Middle East Irony

December 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, irony rules. On the day Der Trumperer made his misguided and dangerous announcement concerning Jerusalem, BSK made a traditional Middle Eastern dinner. (No, BSK hadn’t planned it. Just worked out that way). BSK formed nine kefta. These are mainstays of Middle East street food. Ground lamb is mixed with chopped garlic, onions, parsley and mint. Then formed into cigar shaped burgers and grilled. (BSK adds to the flavor mix by adding browned pignolia nuts). Side dishes were Israeli couscous and chopped baby spinach prepared Moroccan style (enlivened with bits of preserved lemon). HG prepared an HG specialty: Greek yogurt and sour cream mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, sumac, cumin, zaatar, sea salt and black pepper. Dessert was Lebanese pistachio halvah. Peace and culinary joy in the HG/BSK home. Wish the same for the Middle East.

Palestinian women demonstration against the Israeli occupation one day before the international women day, in front of Qalandiya military checkpoint, West Bank, March 7, 2015. The annual march was repressed by the Israeli army.

Comfort

December 4th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

“Comfort Food” is often used as a description by restaurant critics, food writers, cookbook authors, television personalities and food bloggers. Very little of what they describe as “comfort food” — Mac & Cheese, Chicken & Dumplings, Meatloaf — actually conveys comfort to HG. Someone who knows a great deal about true comfort food is BSK. The creative woman explores the freezer, the refrigerator and the pantry. Comes up with wonderful, warming creations that delight HG and wrap the old guy in a warm cocoon that can only be described as “comfort”. Here are some of BSK’s creations: Linguine in a sauce of tomatoes, jarred Spanish tuna, olive oil, garlic, capers, Aleppo pepper. A kiss from the sea. Ottogi instant congee with frozen sea scallops, garlic, mushroom boullion and sprinkles of peanuts. Shakshuka, that Middle East culinary dream of sautéed onions, peppers, tomatoes and zucchini topped with soft poached eggs. HG contributes a sauce of Greek yogurt and sour cream mixed with a melange of spices including cumin, sumac, garlic powder, Berbere pepper, zaatar, sea salt, olive oil and lemon juice. Nights in New Mexico are getting chilly. Jack Frost waits in the wings. But, in Casa HG/BSK, comfort reigns.

Lunch

December 1st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

SJ has discovered the pleasures of lunch. That’s what he reports in his enlightening blog, OishiGevalt.com. (The blog is a must read for anyone interested in food, sharp writing, Tokyo and life). SJ lives in Tokyo after years in New Jersey, Chicago, Manhattan and Brooklyn. SJ finds lunching in Tokyo a wonderland of treats. Every variation of fresh fish, meat, noodles. Best of all, these quality lunches are cheap. In SJ’s lunch post on Oishi Gevalt (“The $5 Lunch Special”, SJ mentions HG’s breakfasts of long ago consisting of black coffee and numerous Marlboro cigarettes and HG’s four-martini lunches (Those were the days when HG was a New York/New Jersey public relations biggie). No, SJ, four-martini lunches are suicidal. HG had modest two-martini lunches (plus wine or beer and post meal brandy). And where did HG lunch with alcohol loving journalists? Three places near the Times, Herald-Tribune, Newsweek and Business Week: Blue Ribbon (German food and world’s best steak tartare); Artists & Writers (German food with a specialty of konigsberger klops, a savory dish of meat balls in a cream and dill sauce); Sardi’s (lamb chops with a grilled kidney). Lunch with clients was at the Bar Room of the Four Seasons (Pool Room was for tourists). Other client lunch spot was Christ Cella, the great steak house (This was also convenient for lunching with journalists from the News, Mirror, Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine and Barron’s). These days HG has a lusty breakfast, a spartan lunch and a lavish dinner. BSK, interested in keeping HG healthy and reasonably sober, has prevailed upon HG to substitute white wine for pre-dinner vodka martinis.

Gobble Gobble Therapy

November 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, the Big Bird is the gift that keeps on giving. BSK trimmed the Thanksgiving turkey of slices of white meat (kept some white and dark meat on the carcass). The carcass, water, vegetables and herbs went into the Instant Pot. Cooked for hours (BSK was vigilant about the timing). The result was a pure, rich, fragrant, turkey broth. (BSK got rid of the bones, vegetables, etc. in a colander). HG was feeling weak and sickly due to a sleepless night and some minor league health difficulties. BSK claimed that some big bowls of turkey broth would get HG back into the health zone. BSK said something about “electrolytes”, etc. BSK put some frozen peas and other frozen vegetables (a freezer edit) into the broth and added a healthy amount of pearl barley and garden herbs. Simmered the broth to soften the barley but not turn it into mush. Warmed the turkey slices in the magic elixir. Big bowl in front of HG who added smoked black pepper and crumbled salt crackers. Ate with joy. Had another bowl. And, yes, had a third bowl. Drank a fruity Cotes du Rhone. The result: A magical restoration of a lively and vigorous HG. Thanks, BSK and Big Bird.

Big Bird Reubens

November 27th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is very fond of the Reuben sandwich. The best ever was served at the long closed Reuben’s Restaurant on Manhattan’s East 58th Street. It was classic. Corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, Russian dressing on very good Jewish-style rye bread. Exteriors of the bread slices were buttered and the sandwich was grilled until the cheese melted and all the ingredients formed an amalgam of lusciousness. It was accompanied by French fries and pickles. Ballantine’s Ale was the beverage. The restaurant claimed it invented the sandwich but many dispute the accuracy of this. No matter. It was very yummy, whether or not they were the first to make it. Last night, faced with loads of left over white meat turkey, HG improvised a Turkey Reuben. Slathered the non-buttered bread sides with lots of Russian dressing. Then came two slices of Swiss cheese. Sauerkraut. Turkey. More sauerkraut. More Swiss cheese. These went into cast iron pans. Flattened with a spatula. Covered and sizzled. Though the bread was supermarket stuff, not a New York treasure, the sandwiches were mighty tasty. Went nicely with potato salad, left over cranberry sauce and lots of Bass Ale.

Gobble Gobble

November 26th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Yes, Thanksgiving/Turkey Day came and went. A day of happy overeating and television football watching. A tribute to self indulgence. HG/BSK’s nephew Matthew M. and his girl friend, the beautiful Allyson came to visit. Four people and a 16-pound turkey (the smallest available). Obviously, there was plenty of left overs, enough for a complete reprise of the dinner the next night. Later in the week will be turkey soup, turkey sandwiches, turkey salad and there was a big chunk of turkey to accompany M. and A. on their trip back to their Colorado home. What else was on the table beside Big Bird? Cornbread, mushroom and sausage stuffing. Brussel sprouts with bacon. Mashed sweet potatoes with garlic. Traditional, buttery mashed potatoes. Braised pearl onions. Cranberry sauce. An abundance of gravy. Lots of great sweet things for dessert. Happily, Beaujolais Nouveau arrived and the dining quartet drank a great quantity of this year’s Georges Duboeuf product. Happy holiday, indeed.

Best Quicky

November 20th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

No, no. HG is not being naughty. The Greedy Old Guy is referring to the best cook-at-home quick meal. HG’s favorite is the long standing Tex-Mex treat: the Quesadilla. Simple. Place a few slices of swiss, cheddar or pepper jack on a flour (or corn) tortilla. Pop it in the toaster oven until the cheese melts. Fold it. Cut it in half. Eat. HG often enhances the Quesadilla with pico de gallo or fiery salsa. You can build on the basics. Add some sliced tomato or ham slices or cooked bacon to the cheese before toasting. Best of all, HG slips a few smoky, fiery chipotle peppers into the folded treat. A tasty quicky.

Sardine Dinner

November 17th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

During HG’s New York days, HG would often order a sardine platter at delicatessens (when not in the mood for pastrami) and dairy restaurants (when not in the mood for kasha varnishkes). Did a reprise of that meal for dinner last night. Sardines. Sliced tomatoes. Sliced sweet onions. BSK gave the vegetables a hit of good olive oil and a bit of wine vinegar. The sardines got a shower of capers and a squeeze of lemon. What lifted the dish to higher realms were the sardines. Matiz Gallego sardines. These are Spanish sardines harvested off the coast of Galicia. Thick, meaty sardines bursting with flavor. HG drank Bass Ale with the meal and sopped up the juices with Whole Foods ciabatta (Cadiz sardines also came from WF). In New York, HG would accompany the sardines with Jewish rye bread, pumpernickel or bialys and pletzels (onion rolls). Drank Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray Tonic (a Noo Yawk perversion).

New Mexico Magic

November 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

A glorious New Mexico night. Crisp. Cool. Air fragrant with wood smoke. David F. and Karen K. hosted a prolonged cocktail hour at David F.’s home (five minutes from HG/BSK’s residence). A group of eight friends and neighbors gathered around David F.’s outdoor fire pit. Constantly fed with logs, the fire pit was a visual beauty and warm enough for comfort. The sky kept changing. A mini sunset. Then, waves of grey resembling the brush strokes of antique Chinese paintings. Lively conversation plus plenty of vodka and wine. Snacks of tortilla chips with melted cheese (queso), guacamole and refritos (refried beans). All wonderful. Dinner at home was prepared by BSK in record time. Spaghetti with olive oil, sliced garlic,vanchovies, chopped parsley, red pepper flakes and bottarga (dried tuna roe). This is the kind of dish Romans eat after a night of carousing. HG/BSK followed their example. Dinner ended with red wine and two cheeses–French morbier and Italian truffle. A night to recall with pleasure.

Radish

November 12th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Food writer Alex Lobrano met the late, great Julia Child at a Paris bistro. She was eating sliced radishes with butter and sea salt flakes. JC remarked to Lobrano that a radish always reminded her how wonderful a very simple thing can be. HG agrees. HG also loves sliced red radishes from Santa Fe’s Farmer Market. Stronger black radishes from the Farmers Market are another HG fave. The red radishes are good with butter but HG prefers to smear the black guys with some duck fat. Icy vodka with the blacks. Red or white wine with the reds. BSK delights HG with a special salad of sliced red radishes, sliced baby white turnips, chopped fennel and chopped red onions. A savory accompaniment to fish dishes.