This is Andy's photo above.
These morbid little menus had quite an unsettling effect on me (and they also led me to someone who is obviously less disturbed by it than I am). As someone who enjoys a love-love relationship with food, it didn't really take much effort at all to imagine the annihilating poignancy/horror of planning your own last meal. Or being someone with the words "Death Row Head Chef" on your bidness card.
1) Karl Hinze LaGrand. Two Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato sandwiches on white bread; mayonnaise; 4 fried eggs, over-easy; medium portion of hash-brown potatoes; 2 breakfast rolls; small portion of strawberry jelly. One half pint of pineapple sherbet ice cream, one 22 ounce of hot coffee, black, one medium slice of German chocolate cake with coconut-caramel icing, one 12 ounce cup of cold milk.
(note: his brother was executed 3 days later and also requested pineapple sherbet)
2) Baltazar, John. Cool Whip and cherries.
3) John George Brewer. Grilled Pork Chops with gravy; 1/4 lb. Bacon; 6 Fried breaded Shrimp; Beef Rice-a-Roni; 2-3 slices French Bread with butter; Applesauce; 2 cans Canada Dry Ginger Ale with ice; 1 slice Coconut Cream Pie; 1 pint orange juice; 1 can Chicken Noodle Soup with Crackers; 1 can Pear halves with syrup; Maxwell House Coffee with cream and sugar.
4) Chappell, William. Same meal that is served to all other offenders in the main dining room.
I could go on: the guys who requested only a pot of coffee, or water, or tea; the guy who requested 4 Rolaids (along with his meal...not just 4 Rolaids). The Arizona prisoners all requesting chile peppers. The "chewy" bacon. The "real" butter. All that fucking butter pecan ice cream.
The twist of the knife: these are just requests. They're not always granted. Oh, the humanity.
No, I just thought the phrase "vegetarian duck" was pleasantly stupid-sounding and also represented one of my veganism obstacles and so that's why I rechristened this site thusly. Regardless, I'm here to tell you that I'm increasingly finding myself to be a true convert of these centuries-old but now politically-incorrectly-monikered Asian vleesvervangers. And believe you me it's not just the savvy marketing/eye-catching packaging!!!
In fact it's almost completely a quesiton of texture variation, because their primary taste characteristic is that "they don't taste fucked up", like so many meat substitutes. Today I sauteed my frozen duck substitute with onions, ginger, shao hsing, sesame oil, hoi sin, peanuts, spinach, and scallions, and the result was tastebud transportation...to somewhere with rude service, flourescent lights, and sticky plastic menus. Basically anywhere on the Zeedijk.
Actually that's a total Amsterdam Tourist Book Food Writer Myth. I've never had anything but lovely, reassuring customer service experiences on the Zeedijk (you know, involving food...I score my crack rock at the CS and do my karaoke at home). I've never understood that whole "expect surly service" cliche that goes with our Chinatown, but maybe it's because I rarely eat at Nam Kee or New King. I do kinda really want to smack or pinch this cashier at Oriental Commodities who just oozes contempt and misery and consistently throws my receipt on the floor instead of handing it to me. Not sure how the smack/pinch would help things, but...my point is, at places like AFusion, Bird, Toko Dun Yong, Toko Joyce, Wellcome, Nyonya, Kam Yin, Hoi Tin, etc...everyone's been real sweet, much more so than your average non-Asian Amsterdam restaurant.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about with this whole Satan Duck thing, check here, or here. But don't buy the canned stuff if you can get the frozen stuff.
"...at the Fairfield, Connecticut Borders Books next week: on December 10th, come meet Sandra Lee, author of Semi-Homemade Cooking. In the words of one Amazon reviewer, 'Lee basically takes overprocessed, ridiculously expensive premade foods and arranges them into new combinations, adding the odd badly made homemade garnish or ingredient to her typical hopeless mishmash of precooked overprocessed chemical-laden garbage. She presents this as some kind of new method of cooking, when in fact it's just a combination of mental laziness and indifference to real flavour and nutrition.'"
So that's a negative review, right? Not nearly as negative as my review of this would be (my sincere apologies to you in advance...I'm sorry you had to see this):
Steve, Don't Eat It! - Silkworm Pupas.
Here's hoping for an imminent return to talking about edible food around here....
Wintry Sunday. We're having a "Dutch study day", basically spending all day reading about two pages worth of the newspaper (this is my speed, not mara's)...and after that, you need some serious sustenance. Reading a pair of interesting articles, though, about the successes + disillusionments of Dutch-Surinamers returning to Surinam to make a new life/find their roots/try to make a difference there. Good stuff.
salmon a la mara.
roasted red pepper
serve with: caramelized leeks with apple cider + balsamic; zucchini with almond pesto.
salmon with sauerkraut.
4 tablespoons walnut oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and julienned (I don't normally include this, but would like to)
1 bag of fresh sauerkraut (about 500 grams?), rinsed well under cold water, then drained
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fish or vegetable stock
1/4 teaspoon juniper berries, crushed (I have yet to actually include these)
1 tbsp or more fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 125-gram pieces salmon filet
1 teaspoon butter
1 cup additional dry white wine (for sauce)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and add onion and carrot slices. Toss and cook over medium heat until just wilted. Stir in sauerkraut, wine and herbs, spices and broth. Bring to a simmer, cook 5 minutes, and remove to a baking pan or casserole. Add the other 2 tablespoons olive oil to sauté pan and sear salmon pieces, serving side down, until light brown. Turn and sear the other side for 30 seconds. Remove salmon and place on top of sauerkraut in casserole. Bake in oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add wine and vinegar to skillet and reduce to 1/4 of original volume; then add butter, piece by piece, whisking until sauce is creamy. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.
To serve, divide choucroute mixture among 4 dinner plates. Top each with a salmon filet and pour sauce over. Accompany with small new potatoes sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Well, it's back to the drawing board for me. I was doing so well. But what started as a short-term lapse has stretched into a few weeks of not-so-great eating. Needless to say, the team and its supporters are all a bit disappointed...but all there is to do is to start over again, right? Your condolences are appreciated.
Making decipherable gang signs is harder than it looks without the benefit of muscles, tendons, skin, and all of those other little "helping parts" we take for granted every day.
That's me on the right, and that is my rather awesome homemade scythe (made by Mara, not me) that appears to be sticking out of my man's fontanelle. Potentially more detail about this pic here.
In nutritionland...well, nothing very good to report. Cholesterol retest has been postponed by me for two weeks now. Healthy, spartan, ascetic eating/exercising regimen recommences today. It's like someone who I can't quite put my finger on at the moment once said: You haven't failed until you've quit trying. Sounds good.
Now, on the plus side of being here, other than a better-than-average opportunity (in Europe) to sample Malaysian food (a new Malaysian place opened up literally around the corner on the Kloveniersburgwal...haven't eaten there yet), October weather has been ridiculously pleasant. 60F and sunny today, and it's been that way pretty much all month. I don't even know where my raincoat is. And it's October. Huh.
Food-wise, what've I been up to? Sardines. Maybe I had to endure Herring Boot Camp in order to appreciate these guys, but I must say I'm totally impressed. Recipes and further geeky analysis to follow.
"...Don't' consider the bird head and feet as ornaments, No sir, pop them in your mouth beak and all. Yes, the eyeballs too. It's not boney or weird like you might think, it's just more crispy, flavorful entrée."
(both via Yummy Chow).
The excellent photos taken by the witty, extremely carnivorous bunnies over at Yummy Chow made me realize that I think I might actually be "off meat" (as in me not eating it vs. me not tasting good). Still happily putting my tooth all over those poor ocean-dwellers, though...I guess I'd find strict vegetarianism or and especially veganism tons more practical for me if I had a squadron of deployable vegan recipes that I could serve to guests without feeling like I was "feeding the band"...you know, veggie chili, couscous, bulgur, beans, etc. Stuff you serve with a ladle. I'm obviously not making this up: one of my original inspirations toward more careful cooking is Stephen Pyles (aka Steamin' Pile around here), and in his newish book Southwestern Vegetarian, Mr. Pile is becoming part of the problem: "Eschewing the usual recipe categories, Pyles divides his cookbook into chapters by gratins, casseroles, stuffed vegetables, tortas, sandwiches, and pizzas."
Now, as the Rossington-Collins Band used to like to say, don't misunderstand me...I loves all that stuff and have cooked up a ton of it. But I'm also a total sucker for artfully presented food that has layers and layers of flavors...like if you could find an ingenious, edible way to present a perfectly-constructed Maoz falafel on a dinner plate...crispy, spicy-ass falafel balls; soft, supergarlicky cumin carrots with plenty of cilantro; the double cuke attack of traditional dill pickles and cucumbers with fresh dill and lemon juice; crinkle-cut beets with mint and olive oil; the sinus-clearing red chile sauce; the tart, fresh green sauce...drizzled with a light tahini sauce...(falls face-first onto the keyboard)
OK, so you probably could find an ingenious way to plate this. But it would still just be a falafel on a big plate. So, I guess I'm looking for vegan entrees with complex flavors that come from somewhere other than the snack/street food, Indian cuisine, and one-pot dinner categories. Fire away with suggestions, o vast ocean of faithful readers...here's what I've found thus far.
IMBB #19, coincidentally enough, was "I Can't Believe I Ate Vegan". The entries for this IMBB kind of highlight what I'm talking about...lots of creative stuff, but 75% of them are served in a bowl. Some of the examples that are more like what I'd like to cook:
- Portobello Steak with Butternut Squash Risotto (via Restaurant Widow).
- Banh Xeo and Fresh Basil Rolls (via A Blithe Palate).
- Sesame-Crusted Oyster Mushroom Calamari with Toasted Sesame Carrot Salad (via Brownie Points).
- Socca Crèpes filled with Ratatouille (via In Praise of Sardines).
And Meathenge's effort falls into the "band food" category, but it looks like a fantastic recipe (with the exception of vegan sausage, which no one should ever use for anything...I'd substitute Quorn or the Tivali "ground tofu" thingie and add some smoked paprika for emulating sausage-y goodness): Chili and Cornbread.
Speaking of Quorn, they've just released a new product, Steak au Poivre, which is, well...freaky as shit. It's close, so close to being right...but just far enough away to make you think of Soylent Green or some Stephen King story where food sent through a time machine/transporter thingie doesn't taste the same when it comes back. Or is that The Fly I'm thinking of?
A smidgen of link roundup, then (not sure where my English phrasing is coming from). Stuart sent me this rather interesting NYT article about hyphenated Chinese food, kind of in the same vein as my Indo-Surinamese-Chinese-Dutch explorations a while back. I'll hopefully elaborate on the old post at some point, and I'll also maybe address European-Mexican hybrids (which, according to at least one close friend, I am obsessive about).
While I was reading the first NYT article, I found another mildly heartbreaking article by Gabrielle Hamilton of Prune in NY. I was first struck by her writing a few years ago in an issue of Food & Wine...she has quite a distinctive tone, simultaneously self-assured and self-deprecating. Anyway, the story is about a moderately blind man coming in for an interview and not admitting that he has a problem seeing. Very sad.
Finally, good ol' Clotilde over at Chocolate & Zucchini seconds my enthusiasm for smoked pimiento. Well, in truth, she just reveals her own fondness for this double secret ingredient without referring to my post at all...unsurprisingly, since Clotilde is not my mom, and my mom is my only regular reader. Regardless, it's a bittersweet moment for me, kind of like when your favorite band gets too popular and you know their next CD is going to be ruined by "better" production, or clumsily opaque lyrics, or calculated poppiness, or any of 1000 things that can go wrong with the music you love. Although these things are unlikely to happen to smoked pimiento...I'm just bummed that it's lost its double-secret status.
Happily, it's the latter this time around, although I did have a dangerous fling with dairy this week, mostly out of necessity. A friend who came back from America with a pile of fresh corn tortillas needed help getting rid of them, so we engineered a "show up and cook" kind of thing in which I made some pretty amazing chicken mole enchiladas (I made the red chile and mole sauces at home and brought them with). They may have been the best enchiladas I've ever had...not too cheesy, not too heavy, lightly sauced, really good if I do say so myself.
And yesterday Mara needed pasta, so i tasted some of her tortelloni di noci with garlic, creme fraiche, and pecorino...which is really just a bowl of heavenly, creamy, creamy heaven. And one big huge no-no for me. My understanding of the recipe (an appetizer portion for two):
mara's tortell(i/o)ni di noci with garlic, creme fraiche, and pecorino.
12 tortelloni or 24 tortellini of your choice (she uses tortelloni di noci, filled with walnuts and pecorino)
1/2 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 large clove (or 2 if you can stand it) of good fresh garlic, crushed
1/2 finely grated pecorino romano
Put some pasta-boiling water on the stove and salt it lightly. While waiting for it to boil, stir together the creme fraiche, pecorino, and garlic in a saucepan (without heat). You should have something resembling creamy, garlicky heaven. When the pasta water boils, throw your pasta in and cook according to the directions on the box/bag. When cooked, strain in a colander and add to saucepan with creme fraiche mixture. That's it. Serve with more pecorino and crusty bread, and then don't aim your mouth at anyone until the next day.
Serves 2 as an appetizer.
EDITOR'S NOTE: if you're new here, I should at this point emphasize that I am in no way anti-German or anti-German food...I'm just anti-this one book I had for awhile (see previous post). It was gross. And I don't mean "big".
I crashed all these ingredients into each other because Mara left a pile of nice tomatoes behind before she went on vacation, and come lunchtime I was mutha-hungry with only smoked salmon in sight. The end result was fugly but nice. My breath, on the other hand, is now somewhere between ruined and chloroform.
[Illustration used without permission from Slate.]
smoked salmon salad.
200g smoked salmon
2 medium cornichons, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 tbsp capers
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp lemon juice
freshly cracked pepper to taste
I just assembled everything except the salmon and put slices of salmon on a plate with the salad over top of it. I would've eaten all of it over arugula if I'd had any or the strength to go find some. Other additions that would've been nice (maybe not all together): horseradish, roasted red pepper, walnuts, walnut oil, dill. Chickpeas? Du Puy lentils? The way it is, it would've been perfecto on a nice crusty pistolet, but there's that bread vacation that I'm on to consider.
Do they sell software that generates interesting titles for blog entries without you having to be involved?
Posting frequency has fallen off around here because I overcooked myself in May and June. Cooked out is what I am. So I've mostly been eating extremely simply, broiled fish or gyoza 60% of the time. Oh I know what else we were eating the other 40% of the time: sandwiches. Indonesian sandwiches. Primarily fish. Let me explain, hurriedly and with little regard for the creative turn of phrase (I'll revise later).
What I would ideally do here is investigate the evolution of immigrant cooking here in The Netherlands, specifically the cuisines of the former colonies, Indonesia and Suriname. As far as I can tell there's no page on the web that explains this in English. Here's a Dutch version, and here's a more professionally researched version that focuses more specifically on the Chinese side of things. Until I have time to write something with more detail, I'll try to summarize via a massive simplification (i just watched Adaptation again yesterday and am currently imagining myself compressing eons of history into mere seconds worth of typing).
Let's start with Indonesia: after the second World War, Indonesia was granted its independence from Holland after having been a Dutch colony since the 17th century. 250,000 Indonesians came to Holland to repatriate themselves. Well, rewind a bit: by this point the Dutch were already vaguely familiar with Asian cuisine because, around 1918, small Chinese communities began to emerge in the port cities of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, mostly stokers who worked on the large steam ships of that time.
This population got a boost after 1919, when Great Britain amended the Aliens Restriction Act of 1914, and Chinese seamen were no longer entirely welcome on British soil, so they ended up in Dutch ports (their numbers growing to almost 3000 Chinese before shrinking again during the Second World War). Eventually Chinese teahouses and restaurants emerged, thus introducing the Dutch to the first truly foreign cuisine they'd encountered on their own soil.
So, back to the 250,000 Indonesians (some of whom were Indonesian Chinese, to further confuse the issue). Well, the Dutch Indonesians came, brought their culinary culture with them, and eventually opened up restaurants and shops. It didn't hurt that thousands of Dutch soldiers had been stationed in Indonesia and grew very fond of the food there. The returning Dutch soliders took their friends and families to eat at these restaurants. This happened so long ago, and so early on in the evolution of "eating out" in Holland, that by 2005 Indonesian food is not even really considered foreign here.
The point of all this is that, as in many ex-colonial relationships, the Dutchified Indonesian kitchen has evolved to accommodate some long-standing preferences of the Nederbelly. Some of these adaptations are to be expected (bigger portions, fewer chiles), but some are a bit unusual (Belgian frites with Indonesian peanut sauce and mayonnaise is a popular way to eat fries...not really so unusual in concept--think gado gado--but it's surprising at first to see people carrying cones of fries with an unrecognizable brown goo on them).
Which at last, almost brings me to Indonesian-Surinamese sandwiches. In Java or Bali the common accompaniements to fish, meat, and soy dishes are either nasi or bami (rice or noodles), right? Well, sandwich culture has had significant mindshare here for a long long time (I'll explain the boterham in another post). And so, one of the ways you can eat your Indo-Chinese fish/meat/veg dish is on a sandwich instead of with rice or noodles.
OK. Part 2 to follow (maybe). You know, the part where I maybe actually talk about the sandwiches.
One of the nicest things about our local super-toko, Dun Yong (or Young Dong if you're feeling frisky) is that they stock different items in their freezer section from month to month. I'm sure this is more of a necessity than a conscious decision, but as bi-weekly shoppers we think it's a definite positive.
So, last month, amongst the gyoza and other dim sum oddities, I found these things pictured above. Apparently they're a popular dim sum item, and I've had things like them, but I've never come across this spin: it's a radish cake with shrimp and scallions. It somehow gives an impression of having coconut in it, but it doesn't. The texture is that of rice sticks--IOW, made from rice flour instead of actual rice. It's the texture that I love, and that miss mara thinks is revolting: it's soft and jiggly and glisteny and is pretty revolting-sounding indeed now that I'm writing about it. But it's a dream under the tooth.
Anyway, the point of this post is: I can't find a recipe for bánh cú cái anywhere. The ingredients are: shrimp, radish, peanuts, taro, rice powder, onion, garlic, and seasonings. But how to put them together? Google reveals nothing. In English, I mean. Anyone?
My thumbnail sketch: it's a flour made from ground, roasted chickpeas that is very common in Indian cooking. First of all, I already want to marry Indian food and have hundreds of children with it. There was a period in my mid-twenties when, newly single and flush with my first real salary, I was eating out every night, and a great many of those nights were spent at a place called Himalayas on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta. Pappadam with coriander/mint and tamarind chutneys, some bhajees, maybe a chana dal, a blazing chicken vindaloo (you want it even hotter??? it's already veddy veddy spicy my friend) with a lovely raita, and a big smoky Taj Mahal ale or three...with my Creative Loafing or LAN Manager manual or Daveyboy Liebman's Chromatic Approach to Jazz Harmony in front of me, I didn't need no nothin' else.
One year and 15 extra pounds later, well...I had to scale things down to a weekly visit. But, in, uh...heaven, right, y'all'll see me there with my long-lost Indian friends, breathing deadly fire and stumbling out to my hubcapless Bonneville if we have them there. Kidding!
Anyway, so, Mara got me this superduper Indian cookbook last year, like Madhur Jaffrey's biblical tome which we also have, but with gorgeous pictures and a handful of southern Indian recipes as well, and there were a couple of intriguing besan-centric recipes in there. It's kind of their standard breading for frying things, so that's the way we started using it--as a coating for fried fish. And it was excellent. We then progressed to sort of falafel-esque besan fritters with spinach and scallions in them, served with some dipping chutneys. Also really nice. Turns out you can even make breakfast-y sort of things out of them. One critical factor is to toast the besan first, otherwise it has a distinctly uncooked taste. I don't always do this, and when I don't I'm always sorry.
The major relevance here is the nutritional content. Which I don't have at hand. Soon, rabbit, soon. Oh, and it's also a face cream when mixed with a little rosewater. More on that as well.
One of the hardest things about trying to cook without meat has been achieving some kind of dark, rounded, smoky flavor without using any members of the bacon family (speck, pancetta, fatback, zoutvlees [a dutch/surinamese fatback], francis, etc.).
You can only cook with chipotles so often (I think). Same with roasted red peppers and caramelized onions etc. And caramelization and roasting help, but it's still not quite smoky. Luckily, I scored some pimentón ahumado, (smoked paprika) when I was in the States earlier this year...and yesss this is more like what we're looking for.
An educational moment regarding its manufacture, from Tienda.com (where there's also a good-loooking assortment of authentic Spanish recipes):
They empty the bags onto 8 foot high wooden grids, where for two weeks they are marinated by the smoke of smoldering logs from local oak trees which gives them their unique character. A farmer visits the drying houses each day and gently stirs the drying peppers with a rake. At the right time, about two weeks later, the dried peppers are refilled into the bags by hand, and hauled to the mill to be slowly ground into a deep red powder. Finally they are mixed in various proportions to make sweet, bittersweet or hot pimentón to be used in chorizo sausages, paellas and stews. The only difference in production from hundreds of years ago is that the mule has been replaced by a tractor and electricity powers the millstone.
Here's my adaptation of La Tienda's recipe for romesco sauce, which I think is fantastic with cod/kabeljauw or any white ocean fish. I also like to do a variation with fewer tomatoes, no hazelnuts, and add a cup of chopped green olives and use it as a sort of tapenade on bread. I'll post an official recipe for that next time I make it, sure I will.
romesco sauce (catalan pepper sauce).
2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika (as in not hot)
1 small dried chili pepper
1 head of garlic
1 dozen almonds, blanched and peeled
2 dozen hazelnuts, skinned
1 sprig of mint, chopped
1 slice of bread, toasted
1 tbsp fresh parsley
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Remove seeds from chili pepper and grind into a powder. Roast the tomatoes and garlic in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Skin the tomatoes, cut them in half, and remove the seeds. Skin the garlic cloves. Put the tomatoes in a food processor with the garlic, pimenton, almonds, hazelnuts, mint, bread, parsley, and part of the olive oil. Process until you have a smooth puree. Beat in the remaining oil, vinegar and pepper. Salt to taste.
More translated/adapted recipes to follow eventually--this post is mostly so my purchasing agent (mom or mom-in-law) can see what she's looking for at the store when I need to replenish my supply.
I made not one, but two, count 'em TWO tilapia recipes tonight in an attempt to take advantage of our extremely affordable tilapia here...this was the one that worked. Could I have taken equal advantage of this tilapia if I'd only made one recipe you might ask. Yes. Shut up.
Lemony dishes are not normally my thing, I'm not a huge lemon fan, but I am a sucker for the radicchio and beans partnership, and tilapia responds well to a simple fry, so there you have it. A tiny crumble of gorgonzola might've been perfect, but fish and cheese are unpredictable bedfellows. Or some cliche that actually makes sense. This recipe is adapted from something on Epicurious.
tilapia with lemon vinaigrette.
8 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 large head radicchio, coarsely chopped
500 gr cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup fish broth (optional)
6 tilapia filets
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Lemon Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the radicchio and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and broth, and cook until the beans are heated through, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Season the radicchio mixture, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a 14-inch (or 2 smaller) nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper. Dredge the fillets in flour to coat completely. Shake of the excess flour and fry 3 fillets in each pan until they are golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Spoon the radicchio mixture over the center of the plates. Top with the fillets. Drizzle the vinaigrette over and serve immediately.
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
2-4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Blend the lemon juice, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil. Season the vinaigrette, to taste, with more salt and pepper.
This recipe is not for Cheap Dirk Fish, it's for good salmon.
broiled salmon with wild mushrooms, sweet onions, and pinot noir sauce.
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup sliced yellow onions
1 tbsp. coarse mustard (zaanse)
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp. crushed black pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 cups sliced shiitake (or similar) mushrooms
3 cups sliced oyster mushrooms
3 cups sweet white onions, sliced thinly
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, diced as finely as possible
2 tbsp mustard seed
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp shallots, chopped
2 cups Pinot Noir
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. halvarine
1.5 kilo salmon filets
Hopefully I'll add full instructions eventually, but the process is simple. Marinate the salmon. For the onions, caramelize them nice, then add the mushrooms and everything else and saute til tender. The only must is to seriously reduce the Pinot sauce.
so, to compensate, today, we had Pan Bagnat (recipe at end of linked SF Chronicle article).
Preserving this for my future, cholesterol-deficient days, may I present: Banh Xeo.
And to thoroughly demolish any credibility this journal may have accrued thus far, I'll reveal that I just spent 15 minutes playing with this. Yes, I looked at all the Barbie combinations.
2 smoked mackerel filets
3 tbsp e.v. olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
3 tbsp scallions
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted (which I'm probably not supposed to be eating)
1/2 cup arugula
2 tbsp of fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
You can imagine how this all goes together. A tomato or red pepper would've completed this, but I had nothing red except beets, which I had for breakfast.
OK: the goal is two glasses of red wine and no snacking. Maybe a walnut or 7. Let's see how it goes. I'm either watching The Wild Bunch or Oldboy, don't know yet.
Ha. I'm mostly kidding about the "too fatty", since I'm the one who ordered the charcuterie of duck at Rubicon (which included duck prosciutto, foie gras, and duck paté, along with aged balsamico and toasted hazelnuts). And what am I doing eating at Rubicon anyway, if I'm so concerned about price? Freak.
All I mean is: comparatively, to consume this kind of food and wine in America, versus, say...Italy, the prices are dumbfounding. And yes, before anyone launches anything huge and nasty at me...there are things that creative, trained, (expensive, salaried) chefs (American or otherwise) can do that go well beyond the inherent but lower-priced gourmandism of your average Italian trattoria. And the SF farmers' markets are spectacular. And I love the artesian cheesemakers, etc. Inarguably, it's all part of what makes SF America's most appetizing city to live in. But is that why SF is such an expensive city? You pay for the privilege? Not just the food and wine, but especially the food and wine. No can do. Especially not if my tax dollahs would be funding the Poop Ship Destroyer (I'm referring of course to eh, uh, em, hm, ah, uh, Bush, and not Ween).
Maybe this is just sour grapes. Maybe it's because I know (hope) my expense account days are behind me, along with $14 glasses of wine, and the thought that kept needling me in the ear was, "Man, I don't agree with these prices and what they indicate, but nonetheless it sure would be nice to be able to feel good about dropping 200 bucks for dinner again."
OK, see why I postponed writing about this? I don't have it in me to continue to justify this rant, so I'll hit the mostly inexpensive highlights.
Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market. Saturday morning, Mara and I went for breakfast/lunch. An interesting slice of semi-urban upper-middle class SF weekend life.
We arrived far too hungry and irrational. I almost bought some fried asparagus, for example. Instead, Mara opted for a sausage bomb from Aidell's, while I went to Cocina Primavera and stood in a very long line for Oaxacan Red Mole Tamales.
Excellent stuff. These pictures of Mara in action are our vain attempts to recapture even a fraction of the glory that is "The Jimmy Picture".
I'll elaborate in a bit.
The failing I'm talking about is the choice between a falafel and a Snickers, or a piece of pizza vs. a chicken wing. Late-night, convenience-oriented eating. Oh, I know the real answer is to NOT. Or, to snag an apple. But I'm being realistic here. This is a science-oriented post, so it's going to take a few days to finish (not that I'm doing days worth of research. I just know I'm going to have to sneak in an hour here and there, but I'm going to post this anyway so I'll remember to do it).
Note: Turns out I never finished this because the answer is...(drumroll): don't eat at night. Especially, don't eat anything with high-fructose corn syrup in it like a Snickers, you dumb motherfucker. Eat an apple with peanut butter. Absolute Worst Case: falafel.
Me, cholesterol problems? Anyway, it was...really pleasant, sure, definitely. Smoky bacon, sour apples, sweet brie, bitter arugula, and ducky duck...something for everyone. And I wasn't paying, my lovely and glamorous mother was. But I always forget about stuff like this when I'm back in Amsterdam complaining about how expensive "food-that-should-be-cheap" is (Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese...)
This wasn't even American-sized like my gargantuan and lovely "cup" of pozole I had a couple of days earlier at Mucho Gusto. It was just...rye bread-sized. A normal sandwich. I'd bet actual money you couldn't even find a 13 euro sandwich in Amsterdam. Tasted great, tho'....thanks, mom!
Today I shall blithely mention that I made just about the best black beans I've ever made last night, and I've made literally thousands of black beans (not so impressive really if we're talking about individual beans). No but seriously folks, I loves them frijoles negros and like to consider myself someone who knows how to cook 'em. Well, last night, after members of a visiting band were massively delayed due to Lyonnaise traffic, I (their host for a couple days) realized that by the time they finally got here (12:20am), they'd be screwed for good food, Amsterdam being no Berlin in that department. So, having just returned from a month in America and having no obviously useful grub in sight, I turned to the murky black depths of the pantry. Black because we have no pantry light, so I'm always surprised by what's still thrashing around in there.
So I found some black beans and, you know, since I've done this a lot, didn't really pay much attention to the specifics of what I was doing, but zam, they rocked. Thus I present an especially inarticulate recipe for these little guys. I should mention that these are not The Purist's Black Beans. These are somewhere between traditional non-ham hock-y Cuban or Mexican black beans and, well...baked beans, I guess. But smokier. It matters not, trust me. Dey good. The approximate components:
barbecued black beans.
2 cups dried black beans
enough water to cover them by 2 inches
12 cloves good fresh garlic, chopped roughly
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1 heaping tbsp epazote
1 heaping tbsp dried oregano, toasted
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp walnut oil
1/8 cup unrefined sugar, or more, to taste (remember, I wasn't making these for me, so...)
1-2 tbsp catsup (again, wouldn't do it if they were for me. well maybe.)
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (balance this against your catsup usage)
salt, to taste (in this case, it was quite a bit, I hesitate to estimate how much)
1 tbsp adobo sauce drained out of a can of chipotle chiles, or more, to taste
optional breath-destroying additions at the end:
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbsp mango pickle (this will take things in a seriously Indian direction, but it's very very good this way)
I soaked them for about 2 hours. Rinsed them, put them and the prescribed amount of water in the pot, along with the garlic, cilantro, epazote, cumin, oregano, and thyme. After about an hour of cooking with the lid on they were done (not hard to the tooth, but not mushy) and ready for the rest. I added the adobo, sugar and salt first, then the catsup and vinegar, and finally the walnut oil. And then I cooked them with the lid off for about 30 minutes? 45 minutes? Maybe even an hour. Who knows. I was just waiting for these guys to show up. Anyway, when they cooked down, they were inky black, quite thick and just glisteny enough, and frankly just about perfect in every way. They still are. I'm going to have a bite right now.
About the optional additions...the beans as they are come out nicely spicy and sweet, but if you're in the mood for breathing fire, I recommend at least the garlic, and some of the onion. And the mango pickle addition turns it into something else entirely...I may try to put the mango-ed version together with a salmon/mustard oil thing I've been contemplating...
But I've kinda been this way with huitlacoche, I think because it's been described as "truffle-like", and I do love me some truffle and I am a lover of tutto di cibo Mexicano. And I used to be a fanboy of the Elton John of New Southwestern Cuisine, Mark Miller (I don't even really know what I meant by that), and that rugged, bearded, troll-child used to talk about it all the time. However, I believe that The Sneeze has brutally killed the dream forever with his Huitlacoche Exposé. Luckily, none of the other "Steve, Don't Eat It!" contestants were on my "list"...potted meat, fermented soybeans (natto), etc. (I've already had a few fermented soybean experiments that have destroyed the dream all by their little selves...godDAMN what nasty shit. I'm not talking about miso or anything that tastes remotely edible. But don't just take my word for it).
OK, but I didn't come here to talk to you about infected corn kernels or mushy, bitter, white soybean paste today. Today I'm here to talk about real beans. Or raw vegetables, haven't decided. Back after this food intake check, nothing but snacking today:
Bowl of all-bran with soy milk (200cal)
1 cup of kidney beans with tomatillos and red Thai chile (200cal)
1 half mango
1 granny smith apple
75g brown rice crackers (300cal)
3 rolmops (400cal)
OK, today's entry was supposed to be about the lowly (or, alternatively, humble) mackerel. I chose "lowly" b/c before this whole Omega-3 hullabaloo, our man was always referred to by food writers euphemistically as "strong", or "oily", or sometimes even "pungent". Please, people. Just come right on out and say it: my man can be downright "fishy" in that way you don't want. Maybe dass why he so humble I guess.
In lieu of (or in light of as some Georgians and Floridians like to say, wrongly) actual, useful, detailed information about the mackerel, let me just offer that they're at the top of many people's Healthy Fat List. In my quest for mackerel info, I found this interesting page about mucus accumulation, of which I am currently a victim, sorry. It's driving me MAD, I tell you. And one of the things you're not supposed to eat? Wheat, which is where, yes, of course bran comes from. Just have to drink death-defying amounts of water I guess.
I think that's it. Not much snacking going on. Or snaking, which I typed first. My mom said studies have shown that eating 14 walnut halves per day increases HDL and lowers LDL. I should get on that.
Here's a typically complicated David Bouley recipe, simplified by me.
mackerel with field greens.
6 ounces (about 2) skinless mackerel filets, cut how you like
1 very small garlic clove, crushed
Fine sea salt
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon Champagne vinegar
Pinch of ground toasted caraway seeds
1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
1/4 cup finely diced cooked beet
1/4 cup finely diced apple
Freshly ground black pepper
1 head Bibb lettuce
3/4 cup seeded, diced cucumber
1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 1/2 ounces (about 3 1/2 cups) mixed baby greens (mesclun)
Apparently the secret to getting this to not turn totally pink is to not mix it too much. And, the vinaigrette is complicated: In a food processor, juice the lettuce, cucumber, and parsley. You should have 3/4 cup juice...if not add a little water. Whisk in the lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the oils and whisk until combined. Then just serve the barely mixed salad on the dressed mesclun. And dress the salad a little too.
Finally, here's a recipe I can't wait to try with my Singing Fish canned mackerel, or whatever it's called. Hard to make an appetizing-sounding mackerel recipe title in English, though. How bout Espanol?:
tacos de carite.
1 mackerel, cut into 2- by 4- by 1-inch strips, or 1 small whole mackerel
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for oiling grill
2 tablespoons chipotle rub
2 tablespoons diced radish
2 tablespoons very thinly sliced scallion, white and green parts
charred tomato mint salsa
8 small tortillas, heated
Light the grill. In a medium-sized, nonreactive bowl, toss the fish with lime juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and Chipotle Rub. Cover, refrigerate, and let marinate about 1 hour. Oil grill and cook fish over a hot fire until lightly charred and medium-rare (it should still be pink in the middle), about 3 minutes.
In a warm bowl (so fish does not cool too much), shred fish. Taste for seasoning and sprinkle with a little more Chipotle Rub and lime juice, if needed. Top with radish and scallion and serve warm with salsa and tortillas.
In other news, I just discovered the Ouwehand website, which means that I can finally read about my herring/haring products in something approximating English, which is excellent because there are a host of variations and I've never really been able to detect what they are. I picked up some rolmops (pickled herring wrapped around onions and pickles) and braadharing (supposedly baked but I think they might actually fried, based on my first taste) in yesterday's shopping spree.
There's a ton of herring info on this website, and the Dutch version is even more comprehensive. Nonetheless, I would have to recommend against reading the entire "Information about herring" section as it provides a couple of "spoilers" that may significantly reduce your desire to ever eat herring again. I can't even refer to them or give you an idea of what they are because I personally would like to eat herring again. I'll try to extract some of the non-gross yet still interesting herring facts for you here:
1) "'Hollandse Nieuwe' is the first herring that is caught in the new season, this is mostly in May. As soon as the herring contains 16% fat it is allowed to be marketed as 'Hollandse Nieuwe'. Before herring is allowed to be called 'Hollandse Nieuwe' it also has to be gutted, matured, salted and filleted according to the traditional Dutch method. Until September it is allowed to be referred to as a 'Hollandse Nieuwe'. After this period it is only allowed to be called matjes herring."
2) "Amsterdammers prefer a larger, well-matured herring which is cut into pieces and served with marinated pickles. In the north of the Netherlands they prefer a medium size herring which is lightly salted. In Rotterdam they have a preference for a small herring which is lightly salted."
Pretty dry text, yes, but it's way better if you imagine it with a Dutch accent (larcher, well-machure herrink, etc).
Fascinating, you say. I say whatever Leonard Carlo would say. No: here's a recipe I wish I could make with my herring, but it calls for a pile of sour cream, which sadly...I cain't be doin'.
layered pickled herring salad with tart apples and red onion.
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
1/6 cup sugar
1 teaspoons pickling spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 large hothouse cucumber, cut into 1/8-inch-thick rounds
1/2 pound Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup sliced trimmed radishes
1 6-ounce jar zuur haring (sour herring), drained, each piece halved
Fresh dill sprigs
For cucumbers: Mix vinegar, water, sugar, pickling spice and salt in heavy medium saucepan; bring to boil, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve. Cool to room temperature. Place cucumbers in large glass bowl. Pour marinade over cucumbers. Cover; refrigerate overnight.
For salad: Mix apples, red onion, sour cream and chopped dill in large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Using slotted spoon, remove cucumbers from marinade. Arrange half of cucumbers in bottom of 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass dish. Arrange half of radishes atop cucumbers. Spoon half of apple mixture over radishes. Arrange herring evenly atop apple mixture. Spoon remaining apple mixture over herring. Cover with remaining cucumbers, then radishes. Cover and chill salad 3 hours.
matjes herring with red onion and dill.
10 pickled matjes herring fillets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 medium red onions, chopped fine
1 cup finely chopped fresh dill sprigs
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup light olive oil
Rinse herring under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut fillets crosswise into 3/4-inch pieces. In a 1-quart glass or ceramic crock or bowl arrange some herring in one layer. Top herring with a layer of some onions and sprinkle with some dill. Layer remaining herring, onions, and dill in same manner.
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, pepper, and salt to taste and add oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified. Pour dressing over herring mixture. Chill herring mixture, covered, stirring occasionally, at least 8 hours and up to 2 days.
Makes 10 to 12 Servings.
decrease total dietary fat, especially saturated/verzadigd fat. only use products with good oils: sunflower, safflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed, sesame oils; or monounsaturated fats like canola, olive, peanut oils. Monounsaturated fats are preferred. Here's why:
SATURATED FATS are found primarily in beef and dairy products in the US diet. Diets high in saturated fat tend to raise both total cholesterol and LDL* (the bad) cholesterol levels, which is associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fat should be limited to less than 10% of daily calories.
TRANS FATS are found in processed foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Like saturated fats, trans fats raise the LDL cholesterol level that increases the risk of heart disease.
POLYUNSATURATED FATS are usually a good source of essential fat, like linoleic and linolenic acids, that are needed by cells, but cannot be made by the body. Polyunsaturated fats in the diet have been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, but also lower HDL* (the good) cholesterol. Polyunsaturated fats are found in nuts and vegetable oils, and should make up 10% or less of daily calories.
MONOUNSATURATED FATS, the predominant fat found in pistachios, other nuts and olive oil, have been shown to lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels while maintaining the beneficial HDL cholesterol level associated with lowering the risk of heart disease. Up to 20% of daily calories can come from monounsaturated fat.
decrease dietary cholesterol.
limit sodium intake.
increase consumption of deep-sea fish (in order of goodness: mackerel, salmon, herring, albacore tuna, lake trout) b/c they contain the much-ballyhooed Omega-3 fatty acids, which help to lower blood cholesterol.
increase intake of fiber and complex carbohydrates. Eat 20 to 30 grams of dietary fiber every day. Foods such as legumes, oats, barley, brown rice, apples, strawberries, and carrots are good to eat because they contain soluble fiber, which lowers blood cholesterol.
increase. consumption. of. walnuts.
decrease calories if needed to reach a healthy body weight. uh, yes.
for liver rejuvenation: raw vegetable juices and other cruciferous veggies; avoid: dairy, processed, fried, margarine. look into milk thistle and Schizandra chinensis.
20-30 minutes cardio 4-5 times a week.
no smoking of anything.
drinking red wine in white-knuckled moderation. maybe even white. i need variety!
I did pretty well, 'cept smoked eel is apparently not a good thing to eat, which i didn't know until after i bought it. Also on the list of "avoid" foods: cashews, macadamia, brazilnuts, coconut. Frown.
I spent 40 euro, but that included two bottles of chilean merlot, 2 jars of herring, and 2 frozen thingies of salmon.
Next on my list of things to figure out: finding a good margarine substitute; finding out if rehydrated wheat protein is any good for you; find out exactly what scharrelkippenei-eiwit is (sounds like free-range chicken egg protein, in which case i probably shouldn't be eating it. but it's in my veggie burgers! It totally doesn't sound like a vegetable product, does it? Update: it's not. It's egg protein. What the fuck is it doing in my veggie burger?); Finding a Euro shopper mayo substitute; including garlic and ginger in the list of things to eat a lot of.