Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Orange Lanterns and Candied Orange-Chili Walnuts

In the beginning of October, I came across this photo circulating the Organic boards on Facebook and in Pintrest.

Here you can see the end product looks beautiful. I thought these would be perfect centerpieces for my November International Dinner on France.

But how do you get from step 1 to 3? What to do with all of the juice and pulp? I juiced my oranges using a glass juicer and then scraped the insides out smoothly, dumping the pith and pulp into a glass measuring cup.

I squeezed the extra juice from the mass using the back of a spoon. I used an aluminum pipe about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and used the sharp end to cut two holes, one in each half, so the it would sit flat on the plate and so the heat of the candle would not burn the fruit's skin.

With future lanterns I'll make the top hole larger as they started to scorch after an hour, as the skin dried out.

Here is the aftermath. A delectable three course supper completely decimated. Notice the missing caps, but people didn't mind and rather enjoyed the brighter light.

The juice ended up being used to make the slightly spicy candied orange-chili walnuts.

The recipe: 2 oranges worth of juice, 1/4 cup of sugar, 2 tbls olive oil, 2 tsp red pepper flakes, 8 oz halved walnuts.

Set out a well oiled cookie sheet.

On high heat, cook the nuts in the mix until the liquid thickens and bubbles and darkens, using a lightly oiled silicon scraper to stir the nuts frequently. Scrape everything evenly onto the cookie sheet, keeping the nuts separated. Once cooled, use a metal spatula to remove the nuts and hard candied caramel. It will have the consistency of peanut brittle. You can store it in a zippered storage bag.

Olive Oil Packed Roasted Peppers

My friends, Rae and Suzy, came down from St. Catharines's to visit recently and while they were here, we packed roasted peppers together.

You start by cutting both ends off, removing the core and seeds. Then, using a paring knife, slice the white ribbed pith from the inside. Slice, but not all the way through, the inside of the pepper so it lays flat but does not separate. Using tongs hold the peppers over a flame either on your stove or using an outdoor grill. Set them aside to cool.

Boil the jars, lids, and bands to sanitize and set out to cool. Fill 1/3 of the jar with certified high quality olive oil. Add 1 tsp fresh rosemary.

Scrape the blackened portions off the peppers and then slice into 1 1/4 inch wide strips. Layer in the jars, adding oil, rosemary, and 1 tbls of pickling salt. Wipe the jar edges off very well, lid and band tightly.

The packed peppers will keep in the back on the the bottom shelf of your fridge for six months. If you want them to keep longer on a pantry shelf, can them (water or pressure).

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nasi Goreng: Indonesian One Pot Supper

Nasi Goreng is an Indonesian fried rice. Cooked in one pot, the vegetables and meat (usually some kind of fowl) are added to prepared rice and wok fried all together.

We had a ridiculously large turkey this year that I had done in butter and Old Bay Seasonings and it sat staring at me every time I opened the fridge. What a perfect way to use up the leftovers.

I used Jasmine rice, green beans, slivered red sweet peppers, slivered carrots, and yellow and green zucchini. The whole of it was seasoned with minced tomatoes and onions, sesame oil, minced coriander, slivered garlic, turmeric, salt, cumin seeds and powder, slivered ginger, clove powder, 1 tsp of chili paste and a lemon juiced.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Italian One Pot Supper

Dinners over the last few weeks have been repeats or takeout and I got tired of the same old same old. Here is a take on a one pot supper I had years ago at a little Italian dive in Sligerlands, NY. This recipe uses thick slices of garlic, minced chives, cannellini beans, olive oil, hearty brown rice, slivered brussels sprouts, and organic flank steak massaged with white pepper.

The garlic is sliced thick and then the flat of blade is pressed to release the oils.
The meat is sliced 1/4" thin and then sprinkled with a bit of white pepper and olive oil and massaged for a moment, forcing the oil and seasoning into the meat's fibers. Sprinkle liberally with flake salt.

Make three cups of rice.

In a large wok, fry the garlic, well drained beans, and minced chives in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Stir gently, so the skins do not break, until they begin to crisp and thicken. Add the meat and fold until well cooked.



Then add the brussels sprouts, folding until cooked. Serve over rice and a glass of Australian Hunter Valley Sémillon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Essex St. Pub - Bringing the Kitchen back to Life

The kitchen currently offers 14 traditional pub styled dishes. We tried five of the options, washing everything down with pints of local Rusty Chain and Irish Guinness.

We tried the grilled three cheese with tomato, made with cheddar, pepper jack, and Land o' Lakes American on Texas toast.

Mackies Grand Champion JD Chili is slow simmered and served with pepper jack cheese.   A mild, well flavored,  hearty red bean, beef, and tomato based chili, it was served with butter and toast.

The Evil Rufus key bomb is a sliced hot Mineo & Sapio Italian sausage link with peppers and onions in a spicy marinara with melted mozzarella cheese  and tucked in a warm Lugi hoagie roll. This was outstanding, a flash of flavor, scent, and color.       
The smoked bourbon surfer barbeque chicken wings were rubbed then smoked then dry fried and then coated with house made bourbon surfer barbeque sauce. The meat was falling off the bone, with the right blend of wet and sticky and not too much sauce. They were very, very good!

The wings came with a small salad with a bit of basil lemon oil. It was refreshing, like a palate cleanser.

Lastly, a P.L.T. This is a grilled pastrami, lettuce, tomato, with chipotle mayo on an XL Lugi's sliced and toasted sandwich. The pastrami is made in house. Seasoned and smoked, it's rich flavor makes the most moist and delicious sandwich I've had in a long time.

We came in just as the kitchen was starting up, catching Bob and Mitch off guard with our extra large order. When they asked how many in the party and heard only two, Bob peeked out the half door with his brows peaked in surprise. Barbara handled the bar and served baskets of hot food and cold beer with a sassy smile and quick wit. Mitch was prepping the juicy roast beef while we were there. Bob, the pub's head chef, was originally a soux chef from Mothers and jumped at the opportunity to run this new kitchen. He was prepping the dishes and smoking the chicken wings.

Bob had chili bubbling, burgers smoking, and pastrami grilling when I came in the kitchen to visit and catch them in action. The in house smoker uses hickory chips, no artificial liquid flavor here! All of the produce is locally sourced, as are the breads, which come from Luigi's Bakery.

When I spoke with owner Macky, he talked about how much work went into bringing the pub, from basement to attic, back to life.

With a great deal of pride shining on his face, he shared his vision of creating an indoor garden on the third floor to grow herbs and lettuces and more to be added to the dishes and how each step and the amazing feedback from the community has just reinforced how right it was in deciding to bring back the kitchen. 

I love this pub. It's close to home, serves a good drink at a fair price, and now with the kitchen up and running, a fine plate of food at an equally fair price. It has me looking for an excuse to visit more frequently. 

Essex St. Pub on Urbanspoon

Monday, November 12, 2012

Featured in Buffalo Spree's November 2012 issue "Cheap Eats"

Both photos were taken by the most extraordinary photographer, KC Kratt.

As time unfurls, I find myself drawn more and more to helping people stay connected to or re-discover their food heritage. In a city where refugees and immigrants pour in, desperate to escape their past lives and create new ones, globally flavored food is one of our most treasured secrets.

Most Americans have a sense of who they are, genealogy wise. Many can say where their family comes from and where they ended up. Many too know their food/cuisine heritage. Polish perogis and kolaczki, Italian red sauce dishes and more are a part of their family's story and part of this city's story. You can't go anywhere without connecting the food to the area of the city, Irish bars with their pub food in South Buffalo, Italian pasta dishes in the Westside, Burmese Pho in Riverside.

Won't you come along with me and discover "How to eat global, while staying local"?

Thank you to writer Rachel Fix Dominguez, editor Christa Glennie Seychew, photographer KC Kratt, B. Ferante's owner's Sarah and Lucy Gilmartin and all of the others who contributed their time and efforts towards this November 2012 Buffalo Spree issue. I was happy to be a part of it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Japan Culture Day and Ichiban Japanese Restaurant

On Sunday, November 4th, the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society hosted a Bunka no Hi, or Japan Culture Day.  The celebration of Japanese culture included dancing, a demonstration on how to put on a traditional kimono, calligraphy,

ikebana (flower arranging), a matcha tea ceremony, origami, sweets, and more.

Members of the Friends of the Japanese Garden of the Buffalo Olmsted Park Conservancy, The Japanese Group of Buffalo, The Buffalo Kanazawa Sister City Committee, Buffalo Bonsai Society, International Ikebana Club Chapter 50, Rotary Club of Buffalo Sunrise, Serene Gardens Garden Center & Cafe, the Asian Studies Department of UB, and the Buffalo office of the Consulate General of Japan were present to create a fully immersive event.

After the event we visited the Ichiban Japanese Restaurant in Bladell, NY. The unassuming store front hides a beautiful izakaya. My youngest daughter was enamored with the dolls in the alcoves, my eldest with the flowers drawn onto her plate, and my step-son actually savored his selections!


The chefs created artistic pieces that disappeared all too quickly.

I loved the freshly sliced pale yellow ginger and the house made panko crunch.

Everything was so fresh. Sweet and delicate with none of that tank flavor you find at some places. All of the sashimi and nigiri sushi were well proportioned and a great deal of attention went into each plate's preparation.

We will certainly be returning to this location and I highly recommend trying out the Holiday roll.

Ichiban Japanese Restaurant on Urbanspoon