Introducing Risotto

January 20th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK learned, to their surprise, that BSK’s sister, Noel, and husband Yossi, had never tasted risotto. This creamy, comforting Italian rice dish is a favorite dinner choice for HG/BSK. It’s time consuming since it demands some 30 minutes of stirring hot chicken broth into a mix of onions, canarolli (or arborio) rice which have browned in olive oil. Each ladle of broth must be absorbed before adding another. Following Italian tradition, the stirring is done by a male (yes, it does take some patience and dexterity). So, on Sunday night dinner with Noel and Yossi, HG cooked the risotto. BSK sauteed chopped spinach and sliced cremini mushrooms. This was added to the risotto along with a hunk of butter and plentiful parmesan. All stirred together and showered with ground black pepper. Noel and Yossi were overjoyed. With good appetite, they had second and third helpings. Only a small amount of risotto was left over. Mixed with beaten egg, there will be risotto “pancakes” for lunch. Topped with sour cream, these are a treat.

Paul Freeman

January 16th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

Paul Freeman, 71, HG’s beloved nephew, is dead. He lost his battle–probably the only struggle he ever lost–with a brutally painful cancer. Thankfully, the pain is over and he rests in peace. HG/BSK watched a Zoom of his funeral and were touched by the unlimited love his family had for him and the grief brought about by his passing. Some 20 years older than Paul, HG knew him since his childhood. Paul went through many stages in his life. A warm and loving person, he was no saint. He had to overcome many challenges. And, he did. His devotion to his family never wavered. HG spent much time with young Paul in New York, New Jersey, Fire Island. Always enjoyed his brave, lively, entertaining presence. As time went on, Paul became a very successful investor and real estate developer. HG invested in one of Paul’s land deals and made a generous profit, of course. Paul was a major investor in the New York restaurants of HG’s daughter, Victoria. She was very fond of Paul and described him as the best investor she ever had. HG presumes Paul wrote substantial checks and then let Victoria do her thing. Very typical of Paul. Mies van der Rohe, the great architect, said “God is in the details.” Paul was obsessive about details. This was evident in all the developments and businesses he was associated with. This obsession created lasting quality. His most ambitious project was the St. Regis Hotel in Atlanta. Many difficulties. Paul overcame them and the hotel is an ornament of Atlanta, the city Paul loved. (And, the apartment in the St. Regis he shared with wife, Viki, can only be described as a high rise palazzo). As HG aged, Paul was concerned about HG’s health. HG relished the sound of Paul’s southern voice as he inquired: “Hey, Uncle Gerry, how are you doing?” Paul and Viki’s philanthropies were generous. Viki was always Paul’s stalwart and supportive wife through many decades of marriage. A gallant woman, HG/BSK knows that she and the Freeman family will cherish Paul’s memory (as will HG/BSK). Typical of Paul and Viki, they visited HG/BSK in New Mexico to celebrate HG’s 90th birthday. Photo is of Paul and Viki with HG on Prince Edward Island in 2018. We consumed oysters, drank wine and had, as always, gleeful family time.

Waste Not. Want Not.

January 13th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

HG’s late mother, Ida Kopkind Freeman, lived by this philosophy as she cooked for her family during the dark days of the Great Depression in the 1930’s. Leftovers were never thrown away. They were the basis for subsequent meals. This might explain HG’s aversion to leftovers (not shared by BSK or HG/BSK’s brilliant son in law, Massimo R.). BSK shares the “waste not, want not” attitude with BSK’s late mother in law. Witness what BSK does with a plump spatchcocked chicken. BSK roasts it to a golden brown. The dark meat, wings and drumsticks are delicious with their accompaniment of gravy drenched Prince Edward Island potatoes. The chicken breast is reserved and goes into warming dinner bowls of pho the next day (besides chicken and broth, the pho gets a mix of onions,carrot shavings, garlic, tofu, baby spinach, jalapenos, parsley and lots of wide Chinese rice noodles. Not all of the chicken breast is used for the pho. Some go into luncheon chicken Reubens. Remaining are the bony chicken carcass, chicken skin, the chicken backbone (removed by BSK during the spatchcocking maneuver) and a few stray bones and bits of meat. It all goes into a pot of boiling water with onion, carrots, garlic, celery and parsley. The refrigerator contents are examined by BSK and added to the pot are over the hill greens and vegetables. After hours of simmering and then straining, what emerges is the best chicken stock ever. Pungent. Layers of flavor. Lush. BSK uses the stock in a variety of ways. HG likes the stock in Stracciatella, the Italian soup of cheese, parsley and beaten egg.. Nothing is left of the chicken but happy memories. Inventive and thrifty BSK is a culinary wonder.

Sammy’s Closes: Oy Vey !!

January 11th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

Sad, sad news. Sammy’s Roumanian, the New York temple of chicken fat (schmaltz), garlic and vodka has closed. Owners say they will reopen in another location. Won’t be the same as the ramshackle basement on the corner of Chrystie and Delancey on the lower east side. Pete Wells, in a 2014 review (New York Times), called Sammy’s “the most wonderful terrible restaurant in New York.” He added: “Sammy’s is a permanent underground bar mitzvah where Gentiles can act like Jews and Jews can act like themselves.” SJ and HG loved Sammy’s (BSK turned thumbs down). Fueled by vodka enclosed in a block of ice, SJ/HG relished chopped liver (drenched in schmaltz), garlic and schmaltz tenderloin steaks; chopped eggplant (with schmaltz, of course), silver dollar potatoes, kasha varnishkes. Danced the hora. Roared Yiddish songs played by the pianist. Drunk, jolly, Jewish good time. Sammy’s opened in the 1970s and gave its patrons cardiology problems for decades. R.I.P.

It Can (did) Happen Here

January 7th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

Disgrace. Trump American Nazis occupy the Senate (one sits in vice president’s chair) and House. of Representatives. This is what the USA has become after four years of an unspeakable President. This leads HG to wonder. What if these Nazis had been African-Americans protesting centuries of oppression and slavery? HG’s conclusion: There would be many black faces in heaven.

Happy 2021

January 4th, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are not big time New Year’s Eve celebrators. Too much frenzy and drunkenness. So, happy to be alone in HG/BSK’s Prince Edward Island home. Wood stove warmed and BSK’s cuisine delighted. Dinner was Moroccan chicken stew simmered with preserved lemons and served over fluffy couscous. Drank pinot noir and clinked glasses with toasts of love and hope. New Year’s Day was a long, delightful day of college bowl football. Surprisingly, all of HG’s favorite teams won. Georgia won a nail biter over surprising Cincinnati. Northwestern demolished Auburn. Alabama beat Notre Dame. No contest. Finale was Ohio State battling favored Clemson. Ohio State demolished Clemson with a record performance by quarterback Justin Fields (he threw six touchdown passes). Dinner was an HG delight: Linguine with garlic, anchovies and chopped parsley. Marked a perfect day.

Latkes A La BSK

January 1st, 2021 § 0 comments § permalink

Many years ago in New York, there was a pleasant restaurant, Swiss Chalet, which served, of course, Swiss dishes. HG ate there often and always ordered “roesti”, Swiss fried potatoes. They came in the form of a lacy crisp (but juicy) pancake. HG judged these the best fried potatoes in the world. BSK brought back their memory on Christmas Eve. While son Jeremy and his family were eating better than Katz’s pastrami at their Freeman Shokudo restaurant in Tokyo and the Riva family was enjoying a Russ & Daughters “Feast of the Seven (okay, five) Jewish Fishes” in New Mexico, BSK made a platter of latkes. Wonderful. Close to “roesti.” The latkes were covered with red salmon caviar delivered by Tastes of the Homeland international grocery in Moncton, New Brunswick. Topped with sour cream and accompanied by icy vodka and Gahan Red Ale, this was a true holiday treat. BSK drank white wine but, being a locavore, soon switched to the Gahan product, artfully brewed on Prince Edward Island.

Christmas Day in the Age of Corona

December 31st, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day have always been spent with family (youngsters up early on Christmas Day, eager to open presents which were super numerous.). Due to the pandemic, HG/BSK were at their Prince Edward Island home, alone for the first time in 57 years of marriage. Yes, FaceTime has allowed HG/BSK to share holiday joy with son Jeremy, his wife, Maiko, and kids, Teru and Haru (all in Tokyo and busy with their Freeman Shokudo restaurant); daughter Lesley, R.; husband, Massimo, R., adult granddaughters Arianna and Sofia (they are in New Mexico since the original plan was for HG/BSK to be with them for holiday fun and feasting before the pandemic interfered). So, all alone HG/BSK had to open Christmas Day gifts without the familiar delightful frenzy. Gifts were fabulous. Riva family sent splendid gifts of books (Obama, Prince Edward Island history, etc.); warm. colorful socks; music CDs selected by discerning Massimo; a device to make sparkling water (BSK is fond of fizz). As usual, BSK gave HG perfect presents. Fleece-lined slippers, Warm socks. Stylish, flannel-lined zippered sweater. Comfy pajama set for chilly New Mexico (and PEI bedtimes). Yes, HG will have head to toe joy. Isolation ended in the early afternoon when HG/BSK motored to BSK’s sister, Noel M., and husband, Yossi M.’s Ocean Mist Farm for Christmas dinner. BSK brought a big pot of butternut squash soup (a holiday tradition started by HG’s beloved late sister, Beulah Naomi.). The savory soup began a holiday feast of roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, mashed squash done in the manner of sweet potatoes but without dreaded marshmallows; haricot verts and mushrooms (cooked by BSK). Dinner companions included N. and Y.’s neighbor, Murina, and her son, Daniel (husband/dad Amram is currently in Israel but was FaceTime’d). HG/BSK received a fabulous gift from Yossi and Noel–a lavish amount of PEI oysters, world’s best. And, Noel gifted HG with knee-length wool socks (HG’s chills have been taken seriously by folks who are fond of HG). And, Noel found a New Mexico crossword puzzle for BSK. Meal ended with a green salad and climaxed with dessert: A lavish layer cake baked by Murina accompanied by much ice cream. With glasses held high, all wished for a healthy 2021 and a return to American sanity.

Delicious Mussel Improv

December 25th, 2020 § 4 comments § permalink

Prince Edward Island mussels are, in HG’s opinion, the world’s best. Confirmed locavores, HG/BSK are happy that tons are harvested in St. Peters Bay, just minutes from HG/BSK’s oceanfront home. Few Americans know anything about glorious Prince Edward Island. However, if they eat in good restaurants, they are glad that mussels they order are identified as coming from PEI. HG/BSK buy their mussels from Mussel King in the nearby town of Morell. MK is probably the largest harvester and shipper of mussels. And, their mussels are super fresh, just minutes out of the Bay. BSK serves mussels in a variety of ways: with linguini and a lot of garlic, onions, red pepper flakes (HG’s favorite); in chowders; in savory fish and clam broth with plenty of ciabatta for dipping. Very cold last night so BSK improvised a hearty mussel stew. These were the ingredients: Two and a half pounds of mussels; onions, garlic. tomatoes, fennel, potatoes, parsley, clam broth, white wine, olive oil, slices of spicy sausage. The stew received a dusting of piquant Spanish Pimenton plus grinds of black pepper and sprinkles of Maldon sea salt flakes. The stew warmed the body and enlivened the taste buds. Another BSK improv was a dinner winner.

Savory Stracciatella

December 23rd, 2020 § 0 comments § permalink

Straciatella in Brodo is a delicious, warming, easy to prepare Italian soup. It takes only minutes to get ready. And, that’s what HG had for a light lunch on a sunny, breezy, chilly Prince Edward Island day. Here’s how you do it. Beat one egg, chopped parsley (preferably Italian flat-leaf), grated parmesan in a small bowl. Bring chicken broth to a boil. When boiling, gently pour the egg mixture into the broth. With a fork, stir clockwise to form egg/cheese curds. Salt and ground pepper when serving. Perfect as is, but HG/BSK sometimes get more ambitious and add tofu, chopped basil, baby spinach, shavings of carrot. If you toss in some leftover shredded chicken breast, chopped scallions and a squirt of sriracha, you’ve got dinner. For a more filling dish, pour the mixture over some rice flour vermicelli.