Saturday, April 16, 2011
Matzoh Ball Soup
This year I'm going to be a bit adventurous and add 1/3rd a cup of chopped leeks and 1 tsp finely grated ginger to the mixture for some extra flavor from an excellent sounding recipe from Bon Appetite http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Leek-and-Ginger-Matzo-Balls-in-Lemongrass-Consomme-358215, but you can skip if you prefer.
Do not touch, this recipe is perfect as is!
Have a great holiday!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
I've been sitting on these recipes for a couple of weeks due to time constraints, but the good news is that I've made both these recipes twice, and they are both very delicious and easy to prepare! And, as you can see from the above photo, they are also quite visually appealing.
This NY Times Bahn Mi recipe delivered more than promised.
I followed very closely, with only 3 minor changes:
1. Used ground chicken as the market was out of ground pork
2. Went with standard radishes vs. daikon
3. Substituted ciabetta bread vs. a hero role
Of course, I'm sure that this recipe would be a winner as is or with other minor variations. Depending on your taste buds, you may want to adjust the sriracha and be more aggressive with the jalapeno's.
And btw, don't expect to get more than 3 sandwiches out of the recipe-- it's that good!
To accompany, this Super Slaw will do the trick!
Again, you can pretty much follow as written, you may want to add some extra zip (e.g. sriracha and jalapeno)-- and for this recipe, I'd say that you'll get 6 plentiful servings.
Now if there were just an easy Pho recipe !
Sunday, February 13, 2011
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Giant would have been happy and well sated with an excellent big bowl of Pho. For those not familiar with Pho, it’s a delicious, spicy, savory (the soup is umami rich) Vietnamese rice noodle soup with a highly flavored stock that is typically made from beef marrow and includes ingredients like star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fish sauce and ginger. The broth is then married with your favorite protein (chicken, shrimp, pork, tofu…). A plate that includes lime, bean sprouts, jalapeno (or other spicy) peppers, cilantro and basil is served with the soup and then added, to taste, by the lucky diner. And of course, if you like your soup with even a bit more heat, a bit of the spicy Thai hot sauce sriracha will do the trick.
Now, I know this combination may sound a bit strange, and to be perfectly frank, I was pretty skeptical about the dish as I am not a fan of licorice flavored spices like anise, but it has a truly spectacular taste. If I could figure out a way to have this soup every day, I would be a happy guy-- but there a two challenges for me:
1. There are no Vietnamese restaurants close to my Connecticut house, so unless I’m ready for an hour road trip, this is not a great option (of course, this is a potential lunch option when working in the city, although most of the restaurants not in midtown)
2. Making the Pho yourself appears to be a relatively labor intensive effort, requiring about half I day.
Yesterday, however, I found myself in Bergen County, where there are two sister restaurants Mo Pho Noodles in Fort Lee, and Simply Vietnamese in Tenafly, that serve a mean bowl of Pho. http://www.saigonmopho.com/index.html. While there is a broader menu available, the real reason to go is for the Pho, which comes in a huge bowl that is likely yield a take-home meal. Check the Pho out at these restaurants, and you’ll be addicted as well!
And let me know of other good places where I can satisfy my addiction!
Sunday, February 6, 2011
As most of you know, its been a nasty winter in the East this year (as well as most of the rest of the country), with the snow piled high, the temperature on most days below freezing, and difficult travel conditions because of all the snow and inevitable ice. Yesterday was a bit different because the temperature rose to about 35, so we had a nasty rainy day. Because my wife and I had a strong case of cabin fever, we decided to take a road trip to New Haven, 45 minutes away, to see if we could chase away the winter blahs.
As a knowledgeable foodie with an addiction to the Food and Travel Channels, I’ve wanted to go to Louis’ Lunch, http://www.louislunch.com, for many years to eat a burger at the institution that claims to have invented the hamburger in 1900 (5 years after it opened), and is know to have one of the top burgers in the East. We arrived just after opening time at noon (the luncheonette is open until 2 am, no doubt for hungry Yalie’s), with only a small line in front of us.
You place your order at the counter and then find a seat, if possible, in the small, historic dining area that consists of a couple of communal tables, about 10 to 12 counter stools, and two pairs of seats reminiscent of old school desks.
Ordering at Louis is very straightforward:
- Determine the number of burgers you want.
- Decide which toppings you want on the burgers: “cheese, tomato, and onion are the only acceptable garnish—no true connoisseur would consider corrupting the classic taste with mustard or ketchup.” There are no other options!
- Order potato salad, chips or soft drinks if you want. Slices of pie are available for dessert.
We ordered two burgers with the works, two potato salads and some birch beer as a chaser.
We were fortunate to snag a pair of desk chairs when someone else left, and sat down to wait for our name to be called. While waiting we checked out some of the historical pistols and guns on the walls, as well as the original cast iron grills which are still used to vertically broil the burgers. These ovens are very cool; I’ve never seen anything like them (check out the photo).
After a bit of a wait (there are only the three ovens you see in the picture), our name was called. We picked up our fully topped burgers which are sandwiched between two pieces of white toast (almost forgot to mention this—and yes, this is your bun option), and returned to our desk.
- Potato salad: potatoes, eggs, and mayo. A bit more egg that we prefer, but decent.
- Burgers: properly cooked to medium/ medium rare. Very tasty, minimal grease (runs off because of the vertical broiling). You really get to taste the meat due to the limited condiments, but I typically like more of everything (e.g. extra cheese, maybe some bacon and mushrooms, ketchup and spicy mustard, pickles…), and not sure how I feel about the “have it our way” approach.
Overall, I’d rate this burger a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, but have recently had a better burger, The Squealer, at Plan B Burger Bar in Simsbury, http://www.planbburger.com. The Squealer is a combination beef / pork burger with bacon, lettuce, pickles, cheese, tomato, mustard and mayo. And, if I want to remove or add condiments, they are more than happy to oblige. That said, Louis’ Luncheonette is a foodie institution, a historic, fun place to visit and eat for folks visiting the New Haven area, and many feel strongly that Louis’ is the Best Burger in the East.
(Note: of course, if you’re not in the mood for a burger, there is excellent pizza in New Haven at Sally’s or Pepe’s, but that will be the subject of a future blog.)
Well sated, we dodged the rain and proceeded to check out a couple of the Yale Museums less than a block away, starting at the Yale Center for British Art. It’s a beautifully designed, four story museum that houses the most comprehensive collection of British art outside the United Kingdom. In addition to the many portraits of British royalty and war generals, there are some terrific landscape paintings of London and the countryside. There is also a current exhibition of drawings, woodblock prints, and sculptures by Rebecca Salter who uses ancient Japanese woodblock printing techniques. We really enjoyed this exhibit; the art is both simple and elegant.
Next, we crossed the street and stepped into the Yale Art Museum, an eclectic collection of art that ranges from the Ancient Chinese BC Dynasties, to the Modern Art of Warhol, Rothko, Pollock, and Lichtenstein. There’s also a smattering of Impressionist works by Degas, Van Gogh, and Monet, and a fairly large collection of Renaissance and African Art. So, there’s something for all. The four gallery floors are very accessible, and the vibe is quite relaxed with students sitting yoga style in front of the art while writing art papers on their iMacs. Both museums are free and also offer visitors free tours and headsets. We covered both museums in about three hours and really enjoyed ourselves.
After a hit of coffee across the street at Atticus Café, we drove home in the continuing rain, haven shaken a bit of the Winter Blah’s. We can only hope that Punxsutawney Phil is correct, and that we have less than 6 weeks to go!
Monday, May 25, 2009
Ever since seeing Anthony Bourdain’s and Andrew Zimmern’s Travel Channel trip to the Red Hook Ball Fields, I’ve been drooling to check out whether the eating’s are really as good as they looked!
So, with an open calendar on Saturday, we decided to take a pilgrimage to
For those outside of the city, getting to Red Hook is likely to require a visit to Google Maps; our trip included a drive over the Whitestone Bridge, heading West on the LIE, and taking the BQE over the Kosciuszko (pronounced kahs-kee-OSS-ko—don’t you love this name) Bridge exiting at Hamilton Avenue in Brooklyn. Of course, if you live in or around the city, there’s probably an easier way to get there by subway….
Anyway, the ball fields are very close to the highway exit, and we had no trouble finding both the park and a nearby parking spot (free!) We arrived just after noon, hungry for lunch!
Our first observation was that the food area is actually a lot smaller than it looked on the food channel show. About 10-12 trucks and stalls are spread around the perimeter of one corner of a city block.
Second, we were both pleased and a bit skeptical that the vendors did not seem busy, and most of the picnic tables that are located in the parks interior adjacent the food area were relatively empty. So, we headed over for Pupusa’s which are fried Ecuadorian corn cakes filled you’re your choice of meat, cheese, and vegetables.
The owner said the pork pupusa’s were the way to go—so we had a spicy pork and a pork with cheese pupusa, a deal @ 2 large filled corn cakes for $5. The pupusa’s are served with a spicy pickled pink cabbage relish, and homemade hot sauce. We also had fried plantain chips on the side, and a sweet drink called horchato, which is made with rice, morro seeds, and other spices including cinnamon. Although perhaps a bit too sweet, it helped to cut the heat from the delicious spicy pupusa’s! We also had a delicious fresh watermelon drink from one of the vendors specializing in unique beverages and fresh fruits.
Everything was fantastic, and although we wanted more, we saved room for Mexican food and a seviche.
By this time it was about 12:30, and the lines were starting to build. Everyone we met on the lines and at the picnic tables were very relaxed, friendly, and excited to taste all the great street foods (including the large group of local firemen)!
We scrambled to get on line for the Mexican food, and ordered 2 tacos, a fried pork and a chorizo. These were also excellent, made corn tacos, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, onions, jalapeno’s and cheese. We added the homemade green salsa, and than feasted. We had a split vote on whether the taco or pupusa was better, but you wouldn’t go wrong with either.
Finally, we headed over to the seviche cart, and had the shrimp seviche. This was my favorite for the day, as the mix of fresh lime juice, red onion, cilantro and shrimp was delicious, and adding in the spicy green hot sauce to the container was the key. We ate and drank every last drop!
Well sated, we were unable to try to empanadas, the corn on the cob slathered with butter, cayenne, and queso (cheese), but this will be on the itinerary for our next trip. Do keep in mind that you definitely want to be here no later than noon, because if you are there after 12:30, plan for some serious lines! And, if you’re taking pictures, make sure to snap them before you get too excited so that you don’t end up with several photos with half eaten plates of food!
Before leaving the neighborhood, we did stop at nearby Sixpoint Craft Beer Brewery hoping to purchase some of this highly rated beer, but as they only sell by the keg—this wasn’t in the cards. We did stop at the cool bar next door, Rocky Sullivan’s and have a pint of the pale ale (excellent) and were on our way.
BTW- if you need, IKEA and a Fairway market are right in the area. And we did see a sign for Steve’s Key Lime Pie’s which are supposed to be the best in the city, but as we were headed to
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The availability of thai food in the NYC area has exploded over the past few years— and overall, this is a very nice development. Once concern is that this proliferation may also be linked to a broader move towards “Asian Fusion” restaurants, which strike me as a homogenized, Americanized version of the unique flavors from each country and area. This trend ultimately drives a loss of the specialness of different cuisines, and increased prices for less authentic food. When you observe the proliferation of asian chain restaurants like the Kona Grill (to pick on a chain that is really not too bad), you worry that we are headed down a path of no return.
Fortunately, there are areas in and around major cities where the unique food cultures are still preserved. In the NYC vicinity, areas like Flushing,
Last night, after picking up my wife at LGA, we headed to our favorite thai restaurant, Sripraphai, http://www.sripraphairestaurant.com/, in Woodside Queens (note: a new Sripraphai has recently opened in
We started with the terrific crispy thai watercress salad with seafood and chicken. This amazing salad has a terrific combination of seafood and shrimp cooked and marinated in a sauce which contains cilantro, fish sauce, and lime juice, coupled with the lightly fried watercress. Delicious!
After wolfing down a few curry puffs, and having the tom yum shrimp soup (shrimp with thai hot and sour soup), we moved on the several excellent main courses:
- Sauteed crispy pork with chili, garlic and thai basil
- Green curry with chicken
- Shrimp with drunken noodles S
All the dishes were well spiced, but Sripraphia will spice to your liking, so don’t be scared. And, accompanied with some delicious brown and coconut rice, and some thai iced tea with tapioca balls… it was a terrific way to celebrate my wife’s return, and my return from a nasty two week virus.Of course, the fact that we have a few leftovers is not a bad thing.. of course, they’ll be gone by the end of the day!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Well too much time on the beach has driven a strange reaction from my body (got a flu—no not the Mexican Swine Flu # ah1 n1—who thinks of these names anyway—we should go with the hurricane name approach! So, just call this one Porky!)
While sick, I haven’t had the appetite to enjoy too much food, but decided to follow-on from a 2nd consecutive year of great Passover matzoh ball soup, to take advantage of the inevitable leftover matzoh meal.
Historically, I’ve been matzoh ball challenged, producing dense golf balls that were nearly impossible to eat… However, over the past couple of years—I discovered the secret… Seltzer!
That’s right, just a half cup of Seltzer, and a half day or more of leaving the batter covered in the refrigerator, makes all the difference. So here’s the recipe:
Fluffy Matzoh Balls
4 Eggs, beaten
Boil a large pot of water.
Remove matzoh batter from the fridge, and mold into balls (note they will expand to at least 2 to 3X original size), and place balls into boiling water. (you can either use your hands—gets a bit messy, or if you’re not overly worried about shape—just use a soup spoon.)
Partially cover the pot after it’s filled with the balls, letting them cook for about 30 minutes, then remove from the pot!
Depending on how big you make them, this recipe should yield about 20+ balls.
They are now ready to place into your favorite chicken or vegetable broth, or any soup you enjoy! Or, they’ll stay fine refrigerated for a few days… use when you like!