Saturday, December 29, 2007

Merry Merry

The lovely Josie Kaye and Lynn Berger of 174 Elizabeth Street ho-ho-hosted an evening of international culinary delights on December 25. They found the tree pictured above on the street the night before, but wasted no time and had it bright and sparkling and decorated with After Eight mints by the next morning. In attendance were one Brit, a Dutch family, two Indian fellows, a Greek, two Germans, a Dane, a Swede, and three Yanks, two of whom were Jews. There was a ton of crazy eclectic and delicious food. The Greek guy went all out in Chinatown and bought the tiny snacky shrimp pictured above, some shrimp dumplings, sweet dessert buns, and the first chicken foot I've ever gnawed on. Also on the buffet table were a quinoa salad, a green salad, Zabar's olives, a pasta dish with squash and broccoli rabe, some kind of meatballs, red cabbage, a spiral cut ham, green beans and brussels sprouts. We had a no-bake fridge cake lemon squares for dessert. And of course champagne, wine, and vodka throughout. Yay Christmas!

Upper West Snack

Nadia, Josie, and my Christmas stroll took us up into the 90s on the West Side. On our walk back, Nadia and I stopped at Zabars for more froyo and picked up some olives, whitefish salad, and bagels from H&H. We munched a bit on the savory stuff but as delicious as it was, we made sure to leave room for Josie and Lynn's Christmas potluck.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Holiday food from Ecuador

I came home to visit my parents in Brooklyn for the holidays, and was treated to homemade hayacas. Hayacas are a pastel-like food eaten in Ecuador around Christmastime. The way it's made in the province of ManabĂ­, where my family is from, is a mixture of chicken, sliced egg, peanut sauce, raisins, onions, olives wrapped in cornmeal dough, bound within banana leaves with string (or aluminum foil) and steamed. My mom was up pretty late the night before cooking the chicken and preparing the cornmeal with the chicken stock. The next day, my dad helped her with stuffing the cooked cornmeal with peanut sauce, then the rest of the ingredients. The whole thing is wrapped in banana leaf, and either tied with a string, or bundled in aluminum foil, and finally steamed.
Making Ecuadorian hayacas (Mom)Making Ecuadorian hayacas (Dad)
Making Ecuadorian hayacasMaking Ecuadorian hayacas

It's a delicious once-a-year treat. Unfortunately this was quite an effort I doubt I could replicate at home in Boston. The only Ecuadorian food I have been able to make successfully is ceviche, which though not uniquely Ecuadorian, is made in a particular style in my home province of ManabĂ­. I wrote about it here, in case anyone wants a recipe.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Bosanska Sofra

Alma defended her big bad pathobiology dissertation two weeks ago today! Congratulations! Her parents, Nadim and Eshefa Zecevic of Tuzla came to celebrate. Despite some language difficulties (thanks for translating, Alma!), we got along great. Eshefa hit the ground running and spent most of her time cooking amazing meaty and starchy Bosnian feasts.

At the top is Eshefa with cheese-stuffed fried Turkey croquettes. I believe we had mashed potatoes that night too.

Next is steak with turkey-filled dumplings and some fried green pepper

Next is a braised lamb and potato dish. We had some cabbage salad that day as well.

Finally is apple pite, a Turkish-inspired apple pastry with phyllo and walnuts and vanilla syrup. Hungarians make something called apple pite too (Irene Rosenberg's famous "eppel slice") which looked different but was equally good. Except hers used cinnamon... Wait! No! She hated de tsinnamon.

Channukah Again

Second annual Channukah feast posting to Dinnerlastnight!

I hosted this year. There was tons of food. Heather made the same delicious lentil soup. I took care of the rest: munchies, salad, latkes, apple sauce, some leftover brisket, and an outta-this-world roast chicken recipe from the December Saveur. Once I get the recipe back, I'll post it. It's unbelievably good.

Have It Your Way

Speaking of not intended for human food, Jesse and I capitalized on some Burger King coupons (free whopper with purchase of any value meal) before I left the midwest after Thanksgiving. We chatted it up with the ladies at the BKs around the corner from Jesse's and scored some extra fries and a coke. Not having had BKs for at least five years, I have to say I was curious how it would taste. Basically, it was gross. But good to refresh my memory!


Thanks to the October issue of Saveur, Bobak's deli on the S Side of Chicago, nary a stone's throw from Midway airport, has entered my life. The have a staggering array of forced and smoked meats and a modest buffet including such delicacies as blood barley which Jesse, Nomi, Dan, and I sampled last month. My plate, the middle picture, shows the blood barley, stewed saurkraut with sausages, and cabbage and beet salads that I had. Next are Nomi's beet salads and blintz, and then Dan's sausage with the works. Next time you need some prune pastries, smoked sausages, and black bread and are anywhere nearby, hit up Bobak's!

Crossroads of America

Jesse and I passed this truck on our way to Chicago after Thanksgiving. I assume it's the contents of the truck that are not intended for human food and not just the container. I'm hoping it's the latter, because it's hard to think of something that would eat non-human food that ultimately won't end up on our plates.

Mad cow disease, anyone?


Here's Thanksgiving dinner in the making. Mom stuffed the turkey with liver, bread, dried apricots and pistachios. Beneath are Feiman baby food: mashed sweet potatoes and carrots and brussels sprouts.

Everything was delicious.

Fete de l'Escarole

Long ago on the last Wednesday farmers' market at Brown, I came into possession of a large quantity of escarole. I trucked it to New Haven where John Mangin and Sara Sani and I transformed it into Arduini family wedding soup (John, how did you make those meatballs?) and escarole/leek/sausage calzones.


Zabar's Froyo

So I've finally emerged from the box inside a hole that is graduate school.

This is amazing tangy frozen yogurt a la Pinkberry that Zabar's serves. It's fantastic. Even better than seeing Miranda from Sex in the City five minutes later.