October 9th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Leaves are just beginning to turn into gold, russet and red on Prince Edward Island. Autumn is here. Clear skies. Whitecaps dotting the sea. Snappy winds. And, as temperature descends, there is nothing better than a steaming bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. By an odd coincidence, HG/BSK’s Israeli brother-in-law, Yossi M. (now resident on PEI with wife, Noel), lives close to another Israeli transplant, Amram, a guy who grew up in a kibbutz near Yossi’s. Amran is a dedicated organic farmer with a colorful past (he farmed in Turkey for a number of years). He and Yossi trade foodstuffs, farm equipment, etc. HG/BSK are the beneficiaries of the relationship. HG/BSK have big containers of Amram’s oats, the basis of the best oatmeal ever. Yes, better than McCann’s and all the other Scots, English and Irish imports. (Boxed supermarket oatmeal such as Quaker’s, are gluey and insipid). This chilly morning, HG/BSK breakfasted on oatmeal covered in PEI blueberries and gilded with Canadian maple syrup. Nice way to start the day.


October 8th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

What is bottarga? It is magical Italian substance. Dried fish roe (tuna or mullet). Available in powder or a solid block wrapped in wax (must be grated). It gives a pasta dish a pungent burst of the sea. Thoughtful daughter, Lesley R., brought HG /BSK a little jar from her travels in Portugal. BSK put it to good use tonight. BSK constructed a sauce of olive oil, thinly sliced garlic, chopped fennel and sweet onion, capers. Plus a can of superior Ortiz tuna (a stellar Spanish product) and sliced cherry tomatoes (these sweet wonders are a seasonal Prince Edward Island treat). Mixed it with a few spoonfuls of bottarga. Gave it a hit of hot pepper flakes. A dash of raw olive oil. The pasta was spaghetti cooked al dente. One of the best pasta dishes HG ever tasted (and chubby HG has consumed much pasta). Of course, the best pasta dish is tagliatelle with slices of white truffle. HG/BSK ate this wonder in Bologna, Bergamo and Florence. Killer.

Some Like It Hot and Salty

September 25th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG likes fiery food. So, a stocked larder of hot sauces is essential. HG’s essential blazers include Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (better than Tabasco and the ONLY hot sauce to be used in preparing Buffalo Chicken wings); Frank’s Red Hot Sweet Chile Sauce (essential with dim sum); Sriracha (best when squirted into bowls of pho-like Asian soups); Harissa (middle eastern food necessity). Two super potent sauces HG adores: Chrug (phonetic spelling as HG can’t make out the Hebrew brand name), a Yemeni/Israeli hot sauce that Yossi M., HG’s admired brother-in-law, brings to HG from his annual visit to Israel and Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp Sauce. The bottle of Chrug has a stern looking bearded patriarch on its label and the Chinese killer sauce has a picture of a dour unsmiling woman. Food writer Pete Meehan notes that one shouldn’t feel sorry for the pictured woman (founder and owner of the sauce company) as her net worth is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. HG is not fond of sweet (except in the aforementioned sweet chili sauce) but likes salty. A favored snack (or appetizer) is a dish of jarred Piquillo peppers adorned with anchovies and a splash of olive oil. HG always wondered why Canadian markets keep their tinned anchovies refrigerated while US markets keep anchovies on the shelves with tuna, sardines, etc. HG found the answer in a recent communication from Zingerman’s, the midwest’s answer to Zabar’s: If anchovies aren’t kept refrigerated, they get soft and lose flavor. Sardines and tuna increase in flavor when they are stored in the pantry. Go figure.

HG’s Vegetable Gumbo

September 20th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The best gumbo in the world is SJ’s chicken and andouille (or chorizo) sausage gumbo. Far better than vaunted New Orleans Creole or Cajun gumbo. Unlike talented (as writer, cook and reggae impresario) SJ, HG doesn’t have the patience or skill to make the flavorful roux that is the base of lush gumbo. So, last night HG turned out a simple version of bacon and vegetable gumbo. Reinforced with splashes of Frank’s Hot Sauce, it turned out to be a robust dish. HG browned five slices of thick cut bacon, onions and okra. When the mix had softened, HG added a can of Italian plum tomatoes and simmered for twenty minutes. Three ears of left over Blum’s corn were in the fridge. Added the delicious kernels to the pan and warmed for another ten minutes. Stirred with File powder (left over from SJ’s last PEI visit). Served the gumbo over basmati brown rice. No match for SJ’s masterpiece. However….

Savory Melted Cheese

September 17th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

A wee drop of autumn cool in the Prince Edward Island breeze. To some this can foretell colorful leaf excursions, tweed jackets, football games, the dreaded pumpkin spice, etc. What does greedy HG ponder this season? Hot melted cheese extravaganzas. Mundane (but tasty) toasted cheddar cheese sandwiches, French croque monsieur sandwiches (Sandwiches of white bread doused with beaten egg and sautéed in butter enhancing the stuffing of ham and swiss cheese. Plus, a gilding of maple syrup). Greek sautéed cheese flamed with brandy, Melted brie topped with strawberry jam. Camembert baked atop shallots and sliced apples. Gratins of potatoes, onions, garlic and a heap of gruyere. Baked ziti covered with a pound of mozzarella (or just melted mozzarella on garlic rubbed country bread toast and topped with fruity olive oil and sea salt.) .Fondue? Boring.

BSK Beats the Wind

September 14th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island home was buffeted with winds of almost Hurricane Irma velocity. However, HG/BSK luxuriated in comfort as BSK stoked HG/BSK’s Danish wood stove. Dinner was pure comfort. BSK cooked local hot and sweet Italian sausage with peppers, onions, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. Hearty sauce. Served it over perfectly al dente papardelle. Oh, my! HG approached heaven. The sausage was good but it wasn’t the true flavor packed (lots of fennel seeds) Italian sausage available in New York (Greenwich Village-Ninth Avenue- 11th Avenue- Bronx: Arthur avenue and Mott Haven-Queens Corona-Brooklyn Carroll Gardens and Bensonhurst.) When HG/BSK lived in Manhattan and northern New Jersey, a favorite source for Italian sausages was Faicco’s Pork Storeon Bleecker Street (other location on 11th Avenue). The best. Faicco’s also had great mozzarella and many other Italian delicacies. Plus, fabulous hero sandwiches. If you are wandering in Greenwich Village and developing an appetite, order a take out Faicco’s sandwich. Be warned. One sandwich is more than enough for two hearty eaters. Abondanza!!

Summer Sweetness

September 1st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Corn. Butter. Sea salt. These three ingredients comprise a heavenly taste of Prince Edward Island. HG’s perfect dinner is a dozen Malpeque oysters on the half shell followed by three ears of local corn. BSK’s favorite source for sweet corn is Blum’s in Montague. Yesterday, BSK discovered a Montague merchant a shade better than Blum’s. Corn sold from the back of a station wagon. The name? Possibly “Deb and Gary”. The lovely Town of Montague (celebrating its 100th anniversary this year) may be the sweet corn capital of the world. PEI neighbor, beautiful Leslie F., was HG/BSK’s dinner guest last night. Lots of sweet corn, of course, followed by a Greek fish stew of hake, potatoes, onions, garlic, fennel and fish broth, Flavored with saffron and accompanied by a bowl of mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha. Very festive dish. BSK surprised with a dessert of blueberry clafouti and vanilla ice cream. (Lucky HG had left over clafouti for breakfast today.)

Maiko Epic

August 9th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Last night in Prince Edward Island for the Freeman/Sakamoto family so Exquisite Maiko created an epic Japanese dinner centered around her foraging efforts on the PEI shoreline. Grilled mackerel (form the fishing boats at Naufrage). Shime Saba: slices of raw mackerel preserved in vinegar. Okra and hijiki salad. Tomato, mushroom, avocado and sea asparagus (picked on the shoreline of HG’s home) salad. Marinated and fried eggplant. Pickled watercress (plucked at the base of a freshwater stream that empties into the ocean). HG’s restaurateur daughter, Victoria Freeman, arrived in time for the feast (after arduous air travel marked by cancelled flights and other annoyances). Maiko’s epic was preceded by oysters (shucked by HG) and shrimp salad (one of Lesley R.’s specialties). Vicki is a pescatorian (eats fish and shellfish but no meat). So, the meal worked for her and everyone else.

Fish Cakes and Pickles

August 2nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Two trucks are parked on a lot in the town of Montague, PEI. One has a sign, “Blums”, and in season (can hardy wait) sells the world’s best sweet corn. Yes, buttered corn on the cob and lobster rolls. Summer lunch supreme. The other truck’s sign is “Fish.” And, that is what is sold. It is BSK’s source for outstanding local frozen fish cakes. BSK fried a bunch of the wonders last night and served them with tiny PEI potatoes (butter, sea salt, sour cream and zaatar). Big endive and butter lettuce salad with a pungent blue cheese dressing. What made the meal extra special were two varieties of pickles: Mustard pickles from a local woman and dill pickles made from scratch by BSK. Am very familiar with the ravishing mustard pickles (the condiment from heaven) but BSK’s pickles were surprising. As good (or better) than the hearty products turned out in The Bronx and Lower East Side of HG’s youth.

Instant Asia

July 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Without guilt, HG often reaches for instant Asian soup when in need of a quick and tasty lunch. Korean Shin Ramyun is excellent with good thick noodles. However, HG tosses out the flavoring packet as it includes much too much sodium. Mixes the noodles with a spoonful of kimchi for flavor or adds any leftover vegetables from the refrigerator. A shot of Sriracha amps the flavor. There are many types of instant Asian soups that HG enjoys — once more, HG discards the high sodium “flavor” packages and adds a few cubes of tofu and a spoonful of chili garlic sauce. A favorite is instant Miso soup (MIKO brand). Nice with a handful of chopped scallions and tofu. Sometimes, HG just cooks plain rice noodles in chicken broth (takes very few minutes) and floats some sesame oil on top. Savory.