Versatile (Bargain) Chicken

March 23rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Besides being an inventive HG-delighting cook, BSK is a canny shopper. BSK is a fan of Whole Foods chicken (Pine Manor brand is a favorite). A few days ago, BSK found a PM chicken for sale. Eight bucks. Took the bird home and “spatchcocked” it. That is, BSK cut out the backbone and flattened the bird so that it would lay flat in the roasting pan. Showered the bird with olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, salt and pepper, Goya Adobo seasoning. Served the chicken with spring asparagus and couscous. There was lots of crisped chicken skin and savory gravy to enrich the couscous. Sumptuous meal. HG/BSK like dark meat so thighs, drumsticks and wings were happily devoured. This left an ample amount of white chicken breast. The next day it was cut into strips and mixed with spring onions, fennel, sliced radishes, tiny Kumatos, scallions and Belgian endive. HG made a dressing for the chicken salad. Sesame oil, Vietnamese fish sauce, soy sauce, wine vinegar, a dash of Chile oil. This was served with chilled Vietnamese rice noodles. Two great meals. Each meal used four bucks of chicken. That’s what shopping and cooking skills can achieve. Thanks, BSK!


March 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Chobani fat free, fruit-on-the-bottom, Greek yogurt is HG’s favorite breakfast food. (HG/BSK choose Fage plain Greek yogurt for middle east and Indian cooking). HG enhances a Chobani breakfast container with honey, jam or maple syrup (HG likes a sweet beginning of the day) plus walnuts or pecans. Consumed with a few cups of coffee, this deliciousness offsets the grim news that usually comes forth from HG’s computer. There’s a political aspect to HG’s affection for Chobani. That’s because the product exemplifies the stupidity of Der Trumperer’s immigration policy. Chobani, with more than $2 billion in sales in 2016, was founded by a Turkish immigrant, Hamedi Ulukaya. With a loan from the Small Business Administration in 2005, Ulukaya and a small team of enthusiasts set about creating a yogurt that tasted like the stuff they grew up with in Turkey. The product went on supermarket shelves in 2007 (it was “Greek” yogurt because that thicker yogurt name was already installed in the minds of consumers). An instant hit. Along with its spectacular growth, Chobani has instituted progressive labor policies. Employees get fully paid six week parental leave and can participate in company ownership through a Chobani Shares program. Yes, Der Trumperer, that is what a Turkish immigrant from a 90% Muslim country has accomplished in slightly more than a dozen years. And, he’s created some 3,000 jobs.

Horseman’s Haven Cafe

March 11th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Giddyyvap!! Horseman’s Haven has a simple motto: “Famous For Green Chile.” Believe the words. HH is heaven for those who like hellishly hot food. HG tried the chile today. Ordered a three egg omelet (“Very soft, please.”) accompanied by home fries and a tortilla. As requested, the omelet was cooked to HG’s demanding taste and smothered with the cafe’s “standard” green chile. “Standard” turned out to be very, very hot and spicy. Sublimely flavorful once the initial sting wore off. (HH also serves a “Number Two Chile.” When asked, the friendly waitperson said: “Señor, numero dos is much, much hotter. Mucho!!.). Obviously, “standard” is for gringos and wimps. Number Two is for hombres who have been eating hot coals since childhood. Macho,indeed!! Horseman’s Haven is a warm, rustic room. Located on busy, unbeautiful Cerrillos Road in Santa Fe. BTW, HG’s big green chile plate cost $6.75.

You Tube Madness

March 8th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

YouTube is a treasure for a nostalgic gent such as HG. However, it can be addictive. You log in for one video and are lured down the rabbit hole viewing one after another. Poof!! goes the day. These are some of the videos that lighten for HG (the very few) rainy and snowy afternoons in The Land of Enchantment AKA New Mexico. “Around a Quarter to Nine” with Al Jolson and Ruby Keeler. This is insane, surreal, racist and subversive fun. “My Baby Only Cares For Me” with Nina Simone on vocal and piano. (There’s also a funny version with Eddie Cantor). “Romania, Romania”, Yiddish scat singing by Aaron Lebedoff. “Baryshnikov on Broadway with Liza Minnelli”. This is a blockbuster. Joel Grey in “Cabaret.” Another blockbuster is a collection of Rita Hayworth dance routines plus her dance duets with Fred Astaire. For a display of pure talent and laughter not much beats Billy Crystal’s opening routines at the Academy Awards. Neil Patrick Harris hosting the Tonys is another virtuoso performer.

Neighborly Fun and Feasting

March 7th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Oscar night. A group of knowing and jolly neighbors (including one actor, one producer, one theater authority and one ex-actress) gathered before the big screen at David F.’s home to watch the Academy Awards. Luckily, David’s controls allowed the group to miss the commercials so the evening ended at a reasonable hour. However, HG found the show tedious. Only solace was that most of HG/BSK’s favorites won. Big annoyance was that the incomparable Willem Dafoe didn’t win the supporting actor prize. Few laughs. Where were Billy Crystal and Chris Rock? They rocked when they emceed. The pot luck edibles the neighbors brought were splendid. Crusty fried chicken. Country mashed potatoes. Nice sautéed broccolini. Fruit salad with Kirsch. Home baked shortbread. Much red wine and artisan vodka. BSK’s contribution was a big platter of roasted vegetables that were flavored with premium extra virgin Italian olive oil. Also, a bowl of crudités featuring peppers, carrots and endive. What made BSK’s assortment of raw and cooked vegetables worthy of a mini-Oscar was a large bowl of aioli. Pungent with garlic and topped with smoked Spanish Pimenton. Pungent deliciousness.

Walla Walla

March 5th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, that’s a funny name for a city. But, Walla Walla, Washington, and its surrounding valley make HG/BSK’s favorite wines. Charles Smith, a California-born, innovative winemaker, is an HG hero. After world travel (nine years in Denmark), he opened a wine shop in Washington’s Puget Sound and then moved to Walla Walla to begin winemaking. His first effort was House Wine, an inexpensive, very tasty red blend. Both House and Steak House, a Cabernet, were later sold to a Seattle company (the wines remain splendid). Now, Smith produces the pricier (but still affordable) Velvet Devil, a Merlot; Boom Boom!!, a Syrah, and Chateau Smith, a Cabernet. All outstanding. HG/BSK learned about the grandeur of Walla Walla wines in an unlikely place: Big Timber, Montana. On their motor trips from Denver to Vancouver, a city where they owned some long sold residences, HG/BSK would always stop for dinner at the restaurant in Big Timber’s Grand Hotel. Served the best rack of lamb the duo ever tasted.(Robert Redford ate it almost every night when he was filming “The Horse Whisperer” at a nearby location). The restaurateur was a wine aficionado and the wine list was capacious. He touted Walla Walla wines and HG/BSK drank some wonders (this was before the prices of these important wines deservedly soared upwards). HG/BSK still consume gallons of the previously mentioned Walla Walla moderately priced wines but augment them with Beaujolais, Italian varietals, Argentine and Chilean Malbecs, whites from New Zealand and Roses from Provence.


March 1st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Cauliflower is having its moment. You can find it on many chic New York restaurant menus. Whole heads. Slices. Florets. Kale has gone mainstream, too predictable for many trendy eateries. When the spring season gets underway, asparagus will take over. BSK does a lot of good things with cauliflower. Roasts florets in the oven with olive oil and garlic. Uses Vikram Vij’s recipe to maker savory Indian-spiced cauliflower “steaks”. HG’s favorite BSK vegetable dish is pappardelle with a gorgonzola (or roquefort) and cauliflower sauce. BSK blanches cauliflower florets and then chops them into smaller pieces. They go into a saucepan with olive oil, garlic, anchovies, cherry tomatoes, the cheese, lots of fresh sage and a dash of white wine. This sauce is mixed with the pasta and a bit of pasta water. Grated parmesan and a black pepper grinder on the table. Sublime eating and a perfect companion for  Steak House Wine from Walla Walla, Washington.

“Nice Cup Of Tea”

February 28th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes that’s what you get in any proper English (or Canadian) home, restaurant or cafe. In the land that loves assault weapons (otherwise known as the Land of the Brave and the Free) you get a cup of hot water and a tea bag. Insipid. BSK, granddaughter of English immigrants, knows how to make “a nice cup of tea.” Scalds the teapot with boiling water. Empties the now very warm pot. Puts in tea bags (or loose tea in a metal perforated container). Refills the pot with boiling water. Covers the pot with a tea cozy (knit by her late beloved grandmother). Lets the tea steep for an appropriate amount of time. Pours the tea into cups warmed in the microwave. Adds a dash of milk. Nothing can be more comforting after a walk in the wintry air. A bit of shortbread is a pleasant accompaniment. HG’s late father, Hershele Tsvi Freimann (anglicized to “Freeman” at Ellis Island), was a Belorussian immigrant and liked his tea Russian style. Very hot. Very strong. With a heaping spoonful of cherry preserves at the bottom of the cup. Sometimes he added a squeeze of lemon to the tea, omitted the preserves but clutched a sugar cube between his teeth as he sipped.

Blood Orange Bitters

February 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Blood Orange Bitters are a magical addition to cocktails produced by a company called Stirrings. HG buys it at the Kokoman wine and liquor store in Pojoaque, a few miles from HG/BSK’s residence. Kokoman has a big selection of bitters as well as an encyclopedic range of beers (domestic and foreign), fine wines, single malt Scotch, etc. Yes, there’s more to New Mexico drinking and dining than Budweiser, tacos and green chile sauce. HG uses the Blood Orange Bitters in a self invented, pre-dinner cocktail HG has dubbed “The Gerald.” It is composed of freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice, vodka, the bitters and a splash of Topo Chico sparkling water. Served on the rocks. Stimulating beverage. The Stirrings company also recommends adding the bitters to the usual whiskey and sweet vermouth for a superior Manhattan. They also suggest putting a sugar cube in a flute, soaking it in the bitters and adding chilled Champagne. Sounds nice. HG will try it with Prosecco.

Super Soups

February 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

“A trip to the moon on gossamer wings” (Cole Porter). No, HG’s delight in BSK’s inventive soups is not so aesthetic but robustly earthy. There is no better lunch on a cold day. Turns winter into spring. BSK rummages in the refrigerator and combines aging vegetables and greens with herbs, spices and stock. They go into a pot and after cooking are pureed with BSK’s immersion blender. Sometimes the bowls of soup are topped with Greek yogurt (and a sprinkle of cayenne or Spanish smoked paprika). This week BSK did a variation of Melissa Clark’s (NY Times) recipe for spinach and mushroom soup. Aged mushrooms, baby spinach and leeks plus fresh thyme and basil went into the pot with Swanson’s chicken broth and a host of spices including cumin, cardamon, coriander, etc. The result was an explosion of flavor. BSK calls her creation “green soup” or “garbage soup.” HG calls it “wonder soup.”