Friday, November 28, 2008

Onion burger

I saw some nice grass-fed super-organic ground beef at a good price at the co-op on Saturday and thought a burger might be nice for dinner; on the advice of Simon (de Montreal; see links bar), I went with an onion burger (I had giant sacks of onions sitting around waiting for me to slice up for mujadarra for PACEgiving).

pretty easy to do: cut a big, thick slice of onion from the center of the onion and put it in a little oil in a hot pan (obviously, grilling would be better, but that wasn't an option).

when it's cooked a bit, flip the onion over. then mash a ball of ground beef down onto it, making sure it's fairly thin right over where the onion is.

Put a lid on it so it cooks more thoroughly.

after a bit, flip it; the onion will be embedded into the beef, steamed in beef vapors and fried sweet and delicious.

eat with cheese, ketchup, not much else. I thinly sliced some sweet potatoes and covered 'em with za'atar and olive oil and made baked sweet potato "chips/fries" in the oven to go along with the onion burger. I also made a quick red cabbage coleslaw with dill, cider vinegar, and olive oil and some steamed broccoli.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Dinner party at Ahmad's

on Saturday night, we made our way up to Washington Heights for a dinner party at Ahmad's. while the company was the best part, the food was damn good, too.

Priya brought butternet squash roasted with grapes & pinenuts. it had cooked for so long the red grapes had become almost like white raisins, and the onions had virtually disappeared into the dish. it was very sweet, pretty mushy, and quite delicious. the toasted pinenuts on top added a necessary crunch/saltiness to balance the dish out.

I made Brussels sprouts in bacon fat and garlic. I'd disliked Brussels sprouts for years because of my experiences with them as a kid, but a few years ago saw a tasty-looking, super-easy recipe and decided to try them out. I liked it enough that I've made it a bunch. basically, you cut the sprouts in half and then brown the flat sides in bacon fat (I cut up a piece of salt pork into little cubes and cooked them in a little water until I had a nice pool of fat in my Dutch oven for this purpose). also brown some big pieces of garlic. then, put plenty of black pepper on the whole thing and add some chicken broth and let it simmer until the sprouts are done and most of the liquid is gone.

Ahmad made pork chops with a dark cherry & fig sauce, baked in individual foil packets with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. really good stuff, marinated overnight before he cooked them, nice chew...every dish complemented the other dishes, with the sweet spices of the pork working really well with the squash flavors and the sprouts forming a counterpoint to all the sweetness.

(not to leave out Sirin and Jonathan--they brought wine)

I think I would like to make this exact meal again for myself sometime.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Ling Kee beef jerky

Whilst walking down Canal street the other day, I passed a tiny, mostly empty-looking store that had a single glass-fronted counter that appeared to contain only beef jerky under heatlamps. I guess there are a few of these Chinese jerky stores around. Today, after a nice 2-hour lunch, Wooh and I stopped by Ling Kee Beef Jerky for an after-lunch snack.

Unlike American jerky, Chinese jerky appears to be both moist and warm. Big squares of pork, chicken, and beef jerky were stacked under heatlamps, and more was grilling in the back. Spicy versions of each were available as well.

We were just sampling, so I got a quarter pound of pork, and Wooh got a quarter pound of beef. Kind of pricey--around $4 for a quarter-pound. In retrospect, I guess it's not that bad for what you get. I couldn't finish my QP; maybe if I hadn't eaten lunch...

The pork was very sweet, like BBQ pork ribs from a Chinese restaurant--excellent! Wooh's beef was a little sweet, too--Wooh thought too much so. I liked it, though.

I'll be back here from time to time, I think.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Night potluck

so, Christina and I had a little election night potluck dinner, and though it swelled beyond its original parameters, it was great and fun and there was plenty of food and, of course, Obama rounded out the night with a victory for us!

pictures are crappy due to the rushed nature of the thing, but oh well.

first, Priya made butternut squash lasagna. layer of ricotta, layer of baked squash + butter-fried sage, layer of pasta, cheese all over...stripes of white and orange, delicious autumn taste! everyone loves it--clean plates!

I made simple mujadarra, using my mandoline and armored glove to slice 4 hgue onions and some shallots and cooking them til brown in my dutch oven with some cinnamon sticks before adding brown lentils and water, simmering a bit, and then adding rice and cooking til done. super easy, nice proteiny rice dish.

Priya also made an AMAZING Obama cake, which we ate to give Obama good vibes as we waited for Ohio results to roll in (it worked!).

ALSO, Priya made a beet salad of roasted beet wedges, chunks of avocado, and a dressing of chopping shallots, pistachios, orange juice, oil, and pepper. simple and really good.

Eugene and Christina made delicious crostini covered with super-thin slices of broiled beef and bacon, with a bit of fresh parsley to give it that green taste. (Some added horseradish cream; I avoided that mayonnaisey mess and was perfectly happy).

Katie brought over her awesome meatloaf, made with her homemade ketchup, which was gone in moments.

Lauren and Bill brought a green salad with avocado and yellow tomatoes.

Sara brought olive bread.

Lena brought some bubbly, which we toasted with as Obama was declared the winner later.

Brina brought home-made applesauce with white raisins--yum!

For snacks we had edamame, cranberries, tamari almonds, cheddar cheese, hummus and carrots, mini chocolate mushrooms from Japan, and a whole host of drinkables.

lovely potluck! good thing my friends all know how to cook.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Wah Ji Pork Chop shop

Wooh spotted a new pork chop shop on Allen Street right near our school, so we had a lunch date on Monday to check it out (Wah Ji Pork Chop Fast Food at 7 Allen Street).

The restaurant was very small, very clean, and completely empty when we entered. New wooden counters, nothing dingy, and two very nice ladies behind the counter.

I got the basic: pork chop over rice ($4). Wooh gave it a bit of a twist by getting the black pepper pork chop over rice (also $4). We saw them lift the chops out of marinade and dip them straight into the fryer. Within a couple of minutes they were served up to us over generous helpings of rice and a scattering of chopped preserved vegetable.

The chops themselves were huge and meaty, with a fine band of fat but not so much that it eclipsed the meat--I was definitely surprised by how they weren't just the standard Chinatown piece o' fat you'd normally get. The flavor was also delicious. Wooh thought his black pepper sauce was good, but a bit too sweet and preferred mine, and while I liked them both, I preferred mine, too--the flavor of the pork was really brought out by the marinade, which had a complex array of flavors (star anise? coriander? cinnamon? not sure).

also, for $2, I got a popcorn chicken appetizer which was a very nice surprise--sizeable, actual strips of chicken (not just Chickie-Knobs (tm) of who knows what), with crispy friend basil leaves. The chicken excited Wooh the most--he said next time he'd just get that plus a scallion pancake for a quick, light lunch.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Super Taste Lanzhou noodles

Before the Kayo Dot/Pelican show, Priya and Sam and I scooted southward to Super Taste for some cheap food. With some winding and weaving, we also met up with two of Sam's friends, who were visiting NYC and seemed a bit trepidatious about the hole-in-the-wall nature of the place. They were game, however, and I was glad we didn't go to Eastern Noodle (which has no menu to speak of--Super Taste has a English menu with extensive options ranging from Lanzhou noodles to vermicelli noodles).

we all got Lanzhou noodles and, for $6, split 20 pork dumplings for the table. they were boiled rather than fried and absolutely delicious--an extremely juicy but not too oily pork-and-chive inside, nice squishy pasta on the outside, and a sweet soy sauce for dipping. I got the spicy beef Lanzhou noodles and found them to be basically the beef noodles with hot red chili oil liberally poured over the top layer--quite good, and quite spicy. I didn't get to try the pork Lanzhou noodles, but they looked pretty good. Priya's egg Lanzhou noodles were a bit of a disappointment--I had been envisioning a raw egg cracked into the boiling broth and poached on the spot, like in bibimbap, but this simply had a fried egg dumped into the broth.

Still a very good meal, and so so cheap. like 7 bucks each including tax and tip.