Kishke

September 15th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is often nostalgic about the spicy, fatty, garlicky dishes HG’s Mom constructed during HG’s Bronx boyhood. A particular favorite was kishke (also known as “stuffed derma”). This was a beef intestine (or chicken neck) stuffed with matzo meal, chicken fat (obligatory in much of Mom’s cuisine); garlic, finely chopped onion and a plentiful amount of of salt, black pepper and paprika. This was roasted and served with long cooked brisket and gravy or pan broiled liver and onions. Good? Like Dashiel Hammet’s Maltese Falcon: “It was the stuff dreams were made of.” Kishke often appeared on the menus of the Jewish “Borscht Belt” hotels nestled in New York’s Catskill Mountains. The principal road leading to these resorts was nicknamed “the Derma Road.” “Kishkes” was a Yiddish slang term for stomach or guts. HG recalls fight fans at venues like St. Nicholas Arena and Sunnyside Garden cheering on headhunting Jewish boxers with the immortal phrase: “Hit him in the kishkes!!”

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“Strange Fruit”: Great Song. American Disgrace

September 13th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

In the wake of frightening events in Missouri, HG/BSK watched a wrenching video of Billie Holiday singing the anti-lynching song “Strange Fruit.” It was in 1946 that young HG heard Holiday sing the song during her appearance at the Club Onyx on New York’s W.52nd Street (then known as “Swing Street.”). As was her custom. lights were dimmed (only a spot on Holiday’s face) as she sang “Strange Fruit.” At the end, all lights went out. No encore. HG nursed a beer at the bar and Holiday moved HG to tears. The song was written by a Jewish, Bronx high school teacher, Abel Meeropol. He wrote the song after seeing a photo of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, two young African-American men, hanging from a tree following an Aug. 7, 1930 lynching in southern Indiana. The lynching of African-American men (most prevalent in the South) was very much part of American life for many years. Lynch mobs (and their leaders) were seldom prosecuted. The Dyer Anti-Lynching Law (which would have made lynching a federal offense), was introduced in the House of Representatives in 1918 and was passed but was defeated in the Senate by a Southern filibuster. This established a disgraceful pattern. Some 200 anti-lynching measures were introduced (the last in 1956) but all were blocked by Southern Senators. In 2005, the United States Senate issued a formal apology for its actions. Deemed superfluous by later civil rights legislation, the United States has, in fact, never passed an anti-lynching law. (A sidebar: Abel Meeropol, a Communist, and his wife, adopted the two sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg following their execution for espionage. According to the boys, they had a happy childhood with the Meeropols. They recalled Meeropol as an uproariously funny household comic and mimic. Our days were filled with laughter, said the boys).

Appetite Beaters

September 11th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK agree: Best restaurant ever when hungry beyond delirium was the China Barn (Memory slips — it was either located in Waitsfield, Vermont or adjacent to Sugarbush Mountain. Anyway, it’s long closed). HG/BSK, very young SJ and daughter Lesley, would rush to the restaurant after a frigid, high energy day battling Sugarbush’s icy ski runs. Temperature usually hovered around zero. Slopes were demanding (HG ended an undistinguished ski career there after a right leg spiral fracture). When the HG/BSK family were seated at China Barn their collective appetites were honed to sheer madness. HG, a renowned over-orderer, kept the food coming. Dumplings, Noodles. Stir fries of pork, beef, shrimp, chicken and vegetables, won ton soup (a kiddy favorite). Did appetite have something to do with the family admiration of China Barn? As they say in the middle west: You betcha!! After the sumptuous Chinese feast, it was back to the rented condo for hot showers and ice cream in front of the TV. This was recalled by HG/BSK last night at a very late Chinese dinner following a long (no lunch) day of Prince Edward Island shore walking, sun bathing and swimming on a perfect, sunny, cloudless day. HG cooked a spicy Chinese eggplant dish. BSK stir fried Souris sea scallops and delectable snow peas with ginger, garlic, oyster sauce, etc.. BSK provided a pot of fluffy rice. Red wine. Gahan’s IPA brew. Sugarbush-type appetites were appeased.

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Recipe For Happiness

September 10th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The New Yorker Magazine writer, Adam Gopnik, HG’s favorite essayist, wrote a charming account of his psychoanalysis, “Man Goes to a Doctor” in his collection Through The Children’s Gate. The protagonist of this lightly comic but deeply felt memoir is Gopnik’s late, imperious analyst, a European Freudian of the old school. During an analytic session, Gopnik expresses a desire to visit Venice. The analyst immediately makes a reservation for Gopnik at his favorite Venetian hotel. He then gives Gopnik a list of good Venetian restaurants (all old fashioned and traditional). “Order linguine con vongole (white clam sauce). You will be happy, at last.” Excellent advice. HG has rarely been happier than when eating linguine con vongole. Many decades ago HG/BSK and family would collect clams from the bottom of Long Island’s Great South Bay, a short stroll from HG/BSK’s home perched on a sand dune facing the Atlantic Ocean. HG had a very effective clam shucking instrument and could shuck a few hundred clams in a short time. This meant raw clams on the half shell (with a dash of lemon juice); clams casino (clams dotted with bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, drenched in olive oil, topped with bacon and given a quick broil in the oven) and the main course — BSK’s incomparable linguine con vongole.

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Karen Lee Cooking Classes

September 8th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Last night, HG made a room temperature Chinese sauce of peanut butter, tea, soya, vinegar, chopped Szechuan preserved vegetables, peanut and sesame oil, chopped garlic, Vietnamese chili garlic, chopped scallions. A lot of ingredients but very simple to prepare. BSK poached and shredded a chicken. Mixed the shredded chicken with the sauce. Surrounded the platter with arugula. HG filled a bowl with room temperature vermicelli mixed with the great peanut sauce and topped it with slivers of cold cucumber. Poured some Gahan India Pale Ale (brewed on Prince Edward Island) and had a great warm weather meal. This brought back memories of cooking teacher/caterer/author Karen Lee and the class where HG and BSK learned to make this dish (and other savory Chinese treats). Many, many decades ago HG and BSK attended Lee’s classes which she held in her small Upper West Side apartment. Ms. Lee was going through some trying times then but her teaching was superb. Clear. Helpful. And the food (which the class ate with gusto) was delicious. HG/BSK’s classmates included the actor Peter Boyle (“Young Frankenstein”, “Joe”, “Taxi Driver”, “Everybody Loves Raymond”) and his wife, Loraine Alterman (she was a reporter for Rolling Stone and John Lennon was the best man at her wedding to Peter); actress Verna Bloom (“Animal House,” “High Plains Drifter”; Stephanie Pierson, the brilliantly witty advertising copywriter, author of many books (“The Brisket Book” is the latest) and long time HG/BSK pal. The class was lively, funny and irreverent. Sadly, Peter Boyle is gone but the remaining cast thrives. Karen Lee’s West Side classes continue but now she’s added a summer session in Amagansett, Long Island. The lady (deservedly) flourishes.

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The Yanks!

September 7th, 2014 § 6 comments § permalink

SJ’s teenage Japanese nephew, Taku, whose home is in Tokyo, has been visiting with SJ and family. Taku wanted to see an American baseball game and so it was off to the Yankee Stadium. Things looked grim for the Yanks that day but in the later innings, Ichiro Suzuki, the Japanese star, made an appearance. Ichiro, in the ninth, got a hit. Harassed the opposing pitcher with threats of a stolen base and then scored the winning run for the Yanks. Taku was overjoyed. This pleasure was topped the following day when Taku went fishing in Long Island Sound off New Rochelle. Caught a lot of porgys. (An earlier PEI fishing expedition was disappointing — hefty currents kept the mackerel from biting and not one fish was pulled from the choppy waters). This all brought back memories to HG. One happy year (probably 1939 or 1940), HG went fishing off City Island (HG’s first fishing experience) and caught three fish. HG also went to Yankee Stadium that year to see the Detroit Tigers play the Yanks. HG’s hero, the Jewish home run hitter, Hank Greenberg, starred for Detroit. Hank hit a homer that day. Memorable. This was one of the few days in which HG was disloyal to the Yankees. As part of their community relations program, the Yanks took a Bronx elementary school to a game once a season. HG munched peanuts (free) and gloried in the heroics of the Yanks of that golden age (DiMaggio, Henrich, Gordon Crosetti, Rolfe, Ruffing, Gehrig etc.). In maturity, HG has lost pleasure in watching baseball and has transferred fandom to the NBA.

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Corn Pancakes – Leftover Magic

September 3rd, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG has waxed rhapsodic about this year’s crop of heavenly PEI sweet corn. Unmatched. Unbelievable. So much so that HG sometimes goes overboard and puts up too much corn to cook — the basic Eyes-Bigger-Than-The-Stomach problem. So, what to do with all that wonderful corn the next day? Corn pancakes. Yes, light, delicious pancakes that can be used for both sweet and savory effect. Directions are simple: Use your usual pancake recipe but instead of using flour in your batter use a mix of half flour, half corn meal. Cut kernels off the cob and add to the batter (leave them whole or mash them up a bit). Eliminate sugar and use buttermilk instead of whole milk. You will now have a savory pancake that will taste great with a dollop of salsa or pico de gallo (plus a grating of Mexican white cheese known as Queso Fresca). For more Mexican flavor, add some chopped jalapeƱo pepper and cilantro to the batter. Crack open a Dos Equis and enjoy. For breakfast, use whole milk and sugar in the mix. HG likes these pancakes with thick cut bacon and plenty of maple syrup. Happily, pure maple syrup is very modestly priced on Prince Edward Island. There are daily deliveries from nearby Quebec.

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HG to The Rescue — A 44th Festivity

September 1st, 2014 § 4 comments § permalink

An added Prince Edward Island joy. HG/BSK can see a lot of BSK’s sister, Noel M., and her husband, Yossi. The couple are now in residence on a magnificently verdant property in the town of Gasperaux, not far from Panmure Island on PEI’s southeast coast. Just a few minutes away is St.Mary’s Bay, a renowned site for clams and oysters. So, a clamming expedition was planned. The aim was to gather the bivalves for linguine and clam sauce, the centerpiece of a dinner celebrating Noel and Yossi’s 44th wedding anniversary. Noel and Yossi have a vast collective of talents (a championship level of equestrian performance and training skills; music; construction; special education and during Yossi’s Israeli days, paratrooping and other military service). Clamming, however, is not one of their talents. Their uneducated toes came up with only a single clam in an hour of effort. BSK was hampered by being the official expedition photographer. BSK still managed to garner a half dozen. Soaring in to save the day were HG’s talented feet, honed by decades of Fire Island/Great South Bay experience, which plucked some two dozen from the Bay bottom. A bucket full of the clams — chowders, cherrystones and little necks (all called Quahogs on PEI) — provided a beautiful sight. Dinner started with quickly grilled squid Rhode Island style (smothered with garlic, olive oil and super hot pickled peppers). This was accompanied by a platter of sliced seasonal tomatoes, Nova Scotia feta cheese and Kalamata olives. A salad of mache rosettes dressed simply with a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. BSK’s main dish reached new heights through the freshness of the clams, the briny quality of the broth, the exquisite balance of oil and garlic and the al dente quality of Garafolo linguine (the best packaged pasta). Dessert was a sampling of pecan butter tarts (plus raisin tarts for Noel, a butter tart traditionalist) and vanilla ice cream. Cocktails before dinner. White wine with dinner (tea for Noel, not a fan of alcohol). A happy evening indeed.

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