Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sun Tea In A Vase

Sun Tea is best made in the the glass pitcher you'll serve it in, or -- better yet -- a big mason jar. Lacking either of those, I used a well washed glass vase, a bunch of brand name tea, and set it in the sun for a couple of hours. Brewed strong, served with palm sugar simple syrup, a little fresh lemon and plenty of ice.

In the picture, I'm pouring freshly made (ie, scalding hot) sugar syrup down a chopstick, rather like I'd do with acid and a glass rod in chemistry class.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Like Chinatown In Your Backyard

Brought home some steamed shrimp and greens with oyster sauce from [will provide name] in Chinatown. Good, good, but the smell of head on shrimp, plus the nearly raw garlic, would have given my wife conniptions. So I hauled the ol' microwave outside and cooked them there. Eaten outside with plenty of chili paste.

Fishcakes Fancy

We were having a party, so I took some of the fishcake 'batter', mixed with soaked and chopped dried abalone mushrooms (which I will never be without from now on) and fresh sage, and formed into little silver dollar fishcakes, a heaping teaspoon each for consistency. Served with (what else) a hot pepper tartar sauce.

It was educational for the tastebuds to have a little bit of the plain fishcake first. The contrast made the mushroom and spice really stand out.

Fishcakes Plain

Fishcakes. I love fishcakes. And they are Very Glossta. Here's the raw materials, chowder fish from Connelly's and a bunch of potatoes. Uncooked fishcakes, frozen for later, over cooked fishcakes. On a plate with two over easy, the natural habitat of the fishcake in my book, though they can occasionally be found with baked beans.

The hot sauce in the urine sample jar, btw, is srug (Yemenite Chili Paste, see elsewhere) homemade in Israel. I am not just proud, but positively smug to say that my homemade version was universally preferred by the Israelis.

Favorite Knife

There's no one Favorite, but this is what I reach for to make short work of stir fry vegetables, or cut waffles into the precise eighths my children have come to expect. It's a cheap Thai cleaver, weighted on the handle with four quarters wrapped in electrical tape, so I guess it cost me $8, not $7. Razor sharp when I'm in the mood. Balanced like a gymnast. Walks through push cutting, just never forget what you're holding.

Spring Roll Deck

Ready to roll: shredded carrot, bean thread, scallion, mushroom, steamed napa, fresh mint, and Giladi's chicken. Just add elbow grease.

Spring Roll Deck

Set to go: shredded carrot, bean thread, scallion, mushroom, steamed napa, shredded red cooked chicken. Just add elbow grease.

What I Like About You!

Best thing about Gloucester: a neighbor knocking on my door to ask, 'you want some striped bass? It's about five hours old', and handing me a fillet thick enough that I have to steak it sideways.

Here's the neighbor in question, Paul, with the striper chunk now five hours and two minutes old, and that self same chunk of striper steaked, with barbecue rub for seasoning, and after searing in the ol' cast iron. I got another meal out of that piece, and made fishcakes with the leftovers.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


My eldest, Nadav, fixated on the name 'ditalini' in the supermarket, and so we had ditalini with hotdogs that evening. For those unfamiliar, as I was, it's a small tube, about as big across the end as it is long.

And I know what these are engineered for. Don't tell me soups, I know better. Ditalini is the best shape for falling off a spoon and making a mess. If they were smaller, or stringy, they'd adhere and fall off less. If they were bigger, you could eat them individually, like penne.

I attach empirical evidence.

First Tomatoes Out Of The Valley

Back in June, I rose above the common lot of styrofoam store tomatoes with the first of the Pioneer Valley crop, courtesy of Jack Czajkowski of Czajkowski farms in Hadley, MA. Seen here with fresh picked cucumbers, olive oil, thyme from my garden, coarse salt, and Market Basket's finest mozzarella, which is to say mediocre but perfectly serviceable.

Another chunk on a crust of Virgilio's semolina bread, with a little bit of my soon-to-be-world famous anchovy-caper pesto.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

pesto, pestere, pesti....

That's two entry titles in Latin. Don't say I never did anything for you. You say basil and I say pesto. You say two kinds of basil, oregano, and parsley, and I say two kinds of pesto.

First, since someone had a nut allergy, a nut-free pesto with parsely, thyme, capers, olive oil and anchovies, coarse chopped and worked over in a mortar and pestle to bring out the flavor, and additionally make a true pesto (pestle and pesto from Italian pestare, to crush, says a shallow web search).

Second, a classic pesto, save walnuts for pinenutes: chopped basil, Mark's heirloom garlic, walnuts (pine nuts are too damned expensive), good salty parmesan, and olive oil until it has the texture of quicksand. Lump it all in the food processor, and don't puree.

Both good on pasta, tomatoes, or for dipping Virgilio's semolina bread. Note, by the way, the Japanese beetle at the very top of the herb bouquet. We consider this a plus: straight from the field.

Corn, Medium Sweet

Jack was coming to visit, and I wanted sweet corn that wasn't too sweet. The high sugar strains at the supermarket were killing me. For Jack Czajkowski, of Czajkowski Farms in Hadley, this is not a problem. He knows, or can ask, which farmers planted which varieties. Custom corn. Whoever took this photo, btw, and didn't bother to take a better one will be spoken to.

Jack brought his family out for a play at the beach and a minor league game at Fenway. In addition to the dozen ears were fresh zucchini and cumcumbers, an herb bouquet, green beans, squash, and the first tomatoes out of the valley. Squash sauteed and served next to the beans, just steamed and served with toasted almonds, salt, pepper, dash of olive oil. And you say fresh basil to me, and I say pesto.

Monday, August 2, 2010


Is this not beautiful? Tuna from Intershell's retail market. Salmon from Connelly's, custom cut by Brad who also kindly pulled the pin bones. Native scallop shell dishes.

Sancta Joseph, Interride Pro Me

Ah, the Saint Joe's Roll from Virgilios. It's like a small loaf of Italian bread, and makes just the best sandwich. Here's a roll baked that morning (there's no other way), with olives, mozzarella, fresh herbs, tomatoes... good stuff.

PB and C

I was craving a peanut butter and jelly sandwich but lo! we were out of J. So I substituted with a little chocolate syrup.

Tasted fine, but way too thin... dripped all over the place. Good with a glass of iced soymilk.

Good Eggs

Basically, to visually ID a fresh egg, consider that the fresher the egg, the more it wants to stay in a ball shape. The older the egg, the more it spreads. Here are eggs that I could just tell were about as fresh as supermarket eggs are going to be.

If you want to bother reading the package, the three digit number is day of the year the eggs were packaged, and a five digit code (letter and four numbers) that is the plant that produced the eggs, in addition to the sell by date (30 days) or a use by date (45 days).

I always root around, read dates, and find the freshest eggs at the back of the shelf.

Perfect Egg Salad

Eggs must be boiled to creamy yellow yolk. Never overcook. Once you get those green iron sulfides, or whatever they are, it smells eggier. (Yep, just looked it up. Iron in the yolk combining with sulfur in the white. That's why it only happens on the outside I'm a genius).

Meticulously turned through three dimensions in the egg slicer, creamy yolk mixed with mayo, a touch of sri racha, a touch of dijon. Look at that texture. Spread on fresh bread. And Triscuits. I love egg salad on Triscuits. The salt and texture combine perfectly.

Banana Pancakes

Special for Smadi. We love you, Smad.

Tuna Pizza: Final Cuts

Tuna pizza, how European. I have to bring a can down to La Rosa's just down the street. They looked at me funny, but I point out it's your basic tuna melt.

Meanwhile, what began as riffing off the unreasonable stubbornness of a five year old has become part of the household vocabulary. Pizza is available with one of three named cuts, not unlike steak.

A Rockport cut, the house favorite and what started this mess, is cut in half and the tips removed. The Gloucester cut creates two complete mini pieces, with a big diamond in the middle that Dad has to eat. And the Kfar Saba cut, a clean angle bisector.


Chunk of paper thin chicken schnitzel, seconds from the hot oil and frosted with kosher salt. Eat, eat!

Hard Boiled Tea

I avoid throwing away energy when I can, and try to have a backup use for hot water instead of discarding it. My textbook example is morning tea from the hard boiled egg water.

Chateau Plonque

A case of budget wines from Kappys. My wife is not fussy about wines but has to draw the line somewhere. In this case, the line is just above five dollars a bottle. Six dollar Australians, fine. Those three for twelve dollar jobs, wherever they are from, don't make the cut.