Award-winning Chef Phyllis Segura has cooked for people in all walks of life both in the U.S. and E.U. After entertaining and cooking for many years in her own residence she decided to cook for others.

Chef Phyllis had previous careers as a magazine founder, textile designer and painter. She attended the Apicius Cooking School of Lorenzo de’Medici in Florence, Italy; received a James Beard Foundation scholarship; attended various New York cooking schools; and watched her grandmother very carefully.

As a Personal Chef Phyllis cooks daily fare for private clients and instructs and offers cooking demonstrations regularly. She specializes in weekday meals, small elegant dinner parties, and intimate dinners - plated or buffet, and cooking lessons. As of September 2013 she is offering cooking classes in her home kitchen (and cookbook library) in Spencertown, NY- Columbia County.

The chef prepares a wide variety of cuisines. (Whereas a restaurant chef might have a specialty that is served daily, a Personal Chef applies their skills to the requirements and tastes of their clients.)

Vegetarian, Vegan, Macrobiotic, Kosher, grain-free, dairy-free, blood type, diabetic and other special diets are available. Chef prefers to use organic, pesticide and antibiotic free, and local products as much as possible. Consultations with nutritionists are recommended for special needs.

Chef Phyllis has been cooking for special people since 2000. References and a rate sheet are available.

Send her an email: info@cookingontheriver.com

Click on the Blue JOIN THIS SITE button to be a follower. Don't be shy. Add a comment especially if you like something.

Follow by Email


Search This Blog


Wednesday, October 29, 2014



Fish Chowder can be very simply made with just a few ingredients: a fish stock, salt pork or bacon (optional), potatoes, and fish. You can use clam broth for the fish stock, if you like.

There are other ways on days when you have some enhancement time. Make your own fish stock (instructions follow below).

I purchased an assortment of very fine quality, never before frozen, fish from the vendor at the local Saugerties Farmers' Market. Though the prices are a bit higher than the supermarket, the quality makes it worthwhile. I only purchased small quantities of the most expensive scallops and shrimp. I happened to find at one of those Ocean Job Lot places that have name brand foods, a lovely bottle of lobster stock. Sorry I only bought one...

2-3 slices bacon, sliced in small pieces
1-2 leeks, white part only, fine dice
1/2 to 1 onion, fine dice
1 stalk celery, fine dice
1 garlic clove, fine dice
1 pound fingerling potatoes, semi-peeled, cubed
1-4 bottles lobster stock, or clam juice
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
2 anchovies
dash Tabasco
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
bay leaf
nutmeg, a few scrapings
sea salt and white pepper
1 pound haddock fillets
1/4 pound sea scallops, quartered
1/4 pound large shrimp, peeled, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
potato starch

In a medium sized soup pot, render the bacon over medium heat, then remove to paper towels. Add a few slices of butter to the fat and saute the leeks, onion, celery and garlic only until transparent - do not brown. The quantity of leeks and onion should be equal. You could also use one or the other. 

Add the potatoes and lobster or clam juice, milk and half and half. (If you want to use a different sort of milk, that's up to you. I also added some water to increase the quantity.) 

Add the anchovies (or fish sauce, nam pla), Tabasco, thyme, bay leaf, salt and  pepper. Simmer until the potatoes are done. (If you've cut them into smallish cubes they'll cook rapidly.) Once the milk is in the pot don't boil it. Get it to that point of boiling and just let it simmer while quite hot. It's best to do this over medium heat, rather than high heat and let it come up to temperature slowly. You'll have to watch it up to this point. 

Add the haddock. Don't cut it up, add it whole. It will fall apart in the soup all by itself. Add the rest of the fish, whatever you are using. Continue to simmer until the fish is cooked through. It won't take long. I like to keep it over a low heat so that the flavors marry.

Add a little bit of butter, if you like. Now you'll want to thicken it a bit. Take a tablespoon of potato starch and a tablespoon of water in a small bowl and mix well. Pour it into the chowder while stirring. Let it thicken. If you want it still thicker do the same thing a second time.

Serve hot. I like oyster crackers, if you have some.

Fish Stock:
Take an assortment of fish scraps: head, tails etc. and barely cover with water. Boil then skim. Add vegetables: onion, celery, carrot, peppercorns, parsley leaves and stems, thyme stems, bay leaf. Don't let it cook too long or it will get bitter. Cook 20 minutes. Steep for 10 minutes. You can use chicken stock which has a neutral taste, or clam stock but it will taste like clams - or chicken. Strain. Lightly salt. Chill as quickly as possible if you are not going to use it immediately.

Friday, October 24, 2014


I did a cooking demo at the Woodstock Farm Festival this Wednesday, October 22nd. It's basically a Farmers' Market but it's Woodstock so they call it a festival is anyone's guess. It was very windy. I mean like "Blowin' in the Wind" kind of windy. Not the best for keeping a gas butane flame going, or for keeping my hair from blowing all over my head and face.

Usually at Farmers' Markets I go around to the farmers and select a carrot here, a potato there, a Japanese turnip, whatever looks good. Sometimes I figure out a flavor profile beforehand. This time I wanted to make something with coconut milk and some odd, not commonly used, spices. The profile, besides the coconut milk was with some ground Persian limes, cardamom powder, turmeric, ginger, pomegranate molasses and a bit of chili. Fresh cilantro for the top.

I started off by caramelizing some red onion. It's just slow-cooking until the onion somewhat "melts."
Then, in a soup pot, I sauteed some finely chopped ginger and added some cut up carrots. You can cut the carrots small. Usually I will start a soup with a few more aromatics, like onion and celery but did not in this case.

People are always asking about "rules" for making soup. If I had to come up with any "rules" I'd say that you start with some finely chopped vegetables, like onion, carrot and celery, or any other three. Each type of cuisine seems to vary what these three might be. For instance, New Orleans cooking, uses onion, usually scallion, green pepper and celery to start. I just used some ginger and carrots this day. It's an improvisational soup.

Then I cut up some of the vegetables I'd chosen, at random, from the stands: a tomato, Japanese turnips, a potato, garlic,  an apple, delicata squash and some Swiss chard.  I just cut them up, really helter-skelter while fighting the wind.

There was entertainment at the market that day: an accordion player. While he was a very good accordion player, there is something about accordion music that, (how else can I say this) makes me grumpy. The accordion music never stopped the entire time. Added to that, my friend and videographer, Bart, came by to record the windy cooking event. (Bart Friedman) With the accordion going that's going to be all anyone will hear. Oh well, thus the joy of serendipity.

I kept peeling and cutting up the vegetables in small pieces so that they would, hopefully, cook more quickly. The wind made the flame go out several times. After all, but the Swiss chard, was added and tossed about, plus about 1/2 teaspoon of the ground Persian lime,  1/2 teaspoon or more of the cardamom powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric, salt and pepper. I added a can of coconut milk and some water to cover.

We just had to wait for it all to boil...and wait and wait. You know a watched pot never boils and that pretty much sets the stage for this event. Blowing and boiling.

Rule two: put in your seasonings and ingredients, saute briefly, then add liquid. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let simmer until done, that means, when all the flavors meld and everything is cooked through. Simmer means a very light bubbling boil..just a little blurp every now and then.

After everything got hot, I julienned the Swiss chard leaves and tossed them in. Swiss chard tends to cook quickly. I'd also brought with me some cooked jasmine rice and cooked quinoa. I added those. I think I added too much of the grains as the liquid got absorbed...given more time and better weather I'd probably have added more liquid or less grains.

The tent started blowing around, the wind picked up and rain began to fall. A good day for soup.

Meanwhile, the caramelized onions were doused with some pomegranate molasses. I tasted them and they needed a bit of sweeting. Bart went over to the people selling maple syrup and came back with a piece of maple sugar! In it went, a little into the onions, a little into the soup, and we ate the rest.

I'm aware that this recipe sounds very much more complicated than the actual event. In a restless flurry, at the end, rather than saving the caramelized onions as a garnish, as originally intended, I add them to the soup. It was beginning to be more of a stew.

By now, the few people who had hovered around the pot were getting hungry and restless and they didn't care that the soup hadn't boiled: it was time to taste and eat! So I just gave in. I chopped up some of the massive bunch of cilantro (only $2, but no roots), spooned some into the little cups I was given, topped it with the cilantro and everyone ate. I kept going this way until there was no more left in the pot.

By then the rain had definitely begun, the farmers were packing up; the tents were blowing. As soon as I got everything packed up, drove my car around, the tent fell on my head.

It was quite a soup.

About two weeks previous, I'd done a cooking demo at the Saugerties Farmers' Market. Though the approach was similar the ingredients and resulting soup was quite different. I didn't take note but that soup had more of a rosemary and thyme flavor profile, plus I made some croutons with oil and garlic and topped the soup with some Toma cheese.

I'm looking forward to seeing Bart's video. I'll post it here when it's done. You can also hire Bart to make your videos.

It looks as though the outdoor market days are done around here for now. I'm looking for a place to have cooking demos locally. If you know of anything, give a shout. I also like to do lessons in people's homes privately. A popular approach is to have a dinner or dishes worked out. Everyone helps with the prep and they get a lesson. Then we all sit down and eat it.

Happy end of October.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014



I'll be doing a Cooking Demo at the Saugerties Farmers' Market this Saturday, October 11th, at 11AM. I'm giving out recipes for a Mushroom, Blue Cheese, Fennel Galette, and for an Autumn Persimmon and Pear Salad with a Ginger Vinaigrette. Stop by and see what I'll be making from gathering vegetables from the farmers who sell there.

Friday, September 26, 2014


Last night I spoke with my sister who lives in Florida and usually gets together with her friends for Rosh Hashonah. She was having twelve friends for dinner and they were all bringing something. They seem to stick to the traditional eastern European style of cuisine for these events. The foods from that time were based on the hearty fare of the cold weather that had undoubtedly started by then and to feed those hearty souls who farmed the land. Somehow that became the tradition in the US. In Israel the foods are now different and more Mediterranean and I’ve been told they shun the eastern European traditional foods.

My sister was making a chicken dish recommended by David Leibovitz with shallots. It sounded interesting so I took a look and found it online. I had a chicken in the fridge. I’ve been purchasing the Halal chickens at my local supermarket. The process they use is the same as kosher and the products are much less expensive. I found them to be really good and very clean with no bloodiness. They made a really good chicken soup that was very clear. I was impressed. I wanted a dish with lemon and honey. I have some Sumac, a berry with a lemony flavor, I seem to have purchased a couple of times forgetting that I already had some! Now I want to use it every chance I get. It’s red and looks a lot like chili or paprika.

Here is the recipe I came up with:


3 lemons
3 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tablespoon honey
4-5 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
1 leek, white part only, thin sliced
1 garlic clove, thin sliced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
sea salt & black pepper
2 tablespoon Sumac
potatoes, peeled and chunks
1 chicken, cut into 12 parts – 2 wings, 2 thighs, 2 legs, 2 breasts cut in 2 parts, back cut in 2 parts
3 T chopped parsley

Oven 425

Juice 2 lemons. Put into pan with the butter, honey, rosemary, garlic, and soy sauce and leave until the butter is just melted. Stir and put aside.

Put the cut up chicken into a roasting pan toss with salt and pepper and Sumac.  Pour the butter sauce over and toss with your hands. Toss in the leek slices. Cut the 3rd lemon into small wedges and place them between the chicken parts along with the chunks of potatoes.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes then turn the pieces over. Roast another 30 minutes until the chicken is well browned.

Sprinkle and toss with the parsley, some more Sumac and a finishing flurry of salt.

You can make this recipe your own by varying some of the components. Perhaps a different herb or no herbs at all, olive oil instead of butter, and so on. You can’t go wrong as long as you use a lavish amount of seasonings. If you don’t have a leek, use an onion, or shallots. No potatoes? Leave them out.




I have been storing my spices in these round metal containers with a clear covering on top. I bought them in a dollar store and the tops stay on very firmly. In my new place there are few drawers to store them. So I bought some magnets and glued them on to the bottoms of the containers, some required more than one magnet. It's a great solution. You do have to use some sense of awareness that they are there. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Greetings. After an imposed move out of Spencertown, NY and a journey to Nova Scotia (details to come) I have settled in Saugerties, NY along the Esopus Creek. Do I change the name of Cooking on the River to Cooking on the Creek? Maybe so. Fresh start and all of that.

There are actually picnic benches and grilling pits in the Waterfront Park. I could begin some classes there until it gets too cold and windy. That could be fun.

The possibility of holding cooking classes in my home kitchen is gone. I did enjoy doing it but finding a suitable location has been a deterrent. Right now I have to think about what the next steps will be. I am certainly going to continue working on my cookbook that shows you how to use the principles of meditation in the preparation of food. Further work as a personal and private chef in this area: Saugerties/Woodstock/Kingston is a possibility. Reminds me that I need to change the information on my web page. So many details.

Next week I will post some photos from the Saugerties Farm Market as I try to settle in to my new home location...along the creek. I'll be making a Summer Berry Pudding to bring to a gathering in Woodstock. It's one of those super unctuous things and it's the right moment for making it. I'll be gathering strawberries, raspberries and blueberries this week...well from the store.

If you have friends in this area have them join this blog.

Tonight and tomorrow night the Arm of the Sea puppet theater is performing in the park. I've got a great seat from my window. The crickets and frogs have been giving them some audible competition. The puppets and sets are sensational.

Monday, January 27, 2014



I learned to make Ribollita when I was studying in Florence. It’s a Tuscan soup. The name means reboiled. Usually some day old bread is added when it’s reboiled and then baked in the oven. I just made an approximation today. Maybe tomorrow I will add some bread. This soup does not take long to make as it’s done as soon as the vegetables are cooked. Usually I make this totally vegetarian but I’d made some beef stock the other day so I used it in this soup.

The weather outside is frightful but after eating this soup I feel happy inside and well nourished.


Olive oil
2 carrots, small dice
2-3 stalks celery with leaves, small dice
1 shallot, small dice
1 small red onion, small dice
1 large garlic clove, small dice
2 cups sliced cabbage, any kind
1 carrot, cut in coins
1-1/2 cups crushed tomatoes
1 quart stock or water
1 stalk rosemary, leaves chopped
3-4 stems fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 potato with skin, large cubes
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems removed, chopped
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed
3-4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
black pepper from a mill
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Pour in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of a medium sized soup pot, heat. 

Add the carrots, celery, shallot and onion and sauté until the vegetables are softened but not browned, adding a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir occasionally. 

Add the garlic, sauté 3 minutes. 

Add the cabbage, sauté 5 minutes. 

Pour in the crushed tomatoes and stock. Add another pinch of salt and pepper. 

Add the herbs: rosemary, thyme, and bay leaves. 

Let the soup cook for about 5 minutes, then add the potato. Let cook for 3 minutes then stir in the kale. 

Put half the cannellini beans in a bowl with a little bit of water and puree either with an immersion blender or standing blender. Stir the puree into the soup. 

When everything is cooked through add the rest of the whole cannellini beans and chickpeas. 

Bring to a boil and stir in the parsley. 

Taste to see if you need to add another pinch or two of salt and pepper. 

Put into bowls to serve and sprinkle with a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

[The next class at The Red Door Cooking Workshop and Library in Spencertown, NY is on February 11th. We will be making Gratins. Go to www.reddoorcookingworkshop.blogspot.com for a complete listing. I look forward to hosting you.]

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Corn Pudding For Your Thanksgiving 2013


1 package frozen white peg corn, or fresh yellow corn*
1-1/2 cups unsweetened soy milk, or whole cow's milk
2 whole roasted garlic bulbs**
3 whole eggs
1 yolk
2T melted ghee, cooled

Preheat oven to 350F

Process all ingredients. Bake in a greased dish until slightly brown on top and custard is set. About 30 minutes.

*Avoid using genetically-modified varieties.

**To roast garlic: Cut the top off whole bulb exposing the separate cloves in configuration. Observe and admire the cluster. Place into a sheet of aluminum foil.  Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle olive oil on top. Close packet by crinkling the foil together. Place in oven for about 30 minutes. To use in the recipe: cool briefly and squeeze the melted garlic out of the bulb into the rest of the ingredients. Breath in the aromas.

Blog Archive