Waste Not. Want Not.

September 28th, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

HG’s late beloved Mom grew up in a tiny, impoverished “shtetel” in the Minsk province of Russia. She was a thrifty woman who managed to feed her family amply during The Great Depression. Nothing was ever wasted. Leftovers were recycled into some tasty and some outlandish meals. Every drop of a chicken was utilized. Chicken soup (with noodles). Boiled chicken with horseradish and boiled potatoes. Chicken skin rendered into chicken fat and “grieven” (fried crisp skin much like–sacrilege–a pork rind). Liver was incorporated in chopped calf’s liver or sauteed as a special treat for little HG. Bones, gizzard, neck were the basis of stock and chicken feet (despised then and now by HG) gave a gelatinous touch to “tzimmes”, carrots cooked with honey, ginger, chicken fat and garlic (delicious). Even the wishbone had a function. Mom covered it in crochet. It hung on a wall and was a repository for thimbles and needles. No, BSK is not an obsessive like Mom, but she has a dab hand at using leftovers and food remnants. A few nights ago, BSK made a parsley pesto for a crudites dip. It wasn’t eaten as HG/BSK and guests devoured many oysters. Not wasted. BSK put it to good use as a sauce (with additional oil, garlic and stock) for a pasta dish of pappardelle with perfectly done fresh cauliflower florets dusted with parmesan and red pepper flakes. Waste not. Want not.

Ocean Mist Farm Dinner

September 27th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Hurricane Dorian knocked down some trees and did other damage at Ocean Mist Farm, the verdant Prince Edward Island home of BSK’s sister, Noel M., and her husband, Yossi. The industrious duo managed to clean and put things in order. Their horses, sheep, and pigs survived without harm. (Alas, the cute pigs were just converted into pork chops, bacon, hams, pork roasts, etc.). So, all looked good when HG/BSK arrived at Ocean Mist last night for a splendid dinner. As usual, products from the farm highlighted the meal. The main dish was a stuffed pumpkin (moderate size). The top had been cut off, the interior scraped of seeds and then stuffed with home-made sausage, rice, onions, herbs, etc. The top went back on and the stuffed pumpkin was baked in the oven. A treat. The savory stuffing combined with soft, flavorful pumpkin created multiple levels of flavor. Pumpkin is an ingredient much used in Paris bistros and northern Italian dishes. HG wonders why American pumpkins are only used as decorations and lanterns in the autumn and as the filling for pies (and horrible craft beers and lattes) at Thanksgiving. This was accompanied by a polenta gratin dotted with blueberries (currants ?). HG splashed some maple syrup on HG’s portion. Yes, HG is a Canadian maple syrup addict. Quebecois share HG’s passion and in Vancouver — on Canada’s Pacific coast — black cod is gilded with maple syrup before being sauteed or baked. Wondrous dish. Dessert was butter tarts (unavailable in the faltering democracy to the south) and vanilla ice cream. Joyous dinner from start to finish. Thanks, Noel and Yossi.

Basque (or Provencal) Fish

September 26th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Some years ago, HG/BSK were lunching at a stylish Barcelona restaurant. At the next table were two elegant, attractive women. When they tasted their dishes they made discreet exclamations of delight. As in the movie “When Harry Met Sally,” HG/BSK told the waiter: “We’ll have what they’re having.” And. that’s how HG/BSK were introduced to the Basque (or Provencal) delight of oven-baked hake with potatoes, onions, tomatoes and other good things. Splendid fresh-from-the-sea hake is available on Prince Edward Island so BSK served this dish at a dinner with across the road neighbors Molly and Peter E., folks who know much about food and drink. The fish was preceded by an oyster feast. HG shucked some 30 oysters: Large Malpeque Superiors, South Lakes with green-tinged shells, small and subtle Savage Harbors. Drank a wonderful Nova Scotia white wine (a Peter gift). Here’s how BSK made the fish: Saut├ęd two onions and about four cloves of thinly sliced garlic in olive oil in a frying pan. Sprinkled them with salt, smoked pepper and pimenton. This was added to the bottom of a Creuset casserole pot with layers of sliced, barely-cooked potato. Frying pan was deglazed with white wine, clam broth and bonito flakes; this fragrant sauce was poured over the potatoes and onions. BSK then added a layer of ripe tomatoes and roasted tomatoes. Finally, the Hake was draped over the top with extra pinches of salt, pepper and pimenton. The casserole was covered in tin foil and dropped into a 350 degrees oven to bake until the fish was cooked through. Dish was served with chopped scallion, parsley & some chopped kalamata olives. There were no leftovers. Drank a Canadian red wine (endorsed by Wayne Gretzky). Dessert was extraordinary French creme brulee and equally lush Canadian gelato (FIASCO brand). Memorable meal at HG/BSK’s oceanfront paradise.

European Sweets Found On Prince Edward Island

September 25th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG meals in Paris or Rome (or Florence) were always predictable. In Paris, meals always started with oysters (plus whelks and mayonnaise if extra hungry). Dessert was creme brulee. In very special restaurants HG chose ile flottante or baba au rhum (doused in rum and smothered in whipped cream). The baba choice was rare since it seemed a bit exuberant after a sumptuous meal. In Rome and Florence, the starter was fresh, hand-pulled mozzarella with endive (a la Caprese) or mozzarella splashed simply with fruity olive oil and accompanied by good bread. Dessert was gelato purchased at one of the exemplary gelaterias (espresso was sipped at a bar). So, how to approximate these treats when resident at HG/BSK’s oceanfront home? Oysters, of course, are no problem since PEI, in HG’s opinion, is the oyster capital of the world. Only insipid factory mozzarella is available. HG may be spoiled by the many years of eating the supreme smoked mozzarella from Joe’s Dairy (alas, now closed) in Greenwich Village or fresh, milky mozzarella from Belgiovine’s in Montclair, N.J. On PEI, HG/BSK replace the cheese starter with corn on the cob or other vegetable treats. Good news is that HG/BSK can now finish their Island dinners with the appropriate sweets discovered this week at the Sobey’s Supermarket in Charlottetown. For HG that means Marie Morin creme brulee (manufactured in Quessoy, France). For BSK, it’s Fiasco salt caramel gelato (manufactured in Calgary, Canada). HG states, with some hesitation, these are as good as any version HG ingested joyously in Europe.

Simple, But Perfect

September 24th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is not fond of elaborate food or dishes that require numerous ingredients and hours of hovering around the range and oven. “Please keep it simple,” is HG’s counsel. HG has posted often about great simple dishes HG enjoyed at long-closed New York restaurants like Christ Cella and Gage & Tollner. (New York strip steak; sauteed clam bellies; shad and shad roe; mutton chops). BSK keeps things simple with tasty food like spatchcocked chicken; lamp kefta; Adobo dusted pork chops; racks of lamb laced with garlic; pan-broiled cheeseburgers. Since HG/BSK eat very little meat, meals are usually based on fish (fried; steamed in the Japanese style; Rhode Island-style chowders; Provencal style cod, with onions, garlic, and tomatoes baked in the oven). Lots of pasta with vegetable sauces (broccoli, zucchini, eggplant, cauliflower). HG’s fave is very simple: Spaghetti with olive oil and loads of gently browned slices of garlic. Take that, Count Dracula !! BSK served a simple and perfect dinner last night. Gently browned Digby Bay sea scallops. Sauteed cherry tomatoes from the HG garden. Tiny potatoes from the Charlottetown Farmers Market (parboiled and then pan-fried with garlic chips). A simple but perfect dinner. Achieved by BSK’s exquisite culinary timing. Cooking simple, alas, is not so simple. Takes BSK skill.

BSK Pho

September 23rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

When BSK roasts a spatchcocked chicken for dinner, there’s always leftover chicken breast. Cut into thin slices by HG, this goes into BSK’s innovative pho for an ensuing meal. No, this isn’t the classic pho HG enjoys in Vietnamese restaurants but it’s hearty, fragrant, delicious. BSK adds lots of lime juice, cilantro, shavings of carrots, thinly sliced onions, spinach, bonito flakes and bok choy to a boiling pot of pho broth (Campbell’s does a nice, low sodium version). The chicken goes in last so it doesn’t get mushy. Usually, dry rice noodles (boiled and rinsed) are added. But, this time BSK used thick and springy udon noodles andpoached two eggs (one for her and one for HG) in the steaming broth. Very good idea. HG gave the HG bowl sprinkles of sesame oil and chili oil. This was preceded by pork potstickers which were dipped in vinegar and soy sauce. A savory Vietnamese/Chinese/Japanese/BSK meal.

Scary Toby Adventure

September 22nd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Mornings at HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island oceanfront home follow a distinct pattern. BSK arises much earlier than snoozing HG. Lets Toby, The Wonder Dog, out for his morning ablutions and brief exercise. After about twenty minutes, BSK opens the door for Toby so the little fellow can enjoy breakfast. But, not this morning. Toby was busy chasing a squirrel around the outside deck and rose bushes. As always, the squirrel proved elusive. Then, Toby did something extraordinary. The Wonder Dog pushed his way into the dense foliage bordering the HG/BSK acreage. There were sounds of Toby’s journey (he had never ventured into these thorny greens before). This was followed by silence. Distraught BSK (all of this was happening before BSK’s morning wake up coffee) tried to coax Toby out. No success. More than a half-hour of silence. BSK donned appropriate protective clothing and ventured into the bushes in the belief that Toby’s collar was snared. No sign of Toby. Sad BSK gave up. Was there a coyote lurking who had lured and then killed Toby? Finally, BSK heard sounds of Toby’s collar and its metal tags. A piece of chicken brought Toby out of his hideaway. Joy and relief. And, where was HG during this adventure? Snug under the covers and peacefully sleeping.

Fifth Avenue Department Stores

September 20th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

When HG lived in Manhattan during the 1950’s and ’60’s, New York’s Fifth Avenue was lined with department stores and women’s fashion emporiums. Bergdorf Goodman (still there as it has been for more than 100 years) was at the corner of 57th Street with Tiffany’s (still there) and Bonwit Teller (gone) across the street. The fashion parade continued with I. Miller Shoes (gone), BSK’s fave for classy footwear; DePinna (gone), excellent men’s suits, shirts and ties; Best & Co. (gone), famed for women’s gloves; Saks Fifth Avenue (still operating and flourishing). To the dismay of folks who wanted to preserve the avenue’s elegant image, E.J. Korvette (gone), the pioneer discounter, opened on Fifth (it was where HG bought a bargain TV). South of 42nd Street, there was Franklin Simon (where BSK bought a lovely hat for the HG/BSK wedding reception at the St. Regis Hotel); Arnold Constable, Lane Bryant (for the ample lady); Lord & Taylor; W.J. Sloane Furniture; Russek’s (the great photographer, Diane Arbus, was from the family who owned the fashion store). B. Altman was on the corner of 34th Street and Fifth. Ohrbach’s was nearby on the north side of 34th. All have vanished and some of the luster that made Fifth Avenue unique. However, keeping avenue elegance alive are Van Cleef & Arpels (744 Fifth) and Cartier (653 Fifth), the jewelry and watch shops much patronized by New York’s new generation of wealth and oligarch tourists. Many of the department stores had pleasant lunchrooms. The best was at B. Altman. And, HG often had a steaming bowl of soup at Lord & Taylor.

Courtesy Patricia Cummin/Flickr

BSK Soup Wonders Continue

September 18th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Autumn on Prince Edward Island. Leaves are beginning to turn. Whitecaps dot the sea in front of the HG/BSK home (40 feet of windows provide startling visuals of the sea, birds, clouds, sunsets). Warm weather will return for a spell as it usually does in PEI September. In the meantime, BSK concentrates on cooking that warms the body and spirits. A BSK specialty is soup (HG has written about this skill before. Sept. 4, 2019). Today, BSK harvested the tomatoes, red and green, that made a comeback in BSK’s vegetable garden after Hurricane Dorian. This was supplemented by tomatoes purchased at the Charlottetown Famers Market from a man identified solely as “The Cherry Tomato Man.” This gentleman told BSK that BSK’s brother in law, Yossi M., is “the coolest guy on PEI.” HG agrees. Back to the soup. BSK placed quartered tomatoes on a cookie sheet. Olive oil. Salt and pepper. Roasted in the oven. Red peppers were roasted over open flames on the range (these would give the soup a tantalizing hint of smoke). BSK removed the blackened skins of the peppers and cut them into strips. Onions, garlic (abundant), chopped celery and carrots plus the peppers went into a pot for softening. The roasted tomatoes were added. Chicken stock poured into the pot with sprinkles of cumin and aleppo pepper. After cooking, BSK used an immersion blender to bring the soup to the proper level of smoothness. Winds were blowing as HG lunched on a bowl of the steaming, multi-flavored soup. Superlatives cannot do it justice. Bravo, BSK!!

Oyster Connoisseur

September 17th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, HG consumes scores of oysters each year with gusto and expertise. HG never adds anything to a raw oyster. No mignonette, no hot sauce, no lemon juice. HG wants to enjoy the sea taste, subtle variations in texture, levels of brine without any interference. In HG’s opinion, cloaking the flavor of a raw oyster (or clam) with sauce is akin to ordering a steak “well done” or lavishing ketchup on all manner of food. HG has eaten oysters in many places. Florida (oysters are tasteless). New Orleans (dangerous because of pollution). Baltimore (pretty good). Barcelona (fair). Madrid (poor). A superior restaurant in New York, Grand Central Oyster Bar, offers splendid oysters from Long Island, Rhode Island and Maine (and their cooked oyster dish, Oyster Pan Roast, is mind-altering). However, the best oysters are found outside of the United States. Rodney’s Oyster Bar in Vancouver, B.C., serves a big variety of oysters, perfectly shucked and chilled. (An innovation is a freshly grated horseradish used by HG as a palate cleanser between oysters). Nothing compares to the elegance and ambiance of eating oysters in a good French brasserie (Le Stella or Astair) or bistro. On a side trip to Reims in Champagne country, HG had lovely oysters (much cheaper than Paris). HG believes the best oysters in the world can be found a few miles from HG/BSK’s oceanfront home on Prince Edward Island. At Island Shellfish in the Town of Morell, HG buys large and lush Red Head Selects and Malpeque Superiors. (BSK’s favorites are the green-tinged Coleville Bay oysters from The Lobster Shack in the Town of Souris. Smaller than HG’s lusty choices). Hurricane Dorian diminished temporarily the variety of oysters at Island Shellfish. Savage Harbor oysters were available yesterday. HG bought two dozen. Modestly sized but extraordinary in flavor. Savage Harbor has a new fan.

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