Cashews

February 18th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG loves cashew nuts. When HG was very young, HG and HG’s beloved, late sister, Beulah Naomi, would often (on a Sunday morning) stroll the Bronx’s Grand Concourse, a noble and fashionable avenue. They always stopped at Krum’s (soda fountain, candy and nut shop) for a bag of cashews (15 cents) and munched as they walked. BSK’s favorite nut is the commonplace peanut (in the form of both the nut and peanut butter). BSK often eats a handful of peanuts with fruit for lunch or smears peanut butter on splices of apple. In BSK’s youth a favorite sandwich was white bread with peanut butter, mayonnaise and lettuce. (sounds like something Elvis would relish). A few days ago, BSK bought a big bag of very good cashews at Trader Joe’s. The intent was to use the cashews for Indian dishes from the Vij’s cookbooks. However, the nuts came in handy last night when BSK cut up chicken thighs and cooked a Chinese stir fry: Sesame chicken with cashews and dates. Super tasty. Give it a try. It’s a New York Times (Melissa Clark) recipe.

Chicken Feet

February 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

There was an omission in HG’s recent post about HG’s late Mom’s virtuoso cooking of every bit of a chicken. HG forgot to mention chicken feet (Mom called them “fissel”, Yiddish word for feet). These were an essential ingredient of “tzimmes”, a sweet, tangy stew of shaved carrot strips, honey, brown sugar, ginger and chicken fat. Mom added the chicken feet to give it a gelatinous quality. Dish was often served at Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish new year, to ensure a sweet year ahead. Curiously, “tzimmes” is a Yiddish idiom for “fuss”. HG abhors chicken feet. Always refused to eat them. They are served with most Chinese dim sum. But, not to HG. Chicken feet are a staple in most Asian cuisines and spicy chicken feet are popular street food. (They are an Asian version of Buffalo chicken wings — served at movie theaters in Taiwan). Thai cooks use a lot of chicken feet. Salads. With noodles. Fried, Grilled, Barbecued. Very popular with Filipinos. They like them stewed with oyster sauce, black beans, soy sauce, garlic, ginger. Sounds good, but HG will pass.

Izanami

February 16th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Valentine’s Day celebration at Ten Thousand Waves, the beautiful Japanese resort which contains lodging, a spa, and the Izanami restaurant. The resort is nestled high in the mountains overlooking Santa Fe. Glorious views. Simple, perfect architecture. Ponds and streams with giant, colorful Koi. One word description: Idyllic. Under brilliant sun and blue skies, HG/BSK relaxed for an hour in an outdoor, private hot (very hot) tub. At intervals, HG would pop out of the tub and into a private sauna. Lukewarm shower and back into the tub. There was an ice plunge. Too icy for HG/BSK. A young HG would leap into the ice plunge at the Second Avenue Baths after boiling in the steam and “eucalyptus” rooms. Now, HG is too mature for such temperature extremes. Following the poach in the Ten Thousand Waves tub, a super clean, super relaxed HG/BSK lunched at the Izanami restaurant. Three splendid dishes: Sashimi of the day consisting of lush slices of fresh tuna, wedges of ripe avocado and a mound of shredded daikon in a spicy sauce; light as a feather fried tofu; sake braised mushrooms in a tamari butter sauce. The corn fritters HG/BSK ordered weren’t fritters but mostly individual tempura fried kernels. When Exquisite Maiko, HG/BSK’s daughter-in-law and a very talented chef, made this dish during summer visits to the family sea paradise on Prince Edward Island, she would slice two or three inches of kernels off the cob before giving them the tempura treatment. Bliss. HG also had Izanami’s salad of crispy Brussel sprouts with candied pecans, pork belly, yuzu juice, and parmesan. Good but unbalanced. Needed more pork belly, pecans, parmesan, and fewer Brussel sprouts. Dessert was a dazzler. Three generous balls of sorbet: grapefruit, coconut, and surprisingly rich and creamy chocolate. Plus two complimentary chocolate truffles. Excellent green tea was served throughout the meal. HG/BSK will come back soon to try the smoked pork ribs, ramen, and shabu-shabu hot pot.

Lukshen

February 14th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

That’s the Yiddish word for noodles and that’s what HG’a late Mom called them during HG’s Bronx youth. She made lots of them from her own mix of flour and eggs. Sheets of noodle dough were omnipresent in her kitchen, drying on a laundry rack. They were cut into lengths to be added to chicken soup. Cut into rectangles, stuffed with cottage cheese or kasha (buckwheat groats) for blintzes. Cut into squares for “kreplach”. a Jewish version of wontons. Mom’s kreplach were stuffed with ground beef, chopped garlic and onion, a beaten egg and chicken fat. They were boiled and added to chicken soup. HG liked them fried in chicken fat and eaten with a dollop of sour cream plus salt and pepper. (Today’s home cooks use store bought won ton wrappers for kreplach. Oy vey!!) A lusty dinner for little HG was a big bowl of steaming chicken soup filled with noodles, kasha, boiled kreplach and bits of boiled onions and carrots. A sure cure for winter blues or other ailments. An HG luncheon favorite was buttered noodles with pot cheese or farmer cheese. Best of all was Mom’s “lukshen kugel.” This was a savory pudding. of noodles, eggs, and chopped onion. Baked in the oven until the top was brown and crunchy. Jews from Galicia and Eastern Poland (“galitzyaners”) like things sweet. They mix their lukshen kugels with honey (or brown sugar), raisins and cinnamon. Feh!!

Mom’s Head-To-Pope’s Nose Chicken

February 13th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Years of the 1930’s Depression in The Bronx. HG’s late Mom met the economic challenge with ingenuity and thrift. Witness what she would do with a kosher chicken bought from a local butcher: Mom would go to a live market on bustling Bathgate Avenue, a site of bargains, and (after expert analysis), select a chicken and have it butchered according to the ancient laws of kashruth. A professional chicken plucker (“flicker”) denuded the bird. Once the chicken was in Mom’s kitchen a process began. The skin and fat were removed in order to render schmaltz/chicken fat (an essential in Mom’s Jewish/Russian cooking). Bits of skin were crisped. They were “gribenehs” or “grieven”, a topping for chopped liver (Mom removed the chicken liver, cooked it in schmaltz with calf liver, onions and garlic. This was the basis for the best chopped liver ever). The chicken was then boiled for chicken soup with noodles. The cooked chicken was served with fiery horseradish and kasha (buckwheat groats). The neck of the chicken was stuffed with matzo meal, chicken fat, garlic, and hot pepper. Baked. The perfect complement for beer or the shot of rye whiskey HG’s late father fancied. Mom saved the wishbone and covered it in crochet. She found it useful as a perch for thimbles and needles. If there was any cooked chicken left over (rarely), it went into a sandwich of rye bread, chicken fat (of course), sliced onion, tomato (when in season), coarse kosher salt and a dusting of back pepper. Delicious.

BSK to the Rescue

February 12th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is very fond of ramen, the savory Japanese noodle soup. HG becomes mad with appetite and envy when he reads Son Jeremy’s blog, OishiGevalt.com. SJ resides in Tokyo with his family and often writes about ramen and other moderately priced, extraordinary meals he enjoys in that wondrous food (and drink) city. By the way, it isn’t nepotism when HG states forthrightly that oishigevalt.com contains the best writing about Japanese food and the Japanese culture you have ever encountered. Santa Fe, where HG lives, has some good Japanese sushi bars. Shoho Cafe, HG’s favorite, has tasty unagi and (for a landlocked city) very edible sashimi. Their tempura is outstanding. They also serve ramen. Unfortunately, it’s second rate. There was a foreign foods market, Talin, that had a pleasant ramen bar. Closed. In 2011, a very talented (and slightly dictatorial) chef named Eric Stapelman opened the upscale Shibumi Ramenya. HG delighted in the ramen, gyoza, and other treats. However, after some months he closed the place and moved it to Seattle. HG was almost tearful. Last night, BSK chased away HG’s ramen blues. BSK found some presentable ramen broth at Whole Foods. BSK added to the steaming broth a hearty group of ingredients: Whole wheat udon noodles; tofu; ginger; slivers of ham and sweet onion; baby spinach; scallions; basil, mint and other fresh herbs. HG poured sesame and chili oil into HG’s bowl. No, this wasn’t traditional ramen but it was very welcome on another cold New Mexico night. (Spring, Spring, come early, please!!!).

Auspicious Dining

February 10th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK rarely dine at big time, lauded-by-the-critics restaurants. Much too expensive. HG/BSK like to drink wine. Restaurant markups mean that HG/BSK can spend $60-100 on wine and cocktails prior to ordering pricey food. Before dining prices went crazy (Should the greedy landlords be blamed?) HG/BSK had sumptuous meals at the world’s best restaurants. They were expensive but not outlandish. These are some of them. (1) Le Bernardin in New York. Seafood perfection and creativity. (2) Connaught Hotel Restaurant in London (This was years ago before the menu, etc. changed). The best French restaurant ever (And it wasn’t in France). HG/BSK would order English food there: Mixed grill, Dover sole, steak and kidney pie, thinly sliced Scotch smoked salmon. (3) Le Pavillon in New York when it was owned and run by imperious Henri Soule. Lump crabmeat casserole. Roast duck with olives. Smoked eel filets with horseradish whipped cream. (4) The Pool Room of the Four Season (when it was in the Seagram Building). Steaks. Leg of lamb. Desserts. (5) The Oak Room of the Plaza Hotel in New York (years ago). Chateaubriand steak. Braised celery with bone marrow. Pommes souffle. These days when HG/BSK are in London, their favorite spot is J. Sheekey, a relatively affordable seafood paradise. In Paris, it’s Le Stella, a traditional brasserie with oysters, rack of lamb and ile flottante for dessert. Also, modestly priced Ma Bourgogne. Jambon persillade. Escargots. Quenelles. In New York, it’s the wondrous quartet of restaurants owned and run by HG daughter Victoria Freeman and husband/chef Marc Meyer. The restaurants are Rosie’s (Mexican. Located in the East Village); Cookshop (Locavore and Mediterranean. Located on Tenth Avenue near the High Line). Vic’s (Italian and located on Great Jones Street). Shuka (Middle Eastern. Located on Macdougall in the SOHO/Greenwich Village neighborhood). All the restaurants have a joyous atmosphere, warm service, splendid food, imaginative wine lists. And (for New York) they are affordable.

Clarifications

February 8th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Hungry Gerald followers have been concerned about the guilty dog illustration accompanying “The Wonder Dog Wanders” post. HG’s editor and illustrator is SJ, an adroit and creative resident of Tokyo. His use of the downcast pooch led folks to worry about the whereabouts of Toby, The Wonder Dog. Cease worrying. Toby is alive and well. Below is a photo of The Wonder Dog after his return. Another clarification. In a recent post about Rhode Island cuisine, HG denigrated Rhody clam cakes. Gifted daughter Lesley R., knowledgeable about the Ocean State, pointed out clam cakes are served with Rhody clam chowder (the best of all chowders). They are used to soak up the briny broth. After the absorption, the clam cakes are tasty. Lesley R. also noted that HG omitted celery salt from the ingredients of “All the way” New York System Wieners. HG/BSK will be in Rhody this spring. HG will enjoy a favorite meal: Oysters and clams on the half shell. Rhody clam chowder. Fried calamari with hot peppers. HG might dip a clam cake in the chowda.

The Wonder Dog Wanders

February 7th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Anxiety. Tension. Grief. These were some of the emotions that swept through HG/BSK a few nights ago. Toby, The Wonder Dog, had disappeared. Usually, he romps on HG/BSK’s verdant New Mexico five acres (entire perimeter is fenced). Like clockwork, Toby appears at the front door of the HG/BSK home between 4:30 and 5 PM, vigorously barking for dinner. But, this evening there was no Toby. Thorough search (joined by pal/casita tenant Bob. C.). No Toby. BSK, in BSK’s auto, searched nearby roads and the neighborhood. No sign of The Wonder Dog. As hope receded (HG was about to get tearful), Toby appeared at 7 PM. Nonchalant, happy and hungry. So, where had he been? Subsequent search the next morning revealed a hole in the fence at the south end of HG/BSK’s properly. BSK and Bob C. did the necessary repairs. HG calmed down with a vodka/Campari on the rocks. First vodka in months since HG has been in the grips of dread moderation.

Santa Fe Dining Mystery

February 6th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Lots of dining diversity in Santa Fe. Yes, a stunning number of Mexican/New Mexican/Tex-Mex restaurants doing splendid things with green chile and other peppers ranging in heat from numbing to hot. There are more than a dozen high-end restaurants serving French, Spanish, Italian, and locavore specialties. A good Indian restaurant, Paper Dosa. Central American joints serving pupusas. Japanese sushi bars galore. Nice Vietnamese (Saigon Cafe, an HG favorite). A quasi Noo Yawk corned beef and pastrami deli. Vegetarian (feh!!) places. But, here’s the mystery. There are no top flight Chinese restaurants. HG has always believed that if there’s a Chinese population and/or a Jewish population, there are good Chinese eateries. Santa Fe has a negligible Chinese population. The beautiful, art-filled town isn’t exactly a hangout for Hassidim. However, there are plenty of Jews (two synagogues thrive). So, what’s gone wrong?