Thursday, December 31, 2009


What to do with that local grass fed ground beef and local ground lamb I got at Honest Weight Food Coop last week? The only thing I could think of was experiments with meatballs.

Since I'm not currently eating wheat I though it would be interesting to experiment with other ingredients. I chose rice and urad dal. I ground them into powder and added them to the meat, salt, pepper and eggs.

Since the batch was more meat than would fit in my skillet I decided to season the first round with olives, onion, sun dried tomato, rosemary and garlic.

I think the rice and dal worked very well. After browning I put the lid on top and turned down the heat to cook until they were done all the way through.

I'm not sure about the next step, but I think it will involve a sauce of lemon, more garlic and olive oil. Since I won't be having pasta I'm looking forward to a lovely pilaf.

I am planning to try my new chipotle sauce with the second half of the batch. That should be tomorrow.

Monday, November 30, 2009

New World Bistro - once again

Having worked an intense afternoon and inadvertently forgotten to pick up my CSA share from Fox Creek Farm, I wandered down Deleware Ave. in search of another good meal from New World Bistro.

The service staff was lovely, I'm very glad to say. I started with a cocktail made from Core Vodka that was just right for a Friday afternoon. It's vodka made from apples out in Valatie and quite wonderful.

After being beautifully warmed by apple vodka I ordered the mussels and they were outstanding. I did just barely resist tilting up the bowl and drinking the hearty broth. Oh! And the topping of matchstick fries was weirdly just right - something to do with the saltiness and crispiness. That's a mustard sauce splashed over the fries and it was perfect - very mellow, but just tart enough to make its presence known.

My little steak was delicious and the salsa verde was the right touch. I also liked the banana ketchup for the fries. I get tired of the same old tomato ketchup, so this was a good variation. The greens were tender and flavorful and a good balance with the steak and fries.

The portions were not for very large lumberjacks, so I was able to actually have my whole dinner in the restaurant. I don't appreciate overlarge portions that force you to take a package home. I detest having to carry around half my dinner or feeling like I've wasted perfectly good food if I leave it. So kudos to NWB for getting that part right also.

I hope I haven't been an outlyer in my experience at the bistro. I think they're producing very good food and I've always had good service from staff who are efficient and knowledgable and cheerful - never snotty or laggardly. I'm looking forward to plenty more dinners with that Orlando touch.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Iron Gate Cafe

I finally tried walking over to the Iron Gate Cafe and had this lovely brunch on Sunday. That's a lovely crab cake under the poached eggs and pesto sauce.

The ambiance and service are also good for a nice Saturday or Sunday brunch.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Braising Chuck Roast

I was recently in the Catskills visiting Woodstock and stopped by the smokehouse on rte. 212 for some great meats. I picked up polish kielbasa, knackwurst, Canadian bacon and this monster chuck roast.

I've been working on perfecting my braising technique on and off since 2005 and I don't think I've got it right yet. For this massive piece of chuck I browned it on four sides and I was very pleased with that part. Then I cut little slits in the top and pushed in a few garlic cloves. I added sea salt and ground black pepper, then some thyme and a pinch of a mysterious blend called "greek" from a little tin given to me as a present. I added these onions and two small pieces of bay leaf. After the photo I also added carrots and parsnips for that mellow sweetness they always add to a roast. I put in two tablespoons of zinfandel.

After a couple hours there was what I consider to be way too much liquid, which is my continuing problem. Is there a trick I'm missing? By too much liquid I mean that there's a couple inches and the braising has pretty much turned to boiling.

The taste is always good, but I'm just wondering how to keep the liquid minimal and just more as a moistening and steaming action rather than a boiling or poaching action.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I heard from a few locals that Casablanca is a good restaurant, and so I had to go try it. I ordered the meatball tajine, which is the traditional terracotta dish. I also made the choice for the olive rice rather than a sweet rice, which turned out to be an excellent complement for the meatballs.

I was given a small sample of a dal like dish before the tajine arrived and it signalled that the flavors would be good. They were.

The sauce for the meatballs was a lovely mix including tomato, onions and savory herbs. The meatballs were my favorite texture with a good meat and mellow spice blend. I mixed in the rice to sop up all the sauce and I have to admit that I scarfed.

Wonderful home made whole wheat bread was also a good accompaniment.

Lorre-Bob sez check it out!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Whitefish and tomato salad

I hooked up with the front end of a smoked whitefish last night. I took all the flesh off the bones.

Several ounces of tasty smoked fish were my toothsome harvest.

As with most of my food, I do versions. This version includes finely chopped red onion, sweet pickle relish, cream cheese and mayonnaise, plus ground white pepper.

As I was preparing the salad I noticed that the tomato on the counter had become perfectly ripe, so I decided to try my whitefish version of tuna surprise.

Much happy dining was the result.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


I'm venting my spleen. I missed the first incarnation, so I decided since several people seemed very happy about Quintessence reopening that I'd go and give it a whirl.

Because I was alone I was seated at a table for two with one chair, in the middle of the back of the room, with my back to everyone else, facing the bar.

Now, why would I want to even sit in a position like that? Let alone taste the food? Given that the floor manager and presumably the owner are insensitive enough about comfort to set up a table like that, I think I'd rather stay away.

As I walked out, I said to the hostess that my punishment for arriving alone apparently was to be put in the middle of the floor with my back to everyone else. She said something like: yeah, whatever.

I think I'll be fine staying away for a very long time.

Chicken wings and Korean BBQ Sauce

I had a pack of snazzy natural raised on a Vermont groovey farm chicken wings in the fridge. I bought this jar of BBQ sauce at the Asian market on Central Ave. Seemed like a perfect match.

The BBQ is not all sweet flavors, which I adore.

I put the wings in the oven, 350 degrees F and let them get a little dry on the outside. I brushed on the sauce about every 10 minutes for 40 minutes and turned them a couple times.

Juicy, tasty wings.


A companion and I tried CCK awhile back and had a lovely dinner.

I was looking for the pork by the pound that was there previously, perhaps a year ago or something like that. They had a pound of barbeque pork in the appetizer list, so I had that.

It is wonderful - the sort of thing you'd definitely want to order for a large party. This and a plate of vegetables would make a very good dinner for two.

He was jonesing for the shrimp with honey walnuts, and it was picture perfect.

We tried to study the specials and someday I'll work up the courage to start going through them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Capital Thai

Capital Thai is on Central Avenue just west of Westgate shopping Center on the north side of the Avenue. I've been trying different things on the menu and this is the first time I was disappointed.

The joy hoh was savory and spicey, but quite soaked in oil. Not what I would consider to be thoughtfully fried.

The pad see ew was heavy on the chilies, light on the basil and almost void of chicken, the piece on the left being just about the only chicken on the entire platter.

Previously I've enjoyed the soups and salads, so I'm wondering if it's a new cook, a temporary stand in or if the game is over.

Breakfast hash variation - ham scramble

I got a huge ham steak in order to enjoy it a little at a a time by flavoring some of my favorite dishes like ham and beans. As I got down to the last little corner piece of it I was hankering for a nice breakfast hash and it seemed like the perfect flavor. I think calling it hash could actually annoy purists, so I'm calling it a scramble.

After the potatos were perfectly cooked I beat two fresh eggs and added them, folding gently until they were cooked through.

Ketchup as a condiment would fight with the ham, but the fresh tomato slices were lovely.

I got out one of my great aunt Emma's juice glasses for a rare breakfast juice treat and want to point out its size. Four ounces of juice was common in her day. It's really enough juice.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

South Indian style green beans

This style involves popping black mustard seeds and generally layering a variety of flavors.

I like to do all the preparation before I get the skillet hot so that I can time things nicely and not have to be trying to prep things and add things all in a rush. The first stage is popping black mustard seeds and that requires a nice hot pan like you would heat to pop corn. Once the oil is just on the verge of smoking I pour in the mustard seeds and cover the pan so the seeds don't fly about. After popping has slowed down I lower the heat and put in a dried chili and some hing.

I soaked urud dal for awhile to soften it and put it in after the popping to toast it a bit. It absorbes flavors differently than the veggies and brings out a lot of flavors. Once the dal is golden I add the "soft" veggies to become tender. I like them to be just at the tender stage, with the onions turning translucent.

Once the veggies are starting to get tender I want to add in more "top" layers of flavors. Tonight's version has a fresh Thai green chili, garlic and ginger. The Thai chilis are firey - I added one for this whole pan full of veggies, and I'm a bit of a chili weenie, so you may want two or three.

Fresh curry leaves are a wonderful accent, and I put them in about the last five minutes. For this version I also squeezed in the juice of half a lime.

It's fragrant and yummy!

Friday, August 21, 2009


At the point when lettuce becomes more annoying than a pleasure I turn to cucumbers and tomatoes for salad inspiration. This adorable salad has those two basic ingredients and then onion, fresh garlic, fresh basil, fresh parsley, capers, an anchovy filet, salt, pepper, fresh lemon juice and olive oil.

Using the basic cucumber and tomato combination this salad can be dressed in an infinite variety of ways. Then the additional ingredients are up to you.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Breakfast Soup : yet another variation

These flat noodles have become a soup favorite. Lots of slurping pleasure.

The kombe (kelp) adds that little bit of seafood flavor. I also used a shrimp soup base, carrots, onion, and tofu. The kelp comes out, since it's a bit woody, and I added wakame for the dark green color and more seafood flavor.

This gorgeous little green Thai chilies are a nice addition to spice up the rich soup. I use only half of one and remove the seeds. A friend claims the seeds are bitter, but I've never popped one of the little devils into my mouth. They require a good deal of caution. If you use these chilies and you have not done so before, please use caution and wash your hands a couple times afterwards before you touch sensitive skin areas. I put them in about mid way through the preparation so that the chili infuses the broth and becomes a nice background flavor.

I like a bit of cilantro for garnish and scallions are also nice.

Buffalo Wagon

I went shopping for slacks at the Talbot's surplus store on Metro Park Dr. and as I left, hungry, I spied this Asian restaurant across the way and decided to give it a try.

A serving of pickled carrots and peanuts was brought as a light appetizer on the house, and they were a nice complement to the rather heavy meal I selected.

The spring roll appetizer was on the greasy side and nothing special, but I did manage to get its photograph. I failed on my entree, which was the crispy roasted pig, sold by the pound.

It was delicious if not handsome. The pound portion would be the perfect thing to order with a vegetable entree and split between three people. It's salty roasted pork goodness is the perfect complement to rice. I took two thirds of it home and had two more meals with it, all lovely and satisfying.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Miso soup

My miso broth starts with kombe (kelp), washed and tossed into simmering water. Then goes the bonito flakes - I've taken to putting them in a tea caddy so they are easily pulled out. This simmers for a bit until I can start to smell the aromas.

The kombe must come out, because it's not really very nice to eat. At this point I also take out the bonito flakes since they have rendered the right flavor.

The miso must be gently introduced to the broth so that it's not killed.

Scooping up the hot broth, which has now been removed from the heat, is done a little at a time so that you end with a fairly thin mixture. Once the miso is warmed up it can be added to the broth, along with the tofu and rinsed wakame.

Delicious warmth and wonderfulness.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Breakfast happiness

Once again the Daily Grind provides a wonderful breakfast. This hearty combination of eggs and corned beef hash will satisfy the partier's brunch appetite like no other!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Salad dressings

Last night I made a small salad of farm fresh greens with radishes. But the exciting part is the dressing. I love improvising dressings of all kinds.

I began with ginger juice and then added apricot jam. Then I pulled my bottle of german herbed vinegar from the shelf. I got it at Rolf's and it's wonderfully fragrant. It overwhelmed the apricot jam a bit, so I added a little honey to round it off.

I drizzeled a little olive oil over the greens and radishes and tossed them until they were coated, then added salt and pepper. I added the vinaigrette and tossed lightly. I took a handful of toasted nuts and chopped them roughly, then sprinkled them on top.

Then I absorbed it with great pleasure.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Marinated tofu salad

Early in the morning I started draining the tofu, then I cut it into cubes and put them into a marinade: tamari, sesame oil, ginger and garlic.

I washed and dried the perfect farm fresh mescalun greens, then drizzled about a teaspoon of olive oil, I tossed them to distribute the oil. Then I salted and peppered them. They're from the first harvest share of my Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm, Fox Creek.

I put the tofu on top and spritzed with fresh lemon juice.

It was a substantive lunch!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Beef and bok choy breakfast soup

Since I had some small steaks it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make a beef soup. I also wanted to try out some great wide rice noodles I got at Lee's grocery.

Today's soup started with browning about three oz. of the beef after slicing it into bite size pieces. I had some fresh early garlic sprouts and sliced bulbs and leaves into the mix, then added six stalks of the bok choy. I put in some stock to enrich the broth, then added a few drops of sesame oil and about a half teaspoon of garlic chili sauce. I almost forgot the fresh ginger, but was able to drop it in at the last minute.

Good morning yumminess!!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Old Standby: My Linh

My dinner plans to go to Casa Dominicana with a friend deflated over yesterday afternoon, so I decided to change altogether and go to My Linh. I'm not sure that I've ever had a bad meal there.

Last night's appetizer was the Banh Beo - delicate rice flour cakes with shredded pork and shrimp powder and a complex sauce. The main dish was Banh Tam Do Bien, a lovely blend of fresh and cooked ingredients: shrimp, scallops, onions and noodles cooked; mint, lettuce, and sprouts fresh. And the tangy firey sauce overall was a very fitting addition.

I stopped at Luigi's deli a couple doors over on Delaware Ave, and enjoyed the whole ambiance once again. I got the roast beef, the roast pork, sausage and some tomatoes. It's not that their wares are very different from any other of the dozens of neighborhood Italian delis in the capital region. I just like the guys and their little shop. Maybe it's all the stuff hanging from the ceiling.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Breakfast hash - take 2

I cast caution to the wind and decided to use the corned beef I bought for sandwiches in some hash.

I started with little red new potatoes, those ones you're supposed to steam or boil. I fried them in the pan that I had just used for a wonderful marinated tofu.

One last egg left in the carton was the first thing in my peripheral vision when I was done with the hash, so it went on top.

Ok now I'm ready for a great Friday.

Friday, May 15, 2009


The story behind this rather lame image is that I was so excited by my wonderful food at Karavalli that I forgot to take photos. Then I was gonna take photos of the leftovers, but I got so excited that I forgot again.

My point being that Karavalli is still on top of their game and truly the best Indian restaurant in the Capital District. Not that I'm not a fan of the longstanding others, but Karavalli has dhosa!

Last night's feast was the fish curry, and it's simply divine. A dhosa appetizer, and my companion and I were unable to get through our main entrees and quailed at the thought of dessert, however everything was superb.

Even the mango lassi had just that little something extra of a mild spice.

LorreBob sez - go now, go often.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Midtown Tap and Tea Room

I have to confess that I am attracted to the Midtown Tap and Tea Room because of the name. My introduction was a reception for the Upstate Artists Guild show, and I am very happy that the old Avenue A space on New Scotland Ave. is being put to such good use. The art looks good and new artists will be showing on a regular basis.

The menu consists mostly of small plates, which I like very much, and the wine list looks like one could take a long time to taste the offerings. I asked for a hard cider, but settled for a ginger ale.

I ordered the beans, greens and shrimp plate because I was curious about almost all the plates and decided to just take it from the top and go back many times. Having foresworn wheat temporarily, the beans sounded like and excellent and substantive basis for a dish. While I sipped my ginger ale and looked at the warm decor, this basket of corn chips and salsa arrived as the complementary snack. It was wonderful! The salsa was hearty and a wonderful blend of savory and bright flavors. The chips were perfect for scooping, although the staff should be a little more discerning about how many broken scoops are going out to the table.

The plate was just wonderful. The rich bean starchy goodness and the seasoned greens were an unfamiliar and interesting complement to the shrimp. I must say that after all the years of thinking that restaurants simply want to kill customers with too much food, I'm extremely happy to see small plate choices. The snack and the small plate made a filling and perfectly sized meal.

So I ordered dessert!!

I chose the creme brulee and was so fascinated by all the flavors in the sugar topping that I forgot to take a photo. It looked like a regular creme brulee, but the sugar was superbly finished. It was like a taste rainbow.

I'll be going back to check out both wine and more small plates on a regular basis.

LorreBob sez: check it out.