Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hanger Steak at Justin's

Justin's hanger steak special was delicious last night, complemented by a martini - theirs happen to be ginormous.

It was an easy dish: potatoes, vegetables and steak with mushrooms, but quite deliciously done. The flavor was enhanced by the perfect searing and the texture was substantial but tender. It was a perfect supper for after a heady movie, with a good sound track and not too much noise in the bar.

Justin's bar casual atmosphere makes it a comfy hangout and eatery. I almost always prefer it to the Savoy dining room.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fish tacos

After finding wild caught smelts in the Berkshire Coop over in Great Barrington I was a very happy but a little bit overwhelmed camper. I dunked them in milk, then cornmeal and fried up a mess that was waaaay more than I could handle that evening. So what can one do with this fresh water, light flavored fish? Once I browsed the fridge the tortillas and salsa told me: tacos.

Above is the iron skillet with chopped onions and garlic sauteed until the onions are transparent and slightly camelized. I boned the smelts and gently broke the fillets away. Not wanting to overpower the light flavors of the smelts I didn't put all the spices I would put into a beef taco mix. I gently rested the smelts on the onions and garlic and turned the heat way down while putting on the cover. The smelts are basically steamed that way, and no more breakage from handling.

A nice medium spicy salsa and a dreamy steamed white corn tortilla and voila!

This taco could be done a zillion different ways, but I thought for an improvization based on leftovers it was not bad. *munch*

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dumpling Breakfast

One of my favorite breakfasts is dumplings from Lee's grocery. Go in the front door and go straight to the wall and there's a little freezer which has a variety of them. My favorites are these, which often have meats, seafoods and vegetables in very tasty combinations. The bags are clear with red lettering, and they're the most expensive. I leave it to you to find your own favorite by tasting your way through all the different kinds.

The sauce is always fun to concoct. This version has dark soy, mirin, ginger and garlic.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pork with cherries

I had a container of Ranier dried cherries that I'd been using since summer when I got it at Hawthorne Valley Farm. So when it came time to also cook the pork chop I defrosted yesterday, the logical dish was pork with cherries.

I always improvise this sauce loosely based on the idea of cherries, onion and garlic. The liquids vary from wine to vinegar to stock. This version is dried cherries, chopped onion, chopped garlic and the Seyval blanc I got to cook risotto last week. I added a rock salt from Ibiza and ground red peppercorns. I cooked the wine down a couple times to get a flavorful syrup in the sauce. Then I thought about the ginger and tossed it in - ooo la la!

Sides were papaya squash and fried cabbage.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Lunch at Londonderry

I was in time for the last open table at this charming shopping plaza eatery as the lunch rush was at peak. I had bought my new cell phone so I was ready to play with it and have a nice lunch. And that was good, because I waited for a very long time to order.

I have eaten there for many years and somehow never tried the club sandwiches, so in the spirit of tasting my way through the menu I tried the beef, with the cranberry mayo. I like wheat bread, so that was my choice out of a lineup that could please anyone. It was difficult to choose between the apricot mustard and the cranberry mayo from the dressings choices, but the cheerful wait staff person helped me make the decision. I added a ginger ale to drink and wished that local restaurants would go for a little bit more than the watered down Canada Dry drek.

As you can see, PLENTY of meat. It was beautifully done beef, moist and tender and with very good flavor. There was so much meat that the tiny schmear of mayo was undetectable, so I asked for more when the wait staff person checked to see if all was well. It almost overpowered the bacon and made the sandwich difficult to handle. I waited for almost a half hour, figured out most of my phone functionality, and when the staff person asked if I just didn't have any appetite she was abashed that she had forgotten the mayo. By that time the lunch rush had evaporated so that she was able to concentrate more on my needs, and I was ready to go back to the phone store and ask more questions.

In my experience Londonderry has always had sort of weird wait staff, so if you can look beyond that it's a good place to take a break or get a tasty meal. It's tucked away in a corner of Stuyvesant Plaza, so in the perfect spot to provide a respite from shopping or errands.