Posts Tagged ‘Brooklyn’

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Accessorizing. (BLOODY MARYS + BASIC QUICK PICKLES)

January 13, 2012

I talk about Bloody Marys plenty. I love to drink them, I love to make them. Seems to be the drink that has a preparation most like cooking (and drinking it is alot like eating). And though I am loyal to a sturdy classic drink, I love the bells and whistles that people come up with to adorn a Bloody Mary making it achieve even more than its perfect basic self. Seven kinds of seafood on a stick, gold dusted rim or 30 year old scotch are not necessary to the success of a Bloody Mary, but I wouldn’t turn them down either. The beauty is in the flexibility. It is a kind of very sophisticated open relationship.

It’s not about one particular recipe so much as striking a balance which can be achieved in many ways, adventurous and non. Go ahead! Use fish sauce and hot pepper purees, roasted tomatoes and wine. It just needs to consists of that savory drinkability, slight thickness, peppery bits and stand up to a decent spill of vodka (or whatever spirit one chooses to use). My ideal also provides a slow heat and a briny under-layer. To get it right I usually taste, adjust, taste, adjust, etc. just like cooking. Some batches are better than others and some kill it! Sometimes all the favorite ingredients are on hand and often there is creative substitution. And then there’s mixing drinks with that person who insists on their own carte blanche move (i.e. my friend who always uses dijon mustard). It’s cool, it all works and I’ll drink it to hell. But I’ll always have my own crazy concoction to go home to.

ORI’S BROOKLYN BLOODY MARY MIX

(makes about 10 drinks)

6 cups tomato juice

1/4 cup horseradish

1/4 cup pickled jalapeño juice (or dill pickle juice)

2 tablespoons Pick-a-Peppa sauce

4-5 shakes Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

juice of one lime

1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon celery salt or regular salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
dash cayenne
a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce until desired spicy-ness is reached. (I like Texas Pete)
  • Stir all ingredients together in a pitcher.
  • Fill a short glass with ice.
  • Pour 2 ounces of your favorite vodka (I like Tito’s) and approximately 6-8 ounces of Mix over the ice and stir. Garnish with Spanish olives, pickles* of any sort and/or celery.

* Lately I’ve been making these easy quick pickles as a garnish. They perfect for stirring up a drink but they are also great on sandwiches, in salads, as a side dish, a snack. This is not limited to carrots, celery and string beans. Try with cabbage, radish, cauliflower, peppers, onions or beets, etc.

QUICK PICKLES

2 cups of vegetables (approximately)

1/3 cup vinegar (white, cider, rice or white wine)

1/4 cup water

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • Peel, slice and prep your vegetables accordingly and place them in a bowl. 
  • Put vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  • Pour vinegar mixture over the vegetables and wait 10 minutes. Veg should be submerged in liquid. 
  • Let stand in the brine for at least 2 hours or up to 24. When cooled place in the fridge.
  • Drain and enjoy within a few days.

Recipes are guidelines not rules!

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Breakfast love. (DAMASCUS BAKERY)

March 15, 2011

I am tempted to post this photo with no words at all. But that would be depriving the reader of some really great info. First of all, this is a breakfast spread put together by my sweetheart with some stuff he whipped up and some other items from Brooklyn’s incredible Damascus Bakery. The bakery is well known for fresh pitas, lavash and a selection of breads, which are also available in other locations. Onsite they turn out an enormous variety of pastries and sweets as well as some mind-blowing prepared dips and salads. Pictured above are tabouleh, muhammara and olive tapenade with a spice crusted flatbread (zataar bread, far left). There are also MG’s flourishes of perfectly cooked eggs, dried fruit, grapes, buttered toast and some homemade ricotta with honey and pine nuts. I feel royal.

It is a little sad because Damascus Bakery is located on Atlantic Avenue right next to the extremely well known Sahadi’s and might therefore live in its shadow. And while Sahadi’s is a great spot, full of bustle and bulk, Damascus has a more homey style with hand-made goods, a friendly feeling and quite possibly the world’s best halva. Both are worthy of a Cobble Hill field trip.

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And some excess. (MALAYSIAN BUTTER SHRIMP)

February 17, 2011

I have never been to Malaysia. But as the five senses can help recall a strong memory, they can also conjure a fantasy. That is why this dish and all of its toasty coconut, hint of sweet spicy-ness and the way texture of the shrimp pops in your mouth, makes me feel like I am on a beach in deepest Malaysia… eating this creation from a piece of foil with my buttery fingers, leaving a pile of shrimp shells at my feet. Can you hear the waves lapping?

In reality, midwinter Brooklyn, UPS truck grumbling by, this dish is plain tasty. It entails a two-step cooking process that is maybe a little decadent but I think we deserve it. First, shell-on shrimp is fried in oil. This gives the shrimp a bright color and firm bite without drying it out. After making Butter Shrimp several times with students, we realized that for maximum flavor potential, it is nice to then peel the fried shrimp so it gets really doused in the butter sauce that forms in the final steps. And anyway most people prefer not to peel-and-eat, they just want to hurry up and eat. Do what you wish. In keeping with my Malaysian daydream, the shell stays on, but never mind.

MALAYSIAN BUTTER SHRIMP

(serves 2-4)

1 lb. jumbo/large shrimp, heads removed
2 cups canola oil, for deep frying
3 tablespoons butter
3-4 small red chilis, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine or sherry
1/2 cup grated coconut, toasted

  • Prep the shrimp by making a slit down the back to de-vein. Pat dry.
  • Heat the canola oil in a skillet with high sides or wok. To test that the oil is hot enough, drop a tiny piece of butter into it. If the butter bubbles and sizzles, it’s ready to use.
  • Deep fry the prawns in the oil, do not crowd the pan, until pink and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • When cool enough to handle remove shells from shrimp, leaving just the tails, if desired.
  • In a clean skillet, melt the butter. Add chilis, scallions, garlic, salt and fry for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add shrimp to the skillet with sugar, soy sauce, wine, and coconut. Cook over high heat for 1-2 minutes until heated through, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.
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Maangchi + me. (KIMCHI CONTEST/BBQ)

July 9, 2010

It was a balmy day in June that Maangchi (of wildly popular Korean foodblog maangchi.com) held her annual meet-up in Prospect Park. As always, fans of the beautiful video-blogger came from near and far to celebrate with her. This year for the first time in meet-up history, she held a Kimchi Contest. Participants were encouraged to use recipes from her site, especially the popular Easy Kimchi, but were also welcome to submit their finest.

I was one of three judges in the contest and there were plenty of excellent submissions. From mild to fiery, young and crisp to highly fermented and hardcore! Here is a link to her extensive coverage of the event: http://www.maangchi.com/blog/new-york-kimchi-contest-report. The day was sponsored by Hanyang Supermarkets, who provided a classic and impressive K-BBQ buffet as well as Korean foods company, Sempio, who generously gave away lots of products like sesame oil, soy sauce and hot pepper paste to the picnic-ers.

I was happy to be a guest at Maangchi’s day but I am even more happy to be her friend. Great job, Maangchi! It was a great/delicious day in the park.

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Dear Sandoony,

November 24, 2009

1158 McDonald Ave, Brooklyn

First of all, thanks so much for always hosting a great party. We think you are the best banya deal in town and we totally appreciate the long tables reserved for us, the sweet little group discounts and the fresh towels always stocked! Is there a keener way to celebrate with a pile of friends than a leisurely sauna and soak, a recline on the balcony (skin steaming in the chilled air), an awesome snack? And then do it all over again!

To make the most of this experience, it’s mandatory to observe the regulars. They come prepared with snacks, beverages, flip flops, hair masks, etc. The spa-goers claim a spot, set up shop and spend a day lounging. In and out of hot rooms and pools, snapping each other with leafy branches (platza). They read and play cards, eat a few meals with plenty of fine drinks, beer and vodka among the favorites.

Though guests may bring their own, it is the amazing quality of the food in the banya’s restaurant that is such a fantastic surprise. With well-priced house specialties like smoked salmon, borscht, pickled vegetables (including chayote and lettuce), whole prawns, and garlicy potatoes, we are transformed from a group of temporarily de-stressed and exfoliated New Yorkers into a hearty, red-nosed, robe-clad clan of Eastern blockers. The menu is extensive, everyone eats, and it doesn’t take long to get used to the idea of dining in a tiled room alongside a pool in a bathing suit. In fact, relaxed comfort might make the food taste that much better.

Though it is not fancy, everything is served with great pride and flourish. Food shaped into flowers (Sandoony is the only place this is acceptable), served with extra lemon, bright herbs, two kinds of bread and heaps of butter. The fish is perfectly cured and the soups restorative, each plate a meal in itself. Even an order of tea is accompanied by lemon, honey, sugar, milk and these fabulously sweet sour cherries. It is honest, well-done and downright delicious. No one bats an eye when a bunch of girls eat cupcakes and sip vodka. They just want to know whose birthday it is…

It’s kind of a steamy dream. Thank you.

Love,

Ori

Photos by Jean Naté.

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The old man + the snack. (SARDINES + PICKLES)

September 16, 2009

mcclure_plate

In the last several years I have found myself thoroughly enjoying sardines as a snack here and there. I believe it began back in ’04, when I first grilled fresh sardines in a restaurant. Seeing as how delicious they were just slightly charred wearing nothing but some salt and lemon, I decided that they couldn’t be so bad from a can. Then began what I refer to as my ‘old man snack’; canned sardines on a cracker, with a hard boiled egg, with hot sauce, in a pita with mustard and greens, etc. It may be reminiscent of someone’s hobo-grandad, but the truth is, there are many excellent boutique companies that are canning very good quality sardines/fish as we speak. In some supermarkets, the section of canned fish is extensive, tins hailing from all parts of the world. The brand I have been gravitating toward is Cole’s, a Portuguese sustainable foods company that catches with care and packs the firm, flaky fish in olive oil or all-natural sauce concoctions of their own.

Perhaps the age-old, almost folkloric, popularity of canned sardines stems from the fact that they are just one of those extremely convenient foods. I know that preserving fish helped people travel and conquer and stuff like that further afield than they otherwise could have. Or it could be because they complement one’s diet with omega 3’s, calcium, iron, vitamins D + B12, phosphorous, potassium and protein and the wise ones have always known this. Today, sardines are enjoying a renaissance. Since the small catch (sardines, trout and mackerel) don’t harbor toxins like bigger tuna and salmon, benefits can be had without as much worry of side effects. Peel open a can and you will see that weird old sardines play very nicely with other ingredients that might be hanging around in your fridge or pantry. My favorite way to eat this superfood snack is on a whole grain flatbread piled with a chunk of pickle or two. Bold flavors and textures get together just right. If you are close enough to heaven to be eating McClure’s Spicy Spears, chop up some of that red chili pepper and pop it on top. Old meets new.

mcclure_pickle

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Dear Dokebi,

May 12, 2009

 

dokebi

199 Grand St • Williamsburg, Brooklyn (front door/restaurant + back door/bar)

One can say I’m on the rebound after leaving my last steady Korean restaurant back in Queens. Now that I am a Brooklyn resident, all is well! Yet I search for a meal to fill the void where Tofu and Noodles once was, a cozy neighborhood place I can turn to when the need to eat Korean food arises, which is often. I am always saying that if I feel a little ‘off’ or sort of run down spicy, effervescing Korean food without fail cures what ails. And anyway I crave it voraciously every couple of weeks. That is why I keep coming back, that is why I can’t stay away.

I feel lucky just having you close by! You too have excellent banchan, some items very reminiscent of the ex- and some brand new ones to enjoy. Those little blocks of egg you serve, more like a custard than the usual omelette-like manifestation, are so light and silky they almost disappear upon the palate. And what was in that spinach? Garlic and miso? Also delicious. Yes, and thank you for your fabulous kimchi, fish cake and sprouts, too. They help me long for my former go-to place a little less with every bite.

Since your menu is much bigger, it is difficult to know you intimately (as of yet), but I plan on getting to know you better. It seems that one of your specialties is Korean BBQ, which I have not tried, but I do spy on others boisterously digging in on any given visit. So far, I concentrate on the stews and I am a big fan of the whole grain rice you offer alongside. The tiny cubes of sweet potato hidden in there are a nice textural change to all that bitey rice. I am also really into the bibimbap. I don’t mind paying the extra $2 for the stone bowl, though I don’t see how it could be eaten from any other vessel. But I know that I have had to accept the higher price point of the neighborhood in general and especially in my frequent Korean food fests. I do appreciate the saving grace… with $8 lunch specials I make my way through the menu without feeling too jaded.

Dear sweet Dokebi, you are a great bar + grill with a great happy hour and alot of heartfelt food to give. After a 5-year relationship with the last place, please forgive me, it is a little hard to get over the super-low prices, the strictly authentic, hearty fare, the unassuming atmosphere I found there… But our relationship is new and exiting and I trust that it will grow.
Yours truly,
Ori