Turkey Soup

October 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

As the cliche puts it: Turkey is a gift that keeps on giving. Like many cliches, there’s truth in this one. Following the Canadian Thanksgiving Day feast, there were some happy lunches of turkey sandwiches. Lightly toasted bread. Leaf of lettuce. Generous smear of cranberry sauce or Russian dressing or chutney. Dinners of leftovers with much warmed gravy, mashed potatoes and dressing. HG had two lunches of Vietnamese Pho broth with shredded turkey, tofu, bean sprouts, spinach leaves and chopped scallions. Plus a hearty helping of rice noodles. Topped this with the usual garnishes of sesame oil and chili oil. And then came the turkey finale: Turkey soup,the antidote for stiff winds and low temperatures. The soup was made hearty and Italian by the addition of orzo, a grating of parmesan and a splash of good olive oil (plus a modest sprinkle of hot red pepper flakes). There’s just a bit of soup left in the pot. HG will give it a Vietnamese slant by adding rice noodles to the carrots, potatoes and celery swimming in the broth. Yes, turkey soup is a treat for all ages and ethnicities.

Brussel Sprouts

October 16th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

For years, for decades really, this is a much maligned vegetable. Like kale, brussel sprouts have become surprisingly trendy. HG presumes the vegetable’s former bad reputation was caused by institutional lunches where they were overcooked into mush. Gifted Daughter Lesley R. is an expert brussels sprouts cook. She separates the leaves and gives them a squick stir fry in olive oil, garlic and herbs. For festive occasions she adds crumbled bits of crisp bacon. Lesley’s brussels sprouts are a very delicious accompaniment to almost any dish–fish, meat or fowl. Last night’s dinner was rare rib steak with Lesley’s sprouts plus quartered Prince Edward Island potatoes roasted to crispness in the oven. Good eating on a rainy, windy night (PEI is feeling the after effects of Hurricane Michael). BSK always liked brussel sprouts. They accompanied the Sunday roast beef when young BSK lived with her grandparents in Sarnia, Ontario. BSK’s loving grandmother told the little girl that brussel sprouts were “fairy cabbages”. That made the vegetable desirable.

Magical Mushrooms

October 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

NO, HG isn’t referring to the mushrooms that are mind altering and take the eater for a trip similar to an LSD journey. The three great mushroom varieties–porcini, morels and chanterelles–take the eater on a joyous, rollicking trip to the palate, the mouth and the stomach. Gustatory joy. Last night, Gifted Daughter Lesley cooked a big batch of recently picked chanterelles (among other charm points, Prince Edward Island is a virtual larder for the forager) in a mix of butter, olive oil, shallots, garlic and parsley. The mushrooms kept their integrity, retained flavor but turned meltingly, soft. They flanked Lesley’s extraordinary polenta. Lesley alters cooking proportions by adding more water to the bubbling polenta plus a big chunk of cream cheese. This is all whisked vigorously and the result is heavenly, lumpless, creamy polenta. Lovely with mushrooms but also good with sausages, stews and ragouts. After a pause dedicated to appreciation of Lesley’s skills, the meal continued with the last of the T-Day turkey and stuffing (with beaucoup BSK gravy). Plus tasty braised fennel. Plentiful red wine. Vanilla ice cream with sweetened roast chestnut puree for dessert. The good life keeps marching on.

Porcini Feast

October 11th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Porcini are HG/BSK’s favorite mushroom (morels are a close second and chanterelles are third). Thanks to friend Winfried S., BSK has been harvesting an abundance of chanterelles. This week (following Winfried’s directions), BSK, Lesley and Massimo R. went off to forage porcini. Their efforts were successful. Filled up a big bag of the fungi. (Checked with neighbor and mushroom foraging expert, Molly E., who pronounced the mushrooms as perfect and not poisonous) They became the basis of the best pasta dish in HG’s long history of Italian dinners. Dinner began with white wine and South Bay oysters (in season and delicious). Lesley cooked the porcini in olive oil and butter; much chopped garlic; shallots; parsley and thyme. Served over perfectly al dente Garapolo papardelle. HG lifted his plate and inhaled the earthy aromas. First forkful filled HG’s mouth with pleasure. Judicious sprinkle of smoked pepper and sea salt. Didn’t want the plate to empty. Ate slowly. The wine was Faust Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (2016). A gift from Viki F. (wife of HG nephew Paul F.). A splendid, rich wine. Perfect accompaniment. As the pasta/porcini delight came to a close, HG glanced at the plates of his companions. Not a tiny scrap left. Clean Plate Rangers. HG finished the meal with BSK’s lovely, custardy plum clafouti. Dining perfection had been achieved.

Canadian Thanksgiving

October 10th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Monday was Canadian Thanksgiving Day and HG/BSK, family and friends celebrated exuberantly. At the dinner table (in addition to HG/BSK) were Gifted Daughter Lesley R.; son-in-law Ufficiale Massimo; BSK’s sister Noel M. and husband Yossi; N & Y’s friend and neighbor, Amran, a kibbutz-bred Israeli who is a dedicated organic farmer. Accompanying Amran were his wife, Marina, plus son, Daniel. Marina is from Turkmenistan (it borders Iran). She described the Turkmenistan version of latkes. Sounds great. Promised she’d make them for HG. Marina said In Turkmenistan they are often served with grilled chitterlings. HG is not fond of this bit of offal. Have never dreamt of this latke combo (might be favored by Jewish-Southern-African-Americans). Jolly group. Feasting began at 4:30PM with cups of butternut squash soup (derived from a recipe of HG’s beloved late sister, Beulah). No soup for HG. A Bloody Mary (size L) for the old guy (Nova Scotia Blue Lobster Vodka, of course). After toasting the group’s good luck to be living in gentle and beautiful Prince Edward Island, serious eating began. The center piece was traditional: A big, gently browned, juicy turkey. Side dishes included mashed potatoes (contributed by Noel); pearl onions; BSK’s stuffing and cranberry sauce (state of the art); brussels sprouts with bacon; haricots vert. And, at HG’s fervent request, a big pot of turkey gravy. No cornbread (or mix) on PEI but Marina brought a big loaf of her home baked challah (splendid for soaking up gravy and constructing breakfast French toast with maple syrup). Two salads: Marina’s Russian salad (lush) and a roasted beet, fennel, walnut and blue cheese salad. Lovely, custardy plum and blueberry clafouti for dessert. Espresso. Brandy. The dazzling kitchen combo of BSK and Lesley R. orchestrated the best turkey feast HG has ever had in HG’s long history of overeating (and drinking).

Neighborly Dinner

October 8th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Dinner Chez HG/BSK with across the road neighbors Peter and Molly E. Charming people with powerful intellects. Both retired educators (Peter was chair of the Department of Education for Antioch University, New England). They raise chickens at their Prince Edward Island property and at their new Hampshire home. Molly also brews a wonderful elderberry liqueur from locally foraged berries. Happily, brought some home brew (looking forward to tasting it) as a dinner gift. Molly has a blog about healthy eating (fastingme.com) and Peter writes about the proper pairing of food and wine. They have done much travel in France (Molly is fluent in the language). So, BSK’s dinner was classic French bistro. Oysters (South Lake/PEI); roast spatchcocked chicken; potato/cauliflower gratin; blueberry clafouti for dessert. Molly assisted HG in the oyster shucking and the dinner rolled on with much wine and laughter. Another joyous PEI dinner (or Supper as it is called on this blessed isle. Dinner is Lunch).

New Friends

October 3rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Winfried and Tatiana S. are distinguished figures in Swiss book publishing. A delightful, erudite couple. They are HG/BSK’s new friends. They rent a chalet in a cluster of summer rental cottages on Maclaren Road just minutes from HG/BSK’s home in Prince Edward Island. Winfried learned about this obscure vacation spot through an ad in a German language periodical which he was scanning some years ago while waiting for a plane at the Berlin Airport. Have now vacationed here for a number of summers. Winfried and Tatiana have the proper temperaments for PEI’s soothing, laid back, friendly, sea and sun environment. HG/BSK met W & T five years ago. Renewed the acquaintance last week when HG and Winfried encountered each other on the Maclaren beach. The meeting resulted in a gift to HG/BSK of two bags of lovely chanterelle mushrooms Winfried picked near his vacation chalet. They were delicious. W & T dined at HG/BSK’s home last night. Winfried joined HG in drinking icy vodka with freshly shucked South Lake oysters. Winfried admired HG’s swift and expert shucking (HG is not modest about his mastery of this essential oyster lover skill). Then, on to BSK’s lovely sea food chowder/stew of haddock, mussels, potatoes, garlic, olive oil, onions,clam broth and smoky bacon. Plus, many kernels of Blum’s sweet corn. Abundant white and red wine was drunk. Dessert was butter tarts (the Canadian treat that doesn’t travel to the USA) and French Vanilla ice cream. Matos Bagaco, PEI marc that’s better than grappa, was the finale. Much lively conversation. Discovered that all of us love books. Not Kindles, internet devices, etc. Physical books with binding, covers, book covers, etc. Books that you hold in your hand and turn the pages (and go back to refresh a memory or perception). HG/BSK, W & K are kindred spirits.

BSK: The Sommelier

September 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

No, BSK is not a wine expert like pal Peter H. or Prince Edward Island neighbor, Peter E.. But, without any formal training, BSK knows how to pick drinkable (even lush) and affordable wines. This is a challenge on PEI where taxes and government regulations greatly inflate the price of wine and spirits. Nevertheless, BSK explores the aisles of government liquor stores and picks winners. BSK’s selections come from Chile, Spain, Argentina, Portugal and Sicily. BSK has also discovered affordable vintages from Ontario and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. BSK’s red wine choices vary but her white wine choice is almost aways sauvignon blanc (in jug size) from Jackson-Triggs, the Canadian vintner. This is BSK’s choice for a pre-dinner cocktail, usually sweetened with a splash of cranberry juice. HG, of course, sticks to vodka based beverages. BSK really displays her sommelier abilities when HG/BSK are resident in New Mexico. BSK picks out tasty bargains galore at Santa Fe’s Trader Joe’s. However, BSK’s favorite shop is Kokoman, the liquor store close to HG/BSK’s Jacona home. Despite its bleak exterior plastered with beer ads, this is a wonderland of everything alcoholic. Wines from all over the world ranging from low cost to three figure rare French vintages. BSK is friendly with the wine director and he directs her to many outstanding choices. Surgery and radiation some 26 years ago, coarsened HG’s wine palate. As years go by, BSK’s wine tasting abilities continue to improve. As the country song puts it: “What My Woman Can’t Do, Can’t Be Done.”

CHATHAM, NJ – MARCH 11, 2017: Red wine aisle in a Bottle King store. Bottle King is the largest New Jersey retailer of wine, beer and spirits.

Blum’s Corn

September 25th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

For the last ten Prince Edward Island summers, HG/BSK and family have consumed scores upon scores of local, seasonal sweet corn on the cob. Most of it has come from Blum’s, a fresh corn farmer working from a truck in the Town of Montague. For years, BSK exchanged corn cooking lore with the woman who sold the good stuff. She’s been replaced by an efficient gent. No chat. BSK, a midwestern corn maven, has been concerned about Blum’s. Early ears were a bit gummy, lacking the champagne-pop and sweetness of Blum’s usual variety. However, Blum’s has made a dramatic turnaround. Back to scrumptious. HG/BSK have discovered that two (or two and a-half) ears make a complete meal (when washed down with lots of red wine, of course). HG/BSK tummies have shrunk in maturity. Can’t knock off burgers in traditional American fashion after a corn feast. HG/BSK now follow their corn gluttony with a modest salad. If there’s left over corn, corn pancakes for breakfast or the kernels are added to BSK’s splendid fish/clam/mussel/bacon/potato/herb chowder. Corn pudding may also be in the future.

Easy Pho

September 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Atlantic Super Stores in Prince Edward Island provide the means for a big, hearty, convenient, easy (and cheap) bowl of Vietnamese Pho for HG’s lunch as summer retreats and autumn brings cool and crisp days. The supermarket always has containers of Pho broth in stock (as well as Ramen broth and Thai Tom Yum.) Few things are better than watching the whitecaps from the wall of windows in HG/BSK’s oceanfront PEI paradise. That’s the visual delight. Pho is the culinary delight. Yo Yo Ma on the sound system is the auditory delight. HG heats the Pho broth to the boiling point. In another pot filled with boiling water, HG cooks rice vermicelli noodles (they are done in three minutes and get a rinse of cold water to stop the cooking). The noodles go into the pot with firm tofu, a few leaves of spinach (or watercress), bean sprouts. Flavored with sesame oil and chili oil. Topped with chopped scallions. Green tea to drink. With the Ramen broth, HG will add poached and shredded chicken breast. Tom Sum will get a few Tiger Shrimp (sorry, allergic BSK). Are these store bought broths the equal of those long simmered wonders in Vietnamese and Thai restaurants? Well, no. But, they are very good and HG will continue happy home slurping.

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