Lovely Leftover

February 28th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK explored the refrigerator and found cauliflower, feta cheese, blue cheese, grated parmesan, chicken stock, herbs. BSK smeared cauliflower florets with a mixture of olive oil and crushed garlic. They went into the oven for a quick bake and brown. Adding the cauliflower to the other refrigerator finds, BSK constructed a cheesy, creamy, herbaceous sauce. Poured over Rao’s Spaghetti (a very good brand) it was a delightful pasta dinner. (Heat-loving HG used many red pepper flakes ). Even though HG/BSK had ample seconds, there was plenty of sauced pasta left over. So, for lunch the next day, BSK beat some eggs and added them to the pasta. And, that’s how a lovely frittata was born.

Asian Food Pleasures

February 24th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

HG loves Asian food and, happily, BSK has become an expert in cooking some Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean dishes. A few nights ago, BSK cut up some chicken thighs and pan-fried them in a mix of Korean chili paste, Korean chile flakes, onions, and garlic. A fiery and flavorful dish that was very welcome on a cold night. The next night BSK made a dish inspired by her daughter in law, Exquisite Maiko. HG/BSK are fortunate. When Maiko is on Prince Edward Island (HG/BSK’s oceanfront summer paradise), she takes advantage of wonderful seafood and produces exemplary sashimi, tempura, home-made gyoza and other delicacies. Maiko steams sole filets over a bed of spinach and bok choy in a broth enriched with dashi, bonito flakes, onions, garlic and a splash of sake. BSK duplicated the sole dish (with some variations). What made it wonderful (besides BSK’s skills and Maiko’s inspiration) were the thick, firm Pacific sole filets. BSK is very assertive at the Whole Foods fish counter and makes sure every fish, scallop and mussel she orders is as perfect as can be obtained in a landlocked, high desert city. BSK accompanied the sole treat with fluffy rice. Leftover rice was converted into a lush pot of mushroom congee, a breakfast and lunch treat for HG. And, then last night BSK made a steaming pot of comfort: BSK’s improvisation on Vietnamese pho. It involved chicken broth enriched with pho powder, shredded poached chicken, baby spinach, mushrooms, carrot shreds, tofu, garlic, ginger and more. Plus lots of slightly al dente broad rice noodles. Another cold night treat.

The Perfect Steak

February 24th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Fish, chicken, ground turkey, eggs, yogurt, rice, beans, lentils, cheese, vegetables of all kinds, avocados, pasta. These are the basics of HG/BSK’s diet. Very little red meat (boneless leg of lamb, lamb chops, pork chops occasionally). Steak is a rarity. About two times a year. Never have filet mignon. Mushy. Tasteless. BSK finds rib steak too marbled with fat. So, the HG/BSK choice is New York Strip. Whole Foods had a steak sale and BSK bought a big, juicy New York Strip. BSK’s skills are limitless. Among them is the ability to cook The Perfect Steak. Here’s how Wonder Woman does it. Dusts the bottom of cast iron pan with sea salt. Turns the heat on high in order to sear the steak on both sides. Lowers the heat a bit. Using tongs, cooks the steak by turning it over every thirty seconds. By some mental alchemy, BSK knows when it has reached the perfect point of rare (but not raw or cold in the middle) juicy perfection. Lets it rest on a heated platter for a few minutes. Tops it with a bit of butter. The result: The Perfect Steak. Serves it with two salads: A leafy salad of lettuces and a chopped salad of Kumatoes, sweet onion and endive. Roquefort dressing for both salads. Brings back memories of Christ Cella, the long-closed New York steak house. It was the best steak house in the world.

Farewell Salt Cod

February 20th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

When HG’s children, Lesley R. and SJ were very young, BSK made many dishes with well-soaked salt cod. Brandade, garlic laden and creamy, was an HG favorite. The puree was also good for breakfast when fried as pancakes and topped with a sunny side up egg. Little Lesley R. and SJ hated salt cod. Hated the dishes made from it. On one occasion, while vacationing in Nantucket, the stealthy kids liberated a wooden box of salt cod from the pantry and buried it in the garden. BSK made a fish stew last night using salt cod, fish stock, white wine, onions, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes and many herbs. The rich broth and the vegetables were delicious. But, HG discovered that HG no longer liked salt cod. HG determined that any dish that used salt cod would be better with fresh cod. However, if you’re sailing around the world in a wind-powered boat, follow the lead of sailors of yore. Take dried salt cod (bacalau) along. Good source of protein.

Super Salad

February 19th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

The venerable Brasserie Lipp on Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris has a notice in the window: “A salad is not a meal.” HG presumes this is a warning to dieters, who limit their lunch to a few lettuce leaves and sparkling water, to take their mini appetites elsewhere. For the most part, HG agrees that a salad is a skimpy choice for lunch or dinner. Yes, there are a few restaurant exceptions: Cobb Salad at the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel in Los Angeles (the ultimate was at the long-closed Brown Derby); “Garbage Salad” at Gene & Georgetti steak house in Chicago; the seafood salad served in the Oak Room of New York’s Algonquin Hotel when the hotel was owned by Ben Bodne. Last night in New Mexico, BSK prepared a sumptuous salad composed of endive, butter lettuce, Kalamata olives, feta cheese, white anchovies, Kumatoes, sliced sweet onions and chopped parsley. The dressing was a mustard/garlic vinaigrette. HG/BSK thought a simple pasta dish (tortellini in brodo, perhaps) would follow. But, the salad was so lavish and filling, it comprised a totally delicious dinner. More BSK magic.

Rice Joy

February 17th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, rice is wonderful stuff. Chinese congee (rice porridge) is one of HG’s favorite breakfasts. (The best is found at Congee Noodle House in Vancouver, B.C.’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood). Spanish Paella is a celebration. Italian Risotto (mixed with mushrooms, spinach or asparagus) is pure comfort. Rice Pilaf brightens Middle Eastern cuisine. And, of course, there’s Japanese Sushi, Chinese fried rice and scores of other Asian rice treats. Due to BSK, HG has a new joyous rice dish: Italian Risi e Bisi (rice and peas). It has elements of Risotto but takes less time, BSK found fresh English peas at Trader Joe’s and that made BSK turn to a David Tanis recipe for the dish. Using a deep saucepan, onions and garlic are cooked in butter and Arborio rice is added with ladles of steaming chicken broth. Pancetta and peas are cooked in a separate pan with olive oil. When the peas are tender and the Pancetta is crisped, they go into the deep saucepan as the final cups of chicken broth are added to bring the rice to a firm but slightly creamy texture. Chopped scallions, leaves of baby spinach, chopped parsley and lemon zest are added. The mix gets a hearty stir. BSK served this wonder with a topping of Parmigiano and Aleppo pepper. Side dish was butter lettuce glistening with BSK’s mustard vinaigrette. Heavy snow fell on HG/BSK’s New Mexico home but was ignored by the duo as they supped on Risi e Bisi and drank copious amounts of a good French Pinot Noir.

Lush Lamb

February 16th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK found a lovely, grass-fed, organic New Zealand boneless leg of lamb. A great product, juicy and full of flavor. BSK knew what to do with it. First, BSK butterflied it so it would lie flat with both thick and thin pieces. Done this way and broiled or grilled, there are rare, medium and well-done slices. Makes everyone happy. BSK marinated the lamb for a few hours in a mix of olive oil, onions, garlic, and herbs. When it came out of the oven broiler it had a delicious thin crust. When BSK made this dish a few years ago, BSK accompanied it with a Greek Avgolemono sauce (a kind of thin, lemony hollandaise). This time, BSK asked HG to make yogurt sauce as a side dish (Greek yogurt mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper, Spanish pimenton, crushed garlic, zaatar and a pinch of sumac). The lamb and sauce were served with orzo mixed with fried onions, mushrooms and chopped parsley. Broiled Kumatoes added a burst of color. HG/BSK drank a bottle of Italian Nero D’Avolo. The meal was a celebration of HG/BSK’s life together.

HG at 12: Girdle Ads and Nude Olive Oyl

February 13th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

At age seven, a contemporary told HG how babies were made. HG punched the boy for accusing HG’s Mother and Father of doing a nasty thing. Yes, with time came acceptance of physical truths: By 12 years old, young HG began noticing a rather stimulating difference between young women and growing boys. When HG was 12, there was no exposure to porn. What existed was very “underground” and not something a 12-year-old boy could stumble upon. Yes, there was a widely circulated booklet featuring comic strip Popeye doing the naughty-naughty with Olive Oyl. Young HG was not aroused. Much more exciting to HG were the numerous bra and girdle ads in the New York Times Sunday Magazine and the “intimate apparel” displays in storefronts along the Bronx’s Grand Concourse. Ah, innocent days.

Jerome Ave

February 11th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

That’s the title of a very moving photo book published by the Bronx Photo League. The book was a gift to HG from Gifted Daughter Lesley R. The elevated subway train (Number 4 Line) still runs above gritty Jerome Avenue in The Bronx. The photos depict some of the 3,700 hard-working people who work in the South Bronx section of Jerome Ave. They are immigrants from Mexico, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean. This stretch of Jerome Avenue contains every conceivable type of auto repair shop (engines, body-work, brakes, etc.). People from all over New York City go there for repairs (cheaper and better than mechanics in the suburbs and gentrified city neighborhoods). In addition to the repair shops, Jerome Avenue teems with small businesses — bakeries, hair stylists, clothing and food shops plus a storefront church are there. It’s a busy and active area that supports thousands of families both in the neighborhood and abroad. It’s being threatened with rezoning. All part of the process that is pushing low-income people out of the city HG once loved.

Best Breakfast

February 10th, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

In previous posts, HG noted that HG’s breakfast for many years was three cups of black coffee and six Marlboro cigarettes. (Caught up with HG, finally. Haven’t smoked in almost 30 years). Now at age 90 moving toward 91 (hopefully), HG has a healthy, flavorful breakfast. Makes awakening worthwhile. Thoughtful, loving BSK, monitors HG’s health. Provides an array of almost a dozen vitamins and a number of medications and health supplements. Surgery has constricted HG’s throat so HG eases swallowing by starting breakfast with Chobani yogurt (flavored with a bit of maple syrup). Then a wonder dish invented by BSK: Pepperidge Farm Thin White Bread toast covered with ripe avocado and topped with mozzarella cheese. Popped in the toaster oven, it all melts and heats into glory. Cups of Nespresso lungo and BSK-brewed cafe latte. Good Morning!!

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