Archive for September, 2009

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

September 30, 2009

pasta salad  This was really yummy!  It has all those strong Mediterranean flavors – garlic, anchovies, olives, capers, etc.  Serve it barely warm or at room temperature.  If chilled, the flavors dull and the pasta gets gummy and sticky.

2 eggs

1/2 cup frozen green beans

8 oz penne pasta

1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

1/4 cup chopped parsley

4 tbs fresh lemon juice

2/3 c extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 garlic cloves minced

1 7-oz can good quality salmon

2 fresh roma tomatoes

1/2 cup drained pitted black olives (nicoise or klamata)

2 anchovies

1 tbsp capers

Freshly-ground pepper

Place eggs in cold water in a small pot, bring the water slowly to boil.  While the water is heating up, put the green beans in a steamer basket that fits over the egg pot.  Do not defrost beans.  Collect the remaining ingredients from your refrigerator and pantry.   When the egg water reaches a boil, turn off the heat, put the steamer basket over the egg pot and cover (this works better with an electric then gas stove.  If you have a gas stove, turn the heat down to its lowest setting).  Leave egg pot on the warm burner for 10 minutes (set a timer). 

While  the eggs are steeping and the green beans steaming, , bring a large quantity of lightly salted water with a few tsp oil to boil in a separate large pot for the pasta. Rather than impatiently watching the water heat up, tend to other business:  Save half of the nicest basil leaves and chop the rest along with the parsley.   Mash garlic with a pinch of salt (the abrasive quality of salt breaks down the garlic).  Squeeze lemon(s) to make lemon juice.  Whisk together chopped basil and parsley, dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic and olive oil, add generous amount of fresh ground pepper.    Set aside. 

By now, the eggs/green beans should be done.  (Cooking eggs this way avoids the ugly grey-green coating around the yolk).  Drain them.  Now drop them in a bowl of  ice water to cool them and set the green color (in the beans, not the eggs).  By now the pasta water should be at a rolling boil.  Add pasta and set timer for 9 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Open the can of salmon, drain it and mix 1/4 cup of the vinaigrette with the salmon in a bowl.  Don’t let the salmon break up too much.   Wash, then slice tomatoes.  Slice olives, cut anchovies in half in long slivers, and chop capers.  Layer tomatoes, whole basil leaves and green beans on salad plates and drizzle with a few tablespoons of vinaigrette.   Drain eggs and green beans.  Eggs will still be warm.  Tap eggshells against the wall of the bowl and peel them  Slice the centers of the eggs into coin-like slices.  Chop the egg ends, which should be mostly egg white with just a little bit of yolk. 

When pasta is done, drain it and run cold water over it.  Mix 2/3 cup vinaigrette with the warm pasta . Pile pasta on top of tomato/green bean/basil on each plate, then divide salmon on top.  Lay egg slices and anchovy strips on top of the salmon, sprinkle chopped eggs, olives and capers on top of entire salad.  Drizzle remaining salad dressing and serve.  Makes two very large salads or four medium salads.

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Warm scallop and edamame salad

September 29, 2009

scallop-edamame salad

It doesn’t happen very often, but once in a while, I’ll try a recipe and don’t like the results.  Nonetheless, when I created this blog, I was resolved to publish all recipes I tried – good, bad and indifferent.  I wouldn’t consider this a bad recipe – it had some good fresh flavor combos, I didn’t like the texture, however, and the result was too watery.  I found this recipe on the Internet after doing a google search for “scallops” and “edamame,” two items in my freezer crying out to be made into something.  This recipe was on someone else’s blog with credit to Martha Stewart Living Magazine.  I didn’t independently verify if his/hers was an exact copy of Martha’s recipe. 

The only changes I made to the recipe were that I had small bay scallops instad of sea scallops, and I served the warm salad over a bed of greens lightly dressed with pineapple vinegar and olive oil.  The original recipe called for the scallop/edamame mixture over the puree.  The recipe calls for pureed and whole warm edamame (soy beans).  Unlike peas and other starchier vegetables, however, edamame does not puree well.  The recipe called for a small amount of water, I assume to thin the puree but there was no puree, simply finely minced and not held together bits of soybean  in a separated puddle of liquid.  The scallops also released a lot of liquid when sauteed (even though I added no salt to them, which I find is often the culprit during the saute process), and even after draining them before adding them to the salad, they released more liquid into the salad.  Fortunately, I only made half a recipe so no leftovers.

RECIPE

Cook 1/2 of the contents of a 16 oz bag of frozen shelled edamame in lightly salted water in accordance with the package instructions and divide as indicated below.

Salad 

1/4 cup shelled and cooked edamame, per above

1/4 c. red bell pepper, finely chopped

1/2 tbsp sesame seeds

1/2 tbsp lime juice

squirt of Asian chile sauce

freshly ground black pepper

Combine ingredients and set aside

Puree (not)

Remaining cooked edamame, see above

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

3 tbsp water (I’d forget this ingredient if I were you)

1 tbsp mint

1 small garlic clove, peeled

ground pepper

Whirl above ingredients together in a food processor until smoth (never got to that stage!)

1/2 pound defrosted frozen bay scallops (blot dry well)

1 tsp canola oil

Heat oil in a saute pan till very hot, add scallops and saute .  Scallops cook very quickly, as soon as they start to turn color, remove them from the pan or they will become tough. Drain them of any liquid.  Toss scallops with the salad mix.

Line a platter with field greens and dress very lightly with vinegar and oil (I used pineapple vinegar I found in some gourmet store).  Top with “puree” and then with the scallop/edamame mix. Dress with a few more mint leaves.

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Creole (Red) Jambalaya

September 28, 2009

Jambalaya

John loves rice dishes and spicy Jambalaya hits the spot.  I was in New Orleans a year or two before Hurricane Katrina flooded the city, and tasted several types of Jambalaya, all of them very good.  The name “Jambalaya” is believed to come from the French “jambon” (for ham) “a la” (in the style of) and “ya” (African word for rice).  There are two predominant types of Jambalaya in Louisiana: Creole (red) Jambalaya and Cajun (brown) Jambalaya.  Creole cuisine has French origins but has been greatly influenced by other cultures such as Spanish (indeed some claim Jambalaya was actually created by Spanish settlers using local ingredients as a variation of paella) and African, and is centered around New Orleans. Cajun cuisine is more rustic and was developed by the Cajuns, French Canadians from Acadia (now Nova Scotia) exiled by the English in the mid 1800s.  They moved southwards into the United States and settled in the Louisiana swamps.  Creole Jambalaya contains tomatoes; Cajun Jambalaya does not.  But both contain rice generally flavored with onions, peppers, celery, garlic and thyme with whatever meat is on hand (ham chicken and shellfish predominate in Creole Jambalaya.  Cajun Jambalaya may contain sausages, rabbit, duck or whatever can be taken off the land).

The version I cooked tonight:

1 tbsp canola oil

1/2 pound each diced chicken meat and diced ham

1 tbsp flour

1/2 onion chopped

1 green bell pepper diced

1 cup diced celery

2 cloves garlic minced

2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (one can pureed)

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, 1 bay leaf,. 1 tsp ground black pepper, 1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 1/2 cups long grain rice

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1/2 cup chopped parsley

Heat 1/2 oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Lightly season chicken with salt and pepper and dust with flour.  Add chicken and ham to the skillet and toss until chicken is lightly browned.  Remove meat from the pan.  Reduce heat to medium and add the remaining oil.  Add the onions, peppers, celery and garlic and saute until soft.  Turn heat back up to high, and add tomatoes, herbs and peppers.  Bring sauce to a fast boil.  Stir in rice and broth.  Occasionally stir mixture until thick and rice has absorbed about half the liquid (about 10 minutes, having a glass of wine while tending to the stove helps).  Turn heat to low and cover.  Cook for about 20 minutes, stir occasionally.  When done, taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.  Remove bay leaf, sprinkle parsley on top and serve.  6 servings.

And of course, this post would not be complete without the refrain to the Hank Williams Sr. song in both English and French:

Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file’ gumbo
‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

Thibodeaux, Fontainenot, the place is buzzin’
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
Dress in style and go hog wild, me oh my oh
Son of a gun, we’ll have big fun on the bayou

Jambalaya, des tartes d’ecrevisse, file gombo
Par a soir moi j’va allez voir ma chere ami-o
Jouer l’guitar, boire de la jogue

Et fair de la musique tomnnerre m’ecrase
Un va avoir un bon temp de sur le bayou
Thibodeaux, Fontenot, la place apre sonner
Ca vien “en tas” pour voir yvonne par les douzaines
Fair bien l’amour, et fair le fou, fair la musique

Tonnerre m’ecrase
Un va avoir un bon temp  de sur le bayou

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

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Kung Pao Chicken

September 27, 2009

 

kung pao chicken

Stir fry is tough to do in a home kitchen.  My culinary dream is to have a commercial-grade gas range in my kitchen with big-ass BTUs to heat up the wok to restaurant levels.  I don’t cook much Chinese food because I can get it better and cheaply at local restaurants.  Alas, when I was exiled to the desert in Arizona, I did cook it more often because authentic Chinese food was hard to come by (why was every Chinese restaurant in Scottsdale referred to as an “Asian Bistro?”).  The other two secrets to good stir fry are (1) cut meat and vegetables in uniform sizes, and (2) have everything cut up and mixed before you start stir frying.

Contrary to popular belief, Kung Pao Chicken is not Sichuan in origin.  It came from Guizhou, my father’s mountainous province in southwestern China, which is renowned for hot and spicy foods, like its more famous neighboring province.  Guizhou has another great contribution to the culinary world- mao tai liquor.  My father was not Han Chinese, who make up the vast majority of the Chinese population, but a member of the Miao people, one of the many ethnic minorities in China.  See photo of traditional Miao dress.

miaoThe original Kung Pao Chicken has whole dried chiles but I tire of picking them out, missing a couple, biting into one and scorching my mouth, so I substitute Asian chile sauce.  The result is slightly different but I don’t have the guilt of throwing part of the meal out at the end of dinner:

1/2 each large green and red bell peppers, cut into 1″ squares

2 green onions chopped 

1 clove garlic, minced

4 tsp peanut or canola oil

1 pound boneless chicken breast cut into 1″ cubes

1 tsp minced fresh ginger

1/tsp salt

1 egg white

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

2 tbsp Asian chile sauce or to taste

1 tbsp soy sauce (optional)

squirt of sesame oil

1/2 cup roasted shelled peanuts

Cut up all vegetables.  Dice chicken and mix with ginger, salt, egg white and cornstarch in that order.  Heat up 2 tsp of the peanut or canola oil in a wok or large saute pan till smoking hot.  Add the peppers and green onion and stir fry for about one minute.  Add garlic and stir fry another minute, constantly moving the contents of the pan or the garlic will burn.  Turn vegetables into a serving bowl.  Add 2 more tsp peanut or canola oil and when smoking hot again, add the chicken. Stir fry about 2 minutes or until it loses its pink color and is just barely firm.  Return vegetables to the pan.  Add chili sauce, soy sauce if you want it (I left it out because I’m watching my blood pressure), and sesame oil.  Stir fry just to mix.  Then add peanuts.  Serve over steamed rice.  Sweat.

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Spaghetti e mellanzane

September 26, 2009

spaghetti mellanzaneThis dish, adopted from a Williams Sonoma cookbook, is supposed to create a firm pie like formed spaghetti wrapped in eggplant.  I got too impatient to wait for it to cool and set though so when I cut it and spooned it onto the plate, it lost its shape.  Nonetheless, it was very delicious.

Spaghetti en forma alla mellanzane (Sicilian baked spaghetti wrapped with eggplant)

Eggplant shell

One small eggplant sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Salt eggplant slices lightly with kosher salt and leave in a colander for at least 10 minutes to drain.  Rinse eggplant well and blot with paper towels.  Toss with about 2 tbsp olive oil and microwave for four minutes till soft.  Spray the inside of a 2 quart round casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Dipped cooked eggplant slices in flour on one side. Place floured side down on the botton of the dish.  repeat with other eggplant slices on the bottom and up along the sides until the casserol bottom and sides are covered.  Chopped remaining eggplant.

Sauce

Saute in a small amount of olive oil, one clove garlic minced, 1/4 onion finely chopped, 1/4 green pepper minced, and chopped eggplant.  When vegetables are soft, add one can diced tomatoes, and 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.  When sauce is reduced and thickened, stir in 2 tbsp prepared pesto (mine was left over from the steelhead the other night).

Spaghetti

Boil 4 oz of spaghetti in lightly salted water until just short of al dente.  Drain and mix with sauce.  Spoon sauced spaghetti into the prepared casserole dish and pack firmly.  You can cover and refrigerate it at this point or proceed immediately to the baking stage.

Bake casserole in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 minutes (30 minutes if refrigerated).  When done, allow it to cool about ten minutes, run a knife around the edge, then place a warmed platter on top, flip it over onto the serving platter.  Cut in wedges and serve, or in my case, scoop it out and flop it onto the plate.  The taste is the same.

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About lobstahs, chowdah and other RI foods

September 25, 2009

lobster rollI’ve been regularly going to Rhode Island since 1990, when I first visited my sister, who was attending Johnson and Wales University in Providence.  I met my husband there, got married there, and we share a lakeside home with his family and many other rentals there.  Now let me say, although I was born in Washington D.C., I am a West-Coast person.  I like the more laid back, tolerant, diverse, mobile and inquiring nature of the West Coast, rather than the east coast, which strikes me as more traditional, less intellectually curious, crowded, and less ec0-friendly.  But as the third-culture geographically-mobile kid that I am, I can find much to like about anywhere in the world, especially where food is concerned.

In Rhode Island, first and foremost, it has to be the lobsters.  We used to drive to the coastal town of Gallilee and buy them from the lobstermen right off of their boats. Back then, almost 20 years ago, they were going about $4 a pound.  This year, because of the down economy, they are affordable again($4.99 pound in the grocery stores).  When John and I got married, we had an informal New England “clambake” in his parent’s backyard on the lake.  We had six dozen lobsters (including one 3 pounder for his mom), quahogs they hand dug (hard shelled clams), salmon from Seattle (where we were living at the time), corn on the cob, etc.

Most of the time when we are back in town, we are working on our rental properties and don’t have time to pick up live lobsters and boil them at home, so the next best thing are the lobster sandwiches at D’Angelos (available only in the summer).  The lobster salad in them is nothing more than pieces of lobster held together with mayonnaise.  I usually have lettuce and tomato with them in  an Italian roll. Yum…. D’Angelos actually doesn’t have the best lobster sandwich, the best I’ve ever had was at the Daily Grill by TF Green airport – all tail meat, but at about $28 a sandwich, that’s too pricey.

New England clam chowder (the creamy kind) is easy to find and infinitely better than anything I can find on the West Coast (Seattle is one notable exception, thought their creamy chowder is a bit different).  It actually tastes like clams, is usually not very thick and doesn’t have too many potatoes.  Rhode Island clam chowder is different, it’s a clear chowder with no milk in it.  Many places will give you a choice of either.

Rhode Island has a large Italian population (including my husband’s family, which is so large I would swear they make up an entire town themselves).   Something I find there, that I haven’t found anywhere else (other than Italy) are pizza strips.  Soft pizza with tomato sauce but no cheese.  Every Christmas Eve the family has a modified traditional Italian Christmas dinner based on the “seven fishes” theme.  You can count on baccala soup (salt cod), anchovies with pickled peppers, anchovy-garlic angel-hair pasta, stuffed scrod, king crab legs simmered in a rosemary-tomato “gravy” among other things.

Other typical Rhode Island eats and drinks include spinach bread, squash pie, “stuffies” (stuffed quahogs), clamcakes ( too much bread for me, not enough clams), Del’s frozen lemonade, New York system wieners (little hot dogs with chili on them), coffee milk (coffee syrup in milk, again not my favorite in the land where Dunkin Donuts coffee reigns supreme-yes, I am a Pete’s coffee snob).  There is a good-sized Portuguese population too, and Portuguese sausages and sweet breads are also easy to find.

With Johnson and Wales University (Emeril Legasse’s alma mater) there, there are a lot of good restaurants in Providence, especially upon on Federal Hill, traditionally the Italian neighborhood.  I need to make more time for myself to check them out if I can ever put down the paint brush and caulking gun…

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Spicy lychee shrimp

September 25, 2009

Spicy litchi shrimp

Strange, yesterday, in the doctor’s office, my blood pressure was 130/94 -I’ve never tested this high.  I’m hypertensive she said.  Exercise, lose weight (how come she didn’t tell my husband that)?  So today I got up, biked for 1 1/2 hours, ate oatmeal, and left the pork in the freezer.  At 2:00 went to CVS and took my blood pressure again and it was 117/65, where it usually sits.  Not sure what’s going on. 

Here’s dinner:

  • 1/2 large green pepper diced
  • 1/2 red onion diced
  • one clove garlic diced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 can drained lychees cut in half
  • 1 lb shelled freshwater shrimp

Sauce ingredients (mix together)

  • 1/2 cup lychee syrup from the can (the rest with some rum over ice with a squeeze of lime juice makes a good cocktail to drink while stir frying)
  •  tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Asian chile sauce (Siracha)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp cornstarch

Stir fry vegetables in a little peanut oil then add lychees.  Scoop out contents into a bowl.  Reheat wok or saucepan at highest heat, add some more peanut oil and stir fry shrimp until they turn pink.  Return vegetables/lychees to pan and add sauce, stir until sauce thickens.  Serve immediately over steamed rice.

 

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Steelhead

September 24, 2009

steelheadI had my annual check up today and for the first time in my life have high blood pressure.  Ack! The body is falling apart.  So much for getting pork butt and making pulled pork.  The steelhead fillets at Costco looked pretty tasty and the price was good so here’s dinner for tonight:  Grilled steelhead trout with walnut pesto, soft polenta and field greens with strawberries.

Grilled steelhead with walnut pesto:

4 6 oz steelhead trout fillets.  Broil fillets for about five minutes, don’t overcook.

Pesto: 1 clove garlic, 1 cup fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, fresh ground pepper to taste .  Whirl ingredients in food processor.  Add extra-virgin olive oil gradually until you get that nice pesto consistency.  Stop and resist the urge to add more oil and cheese.  Spoon pesto over freshly broiled fillets.

Polenta – microwave for about 10 minutes 1 cup polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal) and 2 cups half strength chicken broth.  Halfway through cooking, stir.  If the mixture is getting too thick to stir, add more broth (up to a cup) and stir again.  Finish microwaving.  Before serving, stir in two tbsp butter till melted.  Add fresh ground pepper and 1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary and stir again. Spoon onto plate and garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.

Salad

Top organic pre washed salad greens with sliced strawberries.  Dress with a splash of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

Bon appetit!  Now to hit the gym.  Know any good latin dance aerobics classes?

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Greene-Durffee house

September 23, 2009

westshoreJohn and I just returned from four days in Rhode Island, caulking and painting the front and side of our colonial house in Warwick, Rhode Island.  Some friends have asked about the house, so here goes:

The house is known as the Greene-Durffee house.  It was build in 1780 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s located east of West Shore road (Route 117) two long blocks from an inlet of the Providence River, seven blocks from Narragansett Bay, just outside the historic village of Conimicut.  It is a two-and-one-half story Colonial home, gable-roofed, timber-framed structure with a huge brick center chimney, and a fieldstone foundation sitting on a lot slightly less than one acre.  The front is sheathed in clapboard.  It is a fine example of late American Colonial architecture.  It is one of the few remaining 18th century structures in Old Warwick, site of the original town settlement, and the community’s civic center.  Practically all of the structures that once constituted Old Warwick have been destroyed.

The home was built for Captain William Greene (1763-1852), believed to be a cousin of General Nathanial Greene, George Washington’s second in command during the Revolutionary War.  Captain Greene sold it to his son Charles Wells Greene in 1846.  Upon Charles’ death in 1856, the home became the property of his sister Almyra (Greene) Durffee (1807-1888), widow of Edward G. Durffee.  Her daughter and son in law, Sarah D. and John F. Woodmansee, subsequently acquired the house.  I believe it was sold some in in the 1940’s to the Wilbur family, from whom we bought the house in 2006.   

For those of us on the West Coast, where a home built in the 1950’s is considered old, this house is REALLY old.  After all, it was built right in the middle of the Revolutionary War, with battles taking place less than 30 miles away. Consider this:  the house is built with post and beam construction with no framing (of course, there was no electricity or running water back then).  The walls are solid wood and only 3/4″ thick.  The doors are also thin and used hand forged black iron hardware.  The floors (even in the unfinished attic) are solid hand-hewn yellow oak planks one-foot wide.  The basement (when we bought the home) sat under the fieldstone foundation (not concrete) and was just dirt.  We poured a cement basement and shored up the foundation.  We scraped seven layers of wallpaper (this was exciting archeology in and of itself, to see what designs were popular during each generation), and wet plastered the walls (no drywall).  The home originally had SIX fireplaces, used to heat the various parts of the home. 

The interior of the house still has many unique historic features, both Colonial and Victorian.  The main entrance has a four-panel heavily-molded Victorian door flanked by sidelights and fluted pilasters, set in the center of a five-bay facade.  The original pediment over the door was removed in the 1800’s when a large two-story veranda was added to the front and north side of the home.  When we purchased the building, the veranda was in disrepair and detracted form the historic look of the home.  We demolished the veranda and reinstalled a traditional colonial pediment over the doorway.

The main block of the house follows a slightly modified five-room plan.  The small entry and stair hall in front of the chimney contains a tight triple-run staircase with a heavily molded closed string and acorn drops on the newels.  The wall between the southwest parlor and southeast back room was opened up, creating a double-parlor arrangement with a broad archway between the two rooms.  There is a large brick fireplace in the main parlor.  That same parlor is elaborately detailed with eared door and window architraves, a dentil cornice, and a two-story mantel with an eared architrave around the firebox, a mantel shelf, and a beveled panel above flanked by fluted pilasters tobbed by a cushion-fieze entablature.  There was originally another fireplace in the northwest parlor, but it was closed up by the time we bought the home.  The adjoining dining room has a closed up fireplace, which we covered with decorative tin to create an artistic panel.  100_0762

There is a pass-through secret closet between the dining room and the northwest parlor.  The kitchen contains a massive brick fireplace, once used for cooking.  As with most colonial homes, the kitchen was originally outside (to avoid burning down the house) and later enclosed to be part of the home in the late 1700’s.  Sometime, in the 1800’s additional rooms were built above the kitchen “salt box” to increase the square footage of the home.   There is a “drying room” behind the kitchen fireplace, used to dry hams and laundry.  We have modernized the kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.  We also opened up the dining room to create a more open floor plan.

The home has original yellow-oak wide plank floors, which we refinished. 

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The original front windows have been preserved with one exception.  Again, sometime during the Victorian period, the prior owners replaced the second story center window with a door leading to the second floor veranda.   When we demolished the two-story wrap-around veranda, we removed the second-story door and replaced it with a wooden window.  But in keeping with common practice in both Colonial/Victorian periods, the window is extra large.  In the old days, it was known as a “coffin window.”  Stairs were too narrow to take large furniture up and down inside.  When people died in the home, they were usually in one of the upstairs bedrooms.  The coffin was built on site, the body placed in it and then the coffin lowered out the extra-large window.  No more coffins in this home, but we did put the large window in to allow residents to crane couches, large beds, up and through the window to the second floor.  On the second floor, the fireplace in the southwest bedroom has two-story mantel with bolection molding and beveled panel.

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When we purchased the home, it had already been converted to a three-family home, with one unit on the bottom floor, another unit on the second floor, and a third “in law unit” over the saltbox. The house had 17 rooms, with a total of seven bedrooms, three bathrooms and three kitchens. We have maintained the three-family configuration but updated the interior.  For example, the second floor bath has been enlarged and what remains of the bedroom from which we stole space to enlarge the bath is now an office/reading room.   In my latest visit, the first floor and mother-in-law apartment were occupied.  I was able to get into the second floor unit to take some photos, which include the restored Victorian clawfoot bathtub

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The new granite-and-tile bath with separate shower enclosure

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The sunny reading room with the marble-slab corner seat

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and the decorative tin ceiling. 

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We also refreshed and reinstalled the original Colonial hardware on some of the doors and closets.

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It’s been a lot of work, and there’s still more to be done.  But it’s a labor of love!

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New York Night

September 18, 2009

tuna waldorf

So tomorrow night is the beginning of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. I wanted to be ambitious and cook a brisket and apples and honey but I’m taking off for Rhode Island for the weekend (lobsters watch out!), and didn’t want all those leftovers fermenting in the fridge.  I also had to clean out the fridge so I did the next best thing, a casual New York dinner -cleaning out Lisa’s fridge style.  Homemade chicken soup with matzo balls and tuna waldorf salad. 

I’ve had some excellent Matzo Ball Soup in New York, where one matzo ball is about the size of a softball but the thought of that much dough in my belly while singing Faure’s Requiem at rehearsal tonight made me a little less ambitious.  So here are the recipes:

Matzo ball soup:

Simmer one pound chicken meat, half an onion chopped, 1 bay leaf, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme in enough water to cover. While this is going on:

One package matzo ball soup mix – no I don’t make this from scratch.  Two eggs, beaten, 2 tbsp melted chicken fat (yes I pull chicken fat off of chickens and render it).  Mix together well and put in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

While the matzo mix is doing whatever it’s supposed to do, cut up one large carrot and one long stalk of celery and chop green onions.  Add carrot and celery to the stock.  Have a glass of wine, water the yard and restock the squirrel munch box.

Wash hands thoroughly and form matzo mix into 1 inch balls, drop in the soup.  Let simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.  Sprinkle with chopped green onions just before serving.  Salt and pepper to taste.

TUNA WALDORF SALAD (clean out the fridge salad)

Drain one can tuna and mix with: 1/2 c sour cream, 1/2 cup mayo, 1/2 celery stalk, diced, one apple diced, a handful of grapes, halved, and 1/4 cup walnuts chopped.  Mound on a plate ringed with sliced cucumbers and sprinkle pomegranate seeds on top so it looks purty.

 

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