upon review, i noticed that within various posts, i promised readers some recipes, then went off on a tangent & forgot to post the recipes; & since the eating of words/redemption is the theme of this post, then whatever i have missed over the last few weeks shall be included among the new recipes posted.
ok so @ the cafe @ which i guest cheffed for some weeks in may/june, i did all this talking about an over-salted falafel encrusted salmon, right? & here it is, along w/an analysis on why the over-salting occurred:
to serve 6:
- 1 large cucumber, (english are best for this: can be peeled or not, & are longer that US cukes, also, unwaxed) peeled, seeded and thinly sliced or cut into triangles
- 3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, (or roma, or heirloom tomatoes) cut into cubes or triangles if you feel super fancy
- 3# salmon filets - (wild caught is best) seasoned & set aside
- 2 -3 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup cooked drained chickpeas
- 1/2 medium russet potato, peeled and finely chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped leeks or 1/2 cup green onion
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut in pieces
- 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- salt and black pepper
- 1 cup cooked drained chickpeas
- 1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 -3 garlic cloves, peeled
- For the falafel crust, combine the chickpeas, potato, parsley, leek and/or green onions and butter in a food processor and pulse until the mixture is finely chopped and well mixed. Add the bread crumbs, coriander and cumin and pulse to mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- For the hummus, wipe out the food processor bowl. Add the chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic. Process until smooth, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the hummus to a bowl, cover and chill until needed.
- Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the cucumber and tomato and toss well. Chill until needed.
- Preheat the broiler and set the oven rack 4 to 6 inches below the element. Season the salmon fillet pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy ovenproof skillet, preferably nonstick. When hot, add the salmon and sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Spread the top of each fillet piece with some of the falafel crust mixture, transfer the skillet to the oven and broil the salmon until the crust is bubbly and the salmon is cooked to taste, about 2 minutes for medium or 3 to 4 minutes for well done. (If the crust is browned before the salmon is cooked, turn off the broiler, close the oven door and let the salmon sit for a minute or two to continue cooking.).
- To serve, spoon some of the hummus onto the center of individual plates and spoon the tomato and cucumber salad around. Set the salmon pieces on the hummus and serve right away.
i wanted to revisit one of my old stomping grounds for the purposes of nostalgia. so i decided to hit chinatown to shop, as i haven't done since '95. i should have taken it as a sign that i stopped into a restaurant on canal (what was i thinking???) & had about the worst chinese meal i have ever, EVER suffered through. all the most disgusting elements were in play: rubbery, greasy squid, a rice so bad that it felt/smelled/tasted straight evil. & no dipping sauce!?! i know enough about chinatown to comment with authority that the myth of asian politeness is just that w/a healthy dose of pure romanticism - but the service was ominous. i don't know why i continued my journey, but i did. to the detriment of my pockets, fish & sanity...
when i hit my favorite old market on canal & mott, i was filled to brimming eyelids with remembrance of my early days of hustling as a young young chef upon my return to NY, newly divorced (we'll get into that later) & only 23! how much fun is that. EVERYTHING was just as reasonable as i remembered; though not as vibrant, admittedly. i picked out the finest specimens available - those dear sweeties even packed all my fish with ice - & pressed on. but when i got to the 'lem (been trying to re-christen harlem as the 'lem for years... you don't think that's as wack as all my friends do, do you???) & unwrapped my goodies, they were... icky. the only way to describe them. they smelled fresh, but the colors were dull, & the salmon, upon closer inspection, was soft. not firm @ all. so i went into emergency mode, & brined (see march, i believe, for brining) the salmon, then salted & iced the shellfish (shrimp, & scallops). i was so paranoid that i let the salmon sit waaaaaaay too long in the brine, & so the flavor was then described as 'punishing'. so i must make this one again, then provide pictures. & i send a mental note of thanks to my chinatown comrades, b/c that mis-step led to one of the most pleasurable crow-eating contests of my entire life:
rejoined park slope food coop, y'all. first of all it is an essential blueprint for anyone who entertains thoughts of starting one anywhere in the world. & secondly, as much as i love whole foods/fairway, i just couldn't let another one of my entire paychecks go through the grinder like that, y'all. just...couldn't do it, B. so a friend was like, 'call & see if you are still a member.' & when i protested 'from '95???' my friend was still like 'check & see'... i decided to put off procrastinating & call - b/c there were no more spaces for orientation, & b/c the new member fee of $125 was off-putting to say the least, on a lark, i said, 'just checking - i was a member there in '95-96, & was just wondering...' well slap my face, y'all. within a few minutes, i was a member again, with instructions to bring id & a piece of mail to the office, next time i showed up in their neck of the woods.
we're back together. & it feels so right!!!
it's been all about knowing looks, winks, & triumphant nudges as the community that makes up the coop (happily more multi-culti than EVAH) knows good & kot-dayum well that they/we are doing the best we can for our bodies, wallets, families health & for the small price of 2hrs. & 45 min of service every month. while checking out, the fellow shopper/owner/worker who was helping me (& who i discovered was traveling to the coop from 190th @ one point - soldier! - said, as giddy as i was, 'you know this WOULD have cost 2X as much anywhere else, right?' lol!)
if that's not revolutionary food, then i don't know what is.
so when i do the salmon again, friends, it WILL be w/wild alaskan, (fresh frozen - you DO know that all of that beautifully displayed fish @ your fave gourmet market has necessarily been previously frozen, right?) to be used @ my convenience, & with the confidence that comes w/intimate knowledge of your quality product.
now let's not get ahead of ourselves; my plans for the ultimate coop uptown are still inching along - in fact every time i go to PSFC, the need for one closer to where i live becomes more pronounced.
talk about momentum: on my way to a catering gig in bklyn, i was approached by an adorable grrrrl - i'll call her T, who raced up out of nowhere & said that she knew someone who needed a caterer for his spiritual circles. i said, no problem. three weeks later, having been asked to serve a light, informal vegetarian menu, i offered this:
theosophical society menu:
bean & cheese tacos
a simple affair:
1# pinto beans , dry
1 gallon water
butter to taste
2# roma tomatoes or heirloom, diced
4 cloves fresh garlic, pulverized
fresh parsley, cilantro optional in a fine dice nevertheless
sea salt & pepper
1TBSP red onion, slivered
just toast each taco in a dry pan, & layer beans, cheese, salsa, avocado, & lettuce atop all, then fold.
refried pinto beans:
boil pinto beans w/abundant water & salt until soft. mash w/a potato masher, then stir & fry in butter/oil till fragrant.
combine diced tomatoes with garlic, onion, & herbs. let chill to blend flavors. go on from there.
don't y'all hate those 'pasta salads' - foul little affairs w/a bunch of mayonnaise, canned tuna, & most egregiously, peas?
welcome to my world, friends. let's set this bad boy off on the right foot for summer:
linguine checca (a fresh basil, tomato, fresh &/or smoked mozzarella salad - pasta is served @ room)
this i would like to serve as a trio with that nice butternut squash pasta above & linguine tonno, a tuna based pasta that i used to make all the time, when i lived in LA:
to serve 6 or more as part of a buffet:
2# linguine boiled in salted water, drained & tossed w/olive oil
3# roma tomatoes or heirloom, in a large dice
1 - 2# fresh or smoked mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
6 - 9 cloves garlic, sliced
1 whole large bunch basil or 2 small, rinsed 3 times & jullienned
sea salt pepper
marinate the tomatoes w/all else save the cheese & pasta for 1-3 hours. toss w/warm or hot pasta, & serve w/cheese tossed throughout.
warm pasta salad from Ustica
1# fresh tuna
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (e.v.o.o.)
juice of 1/2 lemon
finely chopped fresh red chile pepper to taste
4 large tomatoes ripe but firm, chopped
2 - 3 TBSP chopped fresh basil
2 - 3 TBSP chopped fresh mint
2 - 6 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
1# imported penne rigate
ss & p (sea salt, pepper)
in a glass bowl in the fridge, marinate tuna w/lemon juice, ss & p. 1/2 the garlic, & 1/4 cup the olive oil for several hours.
in a smoking hot skillet, sear the tuna 2 - 3 min on each side, then pour the marinade over all & simmer for 3-4 min. remove from heat, & rest. when cool, break into large chunks & save all, including marinade. boil pasta to al dente. toss with olive oil, ss & p. combine all other ingredients, & serve on top of pasta.
next? a small office party for a media group in midtown:
when i first saw this recipe, i was completely weirded out - but i loved the idea - light, bright, pretty, summery - upon sampling, diners @ a vegetarian gathering were super happy - & so was i: super easy to make, minimal heat, perfect for summer cooking, a win for all. i happened to have some roast eggplant on hand, frozen, surplus from another job, along with some sun dried tomatoes, which all received a rough chop before being thrown in with the rest...
roast butternut squash/yam, marinated feta, summer leek/ramps farfalle w/rosemary to serve 10:
3 whole butternut squash or yams, peeled & diced, large
butter 6TBSP, divided in half
2# farfalle, boiled in abundant salty water until al dente
2 - 3 bunches summer leeks, ramps, or scallions, cut crosswise into small rounds
8 oz feta, marinated
2 bunches rosemary
4 - 6 cloves garlic, sliced, can be thrown in with the squash to roast, or sauteed with the scallions/ramps/leeks
4 oz sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 roast eggplant: see below
1 - roast squash/yams/garlic w/butter/olive oil/rosemary till candied. no sugar is required for this - the squash/yam cubes will become translucent, glossy & browned around the edges. when a fork inserted slides in easily, they are done about 1 hour.
2 - toss boiled farfalle with remaining cold butter
3 - saute the spring onion rings/sliced garlic till all are lightly browned around the edges/translucent, set aside
4 - roast 3 eggplant - cut into rings, salt, & leave aside, 2 - 8 hours in a strainer or colander. after the bitter juices have drained out, rinse, then pat dry with paper/kitchen towels. bake w/olive oil until soft, lightly browned, crispy around the edges. when cooled, roughly chop, & set aside.
5 -serve in a large bowl, sprinkle the cheese, broken into chunks on top of the pasta, followed by all veg.
(i bought the roti skins for this, @ my favorite indian market, India Spice & Sweet, on lexington between 27th &28th. the best.)
2 TBSP patak's curry paste
1 TBSP curry powder, madras, preferrably
virgin coconut oil
curry leaves - 3- 10 to taste
1 bay leaf
2 onions, slivered
2 green peppers rough chopped
rinse chicken well. season & set aside. in a pan, saute onion & garlic, bay leaf, & curry leaves in the coconut oil till translucent. add curry powder, stirring till smoking, then add the curry paste. saute for 3 - 5 min, then add peppers, saute till semi soft, & the chicken, browning on all sides. pour in the chicken stock to cover, add the coconut cream, & simmer for 1 - 1&1/2 hours. delicious chicken should slide off the bone. when it does, remove the bones - you should be able to simply pick them out of the stew, leaving the tender chicken pieces behind.
thai beef salad: refreshing.
3 # ground beef, preferably grass fed, @ least hormone free
1 (or more) fresh hot Thai chili peppers (prik kee noo), sliced crosswise very thin (or substitute jalapenos or serrano chilies, minced)
2 large cloves garlic, sliced crosswise very thin
1 tbsp sugar - palm or jaggery - (has the perfect rich brown sugar taste, & has the added benefit of a minimal effect on blood sugar) found in thai/asian markets
5 tbsp Thai fish sauce or nam pla
5 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice (1 medium size lime)
1 head Bibb or Boston; or 1 heart of Romaine lettuce
15 sprigs fresh mint (optional), remove the leaves and discard the stems
1/2 hothouse cucumber or 1 small cucumber (seeds removed), peeled and sliced thin
2 to 3 shallots, sliced crosswise very thin or 1 small red onion, sliced very thin
6 cloves garlic, sliced paper-thin
3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, stems removed
1 small bunch basil
make a paste: in a blender, pulverize the mint, basil, & cilantro, setting aside a few sprigs for garnish.
in a smoking hot skillet, sear the garlic & shallots till lightly toasted & brown around edges. add ground beef & cook through. add a touch of soy, nam pla, & a bit of the herb paste to taste.
Mix garlic, chiles, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Add the cooked ground beef and toss with the cucumbers and shallots. Taste and add more fish sauce if desired.
Make a bed of the lettuce on a serving plate. Place the beef on top. Garnish with cilantro, mint & basil paste.
guests wrap the meat in the lettuce leaves.
Serves 2 to 3 as an appetizer or as part of a meal.
thai melon salad:
hollow out a watermelon. chop the pieces roughly & mix them with a touch of the basil, cilantro, mint paste.
easy. cool. fresh. this is my wish for you all summer - heat waves be damned!
thank you for your time.