Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
|Looking over this blog, one would think I didn't care for fowl, but nothing could be further from the truth. You just have to be in the mood, I suppose, and after weeks and weeks of winter beef, pork and lamb, chicken caught my eye at the butcher's shop.|
I went back and forth between a whole bird and cacciatore. I'd already done a hunter's casserole back in August, and the word counter on my PC wouldn't accept the term "roasted" one more time, so what do you do, what do you do?
I shop at Arthur Avenue Retail Market. Two butchers, two delis, an ample produce stand, a bakery, and housewares all under one sky-lit roof. While I mulled over a poultry dish, I wandered over to the produce stalls for some inspiration.
Beautiful, ripe lemons were on sale four for a dollar, and the rusty cogs in my tiny mind began to turn. Chicken. Lemons. Chicken. Lemons. Mike Kanelopoulos. Chickens. Lemons. Mike Kanelopoulos... Lemon & garlic chicken! The mind is a tricky thing. Well, mine is in any event. Mike is an old, old friend from my salad days and an incredible cook. He owned the first 12" All-Clad sauté pan I had ever seen, and I coveted it greatly. He was an early inspiration in finding my own culinary voice and his lemon & garlic chicken is a thing of wonder. Mine was gonna leave his in the dust.
|Lemon & Garlic Chicken|
|Three hours before cooking, season chicken on all sides with salt, freshly ground pepper and chopped thyme. Keep covered in refrigerator.|
|Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and brown chicken on both sides until golden (about 3 minutes per side). Transfer chicken to a plate, reduce heat under pan to medium, and sauté garlic briefly (30-45") to release oils. Add sherry vinegar and reduce liquid by one half. Add soy sauce, honey, lemon juice and water, stirring to combine.|
|Return chicken to pan and toss to coat with sauce. Add lemon slices and continue to cook chicken and reduce the sauce for another 15 minutes. Turn chicken frequently to keep coated.|
|The plate was gonna need something green. The Retail Market is in the heart of Little Italy, and what's more Italian than broccoli rabe? It added a fresh, slightly bitter contrast to the sweet, tart chicken.|
|Steep trimmed broccoli rabe in plenty of salted boiling water until just tender (about 3 minutes), with plenty of snap left in the stalks.|
|Halt the cooking process by transferring broccoli rabe to an ice bath. While broccoli cools, heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Cook sliced garlic until golden brown, about 5 minutes.|
|Add well drained broccoli to pan and toss to coat in oil. Cook 3-5 minutes, until greens are heated through. Toss with salt and move to serving platter. Just look at that color, will ya!|
|I had some nice fingerling potatoes and a little leftover red onion in the larder. I coated them with olive oil, tossed them with some salt and pepper and roasted them in a 350° oven for 45 minutes.|
|I hadn't talked to The Greek in months, but he got shots of this turbo-charged lemon & garlic chicken from my cell phone and had to listen to me gloat for a good 20 minutes afterwards. The gauntlet, as they say, has been thrown. I'll be bringing my A-game to our next encounter. I know he will.|
|Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food|
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
|Natalie is a classy ol' broad from Brooklyn Heights who's been a dear friend for years. She claims Kentucky roots, but is actually a Park Avenue deb with hillbilly affectations. She's never set a foot in Kentucky that wasn't draped in a Prada shoe. But she's a woman of a certain age, and I defer to her in all things. We have an outing every couple of months. She's become a loyal fan of the Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show and Kiku exhibits. We always dine at Enzo's afterwards. I make the trek down to Brooklyn on the 2 Express whenever summoned and am always guaranteed a civilized cocktail hour and a good dinner. We split our time evenly between her beautiful apartment and some of the neighborhood eateries. Last night, it was Le Petit Marché on Henry Street.|
|I don't know myself at all. I'm always declaring Mexican as my favorite food, but I've spent more time and money in French bistros than all the taco joints and comensales in the world. Paris is my favorite city. Not Mexico City, not Zihuatanejo, not Guadalajara. I'm an enigma, or maybe just confused. In any event, I love Le Petit Marché. I'm always insisting that we eat there. You'd think I'd be surprised that the old girl obliges me as often as she does, but I happen to know she's just as fanatical about the place as I.|
|Eating out with Natalie is always a fun house sort of ride, but endearing. She'll get fixated on something and, just like a dog with a bone, there'll be no reckoning with her. For some reason she always orders a kir cocktail (crème de cassis and white wine) at Le Petit Marché. I've never seen her order it anywhere else. It's as adorable as it is inexplicable.|
|The regular menu at Le Petit is fairly straightforward, but Chef Dyner's (isn't that the perfect name for a chef?) execution is what sets the dishes apart. His French onion soup is perfection: molten hot Gruyère and tangy, smoky, almost sugary onions in a beautifully balanced broth. Damn. Dyner also does a Mac & cheese with sharp cheddar, smoked Gouda and chorizo that just blows the competition away. But I was in the mood for something earthy, so went with the wild mushroom pizzeta - lots of tasty fungi, roasted red pepper and Gruyere cheese on a crispy flatbread dough. It's got a dash or two of white truffle oil, and you just expect your next words to come out in a heavy "old world" accent. Natalie had the butternut squash soup, because Natalie always has the butternut squash soup. I like it very much, but it has all the spices that one associates with Thanksgiving and was therefore a little out of season for me.|
|When we arrived at the restaurant, Natalie caught sight of a couple tucked into moules et pommes frites (mussels and fries) and wouldn't even look at the menu after that, so that was settled. The goat cheese-stuffed chicken medallions with ratatouille in a richly reduced herbed chicken jus sounded too delicious to pass up. To understate the fact, it was not a disappointment. I couldn't get Chef to reveal what exactly was in the jus, but it was intensely good. The skin on the breast was nicely crisped and the meat not too dry. It gave my two favorites off the menu: a huge and heartbreakingly tender lamb shank and the roasted duck breast a real run for the money. I won't think twice about ordering a special in the future.|
|One of Natalie's charms is her effortless ability to attract people, like moths to a flame. She's the perfect blend of impeccable manners and joie de vivre, and the old girl sure can draw a crowd. Our neighbors to my right started the evening eavesdropping on her chit chat and by the end of the meal were enthusiastic contributors to the conversation. All I had to was sit back and enjoy.|
|Leave it to me, the original creature of habit, to write up a two-year old restaurant. I can't help it though. I know what I like and know when others are gonna like it too. Make the trip to the Heights. It'll be worth it.|
|Le Petit Marché|
46 Henry Street (between Cranberry and Middagh)
Brooklyn Heights, NY 11205
Open nightly form 5:30 - 11:00, until 10:00pm on Sundays.
|Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food|
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
|Vanity got the better of me the other day, and I put one of those web tracker thingies on my blog to prove to my friends that no one was reading it, and sure enough, nobody is. Surprise, surprise, surprise.|
|But that's not what I wanted to talk about. My pop handed down a BBQ sauce recipe with the admonishment that I share it with no one. That's nagged at me ever since. I mean, a BBQ sauce recipe isn't exactly a state secret, and there are undoubtedly thousands of "classified" recipes out there. Who, exactly then, is gonna fuss over ours? Besides, no one's reading this damn thing, so where's the danger of the recipe falling into the wrong hands?|
|So, cosseted in a cloak of anonymity, I give you Sherwood's House-made BBQ Sauce and Ribs.|
Fold all wet ingredients together and then add dry spices to the mixture.
|This is a family restaurant recipe. Unless you're a competitive BBQ grill master, quarter all measurements for a more manageable quantity of sauce.|
|The Ribs (3 full racks)|
|Remove silvery skin from back of ribs.|
Place ribs in a large, 2" deep backing dish.
Cover generously with seasoning spices.
Add enough cooking liquid so that ribs are just short of covered.
Cover baking pan with plastic wrap, and then aluminum foil. The plastic wrap will fuse with the foil in a hot oven making an airtight seal.
Roast ribs in a pre-heated 325° oven for 90 minutes.
Pour off cooking liquid, brush ribs liberally with BBQ sauce, recover with foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes.
|That airtight seal makes for some very tender ribs by the end of cooking, though - with the exception of a genotoxic cocktail - I'm not at all comfortable with liquid smoke as an ingredient. I'd be willing to bet I can come up with a safer component. Bourbon comes to mind, and I'll be sure to publish my findings in a forum with a little more exposure than You Gonna Finish That?|
|Accessorize BBQ ribs with a light, crunchy Napa cabbage salad: (prep the night before)|
|Melt butter in a large sauté pan. Toast ramen noodles in butter. Once the noodles begin to brown, add nuts. Toss in pan until golden brown. Allow to cool.|
|Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender until combined. Toss with cabbage, scallions and noodle mixture 20 minutes before serving.|
|Crispy, crunchy and sweet. I love this salad. The best part is when you get to the bottom of the salad bowl where all the little broken bits of noodle and dressing-soaked pecans are resting. Whoever invented the spoon knew all about reaching the bottom of a salad bowl.|
|Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food|
Sunday, February 8, 2009
|It was glorious Sunday, nearly 60°. Folks were running around as if it were a balmy day in May. I was out there myself most of the day, the heavy coat left in the hall closet, my favorite Samuel O'Reilly's hoody a perfectly adequate substitute. I hit the bookstands at the Botanical Garden shop, ran errands I'd put off because of the weather, watched a pick-up game of touch football in the school yard.|
I didn't even think about what to do for dinner, and do you want to know why? Because it's Sunday, and what do we do on Sundays around here? Leftovers, that's what, or haven't you been paying attention.
Well, there was plenty of shredded pork from Saturday to make at least one more dinner, and probably a couple of lunches as well. So, I says to myself, "Self," I says, "how 'bout some tasty pork tostadas tonight?" I said it just like that! And here we are.
|Tostadas started life as an economical way of saving stale tortillas from going to waste. Now, they're rock stars in their own right and like many dishes of humble origin, have evolved into almost unrecognizable celebrities. Since you all know I'm never one to put on airs (ahem), we'll be staying true to our Mexican roots. Here's what you'll need for BOF's authentic pork tostadas:|
|Soaking Black beans|
|Start with dried black beans. Sort through them, picking out any foreign objects, i.e. small stones, soil particles, etc., that you wouldn't care to eat. My grandparents always seemed to have a big pot of beans on the stove during my childhood, and I can still see my Aunt Donnie picking through pinto beans on an old Formica table. Rinse your beans prior to cooking as an added precaution. Now soak your beans: To ½-lb of dry beans, add 3-4 cups of hot water. Boil for 2 minutes, then set aside for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans one more time.|
|Cooking Black beans|
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cooking until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Add soaked, rinsed beans and 4 cups of water or stock to the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 3 hours. The house is gonna smell like a holiday with the cider vinegar wafting through the air. Once they are of soft, remove the beans from the heat but keep covered.
|Heat about ¼ inch of peanut oil in a small sauté pan over medium-high heat for the tortillas. Fry one tortilla at a time in the hot oil, flipping a couple of times until they are slightly crisp, but still just pliable. Drain them on paper towels.|
Spread a thin layer of black beans almost to the edge of a fried tortilla. Next pile warm shredded pork on top of the beans. Add a couple of slices of ripe, soft avocado. Sprinkle with diced red onion, chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco. If you fancy a little extra heat, go for a dash or two of your favorite hot sauce.
|My father sometimes reads this blog, so I pledged never to swear in my writing, but holy smokes, this was no peasant meal. There was so much going on. I have to admit to cheating by adding a little of last night's reduction to the pork as I warmed it up on the stove. What an addition. Rich, sharp sweetness from the leftover pork; a nutty base note from the black beans and that tablespoon of cider vinegar would have been missed had it been omitted. Queso fresco has a saltiness and tang that should only be combined with raw onion and fresh cilantro. It all came together like... like a firework display on |
I'm embarrassed to admit this publicly, but anyone who can cook this good ought to be able to quit his day job in exchange for a gig as executive chef on a Mediterranean yacht or at a Deer Valley ski lodge.
|This is one dish that qualifies as a snack, appetizer, or meal in itself. I wouldn't serve a side unless one considers a frosty cold Mexican beer or glass of wine a side, in which case, go for seconds! Because I just can't help myself, I opened a bottle of 2 Brothers '05 Cabernet Sauvignon. 2 Brothers is the reserve label for Big Tattoo Wines. Theirs is a touching story and one that you should take a moment to learn. What's that? Oh, the wine, you say.|
|Well, it's a young wine. I don't think any Cab should be opened before its 10th birthday, but not many winemakers can afford to age Cabernet for any length of time anymore, and so blending & barreling tricks are employed to move the grape along. The nose or bouquet is what usually gives a young wine away for me. Vintner sleight of hand cannot mask the alcohol in a young wine. It can remind one of a trip to the free clinic. Still, 2 Brothers, I must say, has put out a very excellent reserve Cabernet. Once it opened up (about an hour after removing the cork), there were deep, black cherry and ripe red fruit aromas in the nose. A rich, full-bodied structure in the mouth with lots of ripe plum gave way to tobacco and a raw vanilla finish. I was frankly surprised at the complexity from such a young vineyard. And to think I shelled out 13 bucks for the bottle. Well, that made it all the better.|
|I have to tell you, it has been one rewarding weekend. The next time someone turns their nose up at your grandmother's handed-down recipes, or shows contempt for that hole-in-the-wall diner you love so well, point them to this blog entry, and politely suggest they pull their head out.|
|Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food|