Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of the Year

Last big dinner of the year we made was Christmas Eve dinner, menu is below. The real hits in my book were the soup and the tenderloin. The salad was a bit of a flop but the broccolini, potatoes and carrots/parsnips were all solid.

Appetizer:

Lemon Ricotta with Squash and Sage on Crostini

Soup:

Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Pepita Streusel and Cinnamon Marshmallows

Salad:

Arugula with Figs, Ricotta, Prosciutto, and Smoked Marzipan

Sides:

Broccolini with Pecan Brown Butter

Honey-Glazed Roasted Carrots and Parsnips

Mustard-roasted Potatoes

Main:

Roast Beef Tenderloin with Port Sauce

Dessert:

Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Cheesecake


A couple of pics of the little fellow - he is a lucky man with all the love that has been lavished on him now in the first month of his life!




Thursday, December 8, 2011

Baby food!

We have a son - William Atticus Foster! Erin labored for a relatively short time though it was not easy in any way. He was born December 1st at 6:15am in our bathroom at 38.5 weeks and 8lbs, 40z!

He is perfect in every way. We are just spending lots of time at home with him these days enjoying every moment, every poop, every full-body yawn, each half-smile and his big, curious eyes.

Atticus is now a week old, so I thought I would write a little about what he's been eating... breast milk! And below is the video I compiled of his first week's adventures:

video


Breast milk
:
This is fascinating stuff. Reading about breast milk ties all sorts of things together from geo-political controversy around Nestle marketing formula aggressively in South America to evolutionary biology in how boys who breastfeed get different milk than girls that breastfeed (who knew!!) to the disparity in groups of people who breastfeed to the immunology and the nutritional aspects of the stuff to the anthropological concept of technology=advancement... I'm going to try and stick to the more nutritional aspects here.

Immunologic benefits: Since the 1930's when the first studies were published, we have known that there seems to be a immunologic benefit to breastfeeding with the largest reduction seen in respiratory and gastrointestinal illness. One of the coolest things I read was that the IgA (a type of immunoglobulin) that is in breast milk is produced by B-cells in the woman's breasts that migrated there from her gut! So basically all of the immunologic memory that the mother has from the exposure that she has had in her gut get passively transferred to the infant providing huge amounts of protection against diarrheal disease which is the second most common cause of infant mortality worldwide (used to be the first)!

IQ benefits: This is one of the more poorly understood aspects of breastfeeding in part because at least in the developed world where most of the data comes from, women who breastfeed also tend to be more educated, wealthier etc - so teasing out the effect of breastfeeding on intelligence is fundamentally a statistical problem of dealing with bias and confounding since no one will every be able to randomize breastfeeding vs not. In any case, at this point, there definitely does seem to be a real association between breastfeeding and IQ of probably about 5-10 points, and it is probably NOT solely the result of higher maternal education, better bonding or attachment etc - it is in the milk!

So then the question is why does breast milk and not just breastfeeding give this advantage? There has been a lot of research into the role of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids - mainly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachadonic acid (ARA). These compounds are required for efficient neurotransmission and are involved in neurite outgrowth, dendritic arborization, and neuron regeneration after cell injury - all good things and necessary for brain development. Of course the formula companies have jumped on this and market their products as including these compounds now - what is not yet known is whether this attempt to simulate breast milk will translate into outcomes, so far the results have been mixed.

Last thing about this (I promise): while one my least favorite phrases in medicine is that there is a genetic and environmental component to a disease or condition because I think that is basically a meaningless phrase, there is a cool example of gene-environment interaction in this case. A study published in 2007 showed that the beneficial effect of breastfeeding was only seen in a subset of children who had a particular variation in a gene involved in the metabolism and regulation of DHA and ARA in the brain! In the children without the variation, there was no benefit to breast milk, in the children with the mutation, they did see a benefit that largely accounted for the 5 or so points seen in epidemiologic studies - how cool is that??!!

So here's to Atticus on completing his first week of life, to his beautiful and loving mother, to his having the mutation in FADS2 :), and to his own exploration of food - breast milk and beyond!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brunch and Stews

So Frankie's is one of many places to get a decent brunch in New York. It's a relatively new place, started in Brooklyn about 10 years ago. We went for a 'last date' out in New York day before the baby comes... Erin's getting pretty tired these days with carrying little Will/Atticus but we're living it up as much as we can before he arrives. We went to the West Village location and had a lovely meal - Erin had an omelette and I had an egg and cheese sandwich both of which were quite good - the sandwich was between pizza-dough as bread which turned out to be not only creative but delicious. We walked down to the Hudson and got some sunshine for a bit afterward...

We then went up to see the windows on 5th avenue which are decorated after Thanksgiving in New York. The air is thick with consumerism and we were in the thick of it - from the plastic pomp of Trump Towers with artificially inflated prices to make you feel that much more special to the fur-draped baronesses strutting down 5th avenue... though on the weekend after Thanksgiving, the fur was harder to spot amidst the maddening crowds of tourists.
My favorite windows were the UNHATE one for United Colors of Benetton (seen below), the Hollister window (shows a live shot of Huntington Beach surf), and one that I forgot the name of just south of Central Park with windows that tell a little story and are in 3D using perspective only. Beef Stew
We had a lovely stew this past week that I am going to write down here or it will be lost forever as it was a concoction of 3 different recipes:
Potatoes - about 6 chopped
Carrots - about 6-7 chopped
Beef chuck - 1 inch pieces (about 3 lbs)
Onion - 1 or 2
Garlic - 4-5 cloves
Red wine - 1/2 bottle
Balsamic vinegar - 1/4 cup or so
Thyme (dried or fresh)
Bay leaf - 2
Beef broth - 3 cups
Water - 3 cups
Tomato paste - 3 tablespoons

Basically, it's just a matter of in what order to add things to the pot... I've never just added everything together but I imagine that would also taste just fine. I added the beef first to brown for a couple of minutes, then took the beef out while I added garlic, onion, then carrot and potato waiting a bit between each so that everything gets a shot at browning... finally get the tomato paste in to the bottom of the pan so it cooks a bit and then add the wine, cook it by itself for a few minutes and then add everything else basically and simmer for 1-2hrs (flour if wanted for texture later). Splendid!!

Erin picked the menu this week as I was in the ER for the weekend... she has a lot of energy and still looks beautiful even though she's 11 months pregnant. Here's a couple of samples:

Roasted chicken + couscous + tomato/bean/fried basil salad
Paprika pork with bell peppers, rice, green beans

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Dinners for week of Nov 6th and Harlem signage

I've been considering the environment that we're bringing little Atticus into recently. Harlem is a wonderful place to live in many ways - the people are friendlier than much of New York I think, and there is a lot of character just walking down the street.
On a recent morning walk with Erin, I took these two photos: the first is of a sign on one of the many churches in Harlem - this one has various messages basically denouncing President Obama as some sort of loon or with blood on his hands with some strange connections being made (a prior version connected him with Sadaam Hussein).
The second is of a little restaurant called 'No Swine on My Mind!' - there is an odd collection of non-pork restaurants that serve beef and chicken... it's not Halal food and it's not religious from what I can tell, and it's certainly not all that healthy for you otherwise, but these people really don't like pork! (Another is called 'No Pork on My Fork!')


Anyway, here's what we had to eat!

Spaghetti with meatballs
- simple enough in concept, but the key is in the meatballs... used a recipe off epicurious with a few alterations: basically mix 2 eggs, 1 lb ground beef, salt, pepper, parsley, 1 cup bread crumbs (pre-soaked in 1/3 cup milk) and whatever other spice you want - I used a bit of red pepper flakes and then cook in the tomato sauce for 20 mins - they were spectacular!!

Grilled swordfish with brussels and roasted potatoes

- swordfish grilled after marinating with lime and garlic for a bit, brussels in the usual fashion and good Yukon golds... see photo:
Sausage with kale, eggplant and carrot and couscous
- this ended up being much more of a last-minute throw together type thing that turned out pretty well... cooked the carrots with garlic and overcooked them because that's the way Erin likes them... grilled some eggplant and then threw in the kale at the end just because we had some...

Enchiladas with avocado and tortilla salad
- these enchiladas are wonderful; we've made them a few times and every time they are a hit. This time we went with just a veggie filling:
1. sauteed onion, squash, carrot and green chiles along with some cilantro and corn at the end
2. mix the filling with about 1/2-1 cup of sauce
3. sauce made with 4 tbsps butter in pan then add 3 tbsps chili powder, 2 tbsps flour, 1-2 tbsps cumin and mix for about 1 minute... then slowly add 2 and 1/2 cups of milk, bring to simmer and then add 1.5 cups of grated cheese until well mixed...
4. assemble with flour or corn tortillas layering first some sauce on the bottom of the pan and then the rest over the tortillas with some cheese and corn on top...

The avocado salad with boston lettuce and tortilla strips was quite good mainly due to the dressing:
- 1/4 cup lime juice mixed with honey, olive oil, salt, pepper and a little cayenne

Monday, October 31, 2011

Feast!

We had some friends over for dinner during the snowstorm the other day... the weather was so foul that it was a perfect day to cook. Since some of it turned out so well, it will be recorded here for posterity (which is coming soon!). The day after was beautiful at least...

Amuse-gueule!
Lemon Sage Squash Crostini
- inspired by a cottage cheese the night before that had been mistaken for ricotta by a friend who had us over... whipped up some ricotta with lemon zest and pepper, roasted and then scooped out an acorn squash, quick fried some leftover sage leaves and put it all together: french bread crostini with a smear of ricotta, then a dollop of squash and a fried sage leaf to top.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Carrot-Apple Puree - this was a real hit apparently. The squash I just cut in half and roasted for 20-30 mins. The carrots were cooking as I was preparing the potatoes... just cut up some carrots along with apples, roasted in the oven for 40 minutes and then pureed them together with some fresh rosemary... slice the squash thinly with a garnish of the carrot-apple puree... easy and done!

Burgers and Panko-fried mashed - the main was burgers, grilled after marinating for at least 1-2hrs... oh so good with grilled onions and blue cheese... and the other side we had was this version of mashed potatoes that I don't think I will try again: boil potatoes, mix with cheddar, sour cream, green onion and then make into 1-inch diameter rolls which you chill... then slice into 1 inch circumference-ish balls to then dip into flour, egg, panko and fry them up. Others liked them as a handy way to eat mashed potatoes that had a crunchy outside... I was less of a fan.

I'm working nights all week so less dinner and probably lots of weird food for me... I'm sure Erin and baby will be eating splendidly though.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

substituion

Instead of the pumpkin and cashew curry, we're substituting the Moroccan carrot soup + tilapia.

And... another late edition:
we'll be having an arugula and roasted pear salad along with the tagliatelle

6 weeks and counting!

I'm officially 33 weeks pregnant today, which means 6 weeks till I stop working, and 5-8 till I deliver this little one. Alex and I went to the Bronx Zoo today and walked around and talked, and especially cherished that we didn't have a child with us. Lots of parents and their children, in wonderful Halloween costumes, but definitely not the peaceful, romantic experience for them that we had. So I've been thinking about all the things we should do before our baby arrives: plays, concerts, going out to movies or dinner, sleeping normal hours... It's definitely time to cherish the moments we have now.

None of the above relates to dinner this week- just what I've been thinking about today.
Here's the menu (check Epicurious for the recipes):

0. (Homemade pizza tonight, with mozzarella and Italian sausage from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, the real little Italy).

1. Tagliatelle with prosciutto and orange
Side salad of arugula

2. Chicken Gabriella with roasted potatoes
Broccoli with lemon

3. Nan's shepherd pie
(Can you tell I'm craving lots of protein and potatoes lately? The green vegetables are all an afterthought...)
Sauteed spinach with garlic

4. Creamy pumpkin and cashew curry
Rice

I think that's plenty for the week. I just need to check and make sure that Alex likes all of these options.
Hmm, I probably should have added fish somewhere...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall is here- Erin's choice week

Alex has been working long hours lately, and he is currently in the middle of a 14 day stretch without a day off. I promised him I would try my best to make his life easier this month, and in that vein, AND because it's fun to choose the recipes for the week, here is what we will be eating. All recipes are from the "Quick and Easy" section of Epicurious - since I'll be the one cooking :)
Lots of warm, comforting foods, to start combating the chill that's arrived this week with the changing season...

1. Whole Branzino with Ladolemono = basically a lemon and olive oil marinade originally from Greece that changes the ratio of acid to oil.
Garlic stir fried brussels sprouts = trying to continue to get vegetables into my diet, since I really don't feel like eating them most days. Alex eats them all with pleasure, the twerp.
Garlic couscous.

2. Green Chile Pozole = with chicken instead of pork, since FreshDirect didn't have any reasonably priced pork loin.
Maybe an avocado salad on the side?

3. Hanger steak with mushrooms and red wine sauce.
I'm excited about this one, since the chanterelles and criminis were on sale for fall. I'm just going to saute them in butter and throw some salt and pepper on them. Mmmmm.
I think we need a vegetable here, but I didn't order one-- will pick something up from Pioneer.

4. French onion soup, with baguette and raclette cheese.
Spinach, goat cheese and beet salad (probably no beets for Alex).

He's on call Wednesday, and we're both away from home Sunday and Monday evenings, so this should be plenty to tide us over.
I'm so glad it's Saturday. I'm headed to Brooklyn today to see Mom and Dad before he goes home, and hopefully May and Phineas and their parents!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Carbonara, vermont and scallped potatoes

After a bit of a whirlwind week, we headed up to Vermont this past weekend for some relaxation and foliage exploring. The foliage was just getting started and it was a rainy weekend for the most part, but we were able to get out and hike (yes, Erin is still hiking despite her growing size and could probably match the best of them on the AT - oh yes, I'm hip enough to call it the AT despite only having ever hiked very small parts).

The food in Vermont was pretty good - nothing spectacular for dinner though. The Perfect Wife was good but didn't blow me away (it won Chef of the year for New England a few years back). Erin had an interesting rabbit and mushroom dish though that I may try to replicate one day. Breakfast was something to speak of however - made with love too which counts for something. We ate at the bed and breakfast - Bromley View Inn - they made pumpkin pancakes one day, pretty good eggs with sausage another and a pecan french toast another day.

Here's a couple of meals from home in the last week:
Spaghetti carbonara
- got some good bacon delivered this week which always helps; I think the best version of this I ever made was with fresh parmigiano in Italy... but it's usually good with local stuff too.
- cook the bacon with some garlic while pasta water boils (please don't add olive oil to pasta water!)
- beat two eggs
- grate about 1 cup of parmigiano
- after the pasta is done cooking and drained, I like to add the bacon with a little of the grease and garlic still in it to the pasta first so it doesn't stick together at all when you add the egg and quickly toss while quickly adding parmigiano

Scalloped potatoes with blue cheese, grilled steak and sesame broccoli
- Little Will is probably the main reason for this meal - Erin was craving steak and potatoes
- grilled the steak after just some time with salt and pepper and lime on it (about 1 hr)
- the scalloped potatoes are a la my dad... I'm sure there's a recipe out there but I just try to make it like he does:
- slice some potatoes fairly thin and make layers of potato, then cheese and onion (I used cheddar mainly), topped with flour and salt/pepper and occasional pats of butter before repeating beginning with potatoes and lots of cheese on top, pour milk in until you can see it just barely and then bake at 400 with foil on top for 3omins then with foil off for 30mins
- sesame broccoli is the art of getting oil so hot that water forms a nice bubble on top of the pan and then adding oil, broccoli after 2 mins and letting it cook on that hot heat for a couple of minutes before finishing with sesame seeds and soy sauce

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Samosas

This week is going to be fragmented... so I'm gonna post things one at a time. First, samosas. Sadly, in my haste to get them going after work, I hastily put them together without searching for the recipe that I have made that has turned out superbly in the past... I had wanted to blow some Indian minds at work. Another day.

For dough:

2 cups plain flour

3 tbsp. melted ghee

salt to taste

For filling:

1 cup cauliflower

2 cups potatoes boiled

6-7 green chillies (use less unless want mouth to hate you)

1 tsp. ginger grated

1 tsp. panchphoran

1/2 tbsp. coriander finely chopped

1/2 tsp. amchoor (dried mango) powder

1/2 tsp. garam masala

1/4 tsp. turmeric

salt to taste

1/2 tbsp. raisins

1 tbsp. cashew pieces

3-4 pinches asafoetida


No indeed - instead, I made them without the turmeric, raisins, cashews, asafoetida, panchporan or cauliflower. So they turned out a bit too spicy yet plain at the same time. Disappointing given the raving success of the prior try. That's what I get for rushing. These were still solid however and I will add that the accompanying lentils were divine!


Used red lentils - some sort of dal - butter and oil to brown the lentils, then added cumin, tomatoes (stewed), pepper and cooked some more, then just keep adding water and covering until the consistency that you want - about 30 mins for soft, mushy lentils. Soooo good!


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Pizza update

Finally a pizza worthy of the name:
I had tried so many times to make decent pizza at home - my own crust, I have a solid pizza stone, all to no avail until tonight!

This dough was from Fresh Direct - a solid crust. Rolled it out instead of tossing this time... and did so on baking paper with a bit of flour to avoid the tragic transfer to the hot stone that has happened far too many times.
Grilled sausage, onions, peppers, added some zucchini to one with some fresh mozzarella. The key I think to the success of this near perfect pizza was pre-heating the stone to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes - so it was roasting hot before the pizza ever got near it. The transfer went perfectly - used the parchment paper to transfer and then tore it off from underneath so the pizza just laid there - it can withstand that kind of heat. Oh how the crust bubbled perfectly, the cheese oozed and then browned and the toppings settled. I cannot explain how happy I am to finally have mastered the art of pizza making at home!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Korea, football and karaoke

This weekend was filled with lots of football and football-friendly food. I haven't actually watched that much football in probably 7 or 8 years in a single day... we had nachos, chicken strips, jalapeno poppers, leftover salad... it was all good but that much of anything can leave me a bit over-satiated.

We did start off the weekend with a bang - went to a little art gala opening of some friends that was quite posh, then down to Korea town and had some good Korean vegetable bibimbap (or at least I think that's what it was - vegetables and a little shredded beef cooked in a stone pot and brought to the table still sizzling hot with a raw egg served over the top - the condiments were lovely and varied from good kimchi to green beans to a fishy bean mix. After that we were off to the Korean karaoke bar at which Lan was celebrating her 30th - had a great time there. I accidentally picked Papa Don't Preach by Madonna without realizing that it was about a pregnant woman telling her papa that she's keepin the baby despite her father's objections about her mate...
Anyway, not much too crazy this week - I'm mostly interested in making a pizza with a decent crust with my pizza stone which has been resting for months and has rarely had what I would call true success.

Sausage and red pepper pizza with a side of roasted squash and carmelized onions
- we shall see about this crust; dough not from scratch so a little nervous about outcome

Lamb kebabs with honey spice glaze with tabbouleh and cucumber salad
- Going to use the grill for this one! The honey spice glaze I've used in the past is basically lemon, honey, paprika and a bit of chili powder or cayenne. I'm not the world's expert on bulgur so the tabbouli (apparently spelled multiple ways) could be a bit rough...

Quiche with ABA salad (Erin liked a lot) - see prior post for origin of ABA salad and recipe for quiche

Spaghetti carbonara with mustard greens and roasted carrots
- I use the basic recipe from the Silver Spoon - why mess with that... I think I actually do change it slightly but whatever.


Lastly, a brief word on the childbirth class, more to process my own thoughts than anything of interest to anyone else. It's a good class but a little hard in some ways. I know a lot about childbirth having gone to medical school and seen 100+ births through that and residency. And so when the teacher goes over basic stuff about birth, it's just a little hard to pay full attention despite her best efforts at making it interesting. At the same time, I know that many of my colleagues who have gone through a birth themselves have come out of the process having wanted things to go 'differently' than what actually happened. So I think there's certainly something to be learned, and I definitely have picked up things about being supportive emotionally through the process of labor that medical school did nothing for. One thing that was hard tonight was when someone would ask a question and she would defer that to a later class topic when I thought it was a fairly simple question that could have been answered - but it's not my class and she's the teacher so I stayed quiet. I'm going to try and find a way to be engaged and contribute though I don't know how that's going to work quite yet. I know Erin loves it but less so when she can tell I'm bored... perhaps I'll think of variations on the name for our son when he's finally born: combine Atticus with Henry and/or Will for Willicus or Hetticus. Or perhaps something more productive.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quick addendum to last post

So the birthing class turned out to be quite good after all - I realized for one that having seen about 100 births means very little when it comes to the whole process because I have only been there for about the last 5 minutes or so of the labor... and everyone in the class is great - no weirdos.

The steak turned out spectacularly - just pepper and salt and on the grill after sitting for about 1hr. I love that grill... and tonight the Branzino!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dinner for the week of Sept 11

We start baby classes this week... I'm sort of dreading it and sort of looking forward to it at the same time. On the one hand, I'm excited to be entering this adventure of raising our son with Erin just like I am excited to do anything with her. On the other hand, I'm a little wary of other parents-to-be and their preconceptions and interactions with each other... it's a little hard to articulate what my hesitation is, and it sort of sounds a little snooty... in part I think it's that I actually do know much of the stuff that we'll be learning but mostly I think it's that I think the class will be full of weirdos... hopefully it'll be great!

to the food for this week:

ABA salad with garlic bread
- that's arugula-bacon-asparagus salad for the uninitiated... which would included me until we eat it... seems like a good idea.

Branzino all'Acqua Pazza with Seared Radicchio
- saute 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes, lots of garlic in olive oil, then add parsley, basil, capers, tomatoes, salt and 1.5 cups water
- bring to a boil and then add sea bass cut into 3 inch pieces and reduce heat cooking for about 10 minutes without bringing back to a boil
- serve as a soup along with the radicchio (radicchio basically grilled with olive oil and served with shavings of parmigiano)

Chicken Burgers with Potato-Celery Salad

End of summer squash salad with steak
- this is a repeat from earlier in the summer because we liked it so much and now I get to use the grill for the steak! And we found out that our insurance will actually pay for our health care - so we're going nuts!


Monday, September 5, 2011

Dinners for week of Sept 5

After looking at the menu items for this week, it all seems very southern somehow... minus the Falafel with Couscous... perhaps subconsciously warming up for a move to Texas with Erin's almost certain acceptance for school.

Catfish with greens and cheesy grits

- Catfish is good as long as its not overdone with spice, that's the problem I have with it served 'blackened' most of the time - all black, no fish. I'll try and take it easy... haven't made this one yet.

Fried chicken with corn, biscuits and greens
- Used a fairly simple recipe for this chicken and it is some of the best I've had... no lie. It's adapted from a recipe by Leah Chase, pictured below this recipe, one of the goddesses of Creole cooking. Surrounded by fried chicken living in Harlem, I feel some compunction to become at least competent in the craft. This recipe helped.

1. Salt and pepper chicken
2. Bathe in a mixture of 2 eggs and 1/2 cup of evaporated milk and 1/2 cu water for about 5 minutes
3. Take the chicken and shake in a paper bag that has 2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or whatever spices you want)
4. Important - let chicken sit for 10 minutes to dry while you heat the oil
5. Fry for about 10 minutes a side
















Tortellini with roasted garlic and string bean salad

- I made a herb/butter dressing for the spinach tortellini which actually worked out pretty well: cooked some butter over low heat with garlic, then added thyme and fresh oregano at the very end...

Quice with salad
- Erin made this lovely dish that was a huge success: basically entails mixing cottage cheese (16oz), 2 cups cheddar and 4 eggs together then layering that with a spinach/onion mix and baking for about 30 minutes... delicious.

Falafel with raisin and carrot couscous
- Once again, Erin's star shone... she should really be posting these. The falafels were good but the real winner was the couscous: she cooked the carrots and raisins down before mixing in with the couscous in a splendid trick...

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Biking, stews and baby stuff

This past week had a couple of very pleasant food surprises - both involving stews of one kind or another.

Peanut lamb stew
We went to African and American Best Food - a little restaurant around the corner that has always intrigued me mainly because of the clientele and only secondarily the smells. The people working in this bare yet somehow cheery establishment with lots of West African decor and a big Barack Obama poster on the back wall were some of the friendliest in New York. Just lovely, big smiling people - gave us a taste test of two stews: one peaunt-based and another tomato-based. The tomato had more spice and complexity, but I was in the mood for peanut... we ended up with a lovely chicken shish kebab with a great mustard sauce and a peanut-lamb stew that had spinach and carrot as part of the base. The sweet plantains were Erin's favorite, of course, and the whole experience was very welcoming and happy - we'll be back.

Shrimp and sweet potato stew with a carrot and turnip salad
- This was the first meal that we had after Erin's trip to Texas... I thought a stew sounded good and Erin loves shrimp and sweet potatoes, so I gave it a go. Turned out good I think although I would probably add more spice and make it more saucy with less chunks next time. Erin hated the salad - she apparently can't stand turnips (I parboiled the turnips and carrots, thinly sliced with a mustard vinagrette and still no luck). I will make the stew again though:
- 2/3 lb shrimp
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 5 new potatoes
- tomato sauce
- tomatoes
- garlic
- cumin
- cayenne
- cilantro
Basically boil the potatoes for 5-10mins, when done add to the pan with garlic, add sauce and fresh tomatoes, cumin, cayenne and finish with the shrimp for 5 minutes just before serving and the cilantro the same.

Otherwise, this weekend was perfect: we put together some baby stuff finally getting rid of the pile of boxes that was crowding everything. The 90 year old woman on the first floor who alternately calls me 'baby' or 'sampson' receives all of our packages out of the goodness of her heart and then I lug them up the stairs. It's a pretty good deal actually.

I biked around Manhattan (a 32 mile trip) in a little less than 2 hrs one morning. I tried to bet Erin the rights to give our son his middle name if I did it in less than 2 hrs - she claims that bet was never confirmed.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Grilling and Hurricanes

So I figured the best way to herald the arrival of Hurricane Irene would be to grill - a nice leisurely summer activity. That and surfing. So with the rain coming down, I set up my new grill and went to work. The recipe below I've now tried a couple of times and it's pretty darn good:

Grilled vegetable salad
Zucchini sliced thin lengthwise
Red pepper
Onion slices
- Grill the above (on the wonderful stove-top grill that Erin bought) with salt and pepper
- Add cilantro and balsamic vinegar and mix it all up to make a grilled veggie salad of sorts
- Can add feta or goat cheese as you like...

I did go surfing before Irene rolled in fully - it was some of the best surf I've had in New York. Here's a pic from this morning when it's all tossed about at the spot:

Not very good at all now... but you can see that there was some swell - wish I had some pics from before when it was cleaner though there was always so much rain that it was hard to see the waves from a distance. It wasn't Teahupoo where Peter is now (below), but it was still fun...
One thing that prevented me from paddling out when it was really pumping was the creature that bumped me the day before the storm - I was sitting on my board with my feet in front of me (sometimes they're to the side hanging off), and I feel this bump then another jolt that was fairly strong... then my leash is getting pulled and turning me around... all happened rather quickly and I figured at first that it was another surfer tangled for a second since there were quite a few people out, but turned around to find no one close... and came to the alternative hypothesis that a sea creature of some sort had decided to investigate me a little. Not going to jump to conclusions about what kind of sea creature and he/she showed no malice, but I took the next wave in anyway.

It's almost time to bake the Hurricane Bread that I started last night
- 3 cups flour, 1 tsp yeast, salt, thyme
- mix the above, let rise overnight after adding a little less than 2 cups hot water
- toss again with a bit of flour for molding and let rise for 2 more hours
- bake in preheated dutch oven at 450 (with lid on) for 30 mins

One of the funnier things about the news folks on TV during episodes like this is that they basically run out of things to say and always seem to want to make their particular situation seem extreme!!! It must be hard to be on camera with one story like that (that's not really changing - rain and wind is the bottom line) and keep coming up with something new and interesting to say. One guy kept saying how much worse it was just before they got to him like a fisherman about the one who got away... I'm sure it was a bad storm for some folks and tough in many ways and hopefully people recover quickly.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pies and the farm on adderley

This week had some solid dinners - had a wonderful carne asada set of tacos, scallops with a spinach and goat cheese salad but the real winners came towards the end of the week.

Pie - apple version:
I made pie because it had been too long and needed to woo Erin a bit. Apple pie is just wonderful in the summer. This time I tried a different recipe for the topping below. Erin cored and sliced the apples, then we just mixed them with sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest and into the pies with the following on top:
3/4 cup white/brown sugar mix
3/4 cup flour1 stick butter
cinnamon
nutmegsalt
3/4 cup oats
- blend all of that together to a crumble and in one version, I put it on top of a pie with crust already and another just with the crumble. Both were delicious and enjoyed in good company - a party for some mentors and with friends who visited from Providence, RI.

Pie - pizza version:
Erin pulled off a real surprise on me twice this weekend for my birthday - the first was a pizza party. Noah and Deb came down from Providence, and I thought we were just going out to dinner. On the way, the sky opened up and closed at the same time in a way that only seems to happen in the summer around here... a complete torrent and darkness at the same time. We were weaving our way between overhangs in Spanish Harlem on the way to Patsy's - the original one founded back when Spanish Harlem was Italian Harlem. Their little Leah, 5 months old, was the only one who managed to stay dry and happily slept through the whole thing - resolute about her naps for sure.
So we get to the place dripping wet and I wanted to sit down at one of the small open tables but Erin was acting quite peculiar about waiting for another table - we go around to the bar to wait and low and behold there was Mike, Lan and eventually a whole host of friends. We ended up just hanging out at the bar, having appetizers, thin, burnt crust pizza that was quite impressive in quality and talking for a few hours - it was wonderful and I was completely surprised. The pizza is good: very thin crust, the sauce is understated but good and the toppings were top notch as well - we had sausage, a sun-dried tomato, a garlic and olive, a Margherita and a portabello mushroom.
The Farm on Adderley:
Adderley is a main thoroughfare in Cape Town and to have a farm there is somewhat of an impossibility. “If that ever happens I’ll buy you a farm on Adderley.” This was the place, in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, that Erin and I decided to celebrate my birthday. Quite appropriate considering we had just spend part of the day stand-up paddle-boarding on the Hudson - same type of impossibility in some ways. Erin was a trooper as always - between the camping and the paddle boarding and her general can-do attitude, she never ceases to amaze me. It was pretty fun to be on the Hudson seeing New York from a completely different view - it's not as good as surfing on the ocean, but it was a lot of fun, and also a complete surprise.

Here's the website:
http://thefarmonadderley.com/It's in a somewhat unlikely location befitting the name. The interior and staff were both laid back and the food was incredible. Not often am I that impressed with food - but they did great things with fresh ingredients and inventive combinations of flavors.

Appetizers:
Summer beans with buttermilk dressing - went perfect with the kale but sweet
Kale salad with lemon, parmigiano, radish and olive oil - bitter but with tang from the parmesan
Summer squash and sungold tomato crostini

Dinner:
Steak with okra and collard greens - perfectly cooked, impressed with the lack of stickiness and solid taste of the okra too
Pan roasted fluke with corn, fennel and potato - the whole fennel pieces went really well with the sweet corn and the fluke had a nice crust on it but still juicy inside
French fries with curry mayo - could have eaten a pound of these

Dessert:
Milk chocolate mousse with salted cream - the salted cream was a nice touch
Peach and blueberry cobbler

This week in preview:
- I got a stove-top grill for my birthday from Erin - very excited to be able to grill some veggies inside

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Camp food, frogs and newts

Got out of town this past weekend up to the wilderness known as Willowemoc Wild Forest and had some needed quiet time just the two of us and a million amphibious creatures. It is a bit crazy how you can end up seemingly in the middle of nowhere with no other humans around within only a short 2 hour drive and 3 hour hike from New York City.

Willowemoc houses a large variety of toads and frogs (though there apparently is no scientific distinction amongst the two - only a popular myth) and given the intermittent rain we've had, they were out in droves, or 'knots' as apparently they are called when in company. The forest itself was otherwise fairly quiet with only a small chipmunk and a few other rustling creatures to be found aside from the newts that dotted the rocks almost everywhere you looked after it rained.

I am so proud of my very pregnant wife. She hoofed it along with a full pack for about 7 miles round trip up and down hills and across a couple of brooks. As an aside, I have been told that brook means 'fart' in Tamil. Just trying to raise the bar of this post apparently. Anyway, being a wilderness, there are no actual campsites so we broke a trail into the woods and found a decent little clearing, set up camp and relaxed for the afternoon. Can barely see the little fellow in the pic below!
The meal we had picked up at a little country type store in Liberty, NY on the way up. To be honest, it was the kind of country store that looks like people from New York City set up after falling in love with the countryside - a little bit forced in places and definitely trying to be country in some ways except with big city prices.

Beautiful little campsite surrounded by ferns, lots of leaves on the ground and plenty of downed timber perfect for a fire. Got the fire going, then the thunder began to start up... Erin suggested we hurry. I wanted to wait for the coals to get a little more established... compromised. The lucky thing about the site we chose was that the trees above were so dense that even after the downpour began, not only did the fire keep going (with a little help), but we stayed dry for the first 15-20 minutes of it. We enjoyed a feast of Andouille sausage, corn on the cob and onion flowers all with that wonderful fire-roasted tint with a bit of scotch to top it off. The Andouille, while made in New York, was the real deal in other respects: smoked but sweet and not too spicy. The best part was eating it with lovely pregnant and beautiful Erin while dry next to a fire in the middle of a thunderstorm in the Catskills. It was our son's first camping experience too... not the last.

Here's a pic from the morning after at our site:

This week, I am going to give a west African inspired meal a go: some sort of peanut-sauce based spicy chicken dish with okra and tomatoes - had a lovely meal at a Senegalese place around the corner and going to try and one up them at home!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Enchiladas for dinner

I've had a hankering to make green enchiladas with chicken for a few days, and I'm thinking that will be our dinner tonight. However, often tomatillos are difficult to find at grocery stores around us, so if I can't get them, I'll either use canned green tomatillo sauce (not bad, usally), or switch to more of a cilantro/jalapeno/onion based sauce, and hope that it still tastes okay.

We have beans and rice leftover from our beach trip and Viva Empanada (Katie's choice) yesterday, so that and a nice salad will suffice for the sides.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Birthing and Clams

So we went over to the midwife's house today who will possibly be doing the home birth. She is a lovely woman and has a good balance of respect for the birthing process as a possible medical process but more likely a fairly simple and straightforward labor and delivery without much intervention needed. From my experience (attending about 100 births or so) and most of the stories I have heard from friends, this is going to be the safest and happiest way to bring our little boy into the world... oh yeah, a boy - pics below (Erin didn't scan the one of his package cause she figured I would post it and she was right, but trust me, it's a boy!):


On the way home, we stopped and had some decent Mexican food at a place in Brooklyn run by Chinese guys whose menu was unmistakably set up as a Chinese menu but with Mexican food substituted in - but fresh tortillas and not bad at all. They also had a choking poster depicting Chinese characters doing CPR and the Heimlich maneuver with instructions in Spanish.

Finally, we stopped at the Prospect Park Farmer's Market to get some food for dinner. Peaches were awesome (but pricey), corn looks great and the seafood was good too. Bright yellow zucchini and some eggplant to finish it off. On the way home, Erin kept saying that she thought that clams, corn and potatoes sounded good but wouldn't give a whole heck of a lot more detail as to how she thought the three ingredients might coalesce - she just kept repeating clams, corn and potatoes. She's wonderful. The potatoes look very fresh and so I think may be good a little undercooked even with a bit of tart to them... so here goes one idea to fulfill her vision:

Clams, Corn and Potatoes
- we'll slice the potatoes thin, then broil with herbs and butter for 20mins or so until they have a little bit of crusting going on. The corn will be broiled (until we get a BBQ). I'll cook the clams and mussels in garlic with yellow squash and oregano, and steam them till just the first ones open then add the potatoes to finish in the last 5 minutes to soak up a bit of juice but still be crispy from the caramelizing and then plate with broken pieces of corn on the cob on the side as a platter... we shall see.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Heat wave

So this last weekend was 100+ for most of the time... we still had a good time however. Erin was a star at the bodega in the Bronx - her bright smiling face attracted people who sort of stepped back when I said 'hi, would you like to fill out a survey on what you eat?' Otherwise, went to Mike's show which was good music as usual but crappy location in random place in Williamsburg and had a lovely cool dinner:

Cucumber-mint soup and Watermelon-basil-feta salad with Tiger Shrimp
- all cool for this one: the cucumbers were easy (and one from the garden): just cucumbers in the mixer with some mint, then add some yogurt, sour cream and a bit of mustard. The salad was watermelon, basil from the garden, radish, feta, tomatoes and a little onion with some olive oil - lovely! Tiger shrimp fresh somehow and locally obtained - all served cold in a hot apartment.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Bloody Alex

I will be making dinner tonight. Hence, I have tied this post to food:

Alex had yet another bike accident today. I was driving to work this morning, realized I forgot my phone, and in the next moment, had a weird feeling that I should be very very careful because something terrible could happen today. I thought it meant me in a car accident. Apparently, it meant Alex would be injured elsewhere. He got to work via Mili's car, after calling my unanswerable phone, then hobbling around looking for the train station and pausing every 50 feet to breathe. Once there, his team insisted that he go to the ER, because of his rapid breathing. He probably has a fractured rib, although it wasn't clear on the X-ray. Plus multiple contusions and abrasions and an injured shoulder.

Coming home this afternoon, what is his main priority? To get to a bike shop and get the cursed bicycle fixed so he can ride it to work tomorrow. I drove to find him and apparently, I wasn't pleasant. Am I to blame for shouting at him? Is it okay for me to throw the bicycle out the window while he is sleeping tonight? He's so darn perky about it - I think, to contrast with my ferociousness. I don't want anything to happen to him. ANYTHING. Even little contusions and broken ribs and banged helmets. And he's irritatingly cavalier about it all.

Wish other people were reading this post and could figure out another way to make him be more careful, ride slower, ride fewer days and take the subway sometimes- which seems to be much much safer. Because clearly my worry only makes him more determined...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sweet addition to the menu for this week...

I'm making a mascarpone and cream cheese cheesecake with lemon and a sour cream/lemon topping. Sounds amazing, right? Alex loves cheesecake more than any other dessert.
The recipe is on epicurious, at:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Mascarpone-Cheesecake-108903

I hope it turns out well. There are a huge number of reviews of it, mostly saying positive things, but some warnings about cooking time and amount of butter. Since I'm not an expert chef, I usually just follow the recipe, but I did use less butter for the crust (7Tbs instead of 10T- worked fine), and it wasn't at all set when I checked it at 30min, so it's going for 20min more. With some checking in between.

The batter was spectacular- although, after I'd licked the bowl, the mixer, and the spatula, I remembered there was some warning about pregnant women consuming raw eggs. Oh well---

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Dinners for the week of July 18

Inspiration from working in the garden this morning...

Zucchini Coins and Crumbled Feta with Herb-crusted Chicken and Lime-infused rice
- basically thinly sliced zucchini with garlic in a oil cooked on low for 20-30 mins, toss with herbs (basil and oregano freshly picked in our case) and some crumbled feta; I think I'll bake the chicken after a quick batter and crust

Indian Potato Salad with seared Tilapia and Brown-buttered Spinach
- cumin seeds, garam masala and cayenne form the base for the potato salad along with cilantro... the tilapia is self-explanatory and spinach just longs for butter...

Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and Mustard with a Cucumber and Tomato Salad (garden fresh) and Baguette
- just have to remember to do this the night before: rosemary and mustard with pepper on the pork - then it's easy: put tenderloins on top of a bed of rosemary if you have them and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes a side

Roasted Cauliflower with Fennel and Honey-Glazed Collard Greens with Naan
- lots o' meat in the others, so this night we're goin green! The naan is just for variety...


Harlem churches:
There is a strange tide of French and Italian speaking tourists that comes into Harlem every Sunday morning and ebbs out by the evening... not long after living here I found out that it was for the churches. If you look in a guide book from France on NYC, one of the top attractions is Harlem Sunday Church - glory hallelujah! There are many things that are almost voyeuristic about tourism in general, but somehow visiting a church is worse. It's funny to see the big buses pull up to a small homey looking church filled with gospel music and have people pour out, peep about nervously before hustling inside. If it were all about the prayer or the building itself, I think I might be more ok with it. However, I the big attraction is the people themselves - the more outlandish, the more yelling and thumpin' the better. Is this any different than watching French kids play soccer in the park or Italians sauntering around the piazza? I suppose not, but it does seem weird still for some reason - and, no matter how much I try to rationalize it, part of the weirdness is purely racial in my mind - mostly rich European folk coming to watch poorer black Americans sing their hearts out... and then go eat Sunday brunch at Sylvia's Soul Food.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dinner week of July 11th

This time, the food first, the commentary second.

Gazpacho
- a simple food in theory to make... delicious if it comes out right. I pulled a recipe off Epicurious and here's the basics: 4-5 tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 1 pepper, thyme and garlic with olive oil in the blender, mix afterward with 3 cups tomato juice and some red wine vinegar and voila! We had it with some crusted bread and sour cream after chilling for a night - perfect!

Garden dinners
- we've had a few of these, I won't get into details on the food other than simplicity - a simple salad with fresh goat cheese or the left over hot dogs (from an earlier post) with salad... the bottom line is that the community garden we have been lent by our lovely neighbor is like an oasis. To be able to sit in the middle of Harlem amongst vegetables growing and a cool breeze on a hot summer night makes just about any food delectable - eating with your lovely wife and unborn little one is the icing.

New York Life
- sometimes this feels like a really hard city to live in: this week I had 3 flat tires in my commute through the Bronx, tried to feel the kindness of strangers when I was not hit by their careening driving patterns, and the clinic was pure chaos - a crappy week overall for other reasons that should not be said here. In clinic this week, I met one patient who helped make life seem less bad for some reason, and we initially connected over food... I won't relate any details that violate HIPPA, but basically his darling little 1 year old came in for a visit, and in asking what she's been eating, he described his home food with some prompting - the peanut sauce seemed unique in preparation and I asked more... apparently, this father was a top student in Mali (about 1/2 of my patients at least are from other countries), and being a top student, he was sent to Russia for his studies where he completed a PhD in sociology, then went on to serve as a war correspondent for the IRC (International Rescue Committee - a refugee organization that I used to volunteer for) and wrote advocacy and journalism pieces for them. He moved to NYC to have the chance at a better life for his family - and now he sells shoes. So here's a guy who speaks French, English, Malian and Russian fluently and has a PhD in sociology who is selling shoes to get by and give his family a better chance. It's funny that I thought I had a bad week after getting a bunch of flats and having a crappy work week as a doctor... it's all relative of course in terms of suffering - one can suffer in riches as well as in poverty, but I am lucky to have such personal examples to serve as inspiration on a near daily basis.

Baby news:
the little one really started moving this week!!! still can't hear a heartbeat with my stethoscope, but he/she is a moovin and groovin - especially when Erin lies down. I'm so excited! Next week we find out boy or girl - don't care which, excited both ways. Had two conversations this week with adolescent patients that felt a little like parenting where they were a boy/girl who didn't have a father/mother to explain life's little joke of adolescence to them and so part of the job fell to me - sweet patients but flash forward in time... actually helped me frame things in a light that was less medical and more sympathetic I think.

More to come this week in food... doing inpatient oncology this week as the senior physician on the floor, so perhaps some neutropenic meals are in order? (bad joke).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Dinner week of July 5th

Well that was a lovely weekend. Only a few entanglements with the madness of what is this city - went driving by the beach that many frequent for July 4th and thankfully kept on driving - the lines and cars and fees and private-ness of it all made me yearn for a west coast free beach with good surf. So it goes. San Diego beaches weren't that good at times either in the summer.
I was thinking a bit about the little one that's coming this weekend too. It's so exciting and yet very intimidating at the same time - and I'm a pediatrician. Apparently that doesn't help much. The only part that is reassuring that I take from work is that I have seen some completely incompetent and idiotic parents who have just lovely children - so there's a chance of success even if we screw it up royally. Erin sent me a study today about how 16 month old children make rational decisions regarding the effects of themselves on the world - basically figuring out what the problem is - them vs the world when something fails to function. This is something that I struggle with in the hospital at times so I'm not sure what that means for me.

Anywho, to food!
We stopped on the way back from the beach this weekend at Bigelow's Clam Shack and had some Ipswich clams and a beer - perfect.

Otherwise, this past week, we've had:

Fettucini alfredo with mustard greens
- now this would normally be nothing to write home about... however, this round was made with parmigiano that our friends brought back from Italy - he is from Reggio and gave us a huge chunk of the good stuff. Made the cheesy goodness with butter and milk and voila! Erin wasn't the biggest fan of the mustard greens with yellow peppers, but I liked it.

Summer squash salad with steak and garlic bread
- also a simple summer dish, nothing fancy but soooo good. The squash I got same day from a farmer's market - the salad is easy: peel the squash to the core so you just have ribbons, roast some chopped almonds, make a dressing with lemon juice, olive oil and a bit of garlic and then add that to the squash ribbons with some lettuce if you wish, salt, pepper, away you go! Steak and garlic bread as per the standard fashion.

Next week we may go back to Fresh Direct and likely more complex and dangerous food...

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dinner for the end of June/July 4th

My first 3 day weekend (non-vacation) in 2 years is here! Time to plan for some good food - not sure what we'll be making but a trip to the farmer's market is in order for sure. And we just got a space in a community garden in Harlem with basil, beans and tomatoes already a growin!

Erin made some lovely dishes this week by the way - I was on my last week in the ICU and both in a bad mood and tired most of the time so she carried the day/week - and did it splendidly!

Veggie Quesadillas - Erin style:
- squash, onion, black beans and cilantro with NY cheddar - delicious!

Caprese salad - next month it will be from the garden - woohoo!

Dinners week of June 20th

Well it was time for a break... week was busy and family in town so while we had some fine meals at home, I think I'll take a chance to review a couple of restaurants that we went to the past couple of weeks:

5 and Diamond - http://www.5anddiamondrestaurant.com/
- a small bistro place with bare brick walls and a menu that is driven by local ingredients with a Harlem flare (I'm not sure many places exist here without offering a version of mac and cheese). The service is good and very friendly albeit a bit slow at times. The food is good, but not great. Erin had a papardelle with a short-rib ragu, a salad that was truly divine and I had a wonderfully done steak with herbed potatoes and spectacular broccoli rabe. Overall, it's a bit spendy for us but with a refined yet laid back atmosphere hard to find in Harlem and the food is good - so we'll be back.

Amy Ruth's - http://www.amyruthsharlem.com/
- this place has been in Harlem since the mid-1990s and has quality soul food. We've been a bunch of times with various people and it's always at least decent, often times good. The President Barack Obama is my favorite - fried chicken with two sides (usually greens and mac and cheese for me). All of the menu items are named for famous black people basically - but I don't think they are meant to reflect their lives or personalities - the fried catfish is great and the Reggie Harris (Barack Obama with honey glaze) is also a winner. BYOB requires some planning but decent soul food at good prices is harder to find...

Bad Horse Pizza - http://www.badhorsepizza.com/
- so we stumbled on this place after a disaster day at La Guardia, and it was like finding an oasis. The pizza is inventive and they have a decent beer selection; their pasta was underwhelming - good but the pesto was bland and the pasta a little overdone. That said however, the pizza is worth going for if you're looking for some non-traditional flavors that are well-matched and crafted (one downside - the sauce when tasted in isolation was a bit lacking - the toppings made the pizza).

Red Rooster - http://redroosterharlem.com/
- this was our anniversary dinner - so it was basically wonderful in every way just because of that. Otherwise, the food was disappointing and the atmosphere a bit boisterous for what we were looking for. If you don't sit in the back dining room which requires reservations months in advance, the front is shared tables that are a bit cramped and loud. This place has had rave reviews and perhaps my food was just a bad selection, but it was not good. I had blackened catfish that was so blackened that it had basically no taste other than burnt and the ceviche tacos were also lacking flavor or character. Erin liked her meatballs well enough and her crabcakes, but I would not go back unless for a drink and appetizer... not worth the money for just barely ok food in a space where you're bumping elbows with your neighbors who (despite all the hype to the contrary) are largely not local and are not mixing pleasantly in a romantic palette of color as has been suggested by some reviews.

Southern Soul BBQ - http://www.southernsoulbbq.com/
- all I have to say is I have been misled. Erin and her parents have taken me to BBQ almost every time I've been to Texas and every time have said 'Oh that wasn't good BBQ, next time we'll take you to good BBQ.' I'm still waiting. This place, on St Simons Island in Georgia where we were for a wedding had hands-down some of the best barbeque I've ever had. I had a burnt ends sandwich and fried okra. They take the ends of a brisket with sauce and put it between two pieces of bread and leave the heavenly experience to you - I cannot say enough. Unfortunately, it is nowhere near either Texas, New York or anywhere I will likely be in the near future... so I will have to hold on to the memory and hope they branch out to Texas.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dinner for the week of June 12

So this week looks pretty promising - no call until Saturday and still coming home from the world's worst food environs that is the hospital cafeteria. There's one woman that smiles back at me every day and I swear she sort of furtively looks around as she does to make sure none of the others see her... anyway, here it goes (this is tentative as Erin's pregnant nose is acting up and may react negatively...). In fact, I've just been informed that tomatoes, olive oil, meat and strong flavor are bad - after having purchased the ingredients for the below - guess what's in them.

The little one creating all this havoc has also morphed from varieties of fresh fruit to a sea creature (medium size apparently) - now a shrimp formerly known as kumquat/lime/blueberry.

Scallops and seared brussels with garlic bread
- quick and easy with panko on the scallops and the brussels with some garlic bread

Hanger steak with a mushroom-swiss polenta and summer greens and fresh tomatoes
- the mushroom-swiss polenta will be the tricky bit - how to maintain flavor amidst all that starch while keeping it fluffy...

Panzanella with bufala mozzarella and yellow summer squash
- bread salad with fresh mozzarella and good tomatoes with olives and basil - how can one go wrong... the summer squash I'm going to broil after slicing thin longwise to make little ribbons...

Vietnamese fish with bok choy and udon
- the recipe that I'm working from with this is odd somewhat because it's literally labeled 'Asian fish' - I thought most folks had gotten past 'Asian' and 'African' and realized that those are continents with highly varied sections within them (countries). So I'm changing the recipe in a few ways and the name - we're going with Vietnamese despite the udon noodles....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Dinner for week of June 5

It was another somewhat tumultuous week so a little more toned down and much more homestyle this week... finally the weekend came and I was so ready to cook. The first two recipes are from the weekend. I don't know what it is about the food at the hospital, but good god am I happy to be home and eating decent food. It's not just that the food's bad (and aside from a few things at breakfast, it is horrible), but the fact that it is served with complete distaste/hate for your fellow human beings makes it somehow worse. The angriest people I have ever met work in that cafeteria. I smile and try to be really nice, and that gets me somewhere sometimes, but I swear most of the people that work there are being beaten in the back or are actively doing hard time. The worst meal made with love can taste great, there is no love in that place. Anyway, I was happy to be at home and have a chance to cook a couple decent meals this weekend with music and happiness all around.

Grilled Indian-style salmon with roasted cauliflower and salad
- Salmon with a ginger/garam masala/cumin marinade broiled and served with raita - a yogurt based sauce with cucumber, onion and cilantro along with cauliflower roasted with chili powder and garlic with a fresh salad with pears and lemon vinagrette to cool things off...

Steak tacos
- checked out a new butcher down the street - won't be back, but not because the meat wasn't good, it's just not happy meat. But some lime and cayenne and cumin on the steak for an hour while the squash and cilantro and onion mix was prepared --> gimme some cheese with a hot tortilla and a beer and we're all done! Erin was out of town so I had all the tacos I could stuff to myself!

Classic hamburgers and roasted veggies with sweet potato fries
- Hamburgers marinated with a little garlic-hot sauce, thyme, and salt and pepper served on Challah bread; we roasted the carrots, brussel sprouts, zucchini and peppers with oregano, cayenne and a bit of cardamom in olive oil to spice it up a bit

Eggplant, red pepper and squash ratatouille with meat sauce
- Roasted the veggies and then added the browned ground beef left over from the hamburgers with a basil-tomato sauce and broiled with a parmesan-bread crumb crust on top - Erin liked it better with pasta

Quesadillas - the veggie version
- crooked yellow neck squash with onion and garlic sauteed for a bit before assembling with cheese and voilla!

Homemade coleslaw, potato salad and hot dogs
- Erin had a hankering for this after a day in the park on the weekend, so to whole foods we went... she made a great homemade mayonnaise to go with the potato salad and the shredded coleslaw and happy hot dogs were great for a Sunday afternoon dinner

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dinner for the Week of May 29th

This was a bit of a rough week - Alex was in the ER or ICU much of the week and Erin working till 8 most nights in the lab... still, we had some good ones:

Fusilli with broccoli raab in a ricotta-pepper sauce
- easy recipe - basically cook the raab with a bit of garlic and whatever spice you want, mix 15oz ricotta with 1/2 cup of water (from the pasta makes it easy) and then mix all together - I think would be good next time with sundried tomatoes too

Spinach parmesan polenta with a tomato-balsamic reduction and thyme crusted chicken
- I think Erin didn't like the tomato-balsamic a bit too acidic and pungent - the polenta was great though


Sunday, May 22, 2011

Kumquats

Apparently kumquats are native to China and while I have only eaten the raw version, there are a variety of uses including jams and a liquor in Greece! Wonderful memories of eating them off a tree in California as a kid.

It is also the fruit that the pregnancy website chose to ascribe our little one about the time these pictures were taken... say hello to Kumquat!

Dinner for the week of May 22nd

So this week is our anniversary and we need to pick one of these for Tuesday... not sure which yet. May depend on Erin's pregnant desires... lots of old favorites this week

Roast chicken (stuffed with goat cheese and lemon) served with a side of mashed Russets and braised brussel sprouts
- very simple to make

Cucumber, avocado fish wraps/tacos
- the title basically says it all... very good, especially when it's hot

North African Lamb with toasted pinenut couscous and a European threesome of Italian eggplant, Spanish onion and Red Pepper (Holland?)


Bratwurst and sauerkraut with baked apples and braised kale
- Erin's last call for winter

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Dinners week of May 15th

So here are the options for this week:
- leave reviews at the bottom and I will add recipes later...

Lasagna bolognese with a salad of greens, tomato, cucumber, julienned carrots and blue cheese
- this is an easy lasagna: two onions chopped up w/ one carrot into a pan for 5 minutes, then 1lb of ground beef till browned, add 1/4-1/2 cup of white wine along with 1cup tomatoes and reduce for 30minutes with salt/pepper/herbs. Layer lasagna (boiled x 4-5mins) with meat sauce, then a layer of bechamel (made while the meat sauce is cooking - 1/4 cu butter, 1/4 cu flour, 2 cups milk) and then a layer of parmigiano and keep going till you're done - it's easy! 30 mins at 400 degrees.

Panko tilapia with fennel mint tzaziki, asparagus wrapped with bacon and roasted potatoes
- Tilapia is quick and easy: tilapia rolled in eye yolk then quick batter with panko, salt, pepper, herbs and mint sauce with yogurt, mint, a dash of balsamic and olive oil
- Asparagus: parboiled for 5 minutes tips up, then wrap bacon around and broil for 5-10 minutes/side
- Roasted potatoes with salt, pepper, cayenne, thyme, whole garlic and cubed onions

Double baked, double cheesed broccolini with elbows
- Boil pasta for 8 minutes, then add cheese sauce, broccoli boiled for 5 minutes and then mixed with pasta after cheese sauce added. Top all with cheddar, blue cheese and parmigiano and bake for 10 minutes - done!

Ethiopian doro wett with braised kale
- This is a bit more complex as you need to make the spiced butter first
- Followed the recipe here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Chicken-Stew-em-Doro-Wett-em-353750
- Only changes were chicken breasts only, would use less chicken stock next time and no fenugreek because I didn't have any... was good all the same