Monday, November 26, 2012

T-day

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. I don't think the commercial interests have yet found a way to monetize it in a way which creeps into its wonderfulness. Eating lots of food and spending time with family or friends without having gift giving or hunting for eggs or setting of explosives... all in the context of giving thanks for what we have and giving back to others. Lovely.

Erin pulled off this year's fest basically by herself. Turkey, stuffing (the fennel, pear, sausage variety), cranberries, potatoes both sweet and Idaho-ish, and a great gravy to boot. She did a fantastic job and we had good company to boot. The night ended with Erin's Aunt Linda and I playing a guess what I'm describing in words type game versus Erin and her cousin Helena. Lots of wine, no clear winner. 

Atticus and I had just gotten back from a quick trip to Hawaii which I will memorialize on this blog with this photo only and have enough be said:

I took a brief hiatus from cooking which was a welcome respite in some ways though the rhythm of cooking can be peaceful for sure. Without further ado, the menu for the week:

Prosciutto-wrapped cod with lemon and parimgiano piselli and bread
- have to keep the salt down on the cod since the prosciutto has a bit but otherwise wrap, pepper and garlic and in the oven with a little olive oil, lovely
Two beans and a turkey stew with salad
- gonna wing (no pun intended) this one from the leftover turkey and some pinto and kidney beans along with onion, a little cilantro, some tomatoes and we'll see what else
Grilled catfish, potato cakes and broccoli
- catfish is a staple in Texas now, will transform the leftover potatoes from T-day with some chives, green onions and sour cream into fried cakes of goodness
Garden burgers with sweet potatoes and okra
- Atticus loves these things - the garden burgers. Will not touch mushrooms any other way that I know of
Gas station tacos and kale
- have grown to love kale (thank you Oregon); the gas station tacos lit my mouth on fire last time, so less chipotle, same pineapple and cloves though with a pit of pork braised and delicious! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

My sister


Who made this?
Lily has an amazing set of projects related to food going on in Mexico City. I had a chance to go down there this past weekend and see some of what she's been up to... I've grouped our outings by food in no particular order.




She has a few different collaborations with restaurants in the burgeoning Mexico City food scene. We visited one such place with a bee theme - Bresca. Very welcoming atmosphere, subdued but elegant decor and of course Lily knew half the staff which didn't hurt. The roof is outlined like a honeycomb, the menu pattern is an artist's rendering of a bee's honey dance (pretty cool in real life if you've ever see it), and there are a few other tips of the chef's hat to the producer of honey. The food did not disappoint even though they've only been open a couple of months and are staffed by a young group from the CIA.

Lily's influence was throughout the menu which made her brother oh so proud. I started with an arugula and tomato salad - grown from the garden Lily designed and maintains in part in the restaurant space and in part in the back. Tomatoes done three ways - gelatin, candied and fresh. She had a pair of solid ravioli with a sage sauce (also from the garden), and the kitchen sent out a lovely braised fish dish with three different carmelized veggies. My main was interesting though not mind-blowing - pork belly, but the dessert made up for it and the Pinotage from South Africa was a great selection as well. All in all, it was a lovely meal with a brilliant gardener (she has some other great projects too).

Made of seeds of some kind!
Mexico City surprised in other ways too - beautiful city scape downtown especially now that it's all prettied up for the day of the dead (see pics).










Otherwise, I had some of the better tacos of the last year on this trip... both in the city and when we went outside for a day trip on Saturday to Tepoztlan. I'm not sure why the tacos were so good but they are amazing! Had some solid nopale, zucchini flower and roast chicken tacos but I think a big piece of it is the fresh tortillas and the amazing salsa more than the filling. Something to aspire too. Missed the boy and Erin but a good trip with excellent food was had for sure! 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Floore Country Store

Erin gave me a wonderful birthday present last night... slightly belated.

We went out to Floore's Country Store for a Willie Nelson show and had BBQ before. Best time I've had in Texas so far! In part because had some quality time with Erin which seems rare these days but also just very Texas.

First, to Rudy's BBQ, marketed as Texas' worst BBQ while at the same time being ranked by various diner polls and votes to be in the top 5 pretty consistently. We were behind a German tourist family in line and the dad was so excited, the mom seemed just weirded out by the whole thing and the adolescent children were feigning indifference as they do so well. Anyway, between Erin and I, we split 3/4lb of brisket, three sides and a sausage link. Plus of course the requisite white bread, pickle and jalapeno.
It's a dangerous thing for me to order by weight. Much better when it's such a sandwich because I inevitably will order more than is good for me. Or Erin should order. Two people should not eat 3/4lb of meat and then sides... oh but we did. I had the leftover brisket on the car ride home and it was even better then - more smoky and flavorful somehow (perhaps the beer helped). The creamed corn was delicious, the potato salad neither here nor there and the coleslaw pretty good. Darn good food in a perfect Texas atmosphere - view of the freeway and a beautifully huge Texas sky.

Then off to Floore Country Store in Helotes. This place used to host Willie Nelson every Saturday night when he was up and coming. It's a country dancing hall with an outside venue for bigger stars. But the place is still pretty darn tiny. Inside it's got tables that get moved out of the way for dancing and the outside area has trees and maybe space for 1000 people or so. Pretty intimate setting. He opened with Whisky River (as Erin predicted) and just kept going for a couple hours with his own stuff, some blues and everything from BB King to Dylan to his recent stuff (which I'm much less familiar with). We danced and enjoyed the hell out of ourselves... 

Monday, September 24, 2012

breakfast tacos

It's been a wild couple of weeks getting more settled into a routine of cooking with Texas ingredients and doing medicine Texas style (think guns being one shocker - you can't bring your gun into the hospital - sign at front informs you of this and plenty of kids shot accidentally most of the time). Anyway, one of the newer discoveries and habits is breakfast tacos. They are a staple down here. For better or worse.

My main interaction with said breakfast taco is picking them up for the residents on call over the weekend - a gesture more than anything but still. I've been going to a place that is on the bike ride to work that sells both tacos and doughnuts (see pics) and is chock full of Mexican-American grandmas making tacos from scratch. I go early enough that you can see them rolling out the dough and cooking the tortillas as they're made. While these probably have no small part in San Antonio's obesity epidemic as the majority of customers make apparent, they are delicious. So my hat (or helmet) off to the breakfast taco!



(While doing research for this blog, I actually found a news article on someone who saw the face of Jesus in his breakfast taco's tortilla and stopped eating it)... which is the blasphemy?

Without further ado, the menu for both last week and this:

Last week: 
Sirloin steak tacos, avocado, corn - great steak with lime, cumin, cilantro served with BBQ'd corn, avocado
Fusilli with veggies - as described (alla arrabiata sauce)
Vietnamese catfish sandwiches with kale - these were good, fried the catfish, made the sandwiches with french bread, cucumber, jalapeno, cilantro with braised kale as a side
Chicken quesadillas with squash - speaks for itself
Pork kabobs with carrots and couscous - Erin's time to shine, she made a delicious version of this with a rosemary-orange marinade for the pork and carrots!

This week: 
Burgers, onion rings, fried zucchini - onion rings are a tricky business to make a batter stick, I had to improvise last minute with some sweetened condensed milk and regular milk but it came out ok
Teriyaki salmon, rice, chard - some excellent steelhead salmon on sale (so not really salmon)
Red lentil soup with mustard greens, garlic bread - basically cook the lentils down in water for 30mins, then add mustard greens cooked in whatever spice you like - cumin and mustard seed will work
Tomato soup with grilled cheese - may have to pick up some gruyere for this one and add some milk to the tomato soup with thyme from the garden
Enchiladas - have gotten better at a green sauce now, going to have a go at it and roast the tomatillos first for a smokier flavor (and some garlic) since what's going inside is pretty earthy - mushrooms, chicken, spinach, cheese
Fish tacos - we love this if you can't tell, always a winner with a good homemade pico de gallo and a coleslaw (use mayo + lime and you can't go wrong)

That's that!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Blueberries

I was inspired to look into blueberries further after multiple encounters over the past week. Though I have actually had a long, albeit intermittent, relationship with the fruit. I'm sure my first encounter was around Atticus' age, but my youngest memory when the blue spheres are prominent evokes endless rows of bush and cool summer mornings in Oregon picking the little buggers till your hands gained a hue that would not come off for a week. Unfortunately for me, the next weekend was the next time to pick blueberries. Fourteen and things were grand.

Atticus mashes blueberries into his face (see below) and elsewhere on a pretty regular basis. The market was selling sausage with blueberries, and they were on sale like mad this week - I think end of season. Anyway, further investigation was warranted... 


As usual I went towards the health bent on the food. Turns out these little buggers have resveratrol in them - the compound thought to be behind the reason drinking is good for you!* They also have a pretty much worldwide distribution, but as with many things - the tomato most famously, most of the versions out there are disappearing since the most easily cultivated and transportable is being exported and grown all over.

Animal studies have shown some benefit in neuroprotection in stroke models, and there is some benefit in blood pressure regulation as well. Cool stuff. The mechanism may have something to do with polyphenols - little compounds termed "anti-nutrients" because they block absorption of nutrients and make the compound less digestible and are thus plants' defense against us! Anyway, these polyphenols may have a range of health benefits as well. But from a review, my favorite quote that just reveals how sick the medical machine has become (in my opinion): "Therefore, blueberry polyphenols could become useful pharmacological agents for various conditions including neurological diseases, but further studies are still necessary to attain this objective."

*as long as it's red wine, not too much, certain types of red wine etc

Also, menu for the week:
Linguini alla arrabiata with roasted carrots, garlic bread
Spicy tilapia tacos with daikon-jalapeno slaw
Champ, sausage, brussels
Lemon-garlic grilled salmon with mushroom, onion, peppers and rice


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Movies and food

When I first moved to Oregon, I happened to move right next door to a place called the Mission Theater. The Mission was started in the late 1980s by the McMenamin brothers who, as visionaries and smart business folk, could see how combining decent food (in lieu of popcorn and junk) with movies could be a brilliant move. It turned out that it was. The smart piece I think is that they sell decent food and beer with older movies which means their overhead and royalties for showing the movies are probably markedly less. Here it is:


The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was started about 10 years after the McMenamin version in Austin, Texas and has since been franchised. Erin took me to a location in San Antonio for my birthday - hence the post. Similar idea except with recently released movies - not as cheap as the Mission which would cost like 5$ as I remember. But still good food: we had fried pickles, a burger with roasted chiles and a decent salad and a pitcher of beer in front of the Bourne Legacy. If you don't mind a little bustling when your neighbor's food arrives, it's a lovely combination... the only downside is that you don't get to talk to the person you're with over dinner...

Without further ado, the menu for the week! (cutting the descriptions a bit brief as I am doing the cooking from here on out I think so the need for exhaustive details for replication is less):

Beef and Broccoli: I think the key to a good stir fry is what to add so that it's not overcooked and all the ingredients are well cooked - easier said than done. Garlic, ginger and broccoli first, then mushrooms for a short bit followed by flank steak and the hoisin and spicy sauce and topped before serving with the green onions and cilantro, over rice.

Crab, Papaya, Serrano: We're gonna try something new: basically make a ceviche type dish out of the crab with serrano, peppers, some lime, cilantro, onion and then scoop out a papaya and serve the crab mix in the papaya... should be a nice contrast

Kale and Cabbage Salad with Walnut: It almost sounds gross, especially as everything is going to be raw except the roasted walnuts. But I'm gonna make it work with a nice rice vinegar dresssing.

Orange habanero chicken with sweet potato and salad: marinade as it sounds, sweet potatoes in the oven without spice to contrast the chicken and salad to cool off.

That's all folks! I learned that okra is not an appropriate baby food this week... after I made a boatload of it mixed with ham. It's so sticky that he literally takes it out of his mouth and rubs it on his chest out of interest/disgust. It's kind of awesome and kind of sad and disappointing all at the same time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Menu ideas for a dinner party!

Thoughts on how to feed 9 guests (a total of 11 people!), which Alex just keeps shaking his head about. He thinks it won't be fun or we won't have good interactions with so many people. I think it will be a nice first change away from sitting in lecture and studying and taking tests, and not be too personal, since we don't know each other very well yet. So a good first start, and then we can have smaller groups later---

  • Roast chicken was denied (Alex doesn't love it like I do :)
  • Tacos were his suggestion, but in San Antonio, tacos aren't really a dinner party food. More like a big party food- 20 or more people.
  • Skewers? Too much work on the grill!
I love the idea of small plates- roasted cauliflower keeps sounding delicious to me- but am worried that it will take too much work. We are still resistant to potlucks, since they always have such a random mix of foods.

Several salad ideas:
  • http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Brussels-Sprout-and-Apple-Salad-with-Blue-Cheese-and-Walnuts-102645
  • http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sauteed-Apple-Salad-with-Roquefort-Cheese-and-Walnuts-2627
  • http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Farmers-Market-Salad-with-Spiced-Goat-Cheese-Rounds-239065

We COULD do an Italian meal- that would be fun! Hmm. Use the Silver Spoon and do some nice cheese and fruit, a simple salad, some pasta... maybe even carbonara... Mmmmm.

New ideas for a summer Italian meal under the trees (with bugspray on) or on couches:
  • Salads: caprese with a twist?  and http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Raw-Artichoke-Salad-Celery-and-Parmesan-365182
  • Main: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/The-Silkiest-Carbonara-395077 or http://www.budgettravelonline.com/bt-srv/images/0610_Recipes.pdf from the Silver Spoon
  • Sides (if have meat instead of pasta): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Risi-e-Bisi-365188
  • Dessert: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Almond-Granita-365749

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Adjusting to new schedules

It has been a busy couple of weeks, and Alex has been incredibly productive in the kitchen. Some highlights include:
Baked Dover Sole with spiced sweet potatoes and crispy brussels sprouts
Delicious pesto that we've eaten twice with different types of pasta- my favorite was the orechiette!
He has also planned lamb for this week, which I am looking forward to.

Atticus has also been eating well, with gourmet cauliflower and carrots with spices, and spinach/apple combinations. Mmm. Healthy AND delicious :)

We are going to have our first dinner party this weekend! Inviting some classmates and their significant others, hoping for a fun relaxing time with good conversation. I was thinking small plates might be nice- although maybe too much work? Nicer if it can be easy on all of us, particularly Alex. I think he feels like an indentured servant these days, so it would be good to have a fun relaxing time.  



Thursday, July 26, 2012

BBQ Pork, Clams, Pesto and Pizza

Specials of the week: all over the map really, just trying new and different twists on things including Atticus who tried kale, brisket and peaches along with a little of just about whatever we were having!



Appetizers: 
Prosciutto wrapped papaya
- the papaya was a bit strong for the prosciutto but it was a worthwhile attempt at a variation on the tried and true

Acorn squash, carrot and parmigiano dip
- I've made different versions of this over time, and this was one of the better ones. For posterity:
Bake an acorn squash in the oven for about 30 mins (cut in half) along with a couple of carrots
Scoop the squash out and mash the carrots and squash together or blend to desired consistency
Mix in 1-2 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp mango powder and a dash of cayenne pepper
If you want, you can try other spices though these have worked well - it's a taste game
You can depending on the consistency of your acorn squash either put the mixture back in the shells of the squash or into a serving bowl, put some shaved parmigiano on top and broil for a couple of minutes and done! 

Mains:
BBQ'd rosemary pork loin with goat cheese and figs served with cornbread and a summer salad
- read about this in a BBQ cookbook I have and tweaked it a bit, but the pork was wonderful!
Basically just coat a pork loin in salt, pepper, rosemary with olive oil and then BBQ for a few minutes a side until perfect.
Skewer some figs onto the empty rosemary twigs and BBQ those too
Plate with some goat cheese and honey drizzled over the pork and figs and you have yourself a main!
Train ride with Grandpa!

Clams with corn, pan seared potatoes, bacon and kale
- tried something a little different this time and it turned out well:
Cook the thinly sliced potatoes in a large skillet with olive oil until browning
Add onion and chopped bacon to the same skillet after removing potatoes (save)
After the onion has started to clear and the bacon is coming along, add the scrubbed clams
Add a few chopped stems of thyme and then deglaze with white wine, add corn and cover for 5 minutes (clams should open) - reduce heat
After 5 minutes, can add some clam juice or stock to add broth and keep covered on low for another 5-10 minutes (careful not to overcook the clams!)
Serve with browned potatoes on the bottom of the bowl with clams on top and corn on the side - delicious!

Sausage and onion pizza (the HEB version)
- we'll see about the HEB version of pizza dough tonight! HEB or H.E.B. is the main store in San Antonio started by the mother of Howard E. Butt. When he took it over and tried to expand with eventual success, it came to bear his initials. I find it tedious to say three syllables solely in honor of the founder and so opt for one - HEB.

Fresh pesto linguini with salad, caramelized broccolini and carrots
- Good pesto is hard to beat. I took the Silver Spoon (the Joy of Cooking equivalent for Italians) recipe and added garlic, less nuts and slightly more cheese - goodness!

Friday, July 13, 2012

First week in Texas

So for our first week of cooking at our new home in Texas, we had some good Southern and Texmex food, and they were mostly winners I must say. Here's some pictures of our beautiful kitchen below along with the recipes:
Kitchen central
Fried Chicken with Barbequed Okra, Tomato and Corn Salad and Biscuits
The fried chicken done this way is solid - it's Leah Chase's version who I've given praise to before:
- soak chicken in 1/2 cup evaporated milk, 1/2 cup water and 1 egg (can increase volume as necessary) for about 15 mins while prepping everything else
- put 2 cups flour, 2 tablespoons thyme, 1 tablespoon cayenne/paprika mix, 1 tablespoon salt and pepper into a paper bag (another option is to use half cornmeal and half flour)
- heat oil to 350 or so (really hot)
- put soaked chicken into bag 1-2 pieces at a time and shake about, putting the coated chicken on a dry plate to sit for at least 15 minutes before going in the oil - this is key for getting a good crust
- cook for 10-15 mins usually (outside should be good marker of inner doneness)

The okra, tomato and corn recipe I came up with and people seemed to like (worth making again):
- 1 lb okra sliced lengthwise with ends trimmed and grilled for 15 mins
- 3-4 ears BBQ'd corn
- 3-4 tomatoes sliced in half and grilled for 10-15mins
- you can do all the above basically at the same time, then take the corn off the cob, cut up the tomatoes to more bite size and toss it all with about 1 lime worth of juice, a handful of chopped cilantro and salt/pepper to taste
Corner dining area
Scallops with Fennel, Bacon and Mascarpone with Braised Broccoli and Rice
 The scallops for this were the diver kind - big, juicy and expensive as all can be. But worth it. This recipe is actually fairly simple and delicious:
- slice fennel lengthwise discarding fronds, parboil for 5 mins
- broil fennel with mascarpone over the top until mascarpone melted and fennel browned
- cook 4-5 slices of thick-cut bacon and chop bacon into smaller chunks
- cook scallops 2 mins a side in the bacon grease
- put together using browned mascarpone fennel as a base with scallop on top with chunks of bacon around and on scallop - basically each bite is unique and awesome

Tomatillo Enchiladas with Squash, Corn and Carrot
Not much to comment on here other than the tomatillo enchilada sauce that I made up:
- 1 lb tomatillos boiled for 10 mins with 6-7 cloves garlic (can roast garlic too for different taste but if in a rush, boiling is easier)
- blend tomatillos with 1 cup or so of chicken or vegetable stock along with garlic, 1/2 bunch picked cilantro, cumin and jalapeno to taste and boom you have an excellent green sauce for enchiladas!

Avocado Soup with Apple, Blue Cheese and Walnut Salad
Erin made this and it was delicious. The soup had more character than I thought it would for sure!


Out to: Koi Kawa - sushi, pretty decent especially given my expectations for sushi in Texas!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bike ride and last Ethiopian

Erin's last meal in New York as per her request: Ethiopian from the sweet ladies at 135th. A vegetable combo that was and will be missed - none in San Antonio as far as we can tell. Shiro, gomen and something else. Top notch injera too.

We had a great last meal here at 11 Madison Park as well that was relaxing, divine and extravagant - but none of that fit our time in NYC as much as the Ethiopian food down the corner. But here's some pics for remembrance sake. My favorites were the chickpea and goat cheese lollipops and plantains with bean foam and black-eyed pea reduction but it was all amazing!

Finally, though it's unrelated to food, I'm going to post my memory of my bike commute here as a final goodbye - from here, it's Texas food!

There is little easy about riding a bike in New York. I enjoyed the hell out of it most days as I felt free in a city where so much is constrained. It's not always fun, sometimes dangerous and often messy. But there's a feeling that comes from smelling the streets, having the streets and detritus sprayed on your legs as you course up Manhattan and into the Bronx under the subway dodging people, cars and whatever else New York can throw at you that is compelling. Erin would probably argue that it's compelling to never do again, but I got a kick out of it and saw a lot of New York in the meantime. Here's the description. One more ride tomorrow... 15 miles round trip and I'm done.

It starts out easy enough in some ways, down the five flights and out the door onto 131st St and turn right onto Malcolm X boulevard. Most mornings I would leave early enough to not have to deal with the Harlem traffic but not early enough to have to negotiate all the delivery trucks parked in the right hand lane obstructing my path. Up to 145th street by the basketball courts is easy enough and usually gave me time to wake up, get my bearings, make sure the bike was ok and get a rhythm.

Then over the 145th street bridge and into the Bronx. Many a morning the sun would be coming up and be right in my field of vision crossing the Harlem river, often coursing quietly at that time of day and beautiful really in the morning light. The left onto River Dr was ok when there was no traffic; in traffic it could be a little hairy with cars racing towards me as I made my left across traffic, but I never got hit there. Then past the mall on the left with Babies R Us etc - a tough spot coming back at the end of the day with all the cars parked illegally to load their junk and random cars opening. Up and then down a small hill and into Yankee territory - past the old stadium now long a park and then up past the new stadium (only a problem when games were going - once doored by a drunk dude post-game).

Up a slow hill now under the 4 train and along one of the worst roads I've been on to 167th St where the worst smell of the ride always lurked - the live animal farm they somehow zoned under that stop. The worst smell came from the combination of the hill and the animal feces stench that unabashedly filled my nose without the ability to hold my breath. A gradual right past the police station eased me onto Jerome Ave and then to the intersection at 170th where I was hit not once, but twice by cars turning right.

The trick about riding under the 4 train was the nice lane that I often had to myself that went unused to the right and the fact that cars also knew it was often unused and would turn without notice into the lane either for their turn or to take a break. Hit twice, neither time did anyone stop. So it goes - at least it seemed as though they looked in their mirror to see if I was ok - which I was for the most part. The one time I was not ok was on a different ride I used to take until I got too many flats and broke my ribs - the Harlem River ride.

You can take the west side of the Harlem river up to Fordham road and then over to the Bronx by following a river park with a bike lane most of the way. For some inexplicable reason, there's a ton of glass on the path from revelers I assume either tossing their bottles from their cars or from partying in the park. The fateful day I broke my ribs and my bike I tried to avoid a little family (all short) and ended up twisting my front wheel to the extent it snapped and so did my ribs... hobbled to find a subway and ultimately to have Mili, my partner, pick me up after a breathless call to her (Erin forgot her cell phone that day to her chagrin).

Anyway, back to the usual ride... after crossing 170th, you have run of car lots and repair places before crossing over the Cross Bronx - 'open season' as Erin liked to call it. The number of near misses at that crossing is too many to count. Even though I don't believe, I said the Lord's prayer a couple of times crossing that intersection with its on and off ramps. Don't know if it helped. Mainly the part about walking through the valley of the shadow of death. After that lovely bit, it's a fairly smooth ride until Jimbo's and the hill after that. There was a spot with some really bad potholes and an inexplicable metal thing in the road that was really rough in snow on the way, but the road was largely ok and again mostly random car repair places and the occasional weird bodega/bar. The only tough part was the Dominican car repair guys who were paid probably 8$/hr stand in the road with their advertising signs and often wander into the road creating a mobile human obstacle - perhaps a death wish from the job?

The hill after Jimbo's burgers was the biggest one but my legs were always warm at that point and the only dicey part was if there was ice on the road which makes any hill a challenge. From there, it's a straight shot to Fordham road. Straight shot with a lot of one-way streets that I got into the bad habit of going through if I could see no cars coming - there are lights but they're not timed, so if you wait for each one, you wait forever.... only a couple of times post-call or post-ER did I have close calls there. The west African drivers were always the most effusive in their apologies after the most abusive driving. I stopped trying to communicate my frustration or rage after I realized there was little point and behavior change was not a reasonable goal. The part after Fordham coming the other way was always my favorite coming home because it's all downhill and you can really cruise without a care in the world and just enjoy the night (or the rattling 4 train).

Fordham and Kingsbridge roads are not to be crossed without a green light and even then at your peril. Major and clogged thoroughfares, they attract the best and brightest of the Bronx drivers with their aggression and disregard primed! In the mornings, I usually made it through unscathed. Then into my old neighborhood of Bedford park where a short separation from the 4 train provided some acoustic relief if I was keeping pace with the train and a downpour if it was raining - the other benefit of riding under the train - not having all of the weather coming down directly on top of you.
Bedford park is mellow enough and I could usually really cruise through seeing the students heading to Lehman college early and the Ghanians coming out of their tower at Moshulu Park apartments in their colorful gear. Past that, a right on 210th street leads to Montefiore and work... usually sweaty and slightly bitter, slightly happy and a little grateful to be alive.

Off to Texas and big roads and big cars!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Father's Day!

So, it's impossible to get Alex to say what he wants to do for Father's Day 2012.
It's a big deal, the first one, surviving almost 7 months - and more than surviving, thriving! Being a wonderful dad! So Atticus and I want to celebrate him for that... and we're coming up empty.

Which brings us back to what always works best: FOOD.

Alex is more of a lunch/dinner guy than breakfast or brunch, mostly because he hates mornings. Atticus being smiley in the mornings helps, but still, it's a struggle.

So our plan is this (shhh, don't tell him). We're going to let him sleep late. As late as we can muster.
Meanwhile, the two of us are going to try our darnedest to make Eggs Benedict and Eggs Florentine (we don't know which one he likes best). And then we will keep it available for whenever he wakes up! No breakfast in bed, no early morning surprise, just a delicious meal ready whenever he is ready to eat it!

We'll also be going for a second brunch at Katie's apartment, to celebrate my dad. Or Pop, as Atticus knows him. That will be fun.

Alex has requested time spent at the Father's Day March against Stop and Frisk.
http://www.nyclu.org/june17
So we'll do that, then come home and eat again! Hopefully with his help cooking, this time...

I bought a BEE-YOO-TI-FUL steak from Fresh Direct, which was a very big deal, and we'll have it with gorgonzola mashed potatoes and grilled onions, maybe some salad or broccoli rabe, if we still have it around.

We are hoping he likes it, because, to be honest, we have no idea.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Best...meatloaf...ever!

I know, I know. Meatloaf doesn't inspire poems or songs or hymns to its greatness. It's generally a way to get rid of old meat, stale bread, eggs that have been sitting too long. And that's how I started= we are moving in a week! and our cabinets need to be emptied. But I wanted it to be delicious, too... so I looked on Epicurious and found:

Old-Fashioned Meatloaf
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Old-Fashioned-Meat-Loaf-11676

The reviews were hilarious, mostly because most of the cooks somehow added bacon to this lusty mix of egg, ground pork and beef. I modified the recipe only slightly (no scallions, 2 lbs meat instead of 2.25lbs), and cooked it for exactly an hour. It took awhile for me- I'm not going to lie- because of the chopping and the sauteeing on the cooktop first, and then the mixing, but it was well worth the results. Katie came over for dinner and took leftovers home! I was proud.

The other meals this week will be a Nice Roasted Chicken and this delicious sounding salad:
Sizzling Halloumi Cheese with Fava Beans and Mint
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Sizzling-Halloumi-Cheese-with-Fava-Beans-and-Mint-238258
The only flaw here is that I can't find Halloumi cheese in grocery stores or on FreshDirect, so I went with the Internet's recommendation for a substitute- Queso Fresco. I have no idea how it's going to taste or hold up to the cooking process, but if it fails, it will be a big one.

Since the movers will be packing up all of our kitchen equipment except for the bare bones, this is the last real week of meals until we get settled in the new place. I'm looking forward to eating all of our favorite NY restaurant food on paper plates next week: Ethiopian from Abyssinia on 135th, soul food from Amy Ruth's on 116th, sushi from Charlie's Place (125th and Madison), and falafel from Habibi's. We will really miss having such a selection of ethnic and delicious foods nearby. Sigh. There's always something.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ethiopian food in Ethiopia!

It's the real deal. The real injera, the real shiro and gomen, the real kitfo. Not that we haven't had some damn fine Ethiopian food in New York - there's a place a few blocks away where homesick Ethiopians ply their trade that Erin was feasting at with great regularity before we left. But this stuff was good. I mean the injera had a tang to it that I have not experienced here and the shiro in a couple of places had a spice blend that is impossible to both forget and replicate. Not to mention the fact that kitfo snuck up on us on the first day... our driver orders some food for us after a brief discussion and turns out he didn't even know that kitfo would be lurking... we got a hodge-podge and after my first bite after not looking at the plate, I had a novel thought - 'that's raw beef I taste.' Ahhh kitfo. Never again.

It's actually quite hard in some ways to reconcile the generous eating habits of many urban Ethiopians these days with the 1980s images that are stuck in my head of starving Ethiopian children... though it only took about 30 minutes in the hospital to realize that the specter of yesteryear was actually in front of me today.

Sticking to the food... other than the Ethiopian food that we had in abundance, I had some solid coffee place after place. Here's a photo of the meal with the hidden kitfo (we look like hell because we had just flown from NYC-Cairo, spent the day there, Cairo-Addis, then 6hr drive to this place all with 2-3hrs sleep and I was post-call).

 Back to the coffee, Ethiopia is where coffee is thought to have originated. Now back here in the states, the respect they pay to coffee in ceremony validates Ethiopia's claim to its origin. You can't grab a coffee to go. You have to sit, they roast the beans in front of you and then go through this whole serving routine with incense and the like. And it's not just a show - literally every person who just orders coffee gets it this way - the leaves are some sort of welcoming/good luck thing (see photos below). The top one is cheap street style but still with the incense and some sort of green leafy thing that I never got a full explanation for. The bottom is the more grandiose display but still pretty common.
 We had some great Indian, some decent Italian (the only occupiers ever of Ethiopia) and some good more European/American style food too. And the boy had loads of admirers. Below is the most glamorous of the group but nearly every waiter/waitress held him at some point.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Last week of dinner before Ethiopia!

We are all excited for our big trip to Egypt and Ethiopia where the food is going to be awesome!!!

But this week holds promise as well... my last week in the ICU so Erin will still be doing a good proportion of the cooking. One unexpected benefit of Erin doing so much of the cooking recently was revealed to me the other night when we cooked together - we make a much better team in the kitchen now! It was a lot of fun actually.

Black bean chili with cornbread and roasted pepper mix (spicy and with garlic)
Cheese and tomato souffle with romaine, blue and carmelized onion salad
Salmon teriyaki over rice with edamame and rainbow chard 
Burgers and zucchini (with some for Mr. Atticus) 

To mix it up a bit, here's a photo of Erin and Katie hanging out before we went out to dinner and Aunt Katie stayed with Atticus... not that night, but another we had some great tapas at Buceo 95 (www.buceo95.com). Sat on the porch with some good wine and were in our own little happy world.

Vino: Monastrel, Bodegas Guardiola Crianza 2006 Jumilla, Spain
with...
Piquillos Rellenos - young manchego cheese stuffed peppers
Remolachas y Valdeón - pickled baby yellow and red beets, blue cheese, swiss chard chiffonade
Patatas Bravas - baby purple and red bliss potato medley, spicy tomato sauce, garlic alioli
Buñuelos de Jamón - serrano ham and manchego cheese fritters, pimenton alioli 
Paella - wild boar, cured spicy and mild chorizo, saffron rice 


With a lovely aniseed fig creme brulee for dessert



Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Soup!

Roasted-Yellow-Pepper-Soup-and-Roasted-Tomato-Soup-with-Serrano-Cream
Erin tonight made a version of an epicurious recipe that involves roasted yellow peppers and tomatoes with a jalapeno cream on top - it was amazing. Sides of quesadillas and roasted corn to boot! Here's what it looked like and the link below:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Roasted-Yellow-Pepper-Soup-and-Roasted-Tomato-Soup-with-Serrano-Cream-11554

I'm getting spoiled with all of this cooking Erin has been doing though she still seems to think it's not fancy enough to blog about... but it's so good that I'm going to.

Fettuccini with freshly made pesto, eggplant bruschetta and salad
- Erin made the pesto from the Silver Spoon recipe, no adjustments. It's an interesting pesto because it's heavy on the pine nuts and no garlic which is more typical of American-style pesto. It has plenty of parmigiano which if mixed quickly with the hot pasta melts just perfectly. Again, flawless execution by the chef du month.
The eggplant bruschetta I must say was a no repeat. It's a great idea, but there's too much thyme in the eggplant and comes across way too strong - I think in the future adding some basil and spice with less thyme would work out well.

And finally, another picture of boy expanding his palate - carrots!


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Dinners week of April 8

We have an exciting week coming up. Erin's been at the helm as of late and is pushing her culinary skills with fantastic results. This last week she made (I have none of the details available):

Indian curried potato and cauliflower with great lentils
Spinach, goat cheese, red pepper and avocado salad with garlic bread
Burgers with fries and broccoli

She's an amazing cook. She wasn't always the greatest in the kitchen other than desserts, but she has honed her skills for sure!

Little dude also had a couple of firsts. Erin sent me a photo while I was at work of what appeared to be guacamole on Atticus' face (see below). I was thrilled and he looked delighted. I figured the little guy ate some mashed up avocado... I always tell my patients to start with one food at a time to make sure they don't have an allergy to anything... Erin's an immunologist... but no. Turns out the little fellow had real guacamole with the usual 4-5 ingredients as his first food! Developing his palate early!

He also ate his first grass on a walk in Harlem and had his first swing ride (kind of) - I put him in (his mother was not around), and he sort of looked at me like 'really, Dad? I'm kinda small for this.' But he smiled when I pushed him.



This week here's the preview from Chef Erin:
Skate fish tacos with a cabbage/carrot/poblano relish
Bibimbap - if you don't know what that means, you haven't lived
Carbonara - really the best way to eat spaghetti known to man, here's the recipe from October that I posted... we'll see how Erin's version differs!
- 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


Sunday, March 25, 2012

California and Texas Vacation Food

Vacation revisited



It's a gloomy day in Harlem - a perfect day to revisit the meals we had in sunny California and Texas where we went for a brief vacation... lots of fish, lots of meat too and plenty of meals out and in with lots of family and friends. Here are a couple of the memorable ones:

Korean: I love Korean food. Erin does too. It has that perfect mix of spice, vegetables and meat served over a big bowl of rice that makes for good comfort food somehow. We had a great night ordering in from a place in La Jolla; had planned to go out but then Atticus intervened at the restaurant and home was much easier. The vegetable gopdol that Erin had was fantastic and my bulgogi had a really spicy barbeque sauce that came with it that just made my night. 

Sushi Ota: There are many sushi houses in San Diego. I used to work in one. Many serve decent fare. None are sushi ota. After working in a sushi bar for 2 years, a Japanese friend of mine took me to Sushi Ota as a going away present from San Diego. It's amazing. It's not in a tourist locale, it's in a smallish little mall, and it has the best sushi I've ever had. We were the only non-Japanese folks in there; actually there were a couple of Anglos at some of the other tables but they were speaking Japanese. Erin had a sushi bowl with 12 pieces of buttery sashimi that made a veritable rainbow; I had a few specialty rolls and some orange clam sashimi that was intriguing. It's a little hard to eat other places for a while after Sushi Ota.

Mexican up the yazoo: Both Texas and California served up delectable variations on Mexican food and I'm not about to get in the middle of which variation is better. We had awesome fish tacos in San Diego and Andale's in Los Gatos; solid (nearly literally with beans) breakfast tacos in San Antonio and some great enchiladas in La Jolla. One of the standard things in those two great states that seems to be lacking here is a bowl of fresh salsa and tortilla chips - it's almost always free and always a good introduction to the restaurant - a good telltale sign of whether to dive in at this place or play it safe.

Steak and wine: My dad treated us to a great meal of steak, scalloped potatoes and salad while we were visiting. When I think of gourmet home-cooked food, my dad's cooking is the first thing that comes to mind... these days I think I may cook a wider variety, but I still think of his cooking as the best. We had some excellent Cabernet from Santa Cruz and the steaks were cooked in my dad's Green Egg - a kamado style cooker that resembles a barbeque and has its roots in Japanese cooking. Good stuff.

Clam chowder: this was good and worth remaking when good clams are available:
- scrub clams and put in pot with a little olive oil and cook on high for a few minutes by themselves, then add garlic, onion and thyme to the mix for a couple of minutes. Finish the clams by adding some white wine, a bit of water if you like and covering the clams to steam until open (10mins).
The base can be made by stewing some potatoes in 2 cups of cream until they're nice and mushy.
Finally the veggie mix starts with bacon (of course), then add celery, green onion, kale or whatever else you'd like to toss in the mix.
Make the clam part first so that you can take the clams out of their shells while the rest is cooking and then keep some of the shells for decor.
It's worth the effort!

It's just been a week since we've been back and we've been relying on old favorites this week. Will update the blog again next week as things get more exciting... rumors of curried lentils with spiced cauliflower, grilled tilefish with broccolini and pecans...


Thursday, February 16, 2012

First date and revisions of old favorites

I've included the revised mac and cheese, our first date by ourselves without Atticus and a couple photos of the little man and a video too!

Mac and cheese (revised)
I did re-do a version of mac and cheese (previously posted as elbows I think), and because Erin is trying to replicate things much more these days, I'm going to be more explicit about the process. The first post went something like: make sauce, pour sauce over maccaroni and then bake.
- Melt 1/2 cup butter in pot (big) over medium heat
-Stir in 2 tablespoons mustard seen, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon cayenne (or to taste) as butter is melting

- Stir in 1/2 cup flour and mix for about 1-2 minutes on low heat
- add 4 cups of milk and bring to boil, then keep on simmer while adding 2 cups grated cheese
- Sauce is done!
- Add sauce to cooked pasta (according to package but definitely underdone by 1-2 minutes)
- Mix in any veggies (uncooked broccoli chunks for example) with the pasta and the sauce in a giant bowl
- Pour into baking dish (leaving room for boiling over) and then top with some breadcrumbs if desired and another 1 cup of grated cheese (I like mix of blue and cheddar/parmigiano).
- Bake at 375 for about 30mins

Brunch at Alias:
After brunch, a picture of the boy (we didn't make him wait in the car the whole time):
His parents are notably both delighted at the time the photo was taken as well. They had just had a delectable brunch with two good friends on the lower east side - http://aliasrestaurant.com/brunch/ where Erin had both an ABLT (avocado) and a side of biscuits (with gravy) - it's good to be breastfeeding sometimes. I had a brisket breakfast burrito that was divine with good salsa and a couple spoonfuls of gravy at the end.

Here's also a video of the little dude in the morning (I'm getting ready for work) - he's his most active and happy self in the morning (his mother's chromosomes).

video



JoJo
Pretty quiet place on the upper east side - one of the Jean Georges empire. They had a special for restaurant week so we went... it does feel like an apartment when you go in; the service was top notch, polite but engaging. We felt like two kids out on the loose too - I'm sure there was delight written all over our faces.
Started with a bourbon-chili-passion cocktail for me and Erin with a spiced ginger mixer.
The appetizers were impressive: shrimp with a mango-ish puree and roast pumpkin seeds and a goat cheese fondue with endive and roasted walnuts for dipping that was just perfect.
Dinner: Chicken roasted with orange, olives, ginger and coriander and salmon with a truffel-potato puree! 
Dessert: Basil ice cream with a chocolate cake

Man that was good. Something to aim for... I may well try the shrimp and the roast chicken is something I think we could improve on at home too!


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Texas food and smiles

Ahh smiles. Finally! In the near future, I will commit to not posting endless photos of our son on the blog and revert to a truly food-themed site (and he is only still drinking breast milk).


This past week we tried a menu from the Homesick Texan cookbook that we got for Christmas. Had some good favorites as well with grilled sausage, sesame broccoli, fried catfish and others rounding out the week but here was the Texas meal:

Grilled Flank Steak with Fried Okra, Texas Caviar and Homemade Biscuits
Here is my recapitulation of the details:
The grilled flank steak is my own recipe - 1 jalapeno, some cilantro, 3 limes, cumin and garlic all go into the marinade and letting it rest for >2hrs is key. The spice cooks off but the cumin, garlic and lime flavor brings out the meat really well I think.
Texas Caviar is a new favorite - basically named because of the appearance of the main ingredient, black-eyed peas. Mix a couple cans of them with some tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, green onion and some spices (cumin for one).
The fried okra was good but a lot of effort for just an ok outcome. Basic breading process but with a twist at the end that was brilliant - roll them in crushed Saltines just before adding to oil - gives a nice crunch.
The biscuits were a flop - edible for sure, but not the fluffy, delicious melt in your mouth taste I was going for. I beat them with a rolling pin and flipped and flipped the dough... next time. This is definitely something that I would like to perfect...

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dinners week of sometime in January

I sort of lost track of where we were with meals and postings, but we've had some good ones in the last couple of weeks that are worth posting. Atticus is still growing like a mad man and one of my favorite things to do with him is cook with him strapped in, listening to the recipe unfold both in word and in spatter. Sometimes he gets little pieces of food in his hair but that's a hazard of the job!

Here's a photo of him looking quite quizzical or maybe just confused about what is in front of him... 
 and another of him (this is thankfully a much more common expression) of some sort of mix of curiosity and wonder while also thinking about food...

Yellow tail sushi with miso soup
- we got the yellow tail from Fresh Direct; not cheap at all but the first tuna they've had in a long time that's been well rated in terms of being ocean-friendly. Anyway, the rice I think is key to this along with the spicy sauce. Aside from that, making sushi is just a matter of careful prep making sure you slice everything thin enough to be both pretty and easy to eat. I flash cooked the tuna for 15-30 seconds a side since it smelled just a bit of fish and wasn't quite sashimi quality, but the inside was still raw and wonderful.
For sushi rice: 
Make either with sushi rice or arborio rice (want a short rice that's stickier than jasmine etc) and make about 4 cups for 4 people worth of sushi (or Erin and Alex hungry). Make the rice just like you would normally.
- while the rice is cooking, add 4 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons salt and 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar to a small pan and cook until salt and sugar dissolve but not boiling. Add this mixture to the rice after it is cooked and cooled in a bowl for a bit...
We assembled everything together and in the end had:
Philadelphia rolls 
Spicy Tuna rolls
Tuna Sushi and Sashimi
Vegetable Roll with Carrot, Cucumber and Basil

  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt
  • Lemon garlic fish skewers with couscous and green beans with fried sage
    I haven't done much with fish kabobs in the past, but I will from now on - I grilled the mixed fish (salmon, blue fish, swordfish and snapper) with peppers and onions on the grill first and then finished in the broiler... oh man that was good (good marinade of garlic, cilantro and lemon before hand too). 

    Sausage onion and pepper pizza with red leaf walnut salad
    - had a good friend over who had made pizza for us at her house so I had to compete. I won. The crust was not quite as thin as I would have liked, but the pizza stone was hot enough to crisp it perfectly in any case. Ah the sweet taste of pizza and victory at the same time!


    Fresh pesto penne
    - Erin made a fabulous pesto out of some left-over fresh basil we had: used the original recipe from the Silver Spoon plus a bit of garlic... I could eat it by itself by the forkful! 

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    balmy January

    With all of our holiday visitors returned to their homes, it was time this week to get back into a rhythm of cooking again. Back to some sort of normalcy, although this time with a new person in the household.

    It's been an unusually warm winter this year- after the freak snowstorm over Halloween weekend- so the usual comfort foods aren't quite as delicious as usual. I was looking for some changes from the usual, so I used different sources for the recipes this week. The recipes were chosen with an eye toward swift preparation, since William Atticus has been fussy at night, Alex has returned to work, and I am sleep-deprived.

    -Hamburgers, using the spicy olive oil mix from Mexico that Lily gave us, with baked sweet potato fries from the Barefoot Contessa's Back to Basics cookbook and a salad. The hamburgers were on challah buns, which are my favorites for absorbing the juices.

    -Corn and chipotle soup, with a recipe from the Blue Corn Cafe in Santa Fe.
    http://bluecorncafe.com/
    Hands down, one of my favorite fall/winter soups, although the spice level was a bit hot this time- I cut the recipe in half but still added 2 full chipotle peppers, which was a little bit too much.

    -Grilled salmon (Alex marinaded in butter and fresh lime juice- delicious!) with a grilled fennel salad from the new CIA grilling cookbook that Graham gave us for Xmas. Since we don't have an actual grill, we had to revise the recipe a bit. We baked the fennel after marinading it, then put it on the grill, and then combined it with orange slices, red onions and oil-cured olives. I loved the combination of new flavors and the crunch of the fennel. A surprise hit and definitely one to cook again.

    We are nostalgic for our big, empty weekends before WA arrived, ready to fill with whatever plans we wanted to make. But the "little devil" or "little monster" or "little angel" or "little piggy" (we are trying to not pigeonhole him :) is pretty cute most of the time. Wonder what he thinks of our varied menu?