DEE-FENCE!

February 5th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Headline in Santa Fe New Mexican sports section: SUPER SNOOZE. Yes, Like most of America HG watched the Super Bowl. But, HG differed from the majority. HG thought it a fascinating and exciting game. There are two parts to football. Offense and Defense. Patriots coach Bill Belichick (and his coaching aides) fashioned a superb defensive plan and the Patriots players executed it flawlessly. American pro football fans want to see lots of scoring. Thrills galore. Americans don’t share the worldwide passion for soccer because there’s little scoring. Basketball of course, is non-stop scoring. HG, who has much football expertise, enjoys defensive maneuvers as much as aerial derring-do and long dashes by running backs. This Patriots-Rams Super Bowl was a game for grid experts. who appreciate action on both sides of the ball. Read Bill Barnwell on ESPN for the best (and most thorough analysis).

Cod: Salt and Fresh

February 1st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Salt cod is an HG/BSK favorite. It is a historically important food as it provided non-perishable nourishment and protein for crews in the early days of global exploration. Salt cod (“Baccala” or “Bacalhao”) is used by home cooks throughout Italy, Spain, and other Mediterranean and Carribean countries. HG believes salt cod becomes most glorious in France in the form of Brandade. Born in the Provencal region, it is a garlic laden, creamy, fishy delight best consumed outdoors on a sunny day with a crusty baguette and an ice cold bottle of Provence rose’ wine. Simple dish. A blend of salt cod (salinity banished by long soaking and frequent changes of cold water) cooked gently in milk and water with bay leaves and thyme; boiled potatoes; lots of garlic cooked in abundant olive oil until lightly browned. With the herbs removed, everything goes into a food processor (might have to do it in two batches). Taste after the first whisking to see if more olive oil or hot milk is needed. Process to your taste: Creamy mashed potatoes texture or chunky. Eat as is or get a little fancy and spread it in a baking dish. Top with grated gruyere, a dusting of bread crumbs and a few swirls of creme fraiche. Run it under the broiler to melt the cheese and brown the bread crumbs (be careful, don’t let it burn). Give it a sprinkle of cayenne and lemon zest. You can also make Brandade with poached fresh cod. HG/BSK often do it this way when resident at their summer paradise on Prince Edward Island. Source for very fresh Atlantic cod is the By the Bay fish Mart in the town of St. Peters. During visits to Barcelona, HG/BSK enjoyed savory stews made with fresh cod. Last night, BSK recalled the great Catalan city and made a stew of cod, fish stock, onions, garlic, capers, Kumatoes, olive oil and fiery Spanish paprika (pimenton). Solace on a wintry night.

Steak A La BSK

January 29th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

BSK has an innovative method of pan broiling steak for HG/BSK’s infrequent red meat meals. BSK uses an old cast iron pan, weathered and seasoned by many years of use. The pan is pre-heated to a high temperature. The room temperature New York Strip (Whole Foods, BSK’s source for beef and chicken) sizzles and sears in the hot pan. Then, BSK BSK turns the heat a point between medium and high. BSK then begins turning the steak over, letting it cook for no more than forty seconds on a side. The result is the best steak ever. Rare for HG. Medium rare for BSK, The steak is nicely browned but not charred. BSK believes cooking steak at sustained high heat results in a charred piece of meat. And, char is almost pure carbon and not good for you. Many New York steak houses melt butter over the steak but HG prefers heated olive oil flavored with lightly browned garlic HG’s side dish is canellini beans heated with oil and garlic (yes, HG is a glutton for garlic). No beans for BSK, but HG is happy to share BSK’s endive salad with a blue cheese vinaigrette. Malbec, Cahors, Beaujolais or any other potent red wine is the chosen beverage. (The mystery of this meal is BSK’s impeccable timing which remains a secret known only to her).

Rhody Hits and Misses

January 28th, 2019 § 2 comments § permalink

HG has written often about the pleasures of eating in Rhode Island. Best clams in the world. Good (when in season) oysters. Squid. Hearty, cheap ethnic restaurants. And, of course, the cuisine of HG/BSK’s daughter, Gifted Lesley R. When in the Ocean State, don’t miss: Rhode Island clam chowder, clear, briny, full of clams and without the tomatoes of Manhattan style or the white glop of New England clam chowder; fried squid with hot peppers (official dish of the state); Del’s Frozen Lemonade, the ultimate antidote for heat and thirst. Lunch at rough and ready Flo’s Clam Shack. HG is ambiguous about New York System Wieners. These are short hot dogs, tucked in a steamed bun and topped with meat sauce, chopped onions and mustard. Interesting, but not as good as a traditional Katz’s (of New York) dog with sauerkraut. Clam cakes should be avoided (in HG’s opinion, they are nothing but lumps of fried dough with no discernible taste of clam), Stuffies are clams stuffed with bread crumbs and chopped clams. The bread crumbs overwhelm the clams. Far inferior to HG/BSK’s Clams Casino. Rhode Islanders love doughnuts (witness their waistlines) and consume more per capita than any other state. Seems there is a Dunkin’ Donuts shop wherever you look. The Dunkin’ Donuts sports stadium is known as “The Dunk.” They also love coffee syrup and use it to flavor milk, ice cream and milkshakes. HG/BSK thinks this is a bad dietary choice.

Treblinka

January 27th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG Read Vasily Grossman’s essay, “The Hell of Treblinka”, yesterday. Grossman commented about the essay: “If it is difficult to read, it was equally difficult to write.” Some 700,000 to 900, 000 Jews (mostly from Poland) plus 2,000 Romani were murdered at this Nazi extermination center in Poland. Gassed, incinerated and buried. Grossman, war correspondent of the Soviet Army newspaper, Red Star, during World War Two, was the first journalist to view and write about Treblinka. His account is so vivid, detailed and frightening that it leaves the reader shaken. Stalin waged an incessant attack on Grossman since writing about the Holocaust was viewed, by Stalin, as forbidden “exceptionalism.” Soviet policy was not to single out the victims of the Holocaust as Jews, only Soviet citizens. (Trump followed Stalin’s policy in his first statements about the Holocaust when he made no mention of Jews). Among the Treblinka horrors detailed by Grossman are not only the mass murders, but the individual killings of Jewish men and children. It is hard to believe these German and Ukrainian perpetrators were human rather than a sub species of monster (one delighted in ripping the heads off living children). Reading about Treblinka gives an insight into Israel’s intransigent “Never Again” policies.

Halvah

January 26th, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

Halvah (also spelled “halva” , halawa” and “halwa”) is an ancient sweet treat created in Turkey more than 3,000 years ago. Composed of ground sesame seeds, egg whites and sugar syrup, it is HG’s pleasant dinner finale with the last of red wine. Halvah can be purchased in slices (from Zabar’s and Russ & Daughters) and online in cans, jars and other containers. HG’s favorite is ARZ Halawa from Lebanon. This has the added crunch of pistachios added to the mix. HG began savoring halvah when very young. Joyva halvah was found on the counters of every candy store, grocer and “appetizing” store in Jewish neighborhoods of The Bronx. Usually took the form of halvah bars covered in milk chocolate. Halvah was introduced to the United States in 1907 by Nathan Radutzky, a 24-year-old Russian-Jewish immigrant who arrived with a recipe and little else. He sold his halvah from pushcarts on the lower east side before establishing a factory in Brooklyn. The product was brand named “Joyva” and packages had a drawing of a Turkish sultan. The company is still in operation and still family owned. The Brooklyn factory now encompasses more than 100,000 square feet and grinds millions of pounds of sesame seeds annually.The product line has expanded to other confections. All certified kosher, of course. Orthodox Jews are major consumers.

Maiko Meal in the Southwest

January 24th, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK’s daughter-in-law, Maiko Sakamoto Freeman, is exquisite, graceful, diminutive. Surprisingly strong for her size. She is a professional chef and the best (BSK is #2) home cook HG has ever encountered. Maiko has beguiled HG/BSK with her incomparable gyoza, tempura, soups and stews. Oxtail soup a la Maiko banishes winter. When on Prince Edward Island during the summer, Maiko challenges heat waves with soba noodles in ice cold broth. This is accompanied by seafood and vegetable tempura. Superb. Despite chilly weather, HG/BSK tried to duplicate the dish. The broth was one part soba noodle soup base (Shirakiku brand) to three parts ice water. BSK cooked the noodles (al dente) and mixed the broth. HG did a quick fry of one pound of Pacific sole from Whole Foods. Noodles went on the bottom of the bowl. Broth was poured over according to the diner’s discretion. Topped with thin strips of nori. Jar of wasabi on the table. Bite of hot fish. Spoonful of cold noodles and broth. Sips of white wine made this dinner of hot and cold a revelation. Thanks, Exquisite Maiko.

Green Soup

January 23rd, 2019 § 1 comment § permalink

Lewis Carroll nailed it: “Soup of the evening, beautiful soup…” BSK certainly makes beautiful soup. HG’s favorite (also granddaughter Sofia’s fave) is a treat BSK calls “green soup.” It’s a soup filled with creamy deliciousness though no cream is used. HG/BSK had steaming bowls of “green soup” for dinner during another New Mexico snow shower. Nice antidote for chilly nights. So, what’s in “green soup” ? Broccoli, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, spinach, chicken stock, garlic,carrots, parsley, cardamom, nutmeg, Aleppo pepper and salt. BSK cooks this melange until the veggies soften and then purees it with BSK’s immersion blender. The soup offers three benefits: tastes wonderful; very healthy; nice way to ransack the fridge and use a bunch of over the hill vegetables. HG/BSK top their bowls with Greek yogurt and accompany the soup with garlic rubbed toasted baguette. Red wine is the appropriate beverage.

Injustice And Grace

January 23rd, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

Like most of male America, HG watched the AFC and NFC playoffs. HG did his viewing nestled in HG’s super comfortable classic Eames lounge chair and ottoman. And, like most of America, HG seethed with anger at the injustice done to the New Orleans Saints. HG refers, of course, to the infamous failure of the refs to call a pass interference call on the LA Rams for a blatant helmet to helmet hit on a Saints receiver at a crucial point in the game. The Rams should have been called for both interference and unnecessary roughness on the play. There was no call and the injustice cost the Saints the game and the opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. HG thinks the NFL should fire those refs (Saints fans would suggest the gallows). The AFC playoff displayed true courage:”Grace under pressure” (was it Hemingway who coined that phrase?). The Chiefs’ phenomenal young quarterback, Patrick Mahomes, brought his team back from a deficit to an overtime challenge. Then, Tom Brady of the Patriots, the greatest quarterback of all time, took over for his team. With grace and elegance, he targeted his favorites, Gronk and Edelman, and won the game and a trip to the Super Bowl. HG savored the victory with a big bowl of BSK’s chili (smothered in chopped sweet onions, grated cheddar cheese and pico de gallo). Drank much Bass Ale. If the English are flummoxed by Brexit, they sure know how to brew ale.

When Men Had Style

January 21st, 2019 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is astonished when he enters a modestly formal restaurant (tablecloths, etc.). The majority of male diners appear to be on their way to feed cows or hogs; mend fences; do heavy labor. They are costumed in plaid flannel shirts and jeans. Shod in sneakers. Faces adorned with beards. HG remembers when men had elegant style. Men wore suits, white shirts and ties. Hats (fedoras or homburgs) were ubiquitous. Shoes were shined. Men patronized barber shops that offered amenities. The shops had sexy manicurists, shoe shine attendants and experienced barbers who knew how to wield a straight razor, cut hair, apply hot towels and utilize masculine after shave lotions. When a man left such an institution he was perfectly groomed and ready to face a challenging world with confidence and elan.In those days, men wanted to look like movie star Cary Grant. Today, they want to resemble farmhands or lumberjacks.