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.