Tag Archives | Sanford D’Amato


Opening and Closing Ceremonies

Holiday Breakfast and Baked Goods

Story by Sanford D’Amato

And they were prepared as it was written. He looked, took a bite, and was pleased. It was good.

In my pre-pubescent world, there was not-a-morning-person, and then there was my mother. For her, the only appropriate first salutation of the day was, “Good afternoon.” This put a damper on breakfast at our house. My sister and I would self-prepare our morning meals. I learned to open a box and pour milk over Sugar Pops or Kix from a very early age.

I was always amazed, and a bit jealous, when I went over to my friend Rick’s house before school. Uncommon smells emanated from his kitchen: ham, bacon or sausage, accompanied by sizzling eggs, pancakes, waffles or French toast. An ever-present sticky bottle of Log Cabin syrup was a beacon in the center of the table. This was another world to me, as Mrs. Sheridan, with help from her kids, would put out this full-scale spread every morning.

Christmas Day was the only day of the year that my dad closed his grocery store and didn’t work. My sister and I would rush down to the presents and right after … Read More

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Mon Petit Chou

Love and Cabbage

Story and Recipe by Sanford D’Amato
Photography by Kevin Miyazaki

For my wife’s, Angie, and my first date, I picked her up at her grandmother’s home on the East Side, where she was living while attending college at UWM. I rang the bell at the back door and she ushered me into the tiny hallway. She quickly grabbed her coat off the hook and mildly flustered, said, “Smell that? I have to eat that later.” It was the unmistakable fragrance of cabbage.

There was no need for any embarrassment, as I was quite at home with cabbage. The aroma (or smell, depending on what camp you’re in) would permeate every nook and cranny of my childhood home. It would mean only one thing: boiled dinner. In our house, it was a combination of smoked pork butt, onions, carrots, garlic, potatoes and cabbage—a hearty meal, even if it only had half the ingredients. I loved the flavor combination of the slightly fatty, smoky pork against the silky richness of the cabbage. In fact, this was one of the first meals that I cooked for myself when I went out on my own— very warm, satisfying and homey.

Turns … Read More

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Summer Pit Stop

From Clinging to Fresh Peaches

Story by Sanford D’Amato
Photography by Dominic Perri

I came late to the “fresh peach parade.” In my preteen years, my dad and I would arrive at his Milwaukee grocery store in the early morning, and I would grab a can of sliced cling peaches off the shelf and place it in the bottom of the dairy refrigerator. When our lunchtime rolled around, they were chilled to perfection. I would pluck out a small wedge and let the viscous sugar syrup slide off before indulging.

For many years, I thought that was all I needed to know about peaches—not that we didn’t have fresh peaches in season at the store. Their arrival was ushered in by the hottest days of the summer, late July to August. It was so hot that in the early afternoon, time would almost stand still. Not one customer was brave enough to leave the cooling breeze of their fan or air conditioner to venture outside to shop.

I would be half asleep behind the store’s counter, but the half that was awake had its eye on the reddish-orange pyramid stack of peaches that had been uncrated that morning. It didn’t … Read More

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Rosemary-Crusted Pear Pockets

This “NOT-Tart” is Pop-Inspired

Story by Sanford D’Amato
Photography by Dominic Perri

As a baby boomer I was a witness to the first generation of convenience foods. Not just a witness, actually—I had a front row seat from the age of 5, from behind the counter of my dad’s grocery store.

It started in the freezer, with Swanson’s turkey TV dinners. Once the floodgates were opened, they would never close.

Up to this time all our meals were Leave It To Beaver-like, with my mother making everything from scratch. But when the convenience foods slowly crept onto our dinner table, there was no shame—just the opposite, as each new product was unveiled with the excitement of a Broadway opening!

Somewhere between the time I was waiting for the Sara Lee Cheesecake to defrost and the Pepperidge Farm Raspberry Turnovers to rise in the oven, the coolest thing happened: It was 1964, the year that the Beatles invaded the United States, the first Mustang was released, and the Civil Rights Act was signed into law. And in the food world, the first Pop-Tart was unleashed on the public.

I couldn’t wait as my dad brought in the case from the … Read More

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Rosemary-Crusted Pear and Cheese Pockets with Candied Ginger

Recipe by Sanford D’Amato

Makes 8 pockets

  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Bosc pears (6 to 7 oz. each), peeled, cut in quarters from stem to tip, each quarter cored and cut into ¼-in. slices from stem side to tip
  • 3 T. candied ginger, cut into a very small dice (brunoise)
  • ½ t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 T. dry sherry
  • 1 t. honey 4 oz. (about 1 c. packed) sharp, aged cheese (A good-quality aged Asiago would be delicious), grated, plus a little more for grating over the top of pockets
  • 1 batch Rosemary Dough (recipe below), rolled out as described
  • ½ egg, beaten (use the other ½ egg to make the Rosemary Dough)
  • 2 t. heavy cream

Place a saute pan over high heat. When hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the pears and saute for 2 min., until they are lightly golden. Add the candied ginger and saute for 30 sec. Add the pepper and honey and toss to combine. Add the sherry and cook until dry.

Remove to a plate and let cool in the refrigerator. When cold, mix together with the grated cheese.

Divide the pear/cheese filling into 8 portions.… Read More

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Food Fight: Some Call It Dinner

Story by Sanford D’Amato
Photography by Dominic Perri

My sister and I were prolific eaters from birth, and as we got older every dinner at our house was either a mental or physical fight for food. It’s not as if we were deprived, as my father was a grocer and we always had enough to eat. But as the table was filled with plates of food, we would both be planning strategy on what choice bites would be the first and last to cross our lips. It was as if an announcer roared out over a loudspeaker, “Ladies and gentlemen, grab your forks and GO!”

The majority of the year we would fight over the protein—the only two golden, glistening gams of roast chicken; the crispy ends of a rosy rotisserie beef; or that one slice of roast pork that was perfectly ringed with crispy, burnished fat—all almost normal behavior in the pantheon of aggressive American families. But we both had an odd quirk that separated us from the norm. We adored vegetables.

Starting pre-teeth with puréed broccoli and carrots, the feelings became more intense as the vegetables became more solid. Next to the slice of pork, the almost-burnt quarter … Read More

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Chargrilled Scallops With Grilled Caramel Corn Sauce and Corn Relish

Recipe by Sanford D’Amato

Serves 4

For the caramel corn sauce:

  • 6 ears fresh market corn
  • 1 T. grapeseed oil
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 onion, peeled, ⅓  cut off in one piece, remaining cut in small dice for the corn relish
  • ¼ t. vanilla
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup honey
  • 6 T. (about 3 limes’ worth) fresh lime juice
  • ¼ c. cider vinegar
  • ¼ t. hot paprika
  • ½ t. salt
  • ¼ t. freshly ground pepper

For the corn relish:

  • 4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces), cut in julienne
  • ¼ t. hot paprika
  • 1 T. lime juice
  • 1 t. kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • ¼ t. freshly ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
  • ¼ cup chiffonaded (cut in fine strips) fresh basil leaves

To finish the dish:

  • 24 oz. large sea scallops (about 18–20)
  • 3–4 T. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 1 t. ground fennel seeds
  • 1 t. sweet paprika

To prepare the caramel corn sauce:

Prepare and light your grill.

When the coals are ready for high-heat cooking, shuck the corn. Brush the ears with the grapeseed oil. Place the ears on the very hot grill for 1 min., rolling them to char evenly. Cut the kernels off … Read More

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