We got a tad overzealous buying tendon for this year’s NoodleFest, so we fished a few out early and set them aside to slice and serve as a cold dish. We used this recipe and it came out delicious. Easy as can be, and honestly I think more people snarfed this up than were willing to eat the tendon in the soup. Maybe it was a couple eager tendon-philes eating it all, I don’t know, but it was pretty much all gone at the end of the night. We’ll totally make this again, though, as it was dead easy and absolutely yummy.
Finally got over to try this place. It felt like a late night in Amsterdam (almost). Really REALLY crispy felafels, lots of good salady bits to go on top, including a mindblowing garlic-parsley sauce that I could eat by the spoonful. Properly shaped and cooked fries that can be dipped into curry ketchup, mayo, peanut sauce or lots of other things offered. And they’ll let you have your felafel and veggie-mess in a bowl rather than a pita, if you aren’t eating bread for whatever reason. Delicious, and it made me very happy.
An awful lot of stuff happened this year. Nothing truly bad, but it’s been a struggle to keep up — a lot of unexpected home repairs and a really big investment in dance event organizing and more to do at work than average — and the result was no time at all to post on the FoodNerd.
Sorry about that. I imagine you’ve all gone off by now and given up on me, and I couldn’t blame you. But if you have me in your RSS reader or otherwise stumble back across me, welcome back.
The most recent kitchen adventures have been related to the winter holidays: ajil and milk punch.
Ajil is an Iranian trail mix that is made and eaten on the winter solstice night, when people stay up all night to ward away evil. I found the recipe in a recent issue of Saveur, and it sounded awfully good. I thought it might make a nice hostess gift for people on our trip to LA. So I went to the Armenian markets in Watertown to see if I could dig up the necessary ingredients. No one seemed to know what I was talking about when I asked for sugar-coated slivered almonds, but at the last store I found them on my own, in a huge display of every kind of candy or dried fruit you could imagine. They had dried mulberries too, which look just awful, like dusty old stuff swept out from under the fridge, but they taste pretty good so don’t be alarmed by their appearance. The salted whole pumpkin seeds are wonderful if you treat them like a salt lick, but I can’t work out any method for actually extracting the seed, so I punted and just used shelled pepitas instead. I also altered the recipe by adding in some shelled pistachios along with the ones in the shell. Roasted chickpeas are kind of bland and dusty-tasting on their own, but they are a nice element in the mix of stronger-flavored nuts and fruits. The end result is quite delicious, and very pretty with the greens, golds and browns punctuated with tiny flecks of bright white.
1 cup roast salted pumpkin seeds
1 cup whole salted pistachios
1 cup whole salted pistachios in shell
1 cup sugar coated, rose-water flavored slivered almonds (noghl)
2/3 cup dried mulberries
1/2 cup roast unsalted almonds
1/2 cup dried salted chickpeas
1/2 golden raisins
1/2 cup dried currants
8 mission figs
8 turkish figs
Milk punch is a historical drink with roots in the 1700s. I first had it at Backbar in Union Square, where it was a crystal clear, sweet, bright thing with strong notes of clove. It was so delicious and unusual that I wanted to try making some myself for a party, so I googled recipes. Nothing sounded quite like Backbar’s version, so I made up my own recipe.
I started with Basil Hayden, just because bourbon is delicious and I had some in the house. I used zest of 2 lemons and 1 satsuma mandarin, plus 1 cinnamon stick, 6 allspice and 4 cloves, plus a grating of nutmeg and a spent vanilla bean husk. The zest and spices are heated in a quarter-cup of the bourbon just to boiling, then poured back into the bottle and left for 48 hours, shaking occasionally.
Then you strain the infused liquor into a big bowl or pitcher, ideally something with a pouring spout, and add 1.25 cups fresh lemon juice and 1.25 cups rich simple syrup. Then scald 2 cups whole milk just under boiling point, and add it to the booze/citrus mix. It will curdle right away, but let it sit about an hour.
Then strain through cheesecloth or muslin. Then strain it again through a coffee filter. If you can, strain again through another coffee filter to get it as clear as possible. Pour it into clean bottles and keep it in the fridge, if you can keep people away from it long enough to have some to store. Your 750 mL bottle of bourbon will double in volume, so you’ll want another empty liquor bottle to store the other half of your batch.
This came out a pale yellowish-brown, and quite tasty in a lemony holiday-spice sort of way. The bourbon flavor comes through, but even people who don’t care much for bourbon have enjoyed this: the sweetness, smooth mouthfeel, and spice give it a wide appeal. I’m guessing Backbar used a vodka base, and less citrus juice, or perhaps they just have an industrial strength filtration method that gets theirs so clear. In any case, the method rewards experimentation and swapping of ingredients to your personal taste. I’ve just started a second batch with the same recipe, but with peel of 3 lemons and no satsuma, and a splash of vanilla extract, since I lack both oranges and spent vanilla beans at the moment. There’s also a few lovely options using gin and other flavor profiles from Randy Wong, whose basic method I pilfered.
We made a cheesecake from the leftover boozy-spiced curds, which aside from a grainier texture than we’d prefer was really rather delicious. I recommend it if you can’t bear to toss out the filtered curds. The pair make a nice combination for a party or potluck, as they do taste good together.
my brother is bringing me a whole smoked duck from Dietrich’s Meats in Pennsylvania Dutch country, plus some lard and crock-fermented sauerkraut and a bunch of other stuff. Yay!
So far I have been surprisingly able to stick with my omission of starches for a couple of weeks, with exceptions only when there was nothing else to eat, or I was at a restaurant with things I needed to sample (twice). At home, I’ve not caved. I astound myself.
I have very occasionally allowed a tiny bit of brown rice (I needed a gazpacho thickener; it’s not especially successful, as it doesn’t melt in like bread does) and potatoes. Corn is so far legal, and frankly I won’t leave fresh summer corn off the menu in any case. The pasta and rice I have not really missed much so far.
Braised greens make a remarkably able substitute as a neutral underlayer for things like curries. Ditto steamed yellow squash. And these have worked fine even before dancing, though I am legitimately hungry again by the time I get home.
The hungarian dill zucchini is like crack — I will dip into it when I feel snacky. Going to have to keep it in steady rotation. Same thing for hummus, a spoonful of that straight up can fix the kitchen-prowl problem by being filling and savory and speedy.
I had a really tasty little morsel at Rendezvous in Cambridge last night. They call it a “little lasagne” and it’s a freeform stacking of pasta sheets, ricotta, comte and swiss chard, with a pungent, salty, dark green salsa verde and chopped almonds alongside.
Absolutely delicious late-summer vegetable treat, savory, filling and not too heavy.
The rest of the menu was pretty good too. Duh. Try the Summer Breeze if you like whiskey drinks or bitters. And the summer chowder is dreamy.
turns out that yellow squash, Trader Joe’s cooked wild salmon, and coriander chutney mixed together in a bowl is DELICIOUS.
Damn it all straight to hell.
I have in the past had some success losing weight by eliminating wheat and grains in general from my meals (I’m looking at you, mid-90s Zone Diet), so I went and sort of half-assedly tried it again the last week or so. And it is depressing to report that I do seem to feel a lot better when I do this. More energy, less lethargic in the brain, better digestion, and I even look a little thinner even though I am most certainly not.
So there you go. Drat.
I guess for a while I am going to have to cut out the grains when I’m cooking for myself, and most of the sugar (easy for me, as I mostly lack a sweet tooth anyway), and only make special dispensations for unavoidable situations such as a trip out for pho. And really, I guess I am going to have to do that even after I fit back into my 90s jeans, since it’s not just the girth, it’s the sense of well-being. Sigh.
Remember that Vietnamese place down the street from my house? It is awesome, and I am very happy.
The pho is really good. Delicious broth, supersoft tendon, tender steak, fresh toppings. Even comes with the wee little Viet chilies, which is awesome even though I never put them in my pho.
The Vietnamese style fried rice is also excellent, with tender shrimp bits and lots of wok hay. They have some homemade chili oil and some chili garlic sauce that are very good on it. Ask for the condiment tray if they don’t bring it automatically.
The banh mi is good too, though the bread is a bit bland and dry — easily remedied with a drizzle of the green chili vinegar from the condiment tray. Our friends got a bowl of bun and a wonton noodle soup, both excellent.
And they deliver within a 5 mile radius. I can now have someone bring me pho ga on a cold winter night when I am sick. THAT, my friends, is quality of life.
Pho & Spice
457 Moody St
I will not link to their actual website at phoandspice.com because it plays music. SINFUL. But I will make a special exception in their case and continue to patronize them anyway, because did I mention? Pho within walking distance. Noms.
UPDATE: The Bun Bo Hue is really good too.
Today I woke up, walked down the street to Antojitos Cafe and had a delicious homemade gordita and an iced coffee, then I went to the farmer’s market. On the way home we stopped to check out the new food court in the basement of the Indian market, and bought a refrigerated coconut and a straw from the nice man with the machete. Cold coconut juice straight from the nut is pretty great on a hot day. And for dinner we are going to check out the — wait for it — new Vietnamese place on Moody St. Yes, my prayers have been answered and if it pans out I will be able to buy pho and banh mi without getting in my car.