Sunday, December 1, 2013
Haab brings the taco tradition to Brooklyn at its casual Park Slope and Williamsburg locations. It offers classics like tacos al pastor with juicy roasted pork, grilled steak, and crispy fish with cabbage and chipotle mayo. There are also some more creative offerings, like tacos with duck confit, roasted lamb, or cactus with avocado and queso fresco.
Perhaps my favorite is the classic papas con chorizo, in which the smokey chorizo is balanced by soft crushed potatoes, shredded cabbage, and fresh cream. Fiery pickled jalapeños and fresh tomatoes top off a simple dish with complex flavors and textures.
Friday, November 29, 2013
This year I went in a different direction, letting the leftover turkey soak up a marinade and then wok-searing it with garlic, ginger, chilies, and Sichuan pepper. The bold flavors and searing heat from the wok gave the turkey some fresh bounce, and some caramelized onions and Chinese black vinegar added a little sweetness to contrast the heat from the chilies. I didn't have any leftover veggies, but if I had I would have thrown them in too.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
|Fresh stradette pasta with lobster, corn, butter, and herbs|
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
On days like that, when I can't get to Grandma's house, or Katz's Deli, I often find myself at Ben's on 38th Street in Midtown. The matzoh ball soup is just comforting enough to put my mind and body at ease, with a good homemade chicken broth and a fluffy matzoh ball that appropriately sticks out most of the way from the soup. I would like the matzoh ball a little more al dente, but I recognize that, like many things in Jewish cuisine and culture, the texture of the ideal matzoh ball is the subject of intense debate. Outside of Passover, I usually add noodles for extra comfort.
Ben's Kosher Delicatessen has five locations in Manhattan, Queens, and Long Island, as well as one (of course) in Boca Raton. In addition to the matzoh ball soup, it features excellent pickles and coleslaw, old favorites like kashe varnishkes, and overstuffed sandwiches with very good pastrami on rye. My go-to is the "Double Dip," which gets me a matzoh ball soup and half a pastrami sandwich--more than enough for a big lunch--for under $15.
It reminds me of Grandma's. After all, there's a Ben's in her shopping mall.
Monday, November 11, 2013
Mike's bún gà nướng sả and, as always, by his trip to Vietnam, I decided one night to try my hand at a vegetarian version using ingredients I already had at home. I was fortunate to have some of Mike's Vietnamese basil, grown from seeds he brought back home, and some rice vermicelli from my last shopping trip in Chinatown. Instead of his lemongrass chicken I used tofu and, although it may not be traditional, I added an avocado for meaty richness.
I absolutely love these Vietnamese rice noodle dishes. The noodles and vegetables are served at room temperature, keeping the dish light, refreshing, and easy to prepare. The protein should be warm to take advantage of the contrast between hot and cold, sort of like a good brownie sundae, although for the one pictured here I didn't bother. You'll need some nước chấm dipping sauce, which can be made in a few minutes and stored in the fridge. If you can't find Thai or Vietnamese basil, use mint instead.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Continuing our exploration of Vietnamese recipes, this lemongrass marinated chicken recipe is easy enough to make on a weeknight and packs enough flavor to delight dinner party guests. I brought back some Vietnamese basil and chili seeds from my travels to Vietnam, and this summer, a certain federal judge was kind enough to grow them for me in his garden. This dish incorporated both ingredients nicely. Of course, not everyone has home-grown Vietnamese basil and chilis, but you can substitute Thai basil and chilis from your local Asian specialty store. This dish is also great for an outdoor barbecue, and tastes even better using a charcoal grill.
Like many Vietnamese recipes I have written about, this dish requires finely minced lemongrass and chopped roasted peanuts. If you make a lot of these dishes like I do, it's best to mince several stalks of lemongrass at once – either by hand or in a food processor – and then leave them in an airtight container in your freezer for easy access. Chopped peanuts can also last for a good amount of time in your pantry.
This is another dish where you can employ nước chấm – the addictive sweet, sour, salty and spicy Vietnamese dipping sauce. You can find the recipe here.
Since travelling to Vietnam and Laos, I've been making a lot of southeast Asian dishes. Vietnamese food, in particular, makes liberal use of nước chấm – an addictive sweet, sour, salty and spicy dipping sauce or dressing that is made by flavoring fish sauce. It takes only a matter of minutes to prepare and it goes very well over any Asian salad, as a dipping sauce for spring rolls or summer rolls, or over rice vermicelli topped with grilled lemongrass-marinated chicken.
The main variation is whether to use vinegar or lemon juice for the acid. It's purely a matter of personal preference – try it both ways!