How to get through life . . . one recipe at a time, says Chef Judi to describe her combination autobiographical and culinary resource book.
The path of a successful chef from impressionable little girl to confident, compassionately driven woman is shared, with accompanying culinary photos and priceless recipes.
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They say that life only gives you what can be handled.
Malarkey, too many times life seemingly lusts in kicks to the gut and daggers through the heart.
While never really wanting a second restaurant, in reality, a metaphor for not wanting a marriage that was asphyxiating me, a larger than life mother-in-law imperiously let it be known that a much more prominent, spacious restaurant was proper for her son.
With the screaming sound in my head bellowing: "Run, Run-away". the disabled sense of self succumbed. Although rich with joy and strength of purpose, for perhaps the first time in my life, by being bonded with my son, Eric, making homemade baby food, strolling the boulevard at will, relishing a year away from the 80-hours work week, so incapacitated was I that the only option was the second restaurant.
Oh, the maternal delectation continued as much as possible. Like the time I had 2 1/2 years old, Eric, join me at work, safely observing (each other) from the hallway – a hallway where nine sweet berry-bursting varieties of homemade muffins were cooling. Alas, before long, as I glanced quickly, there was Eric on his Mickey Mouse stool, availing himself of the opportunity to painstakingly stick his finger in every single muffin. Row upon row, the pineapple, coconut muffins and blueberry, crumble muffins bore a toddler's fingerprint.
Even precious instances like this, with all their wonderment, could not offset the shock of powerlessly enduring a marriage crumbling more than any muffin. There was meanness; there were anger issues. Thus, the trauma and the impotence I felt was too remnant of an abusive and mentally unstable father.
As fear grew and violence dispersed, I turned to my sister Hilary; Hilary, my long time refuge in escaping the paternal pain. A simple phone call cemented that Eric and I would move back to my childhood town and into her new two-bedroom condo: a genesis perhaps.
Confidently, Hilary assured me that with my cooking and management skills, a new path could be paved; one bereft from the near-surface rage that was being endured both at home and at the restaurant.
This was the final conversation I would have with Hilary.
While preparing an evening meal and dancing around the house with Eric, a dreaded phone call reshaped my world forever. Hilary had collapsed outside of Fenway Park, on her way to meet my brother for a late fall Red Sox vs Yankees baseball game. She had no heartbeat when the paramedics arrived. She was pronounced dead in the hospital 10 hours later.
My rock, my bestie, the inner soul, who shielded me from the rage and torment of a mentally ill father and the world that created him, was now lying at Beth Israel hospital, close enough to see the lights of Fenway Park, but without a trace of brain movement. In the most prolonged ten hours of my life, I sat and witnessed her body give way to the afterlife. So much of me was also gone, hope for a future secured by Hilary's watchful guidance dashed into mounds of unspeakable grief.
The comfort of my son's innocence and animation, as well as his dependence, kept me going. There's something about a little boy obsessively watching the Wizard of Oz, wanting to act out the parts, or hanging on my leg as I frosted cupcakes for a pre-school party, that challenges grief's emptiness.
The true kindness of customers, as well as my staff and dear friends, provided semblance of light on those starless nights. They picked me up of the floor, sometimes literally, babysat, brought meals and just sat by my side ... the human touch.
A regular customer, Elliot Margolis, who owned the local sporting goods store, stopped me one day in the restaurant. As he slid his coffee to the side and ever so gently leaned over the counter, he knowingly whispered: "Death gives you perspective."
These words delivered certainty and shape for my new direction --- one of healing for me and encouragement for the young son who would need my protection.
And then, it was when I had to drive from Northern Massachusetts to both console my Mother's broken heart, and, to help her cope with the chaotic behavior of my father's near constant dance with madness, that I began to receive odd phone calls from vendors.
Checks had bounced; invoices were going unpaid. Something was amiss. BJ's in the Park, our restaurant, was going broke. ... and fast.
I am a person who worries about any bill. ... was then, am now, and, so, not owing any money, maintaining every receipt, paying in advance, at every chance, was my credo ... just as Mom taught me.
However, in my deep grief, I was not able to tend to the books. In the 2-3 months since my sister's death, every single bank account was emptied, squandering our personal account and Eric's college account as well. (Guess who?)
Yes, literally, it was all gone. With about $5.00 in my wallet and with sheer terror of not being able to feed my son, pay his preschool, pay any bills -- I sat on the floor; I cried for hours.
The trance and trauma that absorbed me was not a delusion. When I was physically able ... I called my Mom. Within 2 1/2 hours, my Mother appeared at the front door with a full bag of deli from Rein's, a whole turkey, a platter of roast beef and stacks of steaks for the freezer and. ... a plan. She hugged me, as we both cried, and she allowed me to slip back onto the floor in a near fetal position. "Judi", she eventually whispered: "I will stay all week. You can go to bed and pull the covers up. BUT, after three days you need to get up. You have a college education and the work ethic of a true pro. We can figure out your next steps; I will stock your freezer, fill your oil tank and love on Eric. REMEMBER? This is not the worst nightmare you have lived through."
On day three I got up, only knowing that I needed to cook or bake.
Borrowing cash from Mom, I set out to buy oatmeal cookie ingredients: my famous claim to fame since I was in third grade and initially answered the urge to bake. I baked and baked and baked. Then I brought some samples to local gourmet store, just about pretending to be Betty Crocker herself, and there began the new road of recovery. Through melting butter, brown sugar and rolled oats, Just Desserts was born.
In order to care for Eric as much as possible, I worked all available nighttime bartending shifts, hired a God-send, live in babysitter, and, slept intermittently for a few hours, as I arose near dawn to bake the cookies and muffins. Eventually, early-morning space was affordable at the restaurant I worked at ... with two convection ovens and a used Hobart mixer, my list of clients slowly began to grow.
I will forever be grateful for the two most reputable businesses that started my dessert company's prominence: Legal Seafoods and DeLucas Markets in Boston. Just Desserts grew and grew.
Within a year I had a rental space and a business partner of my own who made enviable cheesecakes. We even had a play area built for our children with, of course, Easy Bake Ovens. (The kids got the extra batter and occasionally set up shop across from the YMCA where doting women, running out of exercise class, paid them well over the quarter they were charging.) My marketing plan worked, under stock the shelves to build more demand. Boston was abuzz with Just Desserts cookies, chocolate mousse brownies and mini muffins.
Just Desserts saved me. Not just financially, but the aroma of butter and brown sugar melting into soft crispy edged cookies gave me back the passion to cook, bake, do everything I could with my hands. This time ingredients were kept simpler, as I struggled financially without any child support, I learned braising of tougher meats and multiple new pasta recipes (box pasta very inexpensive at the time) made our table at home an enjoyable respite from the darkness of betrayal.
Slowly, very slowly, I paid back my Mom, my lawyer, and, eventually realized that, even with the ceaselessness of a deranged Father, the immeasurable pain brought by the death of a 30 year old sister, and, the powerlessness and depression that was being endured from my marriage, I did have the strength to get up off the floor.
That strength was foundational. That capability was named Nana.
APPLE COFFEE CAKE FRENCH TOAST WITH WARM APPLE COMPOTE
If you aren't serving a crowd you may have some leftover pastry. I freeze the extra pieces and make either a bread pudding or apple French toast with the remaining pieces. Perfect for a main course at brunch the coffee cake ring is so sweet and delicious by itself that you won't have to work too hard to create this dish. You may substitute fresh apricots when they are in season for the apples. Use a splash of apricot brandy or regular brandy instead of the apple brandy.
1 stick unsalted butter - cut into Tbsp.
In a medium saucepan, add apples, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/4 cup sugar.
Heat until apples are soft and chunky (occasionally mashing with a whisk).
Add water if needed during the cooking process. Blend in Calvados and let sit on stove without heat.
In the meantime- Slice the coffee cake on the bias.
Heat a large saute pan and add 1 Tbsp. butter.
Whip eggs with half-and-half, 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. cinnamon.
Dip the coffee cake slices into the batter, turn to fully cover both sides and add to hot griddle or pan with melted butter.
Grill cake slices on both sides until golden brown. Add more butter to the pan as needed.
Arrange French toast slices on a platter. Brush with pumpkin or plum butter. Top with warm apple compote and a dollop of fresh whipped cream. Garnish with cinnamon and sugar.
CINNAMON BANANA STREUSEL MUFFINS
From the very first Main Street Cafe recipe cards.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees °F.
Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together sugar and butter for about 4 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla extract, whisk until combined. Stir in the mashed bananas.
Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and mix until just combined.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
In a small bowl, combine all-purpose flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over muffins.
Bake for 20 - 25 minutes, until a toothpick, inserted into the center, comes out clean.
Drizzle with glaze.
A family favorite and a New England traditional cookie recipe. Save the broken ones and freeze for garnishes and cheesecake crusts.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, allspice, pepper, and cinnamon.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the brown sugar and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in molasses and the egg.
On low speed, beat in the flour mixture until just combined. Cover and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 300 degrees °F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
Remove the dough from refrigerator. Using a small ice cream scoop, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the sanding sugar in a medium bowl and roll the cookie balls in the sugar a few at a time to completely and thoroughly coat.
Place half of the dough balls 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Using the bottom of a drinking glass, flatten the cookies until they measure about 1/4 inch thick. Bake until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat with the remaining dough balls. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE TORTE
Not your Easy Bake Oven recipe, this dense torte packs in the chocolate flavor.
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees °F. Lightly grease a metal 8" round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan. See "tips," below.
To make the cake:
Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft.
Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and mix just to combine.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200 degrees °F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.
Remove it from the oven and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that's fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze:
Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.
Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.
My dear friend Marsha Fottler and I have made this cake for years as a donation for a true old fashioned cake auction held every year. I often double the recipe, make a triple layer cake and there will be enough batter when you double it to have muffins in the morning as well.
3 cups all-purpose flour
Combine flour, baking soda, salt, sugar and ground cinnamon in a large bowl.
Add eggs, and oil, stirring until dry ingredients are moistened.
(Do not beat)Stir in vanilla, pineapple, 1 cup pecans, and bananas.
Pour batter into 3 greased and floured 9" round cake pans.
Bake at 350 degrees °F for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.
Spread Cream Cheese Frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake; sprinkle 1/2 cup chopped pecans on top.
Store in refrigerator.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter at medium speed, with an electric mixer until smooth.
Gradually add powdered sugar, beating at low speed until light and fluffy.
Stir in vanilla.
Yield: 3 cups.
JORDAN MARSH BLUEBERRY MUFFINS
Needless to say, this recipe was the ultimate score for my Mom's best friend, Cynthia Krozen.
1/2 cup softened butter
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees °F.
Cream the butter and 1 1/4 cups sugar until light.
Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder, and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the milk.
Crush 1/2 cup blueberries with a fork and mix into the batter. Fold in the remaining whole berries.
Line a 12 cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners, and fill with batter. Sprinkle the 3 tsp. sugar over the tops of the muffins and bake at 375 degrees °F for about 30-35 minutes.
Remove muffins from tin and cool at least 30 minutes. Store, uncovered, or the muffins will be too moist the second day, if they last that long.
You can top with crumbled brown sugar, chopped pecans and brown sugar if you prefer a streusel topping.
The recipe is so versatile. To make banana muffins simply mash three ripe bananas instead of the blueberries and 2 tsp. cinnamon to the batter.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Reflections & Recipes of Chef Judi"
Copyright © 2018 Judi Gallagher.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
CHAPTER 1 PERSPECTIVE, 1,
Apple Coffee Cake French Toast with Warm Apple Compote, 4,
Cinnamon Banana Streusel Muffins, 5,
Gingersnap Cookies, 6,
Flourless Chocolate Torte, 7,
Hummingbird Cake, 9,
Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins, 10,
Amaretto Olive Oil Cake, 11,
Strawberries Romanoff, 12,
Cranberry Chutney, 13,
CHAPTER 2 NANA-STRENGTH PERSONIFIED, 14,
Pauline Kopper's family non-dairy noodle pudding, 16,
Vegetable Latkes, 17,
Bavarian Cream, 19,
Carrot Cake Pancakes, 21,
Riva's Zucchini Bread, 22,
Matzo Ball Soup, 24,
Cream of Mushroom Soup, 26,
Sour-Cream Blueberry Coffee Cake, 27,
Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage, 28,
Prime Rib, 29,
CHAPTER 3 THE EARLY YEARS, 30,
Chicken & Corn Flakes, 32,
Cauliflower Puree, 33,
Chopped Salad, 34,
Avocado Cilantro Dressing, 34,
Date Nut Bread, 35,
Eggplant Rollatine, 36,
Hearty Beef Stew, 37,
Marinara Sauce, 38,
Modern Bolognese Sauce, 39,
Orange Pound Cake, 40,
Panko Crusted Fillet of Sole with Sumo Orange Butter Sauce, 41,
Peach, Blueberry, Raspberry Cobbler, 43,
Sauteed Veggie Pockets, 46,
Stuffed French Toast with Warm Peach Blueberry Compote, 47,
CHAPTER 4 THE EDUCATION OF A CHEF, 48,
Spaghetti Carbonara Style with Peas and Mushrooms, 53,
Italian Fish Stew, 55,
Sunday Afternoon Whole Roasted Chicken, 56,
Sweet Potato Waffles with Sliced Brisket and Melted Fontina Cheese, 57,
New England Clam Chowder, 59,
Sweet Potatoes Au Gratin, 60,
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust, 61,
Italian Style Baby Back Ribs, 63,
Spiral Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Blood Orange Dressing, 64,
Steamed Clams with Pancetta and Toasted Blue Cheese Garlic Bread, 66,
Pumpkin Cranberry Spice Baked Donuts (and Cake or Bread), 68,
CHAPTER 5 THE JOURNEY SOUTH, 70,
Grilled Asparagus Salad, 74,
Moroccan Chicken, 75,
Pancakes with Macadamia Nut Sauce, 76,
Pasta with Yellow Pepper Sauce and Grilled Shrimp, 77,
Stilton-Stuffed Baked Pears, 78,
Stuffed Shells with Smoked Salmon and Lobster Sauce, 79,
Turkey Meatloaf Sliders, 80,
Springtime Salmon Croquettes, 81,
Grilled Steak and Herb Cream Cheese Flatbread with Arugula Salad and Blistered Tomatoes, 82,
Butternut Bisque with Crispy Bacon, 84,
Watermelon Gazpacho, 85,
CHAPTER 6 REAFFIRMATION, 86,
Pan Seared Scallops with Bacon and Spinach Apple Relish Topping, 88,
Butternut Squash Ravioli with Pancetta Sage Brown Butter, 89,
Chai Baked Apples, 90,
Vegan Chili, 91,
Mushroom and Leek Pasta, 92,
Chilled Soba Noodle Salad, 93,
Eric's Apple Pie, 94,
Feta Watermelon Salad, 96,
Grilled Wild Salmon with Mustard Herb Butter and Braised Lentils, 97,
Jicama Slaw, 98,
Salmon Poke, 99,
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Napoleon with Caramelized Ginger, 100,
Quinoa Tabbouleh with Marinated Boneless Chicken Thighs, 101,
Thai Coconut Soup, 102,
Lemon Ricotta Jars, 103,
Raspberry Guava Bars, 104,
CHAPTER 7 RENEWAL OF PURPOSE, 105,
Turkey Pan Gravy, 107,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The recipes in this book are simple in nature with ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen! The food jumps right out of the pages, so it's hard to pick which one you want to try first. I would recommend starting with something you would definitely order out of a restaurant menu like the Grilled Steak and Herb Cream Cheese Flatbread, or a dessert you can have for brunch or after dinner... like the Stuffed French Toast with Warm Peach Blueberry Compote. Chef Judi quite literally takes you into her kitchen and her home with this book. Her words are raw, like the ingredients you need to make each recipe. As you read through the book you learn more about Judi's journey through food...cultivating comfort food for any occasion.