. MAKE the jeera powder: Heat the oil in a small nonstick pan; add the cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle. Add the ginger garlic paste and onion and fry for a minute. Add the spice mixture along with roasted jeera powder and garam masala powder. Add salt to taste, and give the mixture a quick sauté. While the onions fry…

    6. FRY the cashews in ghee until golden brown and set aside.

    7. ADD the steamed vegetables to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the cooked rice, cover and cook for 2 minutes. Garnish with the coriander and mint leaves and mix well until the leaves slightly shrink. Finally, add the ghee and fried cashews.

    9. REMOVE from the heat, give it a quick stir and place in a serving bowl. Serve warm.


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