Archive for September, 2009

A Work of Art

September 29, 2009

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The impetus to go to Governors Island was to see the multitude of art installed on the abandoned island.  Sadly, I found the houses much more intriguing than the temporary, more  cerebral art.    Frozen in time, these kitchens of yore were all function, and no superfluous form.  Streamlined metal cabinets had no extra handles, only recessed edges to grab at.  Well thought out details were saved for the insides – broom hooks, a towel drying rack, a pull out shelf.  I came for the art, but I would stay for the kitchen.

Choose Oyster Sauce

September 22, 2009

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Continuing the recipes from that ripped out page from the September 2006 issue of Food and Wine, I made Spicy Ginger Pork in Lettuce Leaves and Spicy Shrimp and Cellophane-Noodle Salad.  Once the prep was done, both were very good and very easy.  The components are versatile, allowing for various spin offs, lest my boredom.  The stir-fried ground pork with water chestnuts and red pepper, which is supposed to be an elegant appetizer, nestled in lettuce leaves, can be made into a less dainty Thai salad over chopped lettuce and a sprinkling of toasted rice powder.  Or over rice itself for a main course.  The shrimp and noodles are supposed to be a salad in itself with whole leaves of mint, basil and cilantro, but I minced up the herbs to have it over lettuce.  It will also make for good summer rolls, for another interpretation.

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I attribute the success of these two recipes, not necessarily to my prowess, but to oyster sauce.  I have made version of Vietnamese noodle salad before and this dressing has been the best, due to the richness of the oyster sauce which incorporates the lime and fish sauce so well.  The sauce also enhances the pork for more salty, meaty goodness.  Blame it on the MSG, the unabashed fourth ingredient on the bottle.  It’s as un-PC as margarine, but it does make everything better.

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Back in Blackened

September 15, 2009

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Intrigued by The Kitchn’s post on “banana” ice cream – pureed frozen banana that resembles ice cream – I had to put it to the test.  Never to waste a thing, I had a blackened frozen banana in the freezer, ripe for trying out.  A not so quick peel (no one tells you that the skin to frozen bananas are stick on, and don’t just slip off), a quick whirr in the blender, and it’s done.  So easy, it barely merits itself as a “recipe”.  It looks like ice cream, has the consistency of ice cream, and is sweet indeed.  For a little more dimension, I added some burned pecans, which I also couldn’t bring myself to throw away, hoping that they would redeem themselves one day.    I also topped my dessert with unloved grilled figs for a little charcoal.  Two, if not three, wrongs made a right.

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Roasted Red Pepper Soup

September 10, 2009

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I like to follow recipes verbatim because I think that I’ll learn something.  Such was not the case with Food and Wine’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Seared Scallops from September 2006 from the file pile.  First of all, I bailed on the scallops.  Last minute guests were coming over, and I didn’t have the time to run out for the title ingredient.  Besides, I was mostly interested in the soup, which should be substantial on its own.

I had roasted the red peppers ahead of time, which makes putting the soup together a snap.  I chose to roast the peppers over a gas flame as opposed to in the oven, as stated in the recipe.  Feeling like a human rotisserie, turning the peppers round and round so that they’d blacken evenly in all its crevices, it’s more work than I want to do.  Schlamping them in the oven for 45 minutes would’ve been so much easier.   The hardest work was removing the charred skin, a messy affair that gets charcoal and seeds everywhere.  I try to keep it contained by rinsing them in a strainer, but there seems to be no easy way around it.  Letting the peppers steam in a paper bag, post-char, only gets off a little, not a lot of the skin.  If there were instructions in this, I would have followed it.

I made the rest of the soup accordingly, a puree with minced pieces of peppers.  Complexity in flavor comes from the cumin, orange and cilantro, all of which bring out the sweetened roasted flavor of the peppers.  A dash of cream would’ve added more velvet-y smoothness, but I had tweaked enough already.

I Heart KoGro

September 8, 2009

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When Pomegranate, the kosher grocery store in Midwood, opened last year, we were dying to go.  It’s bound to be like going to a different country, but closer.  What is foreign is not so much the cuisine but the experience of a sparkling new grocery store and genuinely nice service.  Impeccably organized, without a product out of place, a sign of either diligent attention or respectful customers, I am not in New York City.  Adding to the ambience of the store are the wood floors throughout, more welcoming and upscale than the typical white linoleum – a nice touch.

The superstar of the store is the prepared foods.  Cases and cases of any kind of hummus, dip, and mayonnaise based salad imaginable – pesto hummus, leek dip, Tokyo Salad, Hawaii Salad, baba ganouj, etc.  Samples at the deli are encouraged by the friendly staff, a successful ploy that convinces me to buy the melt in your mouth pastrami.

As a store that caters to the family event, I was impressed by the food container aisle which had all varieties of aluminum serving containers (including the half cardboard lids), fancy disposable table settings, and plastic takeout containers.  For $1.99, I was able to get my favorite 2-cup containers, a substitute for Tupperware.  Equally delightful was the aisle of chips which had a a section of snack size bags, making it easy, not risky, to try the falafel flavored chips.

KoGro, I won’t wait another year to come back.

Pomegranate

1507 Coney Island Avenue

Midwood, Brooklyn

718-951-7112

The Lion’s Den

September 1, 2009

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I have proven to myself that I have a will of steel.  Feeling like a reformed alcoholic at an open bar, or a compulsive gambler in a casino, I was put to the test – I went to Woodbury Commons and spent a dollar.  The Chloe store beckoned bargains galore at 90% off, Williams-Sonoma could have outfitted my new oven, Burberry Prosrum could have outfitted me…so much damage could have been done.  But no, I have a budget.  Killjoy.

My sole purchases were from Crate and Barrel, two lids for my glass food container at 50 cents apiece.  Not sold at the regular store, I had to take the opportunity.  When I originally bought the container, my only apprehension was the lid – flimsy and plastic, it was bound to bust before the container, rendering it almost useless.  Now with my spares, I don’t have to worry.  I may not have the $250 Prada shoes, but I have something more useful.

Why go out of the way to tempt myself?  You never know what you’ll find.  And it’ll prepare me for the Barney’s Warehouse Sale.