René Marie – Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Infused Apricots

Oh my! It’s been way too long since I posted a new recipe. But when I saw René Marie’s hilarious post of this recipe on Facebook, I knew it was time to recharge the blogosphere batteries! After getting her permission to post this fun and good-humored recipe, I went to work getting all the materials together. It is good timing, too, since René Marie has just been nominated for a Grammy in the Best Jazz Vocal category. It is very much deserved, especially since all the material on her new CD, Sound of Red, is original. Go René Marie and many many congrats! You’ve definitely got my vote. 🙂

Check out the title track from her new CD and then go and buy the whole project and listen to it while you make this recipe! I’ve posted the official video below.

Sound of Red from the CD, Sound of Red 

René Marie – Vocalist, Composer, Arranger, Actor and Teacher
In a span of two decades, 11 recordings and countless stage performances, vocalist René Marie has cemented her reputation as not only a singer but also a composer, arranger, theatrical performer and teacher. Guided and tempered by powerful life lessons and rooted in jazz traditions laid down by Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and other leading ladies of past generations, she borrows various elements of folk, R&B and even classical and country to create a captivating hybrid style. Her body of work is musical, but it’s more than just music. It’s an exploration of the bright and dark corners of the human experience, and an affirmation of the power of the human spirit.

The newest installment in her ever-expanding body of work is Sound of Red, a CD released on Motéma in April 2016. It’s her first album of all-original material, an 11-song set that provides insightful glimpses into the many small but profound turning points that are part of an individual life. René’s clever songcraft and sensual vocal delivery make those personal moments not only meaningful but enlightening to a broad audience.

René Marie’s Sweet Potatoes with Bourbon-Infused Apricots Recipe:
Serves 6.
1. Pour 2 fingers of bourbon into a rocks glass.
2. Sip the bourbon.
3. Get 7-8 dried apricots and use kitchen shears to snip into 1/2 inch pieces. …Put in a small bowl.
4. Take another sip of bourbon.
5. Pour 1/3 cup of bourbon (or enough to cover) over the apricots and set aside.
6. Take 6 LARGE unpeeled sweet potatoes, scrub them clean, grease ’em up real good with butter, pierce with a fork and bake in oven on 400 until done.
7. While they cookin’, put your feet up, honey, and sip your bourbon.
8. When potatoes are done, remove from oven and let them cool enough to handle without burning yourself (about 20 min). If you by chance burn your fingers, soothe the pain with a sip of bourbon. If you didn’t burn your fingers, hooray! celebrate with another sip of bourbon
9. Remove the skins and place potatoes in a large casserole dish.
10. Add 1/3 cup brown sugar; 1/4 cup maple syrup; 1/3 cup of real butter from grass fed cows; 1 tsp real vanilla flavoring; mash it all together with a potato masher or fork until mixture is slightly chunky .
11. Take another sip of bourbon
12. Take your dish of apricots and bourbon and mix it in with the potatoes real good. Spread it all out nice and even in the casserole dish.
13. Bake, uncovered in a 375 degree oven until hot in the center – about 30 minutes. Or refrigerate up to 3-4 days until you’re ready to warm it up on the oven. Enjoy with a SOB (sip of bourbon!)

You can buy René Marie’s music pretty much everywhere, but here are a couple of links to get you going:



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Patti LaBelle – Sweet Potato Pie

After watching that awesome and hilarious video of James Wright’s review of Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie, I had to try and bake it myself. My (gluten-free) crust got a little too cooked, but other than that, I think it turned out pretty darned delicious!)
Patti LaBelle has been a vocal hero to me for as long as I can remember. I always wanted her vocal chops and strived to achieve at least a small percentage of what she can do. But not only is she an amazing singer, she is also a fantastic cook and all around good person. So, on this Thanksgiving Day, I send my gratitude to Patti and to all musicians out there who strive to create a better world through their music. Happy Thanksgiving!! 🙂

Here’s a song I thought appropriate for this day of giving thanks:

When You’ve Been Blessed (Feels Like Heaven)

Patti LaBelle – Singer, Author and Actress
Patricia Louise Holt-Edwards (born May 24, 1944) better known under the stage name Patti LaBelle, is an American singer, author, and actress. LaBelle began her career in the early 1960s as lead singer and front woman of the vocal group, Patti LaBelle and the Bluebelles. Following the group’s name change to Labelle in the early 1970s, she released the iconic disco song “Lady Marmalade” and the group later became the first African-American vocal group to land the cover ofRolling Stone magazine.[1] After the group split in 1976, LaBelle began a successful solo career, starting with her critically acclaimed debut album, which included the career-defining song, “You Are My Friend“. LaBelle became a mainstream solo star in 1984 following the success of the singles, “If Only You Knew“, “New Attitude” and “Stir It Up“, with the latter two crossing over to pop audiences becoming radio staples.

In a career that has spanned fifty years, she has sold more than fifty million records worldwide. LaBelle has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Apollo Theater Hall of Fame and the Songwriters’ Hall of Fame. In 2005, the World Music Awards recognized her years in the music business by awarding her the Legend Award. Possessing the voice of a soprano, LaBelle was included in Rolling Stone on their list of 100 Greatest Singers. LaBelle is commonly identified as the “Godmother of Soul”, she has also been referred to as the “High Priestess of Good Vibrations”, and the “Queen of Rock ‘n’ Soul”.

About the Recipe:
Singer Patti LaBelle learned this pie recipe from her best friend and hairstylist Norma Gordon Harris. This sweet potato pie has a thin layer of brown sugar on the bottom crust. This “black bottom” doesn’t just add flavor, it also helps keep the filling from making the crust soggy. The recipe makes a good amount of the delicious filling—this isn’t one of those skimpy sweet potato pies. It tastes like sweet potatoes, not pineapple or raisins or other fillers that some people stick in their pies. Serve it with whipped cream, if you wish.

Patti’s Pointers: If you want a tender, flaky pie crust, you have to use shortening. Some cooks make their dough with butter because they like the flavor, but it bakes into a crumbly crust—and with most pie lovers, flaky is the name of the game. My solution is to use butter-flavored Crisco. Like biscuits, pie crust shouldn’t be overworked. Handle with care. The chilled shortening and ice water will also help pie crust stay nice and flaky.

Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie
Reprinted from “LaBelle Cuisine.” Copyright ©1999 by Patti LaBelle with Laura B. Randolph. Published by Broadway Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter-flavored vegetable shortening, chilled
1/3 cup ice water

3 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (Louisiana yams), scrubbed
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

1. For the crust: Sift the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Add the shortening. Using a fork or a pastry blender, cut the shortening into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few pea-sized bits. Stirring with the fork, gradually add enough of the water until the mixture clumps together (you may need more or less water). Gather up the dough and press into a thick disk. If desired, wrap the dough in wax paper and refrigerate for up to 1 hour.

2. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 13-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Fold the dough in half. Transfer to a 9-inch pie pan, and gently unfold the dough to fit into the pan. Using scissors or a sharp knife, trim the dough to a 1-inch overhang. Fold the dough under itself so the edge of the fold is flush with the edge of the pan. Flute the dough around the edge of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate while making the filling.

3. For the filling: Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the sweet potatoes and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 30 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the sweet potatoes and place in a medium bowl.

4. Mash with an electric mixer on medium speed until very smooth. Measure 3 cups mashed sweet potatoes, keeping any extra for another use, and set aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Uncover the pie shell and brush the interior with some of the melted butter. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the brown sugar over the bottom of the pie shell. Bake until the pie dough is set and just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. If the pie shell puffs, do not prick it.

6. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using an electric mixer on low speed, mix the mashed sweet potatoes, the remaining melted butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar, the granulated sugar, eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Spread into the partially baked pie shell, smoothing the top.

7. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Bake until a knife inserted in the center of the filling comes out clean, about 1 ½ hours. Cool completely on a wire cake rack. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve with whipped cream.

 Patti’s Music Can be purchased here:


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Milt Hinton – Easy Classic Meatloaf

After a bit of a hiatus, it is time to regenerate and begin posting recipes from these awesome musicians. This week features Milt Hinton, an incredible bassist who traveled the world with Cab Calloway, among many others.

Here is one of Milt’s songs to play while you make this wonderful meatloaf dish to warm your souls on a cold, winter night.

“Right Here, Right Now” from the recording, The Judge At His Best

Milt Hinton – Bassist and Photographer
Milt “The Judge” Hinton was regarded as the Dean of jazz bass players. He was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1910, and at the age of eleven moved to Chicago with his family. He began his musical education by taking private violin lessons, but while attending Chicago’s Wendell Phillips High School and playing in a band sponsored by the Chicago Defender newspaper, he learned to play bass horn, tuba, cello, and eventually the bass violin. In l936, Milt joined Cab Calloway and for fifteen years performed with Calloway and renowned sidemen such as Danny Barker, Chu Berry, Doc Cheatham, Cozy Cole, Dizzy Gillespie, Quentin Jackson, Illinois Jacquet, Jonah Jones, Ike Quebec, and Ben Webster. During this period he was also featured on numerous recordings accompanying Benny Carter, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Coleman Hawkins, Billie Holiday, Ethel Waters, and Teddy Wilson – to name just a few. Most of these sessions have become jazz classics.

Milt has played with virtually every jazz and popular artist from Ellington, Coltrane and the Marsalis Brothers to Streisand, Midler and McCartney. In the late 80s Chiaroscuro Records released Old Man Time , a double cd featuring Milt along with many life-long friends from the music world. Laughin’ at Life, was released by Columbia Records in 1995 and Chiaroscuro recently released The Judge at His Best, a selection of his recordings on that label over three decades, and the Bassment Tapes, which features Milt performing with groups he assembled.

In June 2000, a concert was held to pay tribute to Milt on the occasion of his 90th Birthday. Milt passed away six months later.

In late 2002, Keeping Time: The Life, Music & Photographs of Milt Hinton, a one hour documentary film was completed. It was produced and directed by David G. Berger and Holly Maxson. It debuted at the London Film Festival, won the Audience Award at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2003, and has been shown at film festival both here and abroad.

Milt’s Comments
Hinton honed his cooking skills on the road with Cab Calloway’s band, which is where Millionaire Meatloaf originated. In Hinton’s words: “Since we couldn’t sit in restaurants, Cab, being a very engineering man who tried to keep us out of as much of that stuff as possible, bought an electric stove, a big thing that you could put a roasted turkey in. It had three compartments. We had a case made for it and we carried plates and knives and forks. Most theaters in those days had a kitchen, but if they didn’t we could use our stove and cook our dinner between shows. Several guys in the band would team up to cook. Tyree Glenn, the trombone player, and I liked to cook together. We would get up early and go to the store, set up the kitchen down in the basement of the theater and cook. Tyree liked a thing called Millionaire Meatloaf. We called it that because it wasn’t cheap at all.”

Millionaire Meatloaf Recipe
Milt Hinton describes the recipe in storytelling form. To stay true to form, I will give you the recipe just as I found it in the Jazz Cooks book.

“It had one pound of ground beef, a pound of sausage meat and a pound of veal, ground up. We mashed it all up, put in salt and pepper and powdered garlic, took five or six slices of bread, crumbled them up and mixed it in there. Then we put in one egg. For three pounds we’d use up one large onion, one large green pepper, and two sticks of celery, chopped up fine. You mixed it in, kneaded it like you knead bread, and formed it into a loaf. We’d put a slight amount of butter on the bottom, cover it and let it cook at 350 degrees for an hour during shows.

“When we came off the first show, we’d put in a can of tomato puree and let it cook for another half hour or so. In the other two compartments we had some baked rice and something green. After the second show, about 5:30 or 6:00, all the guys in the band had their own plates and knives and forks and they’d come back and have a wonderful dinner. We made Cab get in line just like everybody else. He couldn’t go to those restaurants either.”

You can Find Mr. Hinton’s Music Here:


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Andrea Brachfeld – Adai Dosas Pancakes

This beautiful song will be the perfect ingredient to add that extra spice to these delicious pancakes. 

Voces da Rua from Andrea’s Into The World – A Musical Offering CD

AndreaBrachfeld_DosasAndrea Brachfeld – Flutist, Composer, Bandleader and Educator
Flutist Andrea Brachfeld, a graduate of The High School of Music and Art and Manhattan School of Music, began her musical career at 16 and has associated with artists from all genres including Tito Puente, Ray Barretto, Hubert Laws, Nestor Torres, Dave Valentín, Paquito D’Rivera, Wycliffe Gordon and Wallace Roney, among others.

Andrea is the first female flutist to play “Charanga” music in the United States. She has recorded six CDs with the latest in 2012. She currently tours with her band and presents workshops nationally. She plays in Wallace Roney’s “Universe Orchestra” playing Wayne Shorter’s music written for Miles Davis.

Andrea’s Comments
This recipe is significant to me because it is totally vegan, vegetarian, and adheres to the Krishna diet of no animal products, no garlic, no onions, no mushrooms, and no eggs. It is a complete food filled with protein which is very filling and very healthy. I have never tried it with brown rice but I would think it would be just as yummy!
All the ingredients can be found at an Indian store in your town.

Adai Dosas Pancakes
Soak ½ cup of channa or urdu dal and ½ cup of moong dal for 2- 3 hours
Soak 1 cup of green peas for five hours
Coarsely grind all in a blender
Add ½ teaspoon of salt
Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric
Add ¼ teaspoon of asafetida
Add ½ teaspoon chili powder or to your taste
Add enough water to create a smooth but lumpy batter

Chop up cilantro and vegetables of your choice like squash, pumpkin, or carrots and lightly sauté them before adding to the batter.

Gently spray frying pan with cooking spray or use the oil of your choice.
Cook until the pancake holds together well when flipping about 5-7 minutes on each side, depending on the thickness of the pancake.
This may be eaten as is or with any chutney of your choosing.

Links to Andrea’s music:


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Milt Jackson – Peach Cobbler

Sunflower, one of Milt Jackson’s most beloved songs, will add a little sunshine in your kitchen as you prepare this amazing cobbler.

Milt Jackson – Jazz Vibraphonist
Milton “Bags” Jackson (January 1, 1923 – October 9, 1999) was an American jazz vibraphonist, usually thought of as a bebop player, although he performed in several jazz idioms. He is especially remembered for his cool swinging solos as a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet and his penchant for collaborating with several hard bop and post-bop players.

A very expressive player, Jackson differentiated himself from other vibraphonists in his attention to variations on harmonics and rhythm. He was particularly fond of the twelve-bar blues at slow tempos. He preferred to set the vibraphone’s oscillator to a low 3.3 revolutions per second (as opposed to Lionel Hampton’s speed of 10 revolutions per second) for a more subtle vibrato. On occasion, Jackson sang and played piano professionally.

Milt’s Comments
“Making sweets has become a hobby with me. It carries over from learning from my mother when I was small. I used to watch her and got her to teach me. [This Peach Cobbler] is the kind of thing that cooks best under a slow fire. By cooking it slow and low, just like my mother did, it won’t burn and the inner layer won’t become soggy.

Peach Cobbler
Recipe from “Jazz Cooks, Portraits and Recipes of the Greats”
by Bob Young and Al Stankus
serves 6

2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking powder (“You don’t want a big rise”)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/3 cup shortening
About 3/4 cup half-and-half or milk

7 cups sliced canned peaches, packed in syrup, or ripe, fresh peaches
1/4 cup sugar, plus an additional 1/3 cup if using fresh peaches
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter

Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. To prepare the crust, sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Using a wooden spoon, and in small pieces, alternately cut the butter and shortening into the lour mixture with a fork and using only enough liquid to make the dough soft. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and, with your hands, knead for 30 to 45 seconds. Separate the dough into 2 portions, making one portion slightly (10-15%) larger than the other. Set aside.

To prepare the peach mixture, if using canned peaches, drain the syrup from both cans, reserving 1/4 cup. (If using fresh peaches, make a sugar syrup by combining 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring continuously, then lower heat to a simmer and continue to stir for 5 minutes or until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and cool.)

Place the peaches in a large bowl and sift the sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon over them. Mix well. Pour half of the peach mixture into the prepared baking dish and dot with half the butter.

Roll out the smaller portion of dough and place over the peaches. Pour the second half of the peach mixture on top of the layer of dough. Lightly drizzle the peach syrup (or the sugar syrup) over the peaches. Dot with the remaining butter.

Roll out the remaining piece of dough so that it is larger enough to slightly overlap the baking dish, and crimp the edges. Place the dough on top of the peaches, allowing the excess to hang over the edge of the baking dish.
Place a large dish or bowl on the rack below the baking dish to catch drips, and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the top crust is lightly browned all over.
Serve with vanilla-spiked whipped cream, ice cream, or as Milt Jackson likes it, “just plain.”

You can purchased Milt Jackson’s music here:

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Michel Camilo – Dominican-Style Roast Pork

There’s nothing like this song to get you in the mood to cook this luscious meal! (Invite me over when it’s ready!)

Caribe from the CD, “Michel Camilo”

MichelCamilo_RoastedPorkMichel Camilo – Grammy-Award Winning Pianist, Composer, Bandleader, Producer and Educator
He is a composer and pianist extraordinaire. He is a bandleader, lecturer, and visiting professor. He is a chart-topping producer; a Grammy, Latin Grammy and Emmy award winner. He is the recipient of his native country’s highest civilian honors.

Michel Camilo is all of these things and more, wrapped in a human being of boundless enthusiasm, musical passion, and love of life. The artistry and virtuosity of Michel Camilo bridges the genres of Jazz, Classical, Popular and World music. He is a pianist with a brilliant technique and a composer who flavors his tunes with the spice of Caribbean rhythms and jazz harmonies.

Camilo’s Comments
“With our food, we don’t eat just one dish. This pork should be accompanied by other things that could be meals in themselves.” Camilo suggests serving white rice and kidney beans; yuca con mojo, the starchy tuber common to the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, slathered with a sauce made of garlic sautéed in plenty of olive oil; sweet plantains, called maduros; and bottles of cold beer, preferably Presidente, the rich, hoppy brew from the Dominican Republic.

Dominican-Style Roast Pork
Recipe from “Jazz Cooks, Portraits and Recipes of the Greats”
by Bob Young and Al Stankus

Serves 6
Juice of 3 naranja agria (sour oranges that can be found in specialty or Latin markets) or 2 grapefruits
Juice of 10 lemons
6-7 lbs of pork shoulder, bone-in
10 cloves garlic, mashed
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. oregano

One night ahead, squeeze the juice from the naranja agria (or grapefruit) and lemons, removing all of the seeds.
Place the pork in a non-reactive pan with a tight-fitting lid, or a bowl that comfortably holds the meat.
Pour the citrus juices evenly over the meat.
Cover the moist meat with the garlic, onion powder, salt, oregano, and pepper.
Cover the pan with its lid, or, if using a bowl, cover the meat with aluminum foil.
Refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, remove the meat from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the covered meat (either covered with the lid or the foil) in the hot oven and cook for 5 hours, basting the pork every 45 minutes or so with the drippings, juice and garlic mixture.
After 5 hours, raise the oven temp.  450˚F. Uncover the meat and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Allow the meat to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before slicing.

Note: While this recipe omits cilantro, some Latin cooks would add about 1/4 cup to the garlic mixture that covers the pork.

Here’s where you can purchase music by Michel Camilo:

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Pérez – Salmon Niçoise

Like the process of cooking a great meal – take your time – its all in the sauce!

“In the Wee Small Hours” from Perez’ CD, Perez, It’s Happenin’

Pérez – Vocal Artist, Producer, Photographer, Art Director, Educator
Born in Harlem, Peréz sang from early childhood. Drawn to music and art from an early age, it was said, that by age four, she would hear a song once and be able to recite the lyrics and melody. She attended High School of Art and Design at the age of 12 and majored in photography. Though photography was her first impulse towards self expression, she later focused her energy on vocals as a form of communication. She was in foster care from 9 months old for the first few years of her life. At the age of 17 she moved to Los Angeles. Inspired by the styles of Charlie Parker, Bill Evans, Shirley Horn, Abbey Lincoln, Carmen McRae and Nina Simone, she first sang publicly in Los Angeles, before relocating to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. There she polished her vocal and performance skills, playing club dates in Europe and leading a weekly session at Amsterdam’s Bimhus for a spell. Perez currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Pérez’ Comments
This recipe has saved my life. When I first came up with the idea to produce a monthly duet house concert series in my home, I was thinking guests will show up at different times. HOLY COW WHAT WILL I SERVE?! When visiting my sculptor friend’s home in the Hamptons, he and his wife served Salmon Nicoise and it was served room temperature. “Brilliant,” I thought! So with a few tries I perfected this delightful dish. It’s healthy and fresh and it looks great with all the colors on the platter. All the guests have loved it. I serve a green salad on the side with a homemade olive oil and black pesto dressing.

Salmon Niçoise
Total Time:1 hr 5 min
Prep: 20 min
Inactive: 30 min
Cook: 15 min
12 -15 servings

4 lemons, zested and juiced
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
5 garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 pounds skin-on fresh salmon – I get one piece
3 pounds small Yukon  potatoes white and Red – love to place colors on each corner of the platter
1 1/2 pounds haricots verts, stems removed
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges (6 small tomatoes)
12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in 1/2
1 bunch watercress
1/2 pound large green and Black olives, pitted
And a dash of horseradish sauce

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.

The marinade (this goes on the top of the raw salmon):
Whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, mustard, garlic, 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1/2 tablespoon pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the salmon on a sheet pan that has been covered in aluminum foil, and drizzle the marinade over the salmon. Allow the salmon to sit for 15 minutes let those flavors mingle – yummy yummy.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes and 2 tablespoons salt in a large pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potatoes are barely tender when pierced with a knife. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then place the colander with the potatoes over the empty pot off the heat and cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Leave the potatoes to steam for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but firm. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them in thick slices – drip some Dijon  mustard and horseradish on them. Salt and pepper and set aside.

Place the salmon in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is almost cooked through. Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Remove the skin and break into large pieces.

Blanch the haricots verts in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 1/2 minutes only. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water. Drain again and set aside to cool off – you don’t want to overcook them.

For the vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Set aside.

Arrange the salmon, potatoes, haricots verts, tomatoes, eggs, watercress, olives and anchovies, if used, on a large flat platter. Drizzle some vinaigrette over the fish and vegetables and serve the rest in a pitcher on the side.
A yummy room temperature dish!

You can find Pérez’ music here:
It’s Happenin’ on iTunes:
Zoho Music:

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Chris McNulty – Vegetable Pie for Boxing Day

What better song to create this masterpiece than one of the songs off of Chris’ exquisite new CD, Eternal.

“On a Clear Day” from the CD, Eternal

Chris McNulty – Jazz Vocalist and Composer
Since her emergence on the international jazz scene in 1991, Chris McNulty has been hailed by musicians, peers and critics alike as a jazz vocalist­ and composer with a unique vision, boundless creative energy and a distinctive style. Her recordings and performances have garnered 4 and 5 star reviews in publications including DownBeat, The Irish Times, Jazz Wise, Jazz Journal and JazzTimes, among many others. In May 2013, McNulty won the prestigious Australian Bell Award for “Best Vocal Jazz Album for “The Song That Sings You Here. collaborated, recorded and performed with some of the finest musicians on the jazz scene today and performed at major international festivals around the world. This March 24th, 2015 in collaboration with orchestrator, Steve Newcomb, McNulty releases “Eternal.”

This gorgeously heartfelt and emotionally moving album releasing on Palmetto Records, celebrates the life of her son, Sam who passed away tragically in 2011. The album is a sublime love letter expressing the ineradicable bond between mother and child and exquisitely melds chamber ensemble and jazz quintet.

“The resultant blend is beautiful and seamless, as sensitivity reigns supreme.”
— 4 1/2 Stars All About Jazz ­ March 2015

“Such a beautifully crafted and heartfelt performance throughout. From the very first minute we hear McNulty’s eloquent, exquisite vocals, we know this is an album we are going to be listening to time and time again.”
— UKVibe ­ February 2015

“This is a release of simple unadorned splendor, an organic outpouring of emotion and love. “What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life” is nothing short of exquisite.”
— Critical Jazz ­ February, 2015

Chris’ Comments
The story behind my pie is a simple one.
Although the ritual had its origins in Australia, it really came into its own in NYC. Boxing Day is a large holiday in Australia though not celebrated here in the States. To help my son, Sam stay close to home and those memories, we continued to celebrate the day here. Boxing Day is the day after Christmas Day. Where Christmas Day is spent with family, Boxing day is the day Aussies escape to spend with friends. Since Sam and I had no family here in the States, this day became our family day and boy did we grow a family. Boxing Day in NYC at the McNulty apartment on the upper west side was an invitation only affair of about 25-30 guests. It was a labor of love for sure but it was also a way to say thank you to everyone who provided the feeling of “family” to Sam and me over the years. Most of the people this event brought together only saw each other once a year, at our Boxing Day. That was always a wonderful feeling.

The ritual always started the day before with all the shopping for the ingredients. I’d try to
make the pastry the day before because there was also a 25lb Brazilian style turkey on the
menu and only so much space in that oven. You could smell those pies from 10 blocks away. There were never close to enough chairs for everyone to sit around the table but somehow we all managed to eat together. I truly don’t know how. Sam always helped me chop the vegetables as he did baste the turkey. I think he missed that ritual of Boxing Day and those pies way more than I ever realized once he left to go back to Australia. I was raised in a family that gathered every Sunday at my Nana McNulty’s – that sustained us through a childhood that was far from happy. I tried to create that very same experience for my son. I wish I’d realized how important it was to have sustained that through his adult life as well. Sam and I both journeyed a long way from home and so has this pie but I hope it remains a reminder to all who enjoy it that home is never far away.

McNulty’s Vegetable Pie
Short crust pastry for 2 to 3 pies (see recipe at bottom of page)
Vegetable pie mixture:
3 large tomatoes
2 large red peppers
2 large green peppers
2 large yellow pepper
3 green/yellow squash zucchini
2 large onions
1 inch square finely sliced ginger
6 gloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 potatoes
1 butternut squash
4 carrots medium
4 parsnips medium
2 turnips
1 bunch of celery
1 bunch of parsley
3 lemons
1lb. sharp tasting cheddar cheese
2 medium cartons of sour cream (reduced fat is OK) or 3 small cartons

Fill a large, tall saucepan with water (2 teaspoons of salt) and bring to boil.
In the meantime peel, wash and chop in small cubes, potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, parsnips and turnips. Add to boiling water and simmer for 15 mins. or until just on the firm side of tender. Drain well,place in a large covered bowl and set aside (save and freeze the vegetable water for soup stock).
Peel and chop onions, ginger, garlic and separately chop peppers, zucchini (pat with paper towel) and tomatoes (keep tomatoes separate).
In an extra large frying pan heat the vegetable oil then lower to medium heat and add the onions, garlic and ginger until transparent, honey colored. Then add the peppers, and zucchini. Saute on low to medium heat for 7 mins. Stirring occasionally. Finally add the tomatoes. Cook for another 7 -10 mins, stirring occasionally. Add salt and freshly ground
pepper to taste. Set aside. If mixture appears too liquidy, drain the excess liquid from the pan and set aside in a jug but don’t remove all the liquid.
Grate the cheese.
Remove the top end (flowers) and bottom thick ends of the celery and cut the stalks length wise. Wash well. Then slice finely. Finely chop the parsley.
Add the sautéed mixture from the frying pan to the large bowl of root vegetables. Very gently fold into each other without mashing. Add the uncooked celery and parsley. If the mixture needs any moistening at this stage use what you saved from the jug.
With a ladle, spoon mixer into the cooked pie shells. Fill each pie dish densely and to the top inside edge of the pie crust, filling slightly higher in the middle of the pie dish (by creating a mound shape).
Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the top of each pie. Allow it to sink in.
With a large spatula spoon, gently spread the sour cream across the pie – about 1/3″ inch thick. Followed by the grated cheese which can be hand sprinkled across the top.

Divide the 2nd smaller roll of dough into 2 or 3 balls and roll them out into circles to sit on top of the 2 or 3 pies.
Place the pie lids over each pie. Use your fingers to bring the overhanging pastry dough onto the outside the edge of the pie by making small indentations round the entire pie. You can also use a fork, however I like the shape that fingers make.
Separate an egg and beat the egg white for a few seconds. Gently brush the top of each pie lid with egg white using a pastry brush. Make 2 small cuts in the pastry top and place all pies back in the oven at 375 degrees. Avoid any pies touching each other. They can be placed on separate racks on cookie sheets in case of liquid spillage.
Bake for 30-40 mins. or until the pie tops are golden brown and you can see the cheese in the cuts sizzling.
Serve with wedges of lemon.


How to make short crust pastry and pie shells
Approx. 2 lb. of flour to 1lb. of butter (room temperature)
1 teas salt.
1/2 – 1 cup of filtered water (moist enough to roll onto a floured board)
extra flour for kneading.
Sift flour and salt in extra large mixing bowl.
Slice butter into irregular 1 -2 inch chunks and add 1/2 lb at a time. Rub into the flour using your fingers tips. Dig down into the flour and sift the butter and flour using finger tips and fingers until the butter is perfectly integrated into the flour mixture. The flour should have a slightly yellowish tinge to it. Slightly buttery but not too heavy. With a spatula create a well in the middle of the mixture and slowly add the water, cutting through the mixer and bringing the bulk of the mixture into the well. The dough should be moist but not too wet.
Turn mixture out onto a well floured board or piece of slate. Kneed dough into a large ball and then cut the dough in 2 pieces, one slightly larger than the other. Roll each into separate balls and set the smaller ball to the side.
Knead the larger ball by rolling the dough over and over into its center. The mixture should not be dry or flaky but soft and shiny (add a little flour if too moist or a very little water if too dry).
Punch down and then fold over 3 or 4 times. Repeat the same process with the smaller dough that was set aide. Wrap both separately in wax paper and chill in fridge over night. If not enough time, you can leave the overnight refrigeration step out.
If refrigerated over night you’ll need to bring the dough to room temperature the following day before re-kneading for a few minutes and rolling and shaping. Divide the large ball into 2 or 3 equal pieces (depending on the pie dish size and depth). With a rolling pin, roll out into large enough circles for 2 or 3 pie shells.
Lay over the Pyrex dishes and push down into pie dish, allowing outside edge of pastry to hang over and underneath
the edge of the dish. Use finger tips to push the dough into the inside bottom edges of the pie dish. Make two small cuts in the bottom of the pastry.
Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 20 mins. or until light golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside in a cool place.
The 2nd, slightly smaller ball of dough is set aside for the pie tops.

You can purchase Chris’ music directly from her website:
Chris McNulty’s Official Website
Eternal, Chris’ Newest CD


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Abbey Lincoln – Fried Porgy

You won’t want to throw this dish away once it’s cooked ’cause it looks
and tastes so good! But you WILL want to listen to the song, Throw It Away,  while you’re making it!

Throw It Away from the CD, A Turtle’s Dream

Abbey Lincoln – Jazz Vocalist, Composer and Actress
Anna Marie Wooldridge (August 6, 1930 – August 14, 2010), known by her stage name Abbey Lincoln, was an American jazz vocalist, songwriter, and actress, who wrote and performed her own compositions. She was a civil rights advocate during the 1960s.

Lincoln was one of many singers influenced by Billie Holiday. She often visited the Blue Note jazz club in New York City. Her debut album, Abbey Lincoln’s Affair – A Story of a Girl in Love, was followed by a series of albums for Riverside Records. In 1960 she sang on Max Roach’s landmark civil rights-themed recording, We Insist! Lincoln’s lyrics were often connected to the civil rights movement in America.

During the 1980s, Lincoln’s creative output was smaller and she released only a few albums during that decade. Her song “For All We Know” is featured in the 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy. During the 1990s and until her death, however, she fulfilled a 10-album contract with Verve Records. These albums are highly regarded and represent a crowning achievement in Lincoln’s career. Devil’s Got Your Tongue (1992) featured Rodney Kendrick, Grady Tate, J. J. Johnson, Stanley Turrentine, Babatunde Olatunji and The Staple Singers, among others.
In 2003, Lincoln received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master Award.

Abbey Lincoln’s Comments
When I came to New York from Los Angeles, I discovered porgy. (She had always thought of porgy in terms of a man.) I recorded “I Loves You Porgy,” so it was funny to see a fish called porgy. Now it’s one of my favorite fish. I like to serve it with linguini cooked in butter and oil that’s finished with lemon and parsley, and a cold beer.

Fried Porgy
Recipe from “Jazz Cooks, Portraits and Recipes of the Greats”
by Bob Young and Al Stankus

Serves 2
1 whole porgy per person, cleaned and scaled, head and tail intact (See note)
1 large egg, beaten
2/3 cup cornmeal
Salt and pepper
Approximately 3/4 cup vegetable oil
Using a sharp knife, make two 45˚ angle slashes on each side of the fish. Coat the fish with the beaten egg. Combine the cornmeal, salt and pepper on a plate or a piece of waxed paper. Roll the fish in the cornmeal mixture until it is totally coated. Loosely cover the fish with the waxed paper and place in the refrigerator for about half an hour, which will help the cornmeal adhere to the fish. In a skillet large enough to hold the fish without crowding, add enough oil to fill about 3/4 inches of the pan. Heat the oil until very hot. Fry both sides of the fish until crisp.
Note: Red snapper, small sea bass, and relish are all acceptable substitutes for the porgy.

You can find Abbey Lincoln’s music hee:

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Sandy Cressman – Clay Pot Chicken

Here’s some of Sandy’s music to prepare this amazing comfort food:

Ivan Lins Medley from “Homenagem Brasileira”

Sandy Cressman – Vocal Musician, Composer, Bandleader, Educator
Once in a while, an artist is born with an inexplicable connection to a culture far from the artist’s origins. Such is the case with Sandy Cressman. Born in New York City, Cressman began her recording career with the highly acclaimed vocal trio Pastiche, with whom she recorded three CDs, “That’s R&Bebop” (Pony/Canyon/Nova) “Remember That” (BluePrint), and “Pastiche”(Summit).  Sandy’s connection with Brazilian music was first sparked when she first heard the music of Ivan Lins while at U.C. Berkeley in the late 70’s. After transferring to San Jose State University in order to major in Vocal Jazz, Sandy began hearing the music of Flora Purim, Tania Maria and Djavan, and began to study Portuguese. From then on, her record collection filled with recordings of Lins and Djavan, as well as the work of Milton Nascimento, Dori Caymmi, Toninho Horta, Elis Regina, Gal Costa, Jobim and others. In 1996, Cressman began performing as a duo with Brazilian master keyboardist Marcos Silva. Cressman and Silva developed an extensive repertoire, musical interplay and following in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 1997, they expanded their group to a quintet, and in 1999, released “Homenagem Brasileira,” their critically acclaimed tribute to the great composers and performers of Brazilian Jazz. Sandy released her second CD of Brazilian music in 2005, entitled “Brasil–Sempre no Coração.” Cressman has collaborated with many important contemporary Brazilian musicians, including Jovino Santos Neto, Weber Iago and José Neto.  She has performed her eclectic Brazilian repertoire at festivals and concert venues in the U.S. as well as in France, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.  Sandy recently performed on the Main Stage (Maro Zero) of the Recife Carnaval 2015 with SpokFrevo Orquestra. She is currently recording her upcoming release, to be titled “Entre Amigos,” which will include original compositions she has written with Brazilian Jazz musicians from around the world. Sandy is also an
in-demand studio vocalist, performing guest vocals on recordings of artists such as Pete Escovedo, Ray Obiedo, Jai Uttal, Edgardo and Candela and many more.

Sandy’s Comments About Her Recipe
When Jeff [Cressman – acclaimed trombonist for Santana] and I got married, our colleague Edgardo Cambon (singer, conguero and leader of “Candela” and “LaTiDo” gave us the wonderful gift of a Romertopf clay cooker. Because you soak the cooker in water before roasting, anything cooked in it comes out very moist. The Country Roast Chicken is our favorite Romertopf recipe: it contains everything for a hearty meal – chicken, veggies and potatoes (or yams as I prefer to do it), and also the leftovers are really great for heating up before running off to a gig or to teach. We almost always boil the bones and leftover meat scraps to make a chicken stock that we either freeze or make into a tasty soup… thus further stretching the original meal! As the chicken cooks, you can go practice, work on a recording, etc., and the smell from the kitchen is mouthwatering. Last Christmas Eve, I prepared this chicken dish for a small family get together.

Country Clay Pot Chicken
3 1/2 pounds Whole Chicken
salt and pepper
1 yellow onion
Celery Tops
2 Tablespoons melted butter
White wine
Small vegetables- potatoes, onions, carrots, turnips

Water the pot. Wash the chicken and rub the inside with salt and pepper. Place the yellow onion in cavity of the chicken. Place in bottom of the clay pot. Brush with melted butter, if desired, and season with salt and pepper and thyme. Wine may be added for flavor. Place vegetables around chicken. sprinkle with minced parsley. Cover pot and place in a cold oven. Bake at 450 degrees. for 85 minutes.

Sandy’s music may be purchased at:

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