About Me

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Chef David Martone is the owner and executive Chef of Classic Thyme Cooking School. Pursuing his interest in food, in the early 1980s, David owned an Italian market specializing in home cooked items and exceptional produce. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute in 1989, under the direction of world renowned Chef Jacques Pepin, David went to work at the Chez Catherine Restaurant in Westfield, NJ. David started teaching in the Westfield area in 1991 and pursued a higher level of culinary education earning the designation of C.C.P. (Certified Culinary Professional). David worked as a board member of The New York Association of Cooking Teachers, (NYACT) for several years. David is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Founder of ‘The Italian Club of Westfield’ he is also the host of the popular cable television cooking show, 'Cooking Thyme," which airs on TV 36. Chef David has been featured in numerous publications such as the Dining In section of The New York Times, Garden Plate Magazine, Savor section of The Star Ledger and New Jersey Monthly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ad Hoc Dinner

The other night I phoned my wife, who was just leaving work, and asked, what would you like for dinner? She replied, wine. I knew at that point she had a rough day. I had just worked teaching back-to-back classes and simply wanted to go home and order take-out. I really didn't want to make another trip to the market, which would have been my third that day, nor did I want to cook again and then clean up pots and pans after cooking. I really didn't remember that I had much at home to prepare but took a chance and raided my own refrigerator hoping to find not only food but inspiration for something tasty to quickly throw together before my wife got home. The first thing I did was take care of her only request; I went to my wine refrigerator and selected a nice bottle of a 2000 Bordeaux, one with some age, history, and depth.I poured two glasses to allow it to breath.

Next, I scoured the cupboards and raided the refrigerator pulling out anything I could possibly use for my ad-hock meal. I found a container of wonderful homemade chicken soup my wife had made hidden in the freezer. I immediately identified it by the luscious pieces of chicken along with diced carrot and celery peering through the container. I placed the container in the microwave to start the thawing out process. I placed a small pot of salted water on the stove to start cooking some Ditalini macaroni to go with the soup. OK, now we have a start.

While going through the refrigerator I came across some various cheeses, two different blue veined cheese, a creamy St. Andre, and a semi-soft Morbier. Things were starting to look up. A left-over piece of Italian bread would be the perfect accompaniment toasted and coated with some apricot jam, all tastefully arranged on a plate with some sliced pear drizzled with aged Balsamic and topped with pomegranate arils and a few water crackers.

To balance things out I threw together a simple salad of romaine lettuce, sliced tomato, slivered red pepper, a touch of baby arugula topped with a sliced hard boiled egg, just to add a protein component. A drizzle of some unfiltered extra virgin olive oil and a splash of some fig melon Balsamic I discovered hiding in another cabinet. It's amazing the things you rediscover when you forage in your own larder.

The only thing left was a finish for my now stimulating ad-hock meal. Some sweet clementine segments and a few morsels of bittersweet chocolate would bring this wonderful meal to a memorable conclusion.

Next time you think you have nothing at home to eat, think again!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Let me take this moment to give thanks for all that I have in my life, family, friends, health, passion for life, and good food and wine to share with people I love. I hope you all have someone to share some time with today and break bread together. Happy Thanksgiving to all. 
Stay safe, eat well and share the love.
Madeline's Turkey



David's Boned Out Turkey filled with Nana's Stuffing



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Italian Family Feast Recipes

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quick Vegetable Whole Wheat Pizza, Made Ad-Hoc, from a Sparcely Stocked Refrigerator

Last night I peered in my empty refrigerator to see what I could quickly whip up for dinner. Having just received power back the day before the fridge was pretty bare. I found a half of eggplant, one small yellow squash, an onion, some shredded Gruyere and Parmesan cheese, and the prize was a ball of whole wheat dough left over from the from the day before. My excitement started to build thinking of a pissaladiere, a specialty if Nice France, which is a pizza-like dish I had some years back. Although some of the ingredients are different my culinary juices had been stimulated by an idea. 
I started to preheat my oven to 500 degrees, which is always ready with a pizza stone in it, and quickly diced up all the vegetable ingredients. I heated a medium saute pan, added some regular olive oil and started to saute the onions until tender. Next I added the eggplant and squash, seasoned it with some garlic salt and fresh black pepper, and sauteed until all was tender, only a few minutes, (I peeled only the half eggplant). Once that was done I floured the dough and rolled it out into a rough rectangle and added a layer of the sauteed vegetables followed by the cheeses on top and placed it on the preheated pizza stone in the oven. A few minutes later I had a wonderful crispy rustic pizza which my wife, son, and I all enjoyed with a simple salad on the side. Sometimes it just all comes together for a simple but delicious quick ad-hoc meal.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Staying safe and close to family during the storm

We finally received full power, phone and internet both at Classic Thyme and at home. Classic Thyme regained power on Sunday with internet and phones restored on Monday and my power returned at home today. We are all lucky to have weathered the storm safely and our thoughts and prayers go out to all of you who suffered damages. I always like to make personal reflections and try and find something positive with any tragedy. For me, the upside to the storm was a time to get back to basics, good quality family time without the encumbrances of modern technology. We had candlelit dinners of simple food such as grilled meats, vegetables, potatoes, and breads. Everything had to be fresh as we were going to the supermarket daily. (We were very lucky that our local supermarket never lost power.) Good conversation sometimes lubricated by good wine, sitting by an open fire with the family and dogs, reading or listening to a good book; it really wasn't bad for us except for the cold which was bearable with some good old fashion cuddling and a nice down blanket. Below is a photo of a simple meal we enjoyed after the power went out during the storm. My son Andrew took the photo on his I-phone while I held a flashlight to try and illuminate the table a bit. We grilled a simple pork tenderloin with vegetables. potatoes, and bread along with a simple salad with arugula, tomatoes, peppers, and hearts of palm. I have to say, we ate and drank pretty well throughout the entire ordeal and I am so thankful to have my family safe and unharmed. When you think about the devastation and losses other people incurred we were incredibly fortunate. Please stay safe for this next go around with the weather we are expecting over the next day or so. Stay close together and we will endure this one as well.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A great recipe to ride out the storm

While recently in Kennebunkport Maine I had a dish of mussels that may very well have been the best I have ever had! It was a combination of the fresh mussels prepared with a wonderful sauce, dining outside overlooking lovely scenery, and the company of my beautiful wife. The day started off with the weather a bit balmy and uncertain. We walked into town, from our hotel, The Nonantum Resort on the water in Kennebunkport since 1883, where we were having a most enjoyable stay discovering the beauty of our first trip to Maine. We started to look for a place to have lunch when we came upon a nicely styled building with a restaurant upstairs called 'Tia's Topside' which offered outdoor dining. We took a chance and decided to dine outside which turned out to be the right choice on all accounts, weather, food and scenery. Having had lobster three times over the past two days I decided to have the mussels which were advertised steamed in white wine with a tomato, fennel, Chorizo sauce with rustic grilled herbed garlic bread. As stated in my opening sentence, the mussels may very well have been the best I have ever had! I made them last night for a dinner with some friends and thought this might be a good recipe to share while we are awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Sharon. One more culinary find in Kennebunkport, 'Rococo Artisan Ice Cream', for some of the most interesting ice cream flavors imaginable. I tried the Sweet Avocado Cayenne and the Goat Cheese with Blackberry Chambord. OMG, this place is reason enough to go back to Maine. Please stay safe through the storm and hopefully you can prepare some wonderful food to enjoy with friends, family and pets while riding out the storm.

Scenery in Downtown Kennebunkport Maine


White Wine Steamed Mussels in Tomato, Fennel Chorizo Sauce with Rustic Grilled Herbed Garlic Bread
(serves 4 as a main course)

Rustic Grilled Herbed Garlic Bread:
3          cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
1          tablespoon fresh Rosemary, chopped fine
1          cup regular olive oil
1          round loaf of rustic Italian bread, sliced ½ thick

Combine the garlic, Rosemary and olive oil in a bowl, mix well, and brush the bread slices generously on both sides. Grill the bread on both sides until golden brown and crispy. If a grill is not convenient simply broil both sides until golden brown and crispy to gain similar cooking effect. Set bread aside to serve with mussels. Bread can be quickly warmed up in the oven when serving.

Tomato, Fennel Chorizo Sauce:
8          ounces of chorizo, diced ¼ inch
(more or less according to how packaged. I use 2 whole links.)
Regular olive oil if needed
1          medium onion, peeled and diced ¼ inch
1          small fennel bulb, fronds removed, trimmed and diced ¼ inch
1          28 ounce can tomato puree or sauce
You favorite hot sauce added to taste (I prefer Red Devil)

Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the diced chorizo. Stir while cooking and get chorizos nicely golden brown and crunchy on the edges. If pan looks too dry add some regular olive oil, just a small amount at a time to make sure chorizos don’t burn. When chorizos are nicely browned add the onion and fennel and continue cooking until onion and fennel are wilted and tender, adjust heat if necessary. Next, add the tomato puree or sauce, bring to a simmer while stirring, and cook on simmer for 10 minutes. Add hot sauce to taste. The mixture should not need any salt or pepper but if your taste disagrees, certainly season to your own taste. Keep warm until mussels are steamed. (If making in advance simply store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use which could even be a few days later.)

White Wine Steamed Mussels
2          cups dry white wine
4          pounds fresh mussels, beards removed and cleaned

Place the cleaned mussels in a large low braising or paella style pan and add the white wine. Turn the heat on to high, cover the pan, and cook until the mussels all start to open. Lift lid and check the progress of the mussels opening frequently as you don’t want them to overcook or dry out. Once the mussels are opened pour the warm tomato, fennel, chorizo sauce over the mussels, cover the pan again, and allow the cook for another 2 minutes at a medium simmer.

Finish and Serving
Prepare 4 good size bowls by placing 2 of the grilled bread slices, slightly crossing off to one side, and spoon mussels off to the other side slightly overlapping the bread. Make sure and spoon plenty of sauce over mussels. Serve immediately. 


Monday, June 8, 2009

When Institutions Franchise

When institutions franchise you can't always be guaranteed the quality of it's original location. I recently had 2 bad experiences that made me question the whole franchising idea of single 'stand-alone' institution type food establishments.

First was Nathan's. Everyone here in the tri-state area knows Nathan's hot dogs of Coney Island. To truly enjoy Nathan's you should visit the original Coney Island location. Now, it's not quite the same as it was 40+ years ago but there is still something about the original location that simply can't be transformed into an airport or mall food court. The original location has a certain ambiance that remains regardless of the deterioration of the surrounding neighborhood. The look of the original boardwalk location coupled with the unforgettable smells wafting from the deep fryers and griddles simply can't be reproduced. You need to be in Coney Island to appreciate it in it's intended state. The smell of the air off the water puts you in a different mindset that perhaps transforms you back to simple childhood days visiting the beach. The frys are always piping hot and much crisper than the franchise locations as well as the hot dogs having that crisp texture that almost snap when you bite into them. Slathering on the mustard from the original tap is also a small perk that adds to the experience.

While flying home from Miami a few months ago my son and I arrived at the airport, and with only a short time before boarding and decided to grab some fast food. I saw Nathan's and figured we would have a few dogs before getting on the plane. What a mistake! The dogs were rubbery, the chili was thick like glue and the fries were oil soaked and limp. This has never been my experience at the original location. Why is it that something I remember as being so good was so bad? The answer is that people simply don't understand that you can't always replicate, in vast numbers, quality, atmosphere and memorable food. Institutions are meant to be stand alone locations. Sometimes, in busy metropolitan areas such as NYC, multiple locations can work but as soon as they are franchised out to other areas the quality starts to diminish.
Here's another example; Papaya King. My kids called it 50 cent hot dogs. Whenever my son and I would go into NYC we would go for 50 cent hot dogs. Of course we were going to Papaya King. There are many spread out in NYC. Most of them are OK but visit one outside the city and you have a completely different experience. Again the dogs are rubbery, the chili was thick like glue and the fries never as good as the NYC locations.
After these two experiences I had to rush back to Journal Square, in Jersey City, to visit Boulevard Drinks, next to the Lowe's Theater, to suck down 4 chili dogs, a hand pumped orangeade and a container of chili to go. Still the same as I remember as a kid when my Dad's friend owned it. The only difference is that these days I have to pay. Years ago we never paid.








Here's something else to think about, Italian ice. We all know the Rita's Italian Ice franchise. Is it ever as good as Kaye's nut shop was on Central Avenue in Jersey City, or how about DiCosimo's in Elizabeth or the original Grillo's when it was in Plainfield and not to forget Mimi's in Roselle? If you have ever been to any of these places the answer is, not in a million years.

We need more little businesses that become institutions instead of franchises that pretend to have character. Pay a visit to your local favorite before someone gets the bright idea to try and franchise them. Patronize your favorite local eating establishments or they will go away only to be replaced by production line substandard places that are simply not memorable.