The Ultimate Fish Sauce and More

August 11th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Brilliant Daughter Lesley R. continues to demonstrate her superior culinary chops. Last night there was dinner with Charlottetown friends Neb and Silva. He is a dean at PEI’s university and she is an architect (designed HG/BSK’s oceanfront home). Talented and entertaining couple. Lesley and BSK prepared a variety of “toasts” to accompany wine for the group and stronger spirits for HG. Slices of John the Baker’s baguette (Cardigan Farmer’s Market) were bedecked with anchovies and roast peppers; smoked mackerel with capers and sour cream; mushrooms and truffle cream. Lesley also made her signature shrimp salad using the very tasty Newfoundland cold water shrimp from By the Bay Fish Mart. A great start. Nice preface to the main dish: Lesley’s extraordinary fish sauce composed of fresh halibut (now in season), olive oil, onions, fennel, garlic, white wine, tomatoes and lots of herbs. Served over Calamare, a unique Italian pasta with a shape that mimics calamari rings (thus, the name). Many layers of flavor. It is a dish HG could eat every summer night. For dessert, Lesley baked a fruit cobbler using sour cherries (from Ocean Mist Farm) and blueberries from the field adjacent to HG/BSK’s home. The kitchen Viking oven isn’t functioning so Lesley baked the cobbler in the tabletop toaster/oven. Turned out fine. Flanked by generous amounts of vanilla ice cream it proved a fitting climax to a delightful dinner.


Lesley Birthday

August 8th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Joyous birthday dinner for Lesley R. featuring some of Brilliant Daughter’s favorites. A nice beach day on Prince Edward Island. Breezy and sunny. Appetites were sharp. Meal began with two dozen Colville Bay oysters (distinctive green shells). This was followed by BSK’s sorrel soup, the sorrel snipped from BSK’s herb garden. Each bowl was decorated with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper. Lush. Sorrel, unfortunately, is almost never found in supermarkets or farmer’s markets (and very expensive when it is). Sorrel is a sour, leafy plant that often grows wild — it is very easy to cultivate. Best to grow your own. In HG’s Bronx youth, sorrel was found in every fruit and vegetable store. It was the basis for Schav, the heat beating summer soup that was always served ice cold and accompanied by a boiled potato and a bowl of sour cream mixed with chopped radishes and scallions. HG’s Mom didn’t puree the sorrel leaves but left them whole. Very refreshing. Main dish at the celebratory feast for Lesley was lobster salad packed into toasted, buttered frankfurter rolls. Lesley made the lobster salad and it hit the right notes of lemon juice, mayonnaise and herbs. Meal ended with a green salad and a dessert of Meyer Lemon Cheesecake. Perfect summer meal.


Lesley In The Kitchen

August 7th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Brilliant Daughter Lesley R. is a lovely bundle of talents. A talented writer (she was a prize winning reporter and editor). A devoted wife and mother. And, of course, an extraordinary daughter. She was a super-cute precious tot with a head of Shirley Temple curls. Now, as an adult with a head of blonde curls (plus a bit of grey), Lesley’s talents have extended to the kitchen. One night, Lesley and BSK collaborated on a garlic scapes (from Ocean Mist Farm) pesto. A creative collaboration, indeed. A match for the best basil pesto. Profesore Massimo R., Lesley’s husband, called upon his Italian heritage to cook linguine to a hard to achieve al dente texture. Perfect starter. This was followed by a Portuguese influenced pan roast of clams and spicy sausages (the Cajun sausages from Prince Edward Island’s Taylor Meats stand at the Charlottetown Farmers Market). Onions, garlic, olive oil, tomatoes and white wine enlivened the roast. It was served over lush smashed PEI potatoes (Smashed with a bit of butter, garlic, parsley and garlic scapes). Hearty eating after a day in the sun and sea.

When HG/BSK lived in Montclair, N.J., their favorite eating place was the eccentric, lively, down to earth Belmont Tavern in Belleville, a town adjacent to Newark’s heavily Italian North End. The bar (whose bartender would belt out an operatic aria at impromptu intervals) was under one ownership. The kitchen was owned by a guy named Stretch. On the menu was a dish called Stretch’s Chicken. It was a wow. Tender, crisp skinned chicken in a rich sauce of vinegar, anchovies and garlic. Huge portions. (HG/BSK always shared one portion of the chicken and one portion of another Belmont specialty, cavatelli in a sauce of ricotta and tomatoes. HG/BSK were amused when two young newcomers to the Belmont ordered two portions of each dish and were astonished when a mountain of food covered their table). All attempts to duplicate Stretch’s Chicken in the HG/BSK family kitchen have failed. The dish has been approximated in a number of North Jersey restaurants where it is called “Chicken Savoy”. Bruce Maguire, HG’s very successful public relations protege, claims he makes a very tasty Stretch’s Chicken at home but HG has not had the opportunity to taste it. However, last night Brilliant Daughter Lesley R. (with assistance from BSK) cooked a Belmont-style dinner for the family and guests Noel (BSK’s sister) and husband, Yossi M. of Ocean Mist Farm. Starter was, once more, linguine with garlic scape pesto. This was followed by a sumptuous platter of well burnished chicken in a dark, vinegary sauce that was a worthy emulation of Stretch’s dish. Grilled (and peeled) red peppers brought color to the dish. Lesley continues to produce kitchen triumphs.


A Delicious Celebration

June 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

Much to celebrate. Granddaughter Arianna’s graduation from Brown University. (See below for photo of the gorgeous young woman). Equally gorgeous granddaughter Sofia’s birthday and homecoming from France. BSK’s birthday (and the end of BSK’s maarathon feat of motoring). Daughter Lesley R., a creative dynamo in the kitchen (and in her professional career) was the majordomo of a sumptuous feast. A number of friends and neighbors were invited. All were dazzled by the buffet: Sliced Italian sausage; San Daniele ham wrapped around breadsticks; a room temperature salad of penne, roasted eggplant, tomatoes, anchovies and capers; mozzarella and tomatoes drizzled with extra virgin Italian olive oil; a cheese platter with grapes and superb Seven Stars bread. Pre-feast Tito’s vodka for HG. Prosecco, beer, white wine, red wine complemented the food. Lesley R. dazzled HG with Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches. She marinated flank steak in Vietnamese fish sauce and other ingredients. Made a slaw of cabbage, pickled radishes in a Vietnamese dressing. Soft rolls smeared with Sriracha/Mayonnaise. Thin slices of the roasted steak. A layer of slaw. A sandwich that was a flavor explosion. Nearby neighbors (who are also close friends) arrived with their son and daughter. The lady is of Armenian extraction and a distinguished cook (among many other talents). She made two dishes that made HG wonder at the glories of Armenian cuisine: A savory dip known as “Muhammahrah” and a molded bulgur salad called “Ich” (Yes, the spelling is correct). Her son baked a great Key lime pie and another neighbor contributed a tasty strawberry rhubarb pie. Daughter made a big bowl of whipped cream. Husband? Supervised the music that enhanced the festivities. HG finished this perfect day of food, drink and love by watching the Warriors (HG is in awe of their ball movement) while sipping flutes of icy Limoncello. The painter and social figure Gerald Murphy (A friend of Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso and other creative forces) said: “Living well is the best revenge.” HG presumes the revenge is aimed at the brevity of our time on earth and the inevitable pains and distresses of life. HG agrees. With aid of BSK and HG’s wondrous family, HG takes revenge daily.



December 30th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

HG is a passionate devourer of noodles in all their varied forms: Italian pasta, Japanese ramen; Chinese egg and rice noodles (plus rice sticks and cellophane noodles). Also, plain old all-American egg noodles. HG’s Mom would often delight the growing youngster with excellent noodle dishes. “Lukshen kugel” (A baked dish of noodles, onions, garlic and chicken fat. Galician Jews made this dish with sugar and cinnamon. Feh!!). Egg noodles with butter and old fashioned “pot’ cheese. (Still a favorite HG breakfast). Hearty chicken soup with home made noodles. When HG discovered the cheap Chinese restaurants of HG’s youth, Lo Mein became a favorite. HG’s Chinese noodle repertoire expanded to Chow Fun, fiery Chengdu noodles that numbed HG’s lips, fried noodles Singapore- style etc. Japanese ramen is hard to find near HG’s Santa Fe County home. (A good ramen bar opened, made HG happy, closed. Owner moved the eatery to Seattle). HG makes do with Korean (very spicy) instant ramen mixed with Kimchi. Of course, nothing is better than Italian pasta in its almost infinite forms. Number one is BSK’s perfectly prepared spaghetti with virgin olive oil, garlic, parsley and red pepper flakes (Sometimes BSK adds anchovies which dissolve in the sauce). A runner up is linguine with clams followed by spaghetti carbonara. And, that’s followed by trenette with pesto. HG could go on and on. When feeling sickly, HG is heartened by a bowl of chicken broth mixed with beaten egg, parmesan cheese and pasta in a very tiny form–Orzo. No, HG has not forgotten papardelle with ragu, that lush sauce of long simmered meat, tomatoes, carrots, onions, etc.. That’s what Lesley R. prepared for dinner last night accompanied by a huge green salad. Finished withe cheese and fruit. HG indulged in a dessert of Pandoro with whipped cream as did Massimo R. There was a gift bottle of cognac on the table and the Profesore doused his Pandoro with a goodly pour of that magic liquid, creating an Italian version of Baba au Rhum.


Better Than Burgers

December 26th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Kefte. Kefta. Kofta. Keftedes. Called by many names in the Middle East, Greece and the Maghreb, these are fat, cigar shaped rectangles of ground lamb. They are a favorite street food in many cities, grilled over charcoal and permeating the air with savory fumes. The ground lamb is usually mixed with chopped or grated onion, garlic, mint and a variety of spices. Sometimes a beaten egg is added to bind the mixture (A Greek version adds white bread moistened with milk). BSK and Lesley R. toss in some pignolia nuts for added crunch. The cooking technique is browning the Kefte stove top and finishing in the oven.The result is a nice balance between crisp exterior and lush, juicy, slightly pink interior. Better than burgers. BSK often serves Kefte with Israeli couscous and roasted Japanese eggplant. HG makes a sauce of Greek yogurt and sour cream, much grated garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, zaatar, Aleppo pepper, sumac and smoked Spanish paprika. Rather exuberant. Warm pita with olive oil and zaatar is a nice accompaniment. Lesley R. made a lovely platter of Kefte last night with couscous and eggplant. She added tahini to the the yogurt sauce. Interesting variation. The Eastern European/Jewish version of Kefte is Carnezlach. Beef, not lamb. Heavy on garlic and onion. A staple in the long gone “Romanian broilings” restaurants of New York’s once Jewish working class neighborhood of the Lower East Side. (You can still eat them at schmaltz heaven Sammy’s Romanian on Chrystie Street). Last night’s meal ended with a wonderful surprise. Young college student Raphie, a friend and neighbor, celebrated Gorgeous Granddaughter Sofia’s Christmas homecoming by baking a key lime pie. Served with scoops of Raphie’s lush fresh whipped cream, it was the best dessert HG has had in years. Greedy HG had to be wrestled away from the table.


Bad. Good. Best.

December 22nd, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

Back in Rhode Island. Had to cancel planned visit to Arthur Avenue, the great Italian food destination in the Belmont neighborhood of The Bronx. HG’s sleep depriving cough necessitated a trip to the urgent care facility in Barrington. Bad news. HG’s pneumonia has recurred. Initial anti-biotic program didn’t work. New regimen promises a swift end to the pneumonia. However, more bad news. No alcohol for HG. A teetotal Christmas, alas. Good news. Beautiful granddaughter Sofia R. arrived home safely from France. The event put Pip, the excellent Family R. dog, into a state of ecstasy. The humans shared in the delight. The best news: Home cooking by HG/BSK daughter Lesley R.. Polenta with shrimp (clams for crustacean allergic BSK), chorizo, onions, tomatoes. Pure comfort. Some excellent cheese and grapes. HG finished with Pandoro (a yeasty Italian cake like Panettone but without the candied fruit). Herb tea. An HG evening without vodka, wine and grappa. Did HG miss these devil’s brews? A bit. But, water accompanied by happy family faces made the evening a joy.

The next day, Sunday, HG was feeling good after a night of sleep undisturbed by coughing. HG breakfasted on Pandoro (golden bread) and cups of cafe latte. Professore Massimo R., authority on every aspect of Italian culture, explained that the word “Panettone” stems from the Italian “Tony’s bread.” It seems Tony, a Milanese baker, had to prepare a sweetish bread for some distinguished personages. Little time. Culinary emergency. Tony mixed some candied fruit in the bread. Legendary Panettone was born. Massimo commented on the glut of feel good Christmas TV shows and movies. The Professore said these are called “Cinepanettone”, kitsch you watch while eating Panettone. Professore Massimo’s friend and colleague, the distinguished University of Bologna academic, Giacomo Manzoli, has written a book on the subject appropriately titled “Cinepanettone”. HG continued to munch on Pandoro and tea as HG indulged in the guilty pleasure of watching pro football on TV. As a Rhode Island visitor, HG had to watch the Patriots cruise. HG gave up on HG’s boyhood favorite, the Giants, when they fell behind the Panthers and Cam Newton by a 35-7 score. Astonishingly, Manning, Beckham and the Giants made a gallant, exciting comeback before losing in the final minute. Much fun. HG will now watch the Denver-Pittsburgh game in order to hone dinner appetite. Refrigerator contains chilled nonalcoholic beer (oy vey!!) so the teetotaler will not be thirsty.


Tasty Composition

October 5th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

HG/BSK are great fans of composed salads. Essentially, composed salads are constructed of greens plus a number of cooked and raw ingredients. Years ago HG tasted a composed salad featured at Jonathan Waxman’s trailblazing restaurant in New York: Jams. This was a salad of garden lettuces dressed with walnut oil and containing warm sautéed mushrooms and walnuts. A lovely, innovative California treat. This past summer, BSK and Lesley R. built a salad of local greens, radicchio, abundant sautéed South Lake scallops, mushrooms, farmers market green peas. A splendid array of seasonal Prince Edward Island ingredients. A worthy contender to HG’s favorite salad, one HG has enjoyed at a number of traditional Paris bistros: Frisee, lardons and a poached egg. Not exactly a salad endorsed by the cardiology police but mighty good. A glass of Brouilly. A baguette. Vive la France!!.


Fat Is Flavor, Indeed

August 6th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Birthday dinner for Gifted Daughter Lesley R. (looking particularly radiant) and the clan gathered at Terre Rouge Bistro in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. While completely delicious, the meal was an affront to the heath police and cardiology guardians. Featured were artery cloggers like roasted marrow bones, pork bellies, pate, ham, compound butter, macaroni and cheese. The birthday lady, who received gracefully some gifts, stuck to PEI sea bounty–scallops and mussels. BSK surprised HG. Usually, BSK denies the truism that fat is flavor. Does not eat chicken skin. Trims fat from pork chops, prosciutto, etc. But, on this festive night BSK ate with hearty appetite a very robust dish of pork bellies. Didn’t leave a sliver of fat. Of course, BSK’s appetite was tepid compared to that of Handsome Haru. Fresh from a vigorous day at tennis camp, HH attacked the shared plates with an enthusiasm that was a tribute to his HG lineage. Teru, the wee bundle of cuteness, was at the table for almost two and a half hours and maintained perfect aplomb. Found a special treat: A very good cherry jam condiment. The meal ended with an interesting creme brûlée and a variety of gelatos. Much fun. But, HG is going to heed Tony Soprano’s advice to a chubby colleague: Time to stick to salads.


Treats From The Far East

July 31st, 2015 § 2 comments § permalink

A pleasing collaboration last night by HG and Exquisite Maiko. Well, not exactly an equal collaboration since EM did most of the work and Lesley R. added to the effort. HG’s major contribution was a rich and spicy dish of Japanese eggplant. It started by HG peeling five small eggplants. Tactfully, EM took over and peeled the eggplants with precision. Better than HG’s clumsy work. The peeled eggplants were cut into cubes and browned in Canola oil. Removed from the pan and replaced with chopped garlic and thinly sliced onion (Lesley R. did this prep work. Once more, HG bypassed tedious labor saving himself to soar in the lofty climes of creativity). When the onion/garlic mix cooked down sufficiently, HG returned the eggplant to the pan and added judicious amounts of Chinese oyster sauce and fiery chile garlic sauce; soy sauce, sugar and water. Simmered for ten minutes and then received a gilding of sesame oil and smoked black pepper. Powerful flavors. Lots of leftover rice in the refrigerator. EM gently fried it with eggs, garlic, shitake mushrooms and carrot slivers. The parade dish was EM’s sole. This is the way EM brings the fish to heavenly heights. First, EM fries thin slices of garlic and Japanese seaweed in vegetable oil. The crisp brown chips of garlic and seaweed shreds are removed (They will reappear to top the cooked fish). EM gives the sole filets a quick sauté in the flavored oil. Then HG adds sake to the pan, covers it and allows the fish to steam to tender perfection. This is all done with EM’s characteristic swift dexterity. The happy diners were presented with a lovely platter of two and a half pounds of sole lightly dotted with the garlic chips and seaweed. Ample bowls of fried rice and spicy eggplant. Plus, baby spinach steamed by EM, Green salad followed. A perfect summer meal.


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