Heavenly Congee

December 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

HG has mentioned Ottogi instant rice porridge (“congee” or “jook”) in a number of posts. That’s because congee ranks high among HG’s choices for “comfort food.” Yes, Ottogi is good but it can’t compare to the congee BSK prepared from scratch last night utilizing the Instant Pot. BSK’s congee raised the bar. Flavorful. Rich. Totally satisfying. BSK mixed cooked basmati rice with Trader Joe’s Free Range Chicken Broth. Lots of garlic and ginger. Some squirts of Sriracha to create an undertone of heat. Shredded cooked chicken breast. Garnishes of chopped scallions and salt peanuts. (HG added a bit sesame oil and soy sauce). The congee was so rich that it went nicely with a bottle of fruity red wine. HG and BSK each ate two big bowls. Thankfully, there was enough left over for a hearty breakfast.

Middle East Irony

December 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, irony rules. On the day Der Trumperer made his misguided and dangerous announcement concerning Jerusalem, BSK made a traditional Middle Eastern dinner. (No, BSK hadn’t planned it. Just worked out that way). BSK formed nine kefta. These are mainstays of Middle East street food. Ground lamb is mixed with chopped garlic, onions, parsley and mint. Then formed into cigar shaped burgers and grilled. (BSK adds to the flavor mix by adding browned pignolia nuts). Side dishes were Israeli couscous and chopped baby spinach prepared Moroccan style (enlivened with bits of preserved lemon). HG prepared an HG specialty: Greek yogurt and sour cream mixed with olive oil, lemon juice, sumac, cumin, zaatar, sea salt and black pepper. Dessert was Lebanese pistachio halvah. Peace and culinary joy in the HG/BSK home. Wish the same for the Middle East.

Palestinian women demonstration against the Israeli occupation one day before the international women day, in front of Qalandiya military checkpoint, West Bank, March 7, 2015. The annual march was repressed by the Israeli army.

Gobble Gobble Therapy

November 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Yes, the Big Bird is the gift that keeps on giving. BSK trimmed the Thanksgiving turkey of slices of white meat (kept some white and dark meat on the carcass). The carcass, water, vegetables and herbs went into the Instant Pot. Cooked for hours (BSK was vigilant about the timing). The result was a pure, rich, fragrant, turkey broth. (BSK got rid of the bones, vegetables, etc. in a colander). HG was feeling weak and sickly due to a sleepless night and some minor league health difficulties. BSK claimed that some big bowls of turkey broth would get HG back into the health zone. BSK said something about “electrolytes”, etc. BSK put some frozen peas and other frozen vegetables (a freezer edit) into the broth and added a healthy amount of pearl barley and garden herbs. Simmered the broth to soften the barley but not turn it into mush. Warmed the turkey slices in the magic elixir. Big bowl in front of HG who added smoked black pepper and crumbled salt crackers. Ate with joy. Had another bowl. And, yes, had a third bowl. Drank a fruity Cotes du Rhone. The result: A magical restoration of a lively and vigorous HG. Thanks, BSK and Big Bird.

Best Quicky

November 20th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

No, no. HG is not being naughty. The Greedy Old Guy is referring to the best cook-at-home quick meal. HG’s favorite is the long standing Tex-Mex treat: the Quesadilla. Simple. Place a few slices of swiss, cheddar or pepper jack on a flour (or corn) tortilla. Pop it in the toaster oven until the cheese melts. Fold it. Cut it in half. Eat. HG often enhances the Quesadilla with pico de gallo or fiery salsa. You can build on the basics. Add some sliced tomato or ham slices or cooked bacon to the cheese before toasting. Best of all, HG slips a few smoky, fiery chipotle peppers into the folded treat. A tasty quicky.

Radish

November 12th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Food writer Alex Lobrano met the late, great Julia Child at a Paris bistro. She was eating sliced radishes with butter and sea salt flakes. JC remarked to Lobrano that a radish always reminded her how wonderful a very simple thing can be. HG agrees. HG also loves sliced red radishes from Santa Fe’s Farmer Market. Stronger black radishes from the Farmers Market are another HG fave. The red radishes are good with butter but HG prefers to smear the black guys with some duck fat. Icy vodka with the blacks. Red or white wine with the reds. BSK delights HG with a special salad of sliced red radishes, sliced baby white turnips, chopped fennel and chopped red onions. A savory accompaniment to fish dishes.

Jahunger

October 19th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Before leaving Rhode Island for The Land of Enchantment, daughter Lesley R., son-in-law Massimo, granddaughter Arianna, gave HG/BSK a special treat: Jahunger. This is a lovely, small Chinese restaurant in Providence. The cuisine is Uyghur, Northern Chinese Muslim cooking. It’s similar to the popular dishes served at Xi’an Famous Foods in New York (Chinatown and Flushing). Jahunger specializes in cumin scented lamb and noodles. Wonderful food. HG/BSK and Family R. feasted on lamb skewers, Lamb on Dry Land (lamb stir fried with chunks of naan-like bread); Ding Ding Noodles (small, solid bits of pasta in a fragrant sauce of onions, peppers, scallions and lamb); Langjiman Noodles (long, springy noodles with beef and a sprightly sauce – similar to the national Uzbeck dish); Cold Chicken (this was HG’s favorite, down home shredded chicken in a very spicy, hot but delicate sauce). The group drank a not too sweet coconut beverage. Memorable meal. Can’t wait for next visit.

Oatmeal

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.

Bottarga

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….