Smoked Paprika – A Fine Weapon In Your Cooking Arsenal

January 15th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Smoked Spanish paprika, La Vera Pimenton, is a very good thing and should be part of every gourmand’s cooking arsenal. It is uniquely smokey with a subtle spiciness. Great with eggplant and zucchini. As a change of pace, it can be dusted over softly scrambled eggs. HG likes to do a quick stir fry of shrimp in oil and garlic dusted with a liberal dose of this magic ingredient. A great appetizer. Equally good over buttery grits.

Shrimp and grits is an HG favorite. Check Google. You’ll find some good recipes for this Southern dish by Bobby Flay among others. Best shrimps and grits ever were served with Tasso Ham at Soul Kitchen, a funky restaurant in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. Alas, the place is now closed.

Quack Quack

January 14th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

New York Times had a story on the duck lunch at David Chang’s Ssam Bar and the “duckavore” dinner at Wong in the West Village. Duckalicious. The descriptions of the ducky delicacies were so riveting and appetizing that HG was tempted to leave for The Big Apple post haste. However, HG stayed put and ransacked his memory for tasty webbed foot treats.

Best duck dish ever was the braised duck with olives at the late Le Pavillon. Crisp and juicy, the abundant richness of duck fat cut by the sting of the olives. A runner up was the crackling Peking duck at the Peking Duck House in New York’s Chinatown. When in Paris, HG often indulges in the ubiquitous duck confit; however, the best HG has ever tasted came not from Paris, but was found behind the counter of Oyama, the great French-oriented charcuterie and cheese shop located in Vancouver’s Public Market on Granville Island. In Chinatown (both in New York and Vancouver), HG often does a simple (and cheap) lunch of barbecued duck and pork plus a bowl of rice and pot of tea.

During their ten years of residence on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, HG and BSK had a tradition of late Sunday dinner a deux (little ones safely snoozing). The duo devoured a rotisserie barbecued duck from the Bretton Woods Butcher on W. 86th Street accompanied by a salad of sliced orange, sweet onion and avocado. Then, a crusty baguette, runny brie. Two bottles of red wine. A nice way to close the weekend.

Yes, Sunday was a day of indulgence in HG and BSK’s rent controlled paradise. The day began with a breakfast of Zabar’s smoked salmon, sable, scallion cream cheese, bagels and bialys. The fat Sunday Times on the table. It was all worked off with long bike rides in Central Park. SJ strapped to HG’s back. Little Miss LR in a kiddie seat. Peaches, The Wonder Dog, racing along on a leash. Happy memories of food, fun and family — a ducky time, indeed.

Innards.

January 12th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

They are not good for you since they are virtual cholesterol bombs. However, HG, like virtually the rest of the world excluding the U.S.A., loves innards. Kidneys. Splendid in a steak and kidney pie. Lush in a creamy mustard sauce. HG liked them at Sardi’s, the New York theatrical hangout, where they were grilled and served with lamb chops. Of course, rognons (kidneys) rule in France where they are often cooked blood rare.

Don’t see tongue on menus very often (Except when eating Korean food!). Al Cooper’s, a steak house in the New York garment district, served a thick cut of tongue with creamed spinach and super hot mustard and horse radish. Sweetbreads are a treat. Hotel Algonquin on W. 44th used to serve grilled sweetbreads on a slice of Virginia ham accompanied by thin cut French fries and Sauce Bearnaise. Yum.

Calf’s liver. Should be served pink. The accompaniment of fried onions and crisp bacon is obligatory. The dish reached Olympian heights at Dinty Moore’s (not to be confused with the dreadful line of canned beef stews) a long shuttered restaurant in the theater district (Dinty also did the classic corned beef and cabbage). HG likes chicken livers sauteed crisp and pink. Good with scrambled eggs or in a frisee salad or served over pasta (with plenty of olive oil, garlic and parsley). The chicken fat, fried onion and black radish drenched chopped chicken livers at Sammy’s Romanian are a naughty treat.

HG likes head cheese, tete de veau and all the other elaborate things done with the interior of a cow’s head. One of the best edibles in the world is a cow’s (or lamb’s) brains. The French do brains best, sauteed gently in butter, topped with warm capers and accompanied by a potato puree.

HG has dined on lungs and heart. Got them down, but not a treat. HG does not know if bull’s testicles should be classified as an innard. In any case, prairie oysters are un-yummy.

HG’s favorite innard is tripe. In the form of green chili menudo, HG enjoys it every ten days at the delightful El Parasol restaurant in HG’s New Mexico neighborhood. The ten day limit is self imposed, HG’s response to BSK’s gentle health warnings.

'Offal Taste' Photo Series by Stephanie Diani

Victory. And Dread.

January 11th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

As noted in a previous post, HG had planned to make inroads in holiday leftovers as he cheered his homies — the Giants (HG has loved them since, at the age of eight, he followed the heroics of Tuffy Leemans and Ward Cuff on the radio) and the Broncos (the object of a love-hate relationship during HG’s 25 years in Colorado). HG devoured BSK’s incomparable chicken soup and the Giants and Broncos beat their foes (the Broncos game was an extraordinary overtime thriller).

Going into this weekend, HG is gloomy about the fate of the Giants and Broncs vs. the Packers and Patriots. Yes, a deep thinker like HG knows that this devotion is quite infantile. Nevertheless………

Tuffy Leemans

Clarifications: Getting Personal.

January 9th, 2012 § 2 comments § permalink

An HG fan remarked: “Wow, HG, you really write brilliantly on dim sum and Japanese food.” HG must clarify (with pride): These posts were written by SJ, who is quite modest in identifying himself. Identity check: SJ is Jeremy Kent Freeman, son of HG and BSK. He is a reggae entrepreneur, barbecue expert, writer, husband of Exquisite Maiko and father of Adorable Haru. BSK, for the benefit of inquirers, is Beautiful Sharon Kent, HG’s wife of 48 years (49 in July). A versatile woman, BSK is a painter, potter, photographer and retired political/public relations strategist. And, a mighty fine cook. With infinite patience and compassion, SJ and BSK tolerate HG.

Blood, Bones and Butter

January 9th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Blood, Bones and Butter is a memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton, the chef/owner of Prune, a much acclaimed, tiny restaurant in New York’s East Village neighborhood. Very good writing with on target descriptions of a chef’s life, appetite provoking accounts of food and meals and pungent attacks on all manner of food pretensions. Not exactly a tell all memoir. Hamilton caught HG’s interest but failed to satisfy HG’s natural, probing curiosity. There are big gaps concerning Hamilton’s mother, father, siblings and emotional life. Thus, the memoir is a bit of a cheat. But, if like HG, you relish food and restaurants, “B,B and B” is quite a good read.

2012 Begins With 2011 Leftovers.

January 7th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

The Year of the Dragon started with the wonderful holiday leftovers from the Year of the Rabbit. HG and BSK raided the refrigerator for Turkey soup, of course, enriched with kale and noodles. Green chili pork stew. Papardelle ragu. Japanese crabmeat pancakes. Batter for blini. Small amount of red caviar. Sour cream. Spicy hummus. Mozzarella. Feta. Kalamata olives. Bubbie’s pickles. Panettone. Canadian Butter tarts. HG will grab some food from the frig and back to the TV rooting for the HG home teams: Giants and Broncos. Go, Manning and Tebow !!!

Two Good Things

January 6th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

HG does not relish crackers. The Triscuits and Cheez-Its of the world leave him cold. The exception: Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers. Why not? The British bakers of this estimable cracker proudly adorn their cracker box with
the official stamp “By Appointment to H.M. The Queen.” A resolute Anglophile, HG says: Good enough for royalty, good enough for HG. Love the cracker with some ripe camembert or peanut butter and jelly or a smear of cream cheese. Goes nicely with red wine.

Another good thing is Ohsung Kimchi Flavor Bowl Noodle Soup with Soy Peptide — What a name! This Korean inferno is packaged like an ordinary ramen (pour boiling water into container, etc.). But, there’s a big difference. This is a fiery hot soup not recommended for timid palates. Be warned: It will put you into a sweat on a below zero day. When HG calls it an inferno in a box HG isn’t overstating. But beyond the heat, this is a delicious and hearty soup and a great and quick pick me up on a frigid day.

Bad News From A Sharer Of Happy Times.

January 5th, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink

HG and BSK received dreadful news today. A dear friend with whom we shared many happy years on Fire Island told us today that she has an awful, threatening disease. Our friend is a beautiful woman who used to turn even blase Fire Island heads as she scampered the sands in a knit bikini. In addition, the lady was a superb athlete — equally graceful on skis or brandishing a tennis racquet. Supremely elegant, this lady could tuck into — and cook — some hearty food. HG remembers with fondness big platters of winy sauerkraut bedecked with Kassler Ripchen and knockwurst. HG knows the lady is a reader of Hungry Gerald so HG can only say, for himself and BSK: Our hearts and wishes are with you, dear one.