Monday, June 30, 2008

only in june



Sometimes it just seems like the best thing is nothing. I learned that a long time ago when I heard that 'less is more' and its been difficult achieving that. How do you downsize while upsizing? The more you get the more you want and then when you are through wanting you have to maintain it. Yup, pools and minibikes and scooters need maintenance. How do you do it? How?

Life in NYC has not been as pretty as it may seem in fact sometimes its verging on ugly then two nights ago, it was like a dream - when nature threatened to kick NYC's ass. You wont read about that in the papers.

July 2
I wrote this a couple days ago and the comment response suggested that there was something more that I was trying to say but that just isnt the case. What happened a few nights ago was a beautifully spectacular thing. Here is big ol' dirty and powerful New York City this man made hub of the USA, wealthy, powerful and vulnerable. Vulnerable in every sense of the word. We get flooding that literally shuts this place down (well not really but it shuts down some subway lines) We get snow storms that put everyone on foot because the drifts havent been dealt with yet, and we get thunder and lightening so thunderous and so strong that you just think that any minute mother nature is going to flick this city like a booger. NYC makes people feel all kinds of ways but the other night I felt like I was closer to nature than I have ever felt living here before, and when I say closer I mean I was on natures side so when the city gets flicked I felt like I would be spared. I had an epiphany. We get well edited news in this city so as not to create hysteria and panic, if a tree falls in queens no biggie but if the sky starts falling in manhattan mums the word. The other night it seemed like the sky was falling.

We live simply, I drive an old volvo, we dont have a flat screen TV (we do have enough tv's though dont get me wrong) and its been this lack of material pursuit that contradicts my existence in this material city. When nature spoke up the other night I finally felt like I was alive again. I dont have a point, I am happy making good things to eat for others to enjoy and that pretty much sums me up.


I have so many things going on in my little culinary spice shack that I lose track of them. I have vinegars that I started in '88 for example. I have a beautiful white 'mother' and an equally lovely red 'mother' the best thing is the white wine mother just emerged in the last few months - it took years.


I have this crock that I got from a mom of a friend from france complete with its own 'mother'. (the mother was in an old jelly jar in the bottom with the instructions in french from the crock maker - the gift giver translated them loosely and rubber banded these instructions around her mother jar and that was a couple years ago at least) We have way too much vinager. Isnt that the case though that if you are really using the things you consume then you end up with a lot of by-product. We have had some unused wine in our lives.

Pepper. Gotta have tons of pepper of all kinds. My pepper grinder has a mix of white, black and schezuan peppercorns.

The freezer has banana leaves and my cabinet has truffle oil.

And this is only a small little tiny taste.

jammin' with salmon

Sushi rolls, sashimi or just sliced up and eaten when no one is looking. I have a long ongoing affair with salmon and it doesnt look like it will ever subside. This lite and easy brunch snack is a thick piece of toasted sourdough bread from the farmers market (greenmarket) topped with some avocado, topped with some salmon and more avocado and then I try and not eat it all in one bite as much as I want to. I always try and find the hunk of salmon that has the most streaks of fat - this insures that the salmon will be more flavorful and it will greatly serve the grizzly in me. I most often eat it raw thus further satisfying my inner grizzly.

See how tempting the oily salmon is? I dont even bother to 'pretty up' the picture I leave crumbs on and all. Hit the whole thing with fresh pepper and sea salt and like I said try and not stuff it all in my mouth at once.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

fessin' up

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How do I tell you that what is posted and what is eaten is not always on some sort of 'real' time. This question of time takes on several layers. There is the layer of what we 'actually eat' versus what we 'photograph' and then there is what we eat that no one sees layer. Then there is the layer that is so subversive that no person -dead or alive- should ever be subjected to layer - and that is our basic maneuveur our normal day to day layer - our its-so simple- its how we roll layer. The trick is not in having a trick the trick is that there is really no trick. Time is full of layers.

southwest meets far east

I guess you have figured out by now that I like chile and I always seem to go back to some kind of chile preparation. I will still post the tofu short ribs but for now it is a napolean of sorts. I wanted to make a quick vegetarian starter with a southwestern flair and I had okara, tofu, chile and avocado. Lets call it a 'Soychilada' why not.

This is the result and it came out real tasty. I made little patties out of the okara that I seasoned with a spice mix of cardamom, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, nutmeg, mace, ginger, garlic, white pepper, star anise, all spice, tumeric, cumin, corriander and mustard. (basically a Masala Curry I didnt use this brand I am only linking this as a reference) I buy a lot of spices from this Indian grocery store near me and they come in ziploc bags. These were quickly panfried till crispy. I took some super firm tofu and let it soak in the red chile sauce till it was well infused and simply layered the two together. Okara pattie, some cheese and a little chile and a tofu round with more cheese and chile and some avocado slices on top. Simple but so dense and tasty - omit the cheese and the egg I used to bind the patties and its vegan.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

soy boy

Soy oh howdy are we gonna get busy with some tofu. I thought I would start you off with dessert. This is one of my own concoctions, in fact everything I will be posting will be invented by me. We have a tofu 'shortrib' coming up along with some crunchy tacos with tofu 'taco meat' and a tofu breakfast scramble 'a la chorizo' just to tease with a few - but today it is the flan. Yuppo a tofu flan! I made a concentrated soymilk and added a decent amount of agar agar some mexican vanilla and I sweetened it with agave. I made a carob syrup with more agave and there you have it my unbaked dairy and egg free tofu flan. For the other dishes I am going to make some of the tofu but most of it I will pick up from a reputable source, the tofu that I make will be for special accents.

The pup wanted a maraschino cherry on his and he dogged it. It's creamy tasty and ever so light and the best part is you are eating -protein. When I make this again I might try coloring it with carrot juice or tumeric to get more of a yellow 'flan' effect.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

batter up

With cooking oil costing twice as much as gasoline per gallon I decided I better get all my frying in while I can afford it, if you call paying at least $10 per gallon for canola oil 'affording it'. (olive oil starts at about $30 bucks a gallon and goes up from there) I picked up some Alaskan Cod and couldn't get my mind off fish & chips. Lunch time and its summer and whatever other excuse I can come up with I decide to season up the cod and season up some potatoes and throw frugality out with the bath water and batter everything up and fry it. It gets to be too tedious to think about the rising cost of everything.

Make your favorite tartar sauce, open your favorite tartar sauce use ketchup or hot sauce or whatever you like - me, I like malt vinegar. Oh, and it looks way more oily than it actually was..something about the flash shinied these babies up, plus the malt vinegar didnt help!

Hey, I am going to make some tofu things and maybe some tempeh some seitan and mock chicken - I have to make some non meat foods in the next few days so you get a chance to see how I do with 'alternative' ingredients.

Monday, June 23, 2008

chiles rellenos

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What's a chile relleno? Well its a stuffed pepper literally. I like to make these in a variety of ways from simple with only cheese to not so simple with a meat and ricotta stuffing. Remember, I made these last year. Today they are not so simple. I have been craving squash blossoms and I dont have any so I decided I would make the same filling that I would use for the blossoms and instead fill a roasted cubanelle pepper. I roasted and peeled some peppers. I made a stuffing out of some ground meat that was sauteed with garlic, onions, fresh oregano and pepper. I let this cool and mixed in some ricotta and parmesean cheese and one egg. Peppers were stuffed with this mixture, floured and then battered with a tempura style batter that had some spicy dried green chile powder that was sifted with the flour, this will add a little kick since these peppers are in the sweet family. Drizzle a little red chile sauce over the top and a little grate of cheese and this will have to suffice until I get my hands on some squash blossoms!




Lucious filling.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

organized burgers

I like to use molds. I like the idea of keeping things all stacked and put together. I dont use molds often enough. I used a mold to create these special burgers that get steamed and pan fried and they come out so juicy and plump. I tend to not like thick burgers but these are different. I mixed in some herbs and flavors and spices and then placed them in a really hot skillet and covered it. The steam and the heat from the metal mold cause the middle to cook nicely while the outside gets a nice crust, load on your favorite cheese add your favorite fixings and its a winner.

Fits the toasted bun perfectly.

Sharp Vermont Cheddar

Add greasy canola oil fried fries and the food groups are covered!

And if all of this is just too much then have a tortilla burger! My favorite!


Who doesnt like to go on a trip? I used to hate it because that usually meant work and well work is work but now trips are not work and they are a lot more fun. All that being said is it too early to say we 'might' be in New Mexico for August? Who cares, psyched is the word that comes to mind over here. Plus for work I hardly if maybe only once went to New Mexico and I love New Mexico. I say 'might' loosely because it could either mean we go for the whole month or just 'some of' we shall see. Tennessee is on our layover plan. I have an old friend there and some new blog friends too. Lets see.


Swordfish with a spice rub (yup thats 'your' rub people) ready to be grilled. This will be served with a potato basket the potato will be sliced on the mandoline creating a cris-cross pattern and then cooked in a mold to form a basket, the crispy 'basket' of potato will be filled with? And a salad of?

got mussels?

wierd spicy lemony broth and not a mollusk for the meek

We went to an all you can eat buffet in Nassau County, Harvest Buffet, and it was a doozy! There were things I have never seen let alone heard of and they seemed to be crowd favorites, but I guess thats the price you pay in a predominantly Korean neighborhood. The offerings were plentiful and fresh and refreshed often. So much sushi but we held back not wanting to fill up on rice, and all kinds of things in shells and salads made out of salad things I would have never thought of, grilled eel every way imaginable, carving table with crispy roast duck and tapioca pearls out the wazoo! We are totally going to go to this place again and again!

roll after roll and piece after piece

really tasty coconut broth with pasta and scallops and mussels and??

stuffed scallop that was so good you could only eat one, I tried a second at it was too rich

pumpkin, taro and date soup in coconut broth

one of many salad versions, mystery greens with grilled eel

tapioca pearls with cantalope and honeydew

mystery tapioca with mango -there was tapicoa and bubble tea galore!

We hardly scratched the surface of eating and I dont think repeated visits are going to be any different.

Friday, June 20, 2008


God Grants A Wish

A man was riding his Harley beside a Sydney, Australia, beach when suddenly the sky clouded above his head and in a booming voice, The Lord said. "Because you have TRIED to be faithful to me in all ways, I will grant you one wish."

The biker pulled over, thought about it, and said, "Build a bridge to New Zealand so I can ride over anytime I want."

The Lord said: "Your request is materialistic, think of the enormous challenges for that kind of undertaking, the supports required reaching the bottom of the Pacific and the concrete and steel it would take! It will nearly exhaust several natural resources. I can do it, but it is hard for me to justify your desire for worldly things. Take a little more time and think of something that could possibly help mankind."

The biker thought real hard about it for a long time. Finally, he said, "Lord, I wish that I, and all men, could understand our wives. I want to know how she feels inside, what she's thinking when she gives me the silent treatment, why she cries, what she means when she says nothing's wrong, and how I can make a woman truly happy."

There was a long silence. Then The Lord replied: "You want two lanes or four on that bridge"?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

summer greens

I have already mentioned lambs quarters and I have mentioned wild leeks but I have yet to talk about purslane - verdolagas as I grew up to know them. This wild and unruly green used to grow in the cracks of my parents driveway and since I spent so much time at the farm of my grandparents I wanted to eat this green thing that my mom and dad were trying so hard to irradicate. Even my neighbors mom said these were good to eat and I said 'I know' , yet my parents wanted to get rid of these weeds as most people do. Problem is now it is being sold in farmers markets, yup -driveway weeds at $3.99 a pound and a pound is HUGE and as Jacques Pepin would have you subscribe or perform or what ever- he wants to turn a profit - he's smart- so each serving, and depending on how you serve it to, could cost any where from 2 dollars an ounce on up. I cooked up a pound tonight (thats 16 ounces) and I have probably at least 4 more pounds. Lets do some figuring for a moment. Sell by the pound or cooked by the ounce - plus I find them not buy is my only out. I refer back to my childhood as a point of reference for a lot of what I cook. This green is exactly what I am talking about! Welcome to my verdolaga patch. What you see in this clip is partial of what will grow again two maybe three more times - its a hearty weed.

Just cook them and eat them should be their motto!

You can also eat them like this, say for instance if you dont want to use a bowl.....

hoppin' into summer

So as we hop into summer its all about freshness.

Blueberry and soymilk smoothie, it really can't get any better - with peaches or raspberries it is greatness all the same. My little window boxes gave me these green beans today.

I am going to make verdolagas this evening. These greens are another one of those plants my grandmother taught me to eat. It wasnt until I was an adult that I knew the english word - purslane, for these tasty summer treats. I will post the whole 'verdolaga process' later today.

Monday, June 16, 2008


The pastele, to me, is the carribean version of a tamale, and while tamales are near and dear to me pasteles have joined them in that special place. I have never made a pastele and I hesitate to try. This recipe looks pretty decent and worth giving a try but there are so many places here in NYC for me to just buy some it makes little sense to try and make them. They range in price from $1.80 to $2.50 each, ask for the gravy and the hot sauce and have them unwrap it for you.

This is with only hot sauce since I had one there and brought two home. The dough made out of plantains and taro root is so flavorful and almost silky.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

coney island

coney baby

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I rode the cyclone today with my little guy, last year he was tall enough but not brave enough - this year the bravery kicked in. (he is 10 now!)

sunny window, I should show you 'real time'

That thing is like being in a car wreck, my bones ached most of the way through and for a couple hours after, after the first drop he closed his eyes and said he was going to puke. While we creaked up to the second drop he opened his eyes and we 'gritted' all the way through the rest - he was screaming like a banshee and I was 'ugh'-ing and aching all the way through. We got out less than two minutes later and $16 dollars poorer and me needing a massage or some triage or some kind of 'therapy' or 'counseling' or something- yeah, sure the 'thrill' is there but this thing -beats you up- just that hurts( lets see thats 10.4 euro or 16.4 cad or 17 aud or 1730.64 ypy (yen) or 8.2 pounds or 685 rupees or 52.5 myr or ringgits or 165.70 mexican pesos ... and thats All I am converting)

It should be considered that I have ridden the cyclone about(meaning sometimes more than once) once a year since 1986 (I skipped the last couple years while the pup -got into didnt hurt when I was younger)

Life was sunny...really sunny.

He got to throw back a Sea Robin.

The day went along 'swimmingly' until that became literal!

It Poured!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

some thing is fishy

Its Tilapia all around. When I find a deal on something everyone has to be ready to eat it till I am tired of it. By now you have noticed it must be tilapia, this perch like fish is mild and cheap and you can get it whole or already in filets by the boat load plus people who dont like the 'fishyness' of fish will be easily won over by tilapias overwhelming mildness. This was seasoned with an dried herb mix of paprika, white pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, tarragon, dried parsley and a bit of lemon zest. Pan fried in a little canola oil then served with a puree of haricot vert(these were not just ordinary green beans) a tomato couli and a side of fingerling potatoes. Light, satisfying and full of flavor. Just in case you are wondering Skate is cheaper and it is served way more often in nice places, I can get Skate for less than 2 bucks a pound if I want to clean it myself (remove the skin is all). Thing is, I dont like skate, but if people do I will make it and I have! I like to sear it first then.....oh never mind this is all about tilapia.

Lightly sauteed haricot vert with garlic
(it is a longer more intensely green bean)
that was then pureed. (I did all the chewing
for you)

A dish ready to go. I made this for four.
Omit the potato and this is no carb.

Honest Menu in a PC world

Todays Tilapia
Emotionaly and physically abused tilapia overly seasoned and burned till lightly brown. Innocent vegetables forced to be grown for consumption then tortured with heat and blades until rendered smooth. Potatoes too young to even be considered yanked from the soil and boiled.
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