I love to cook.  More than that, I love to eat.  So its very easy to make the jump of combining the two loves into one big fat delicious LOVE.  Here you will find some great recipes for dishes like Steamed Mussels, Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic, Pumpkin Soup, Roasted Fennel with Anchovies and Sambucca, Blueberry Pancakes.  You get the picture, good stuff!  You can post a recipe too and together we can be chefs of the city (or the country if that is where you live).  Also, I'll be telling you about some of my favorite restaurants around town.  So enjoy!   


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Urban Food

Sunday
Jan222017

Prime Rib Roast!!

Saturday
Sep102016

Black and Brass Coffee!!

    Coffee.  Is it the engine that runs the world?  If not the engine, then the gas? That perfumed blend of rocket fuel, heat, comfort and love that jump starts our day, clarifies our thoughts, imparts focus from fog and gives us that small reassurance that all is well with the world and we are going to go out and win this day. Again. And later in that day when the world bites back or lulls us into complacency and dull exhaustion, do we not turn to coffee to give us that special pick-me-up like a close friend to help us carry on the noble fight?  When we meet with friends, wife, husband or lover in the morning or afternoon, isn't coffee the common denominator that defines the moment? That smoothes the edges? That bridges the gap between people? I would have to answer  a resounding YES to all these questions.  It has been the engine that has driven creativity, industry and even love.  So to me, coffee is very important.  I drink it every day.  I love coffee and I consider myself a good judge of it and even somewhat of a connoisseur.

   Now don't get me wrong.  I have and I will drink coffee from just about any source.  I've drank it from machines, from stained Mr Coffee pots in assorted break rooms and auto repair waiting areas, in little packets in hotel rooms, from Denny's, Norm's, Starbucks and Peets.  I've tasted everything from Folgers to Jamaican Blue Mountain.  So I know my way around a cuppa Joe.  My favorite by far is fresh roasted small batch coffee from boutique roasterys that haven't been afflicted with the scourge of corportization and franchisation and homogenization that in my opinion leaves the coffee but takes the soul. Its Raison d'etre if you will.    

   Which brings me to the Black & Brass Coffee Roasting Company, a roastery in Honesdale PA (you know, the town Winter Wonderland was written about!), owned and operated by Travis Rivera.  Travis made his bones in the coffee business working for a company in New York and was apprenticed by them into the roasting side of the business.  While there he mastered the art and science of coffee roasting and developed meticulous algorithms and formulas which produced exceptional blends and roasts which excelled in flavor and just as important, consistency.  Travis traveled to Columbia where he met the farmers and saw first hand the berries, how on one tree you can have flowers, green berries and ripe reds ones, all at the same time. While there he made connections and relationships and gained knowledge from the dirt, from the Terroir.   He left that company and like a good brew, let the knowledge and passion steep for a few years until he made the decision to open his own roastery.  But actually, it goes back even deeper, because his grandfather came from Puerto Rico where his family had a coffee plantation for generations. Who knows how far back it goes because shortly after Columbus, men sailed from the island of Corsica to the Caribbean and got into the coffee business.  His grandfather's grandfather being one of them.  Men with a dream and a vision. Men and women who drank cafe con leche made from hand picked beans from the hills behind them, dried in the sun on concrete slabs with slices of French bread and butter as a daily ritual.  So coffee is in his blood, and he might say all things come full circle. And I might say, 'all things return to their source'.  Travis also happens to be my son, but this article is not biased to a fault.  Because its about coffee.  Either its good...or its not.  Either its great or its just another bag of beans in a world of beans in bags.  Because the brew is honest.  It doesn't lie. And this coffee is good.  No, its great.  

    Coffee is not just a tasty hot drink that picks you up, it also has nuances and notes and 'nose', much like wine and craft beer.  As an example, when drinking from a paper cup waiting for your brakes to be done, you might pick up...gasoline!  All kidding aside, there are tasting notes in coffee and Black and Brass is no exception and has this in spades.  For instance, the Darling Dark, a blend, has definite grassy notes, some grain and a certain mellowness with a long toasty finish.  The Vienna Sumatra has a nutty aroma and taste and a deep fortified finish. If it were wine it could be a fine Pinot or even a Madeira . The French Roast presents with tobacco and leather (would go great with a fine cigar) and a slight bitterness, which is the high note.  But it finishes smooth and satisfying.  This is what great coffee is.  This is what beautiful artisanal coffee tastes and smells like and this is what a product made with love and care, knowledge and passion is all about.  Its all about the bean.  And what you do with it. The brew is honest.  It doesn't lie. 

   All Black and Brass coffee starts with green Fair Trade coffee beans from around the world which are roasted to exacting specifications and shipped.  I've had coffee from many fine establishments.  And I've written about them.  Verve Coffee out of Los Angeles is one example- a fine coffee and one I highly recommend. I would like to add Black and Brass Coffee Roasting Company to my (albeit short), list!  Try it, I as an aficionado of the java, promise you'll love it too!  Black and Brass Coffee

 

 

Saturday
Jul302016

Delicious belly cut bluefin tuna! (toro)

Friday
Aug212015

Lemon Garlic Aioli with Rosé!

Do you like garlic?  Well, do mice like cheese?  Do bees like honey?  Well, actually they MAKE honey, but you get the picture.  EVERYBODY loves garlic!  As a matter of fact, I don't trust someone who doesn't, there's something wrong there.  So, in the interest of 'spreading the wealth' as it were, I've decided to show you how to make a garlic aioli, which is a French mayonnaise.  If you make it right, its so good you have a strong chance of becoming addicted.  

   Its fresh, its garlicky, its salty and its tangy.  Like many things of fragile beauty, it only lasts a few days.  But oh what a few days!  You spread it on a crusty baguette, or crisp raw veggies.  Or you can slather it on cooked broccoli, slop it on scrambled eggs or put a dollop on steamed asparagus.  I"v put it on grilled Pacific salmon.  And you serve it with a crisp rose or a French Chablis.

    1 1/2 cups canola oil

    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

    3 large cloves garlic

    sea salt

    2 egg yokes

    1 lemon, halved

    2 to 3 tablespoons water

    Combine the oils in a 2 cup measure and set aside.  

    Crush together the garlic and 1 teaspoon salt in a mortar with a pestle until the garlic is completely turned into a paste.  You keep scraping down the sides of the mortar as you mash with a soft rubber spatula or some such implement you may have on hand.  Scrape the resulting paste into a large ceramic bowl, add the egg yokes and a pinch of salt and whisk.  Using a ceramic bowl is really helpful because you want sturdiness.  And you want a narrow bottom, not a broad one.  Also, make sure its room temp or even a bit warm.  NOT COLD, NOT HOT.  

    While whisking constantly, begin adding the blended oils 1 drop at a time.  This is time consuming and you don't have to be EXACT, but try, and you will find your own method of accomplishing this.  I put the oil in a shot glass and drip it down.  After adding 1 to 2 tablespoons oil, the mixture will become very stiff.  Whisking constantly, blend in 1 tablespoon of the water.  This will thin it out a bit.  Then resume adding the oil drop by drop until the mixture again becomes stiff.  Don't be obsessive about this, but do take your time.  

    Whisk in the juice of 1/2 lemon.  When the mixture smoothes out, resume adding oil, this time in a thin stream.  Yes, it will become stiff again.  YOU'RE ALMOST DONE, HANG IN THERE.  Now you whisk in 1 more tablespoon water and add the remaining oil in a thin stream while whisking constantly.  

     Taste it and add salt as needed.  It should taste more garlicky than lemony and it should be looser than mayonnaise.  But if you like a bit more lemon, go ahead.  If its too thin you can add a bit more water.  Refrigerate.  It will last for about 3 days.   

     If, in the early stages the aioli turns thin and grainy, it means the emulsion has 'broken'.  Set it aside and place another egg yolk in a clean, deep bowl.  Start whisking and add the broken aioli drop by drop until you have restored the emulsion.  But this probably won't happen.  Its never happened to me.  

      Its a bit hard to make, and takes a bit of time but the effort is WELL worth it!  It really is sooo good!

      I must give credit where credit is due.  I found this recipe at The Wine Country, my favorite wine store in Signal Hill Ca.  

      Enjoy!  

Sunday
Apr272014

Cast Iron Pan Seared Rib Eye Steak!

Rib eye steak is one part of the great steak trifecta, rib, New York and Filet, and in my opinion is the best.  Because when you sear it right, its tender, its juicy, its well, delicious!  It goes well with a bold red wine, or an icy beer or a glass of burbon.  And good company.  Enjoy.  And if you want to give it a special loving treatment while its resting after the pan, put a pat or two of butter on top and let it melt in.  An old school trick from the days of the Rat Pack.