Lynn’s Brisket

February 23rd, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s late beloved Mom cooked brisket often. She called it, in Yiddish, “gedempteh flaish.” Translation: Stewed meat. It was good, winter or summer. In the winter it was accompanied by boiled potatoes. In the summer, buttered corn on the cob. The beverage was cold beer. The table held mustard, horseradish and dill pickles. Good robust eating. However, the ultimate brisket, the empress of brisketdom, was the brisket served to HG/BSK at the home of good friends Lynn and Michael Small (sadly, Michael is deceased). The recipe came from Lynn’s Mom (or grandmother). Long braising made the meat super tender and produced copious gravy of onions, garlic, tomatoes and meat juices. Lynn served it with a big bowl of kasha, perfect for soaking up the unctuous gravy. BSK cooked this for a traditional Sunday night dinner with Noel and Yossi M. (BSK’s sister and brother in law). No kasha but flavorful quinoa. Chased away the chills gloriously. The bible of brisket cooking is “The Brisket Book” by the brilliant and witty author Stephanie Pierson. (HG/BSK’s close friend for many decades). The book is so good it can turn vegans into carnivores.

PEI Party

February 17th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

Party time Sunday night at HG/BSK’s oceanfront home on snowy Prince Edward Island.HG/BSK were joined by BSK’s sister, Noel, and her husband, Yossi. Also present were neighbors Cathy and George K. Lively group. HG shucked oysters (a gift to HG from generous Yossi); folks who shun oysters nibbled crisp toasts with a cheese spread inspired by French chef Jacques Pepin. Nice start. Main dish was BSK’s flavorful chicken curry plus basmati rice, raita (Indian salad of yogurt and chopped vegetables); dal (lentil stew), nan (Indian bread). There were three condiments:Sweet mango chutney, spicy mango chutney, Indian sour pickle mix. Dessert was unusual. BSK experimented with making a mango/coconut pudding. Didn’t turn out as BSK planned but was lush spooned over vanilla ice cream. HG/BSK drank pinot noir while the rest of the table sipped tea and Pellegrino orange soda. Alcoholic (and no.n-alcoholic) toasts were made to the memory of Chuck P. (recently deceased), a kind and caring neighbor.

Sofrito Magic

February 16th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

“Sofrito” is the delicious sauce that is the flavorful base for Italian and Spanish cooking. BSK’s sofrito consists of chopped onions, garlic, parsley and spices sauteed in extra virgin olive oil. When making BSK’s excellent Spanish cod, potato, onion and tomato stew, BSK adds chopped peppers and tomatoes (or tomato paste) to the sofrito. Last night, BSK made an extraordinary sofrito which turned a platter of linguine and scallops into a memorable feast. The sofrito had additions of anchovies, chopped fennel, white wine and Japanese bonito flakes. This multi cultural sofrito was a winner. HG had two very large helpings. BSK’s gentle searing of the scallops turned them into lush sea morsels. HG genuflects before BSK: The woman is world’s best home cook (daughter Lesley R. is close runner up. SJ and wife, Maiko, don’t count since they are food professionals. Viva!! Freeman Shokudo)

Taormina Sardines

February 10th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

Many years ago, HG/BSK toured Sicily with daughter Lesley R. and her husband, Profesore Massimo R. The distinguished Profesore (who grew up in the Sicilian city of Siracusa), was an invaluable and learned guide. The family (which included very young granddaughters, Arianna and Sofia) had a wonderful time absorbing Sicilian history, scenery, architecture (including the ruins of Greek temples), food, wine and sweets. (Best Pasta a la Norma ever and dreamy pastries). When the R. family returned to Italy, HG/BSK booked into a luxurious hotel in the hilltop town of Taormina with incomparable views of the Ionian Sea. Taormina was a favorite vacation spot for Winston Churchill and for many years a haven for gay writers and artists. The hotel dining room (as well as HG/BSK’s bedroom) was perched over the sea. At a table set with beautiful silverware, dinner plates and crystal, a courtly waiter served HG/BSK a Sicilian specialty—Pasta con el sarde. This was perfect linguine covered in a mind blowing sardine sauce that reflected the Arabic influence in Sicilian cooking, the omnipresence of the sea and the shimmering sunlight. BSK vowed to make an effort to duplicate the dish when HG/BSK returned to the USA. BSK has been successful. BSK’s version is sumptuous. HG/BSK enjoyed it last night on Prince Edward Island. This is how The Wonder Woman made it. First, a sofrito of olive oil, white wine, anchovies, pignolia nuts, garlic, shallots, saffron and dried cranberries (the Taormina version used currants but these were not available and the cranberries were a tasty substitute). Finally, this was mixed with a tin of very good plump Porftuguese sardines. Poured over linguine, the dish brought back many happy memories of sun and fun.

Ashkenazi Heaven

February 6th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

A classic Ashkenazi Jewish dish is kasha varnishkes. It is an HG favorite. It was served in every Jewish “dairy” restaurant in HG’s youth. Because of kosher dietary code, it was cooked without animal fat and smothered with onions and mushrooms simmered in olive or corn oil. Topped with sour cream and loads of black pepper and kosher salt. When HG’s late Mom cooked it, dietary laws were not followed and the dish got a big load of tasty homemade chicken fat. (That’s the way it was served at Sammy’s, New York’s now closed temple of schmaltz.) So, what is kasha varnishkes ? The dish consists of kasha (buckwheat groats) gently toasted with a beaten egg and then simmered in chicken broth and olive oil (chicken fat if you can source it). When the kasha is cooked into softness (but not mush) it is mixed with cooked farfalle (butterfly or bow tie pasta). Always accompanied by a bowl of sour cream. HG made it last night for BSK’s sister, Noel) and brother in law, Yossi, during an alternate Sunday dinner at HG/BSK’s home. HG used Russian kasha from an international grocer in Moncton, New Brunswick. N. & M.had never had kasha varnishkes before. They approved to the tune of second and third helpings.

Cincy Good Stuff

February 3rd, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK first tasted Cincinnati chili when visiting Noel and Yossi M. (BSK’s sister and brother-in-law). The couple were then living in Kentucky but doing graduate work at Cincinnati U. Chili was served in numerous low cost eateries. Budget conscious N. and M. consumed much during harsh Cincy winters. On first tasting, HG/ BSK found it distinctive. No hint of Texas. Very middle east in spicing. Cinnamon, cumin, etc. Served over spaghetti and showered with chopped onions, grated cheddar cheese and Frank’s Hot Sauce, it was addictive. With no plans to visit Cincy in the future, HG thought about Cincy chili as a delicious memory. Surprise. Dinner (a cold night) a few weeks ago at N. & M.’s Ocean Mist Farm near Prince Edward Island’s south shore, was Noel’s version of the chili. Flavorful. Hearty. Warming. Thanks, Noel.

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