Laudable Tilapia

Sometimes on a Sunday, the Baker or the Baker’s sister will do some batch cooking for the week so that she doesn’t have to cook every night. Tonight proved to be one of those nights and because she had just been in San Diego (blogs to come…), she could imagine nothing better than FISH. So, the Baker went to the store and bought some tilapia because it’s a fish her parents grew up making for her, so she knows she likes it.

When it came time to prep, she looked to the internet to provide inspiration. This came in the form of a blackened spice-rubbed recipe that involved a simple action of making the spice mix, rubbing it on each side of the fish. Cooking the fish in the oven at 400 degrees for 7 minutes on one side, flipping it over, then cooking it for 7 minutes on the other side. The recipe recommended roasting zucchini with it, but the Baker felt more partial to onion (plus she had an onion and had not purchased a zucchini).

So she created a spice mix of: Moroccan paprika, salt, black pepper, red pepper, cumin, and oregano. She sliced the onions and put a piece of parchment paper down on the pan. The whole dish took 30 minutes from start to end.

She served the fish and onion on a bed of kale. It was DELICIOUS!

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A Love Letter to Russ & Daughters

When in New York City, one frequently hears hyperbolic statements from locals, like:

“We have the best pizza”, or “our bagels are the best because of the water here”. While the Baker and the Baker’s sister are big fans of New York style bagels, when it comes to lox and they’re in New York, that lox should come from one deli: Russ & Daughters.

To say much more about the history of location would be unnecessary as the Deli (and the associated restaurant) has been amply described by various food communities, not only due to the stellar cuisine but also the wonderful backstory of the shop. Learn more about this in the 2014 documentary The Sturgeon Queens: Russ and Daughters.

The Sturgeon Queens – Trailer from BetterThanFiction Productions on Vimeo.

Both the restaurant and the deli have long waits due to their outstanding reputations. Given the likely length of a wait for a table at the cafe, the sisters decided to go to the deli to get takeaway sandwiches. Even still, the deli experience took over an hour. (No surprise since it was the week before Passover, and the deli stocks an ample selection of Passover foods.)

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So, here are a few tips for visiting the Russ & Daughters deli counter:

  • Don’t be shy: voice your needs loudly and confidently.
  • Be bold: come up with your own combination of bagel/bialy, type of schmear, and lox (don’t feel as though you have to one of the combinations that they have come up with)
  • Enjoy watching the process: Russ & Daughters has a superb selection of smoked fish and lox and the only thing more fun than eating it is watching the workers slice it perfectly thin.

Eventually, the sisters’ number was called and they ordered their sandwiches. They marveled at the deli man’s knife skills as he sliced their pastrami cured salmon.

The sandwiches did not last long due to their supreme deliciousness and the sisters’ hunger. While the following picture only depicts two of the sandwiches that they ordered, the others were not photographed due to the speed with which they were consumed.

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Pictured here: half a PASTRAMI RUSS (Pastrami-Cured Salmon with Sauerkraut and Mustard on a Bagel or Bialy and “The Works”) and half an everything bagel toasted with scallion cream cheese, nova lox and “The Works”).

Delighted with their lunchtime victory, the sisters continued their exploration of Manhattan.

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A Simply Elegant and Elegantly Simple Salad

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Since she cannot subsist on baked goods alone, the Baker occasionally requires main dishes and even salads. And, in this case, a healthy dish can actually be a delicious one.

Making this salad only requires a few simple ingredients:

  1. Kale: which needs to be washed and ripped into bite-sized pieces
  2. Garlic: which should be roasted in the oven. The quick way to do this is to coat the garlic in olive, wrap it in tinfoil, and then roast it in the oven for 40 minutes.
  3. Cucumber: just add salt and pepper to it and let it sit for 15 minutes
  4. Quick-pickled onion: add apple cider vinegar, salt, and sugar to a bowl and mix until the salt and sugar have dissolved. Then, thinly slice onion, combine it with the liquid mixture and let the whole thing sit for an hour.

At this point, the recipe becomes incredibly simple. Take all of the ingredients, combine them in a bowl, and you’re done. Eat.

At this point, it is also necessary to espouse the awesomeness that is roasted garlic. In this salad, the roasted garlic balances the acidity of the quick pickled onions to create an excellent salad that will definitely give you energy for the rest of your day!

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Persian Food in NYC’s East Village

When in New York City, in the East Village on a Friday night, you might not think to go to a Persian Restaurant. In doing so, you would miss out on an amazing meal.

The Baker and the Baker’s sister began the evening by attending an Upright Citizens Brigade comedy show and laughed at the purposeful impudence of the performers and the audience members who contributed to the show. However, by the end of the show, their inexorable hunger in their bellies made itself known.

Flanked by two local friends, the four of them set off in search of a delectable dinner. While many of the popular places that they saw were packed and offered a minimum of a 45-minute to 1-hour wait, which was just too long for four hungry bellies to wait. At one point, they were even seated at a table before the host came back over to reverse himself, letting them know the table he had just given them was in fact actually reserved for a party arriving imminently. Instead of choosing to wait the proposed 30 minutes, the four took off in search of an available table.

When they came across Ravagh Persian Grill, they knew that they had found the right spot.

They were hungry enough that they chose to start with a few appetizers. These were served with pita, a thin raita-like thin yogurt dip, and cilantro dip. To accompany these, they chose a whey and eggplant dip, a classic middle eastern salad, and a variety of homemade spicy pickles.

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After these delicious openers, the main courses arrived. Since they had ordered a glut of appetizers, the four decided to split three mains, that they would all split. They ordered two curries and one kebab and of course, rice.

The chicken curry was served in a slightly sweet pomegranate paste and crushed walnut curry that reminded the Baker think of middle eastern Mole. The lamb was served in a more classic curry sauce with eggplant and tomato. With her incisive knack for breaking down complex dishes, the Baker’s sister quickly sussed out how she could create a version of the lamb dish all her own at home.

They also ordered a cornish hen kabob to round out their meal. And, judging by the other patrons in the restaurant, kebab was a must.

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And, to accompany this feast? Just a nice light bottle of red wine to wash it all down. This was the perfect meal to ready them for a night of New York exploration.

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Passover is Over

As you may know, Passover ended last night for most folks who celebrate it.  As such, the Baker can return to baking and eating and the Baker’s sister can return to eating.

But, before we bid the holiday adieu until next year, we thought we’d leave you with two holiday recipes made by the Baker’s colleague: the Passover Brownie (basically fudge) and Crimsel (kosher for passover muffins). For more recipes from the Baker’s colleague, see: http://www.anybrowser.org/cdaveb/recipes

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Crimsel (kosher for passover muffins)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups matzo meal
  • 1 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup melted shortening
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Dissolve salt and sugar in boiling water; pour over matzo meal.
  3. Mix well and let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Add melted shortening and eggs; mix well.
  5. Pour into greased muffin tin (like cupcakes) and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in 450 degree oven.
  6. Let cool somewhat and serve (tastes good hot & cold).

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Passover Brownies (kosher for passover)

Ingredients:

  • 18 oz. Nestle’s chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 sticks margarine
  • 6 jumbo eggs
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 tsps. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups matzah cake flour (meal)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease 9 by 13 inch pan.
  3. Melt chocolate chips with margarine. Cool.
  4. Beat eggs, salt, and sugar till light.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Add matzah cake flour and mix well.
  7. Bake 35 min.
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Californian Peruvian Cuisine

When faced with a group dinner, the Baker and her group of seven others chose to make Peruvian food: something they had tried in restaurants and even in its country of origin but never had attempted to create themselves.

Though Peruvian food is not usually thought of as providing well-rounded meals or healthy cuisine, it can be. The group began with research to find recipes that sounded good to them. And, as a part of their research, they looked for recipes that used more vegetables and other healthy foods. They used the following sources for recipes:

Then they came up with the menu:

  • Starter: Ceviche
  • Meat dish: Lomo Saltado
  • Starch: Papas a la Huancaina
  • Salad: Peruvian Quinoa Salad and Green Salad
  • Dessert: Arroz con leche

The ceviche has lime juice, cilantro, red onions, tilapia, sweet potato and garlic. Be sure not to help with juicing the limes if you have any small cuts, as the acidity of the limes will make them hurt.

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The lomo saltado was prepared in a wok and included peppers and tomatoes.

The potato dish was heavy on the cream, cheese, and saffron. It was topped with onion and hard boiled egg. Be sure to stir the cheese and cream as the dish comes together to avoid it burning or curdling in the pan. Also, this is a very heavy dish. Be prepared to take a nap if you eat more than two or three bites.

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The salad includes quinoa, cucumber, green pepper, tomato, cojita cheese, red onion, avocado, lime juice, olive oil, and cilantro.

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The group was very happy with the meal that they prepared. It was delicious and made for a great group activity.

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Harrira in Fez

 

For the Baker’s second night in Fez, she decided that should would enjoy a fresh bowl of harrira. Not only was the small shop she found already comfortably full of locals in the heart of the medina, but she was also recovering from a stomach bug and the sweet women in the nearby pharmacy had recommended warm tea, soup, and veggies. Having spent about 2 weeks in Morocco with her family 3 years ago, she remembered the comfort of harrira.

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When she came in, the restaurant had about 6 men already filling up the two rooms and within a few minutes of sitting down, 3 more joined the fray. The men were all dressed in modern garb and were speaking with familiarity. While the Baker only purchased a bowl of harrira, the others all ordered the harrira, a piece of bread, fried eggplant (or aubergine, depending on your location), and a little sticky sweet fried dough with sesame seeds.

The total? 8 dirham.

But to be completely honest, when the Baker got back to the riad, she did split a piece of bread and had an orange, bringing the total up to 12 dirham. In dollars, that is $1.18.Not bad for a dinner for two, and a happily warm belly.

 

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