Category: Small Plates

April 10

So, after much finagling, Claudia and Michael came for dinner. I know that this has been something she’s been waiting for for ages, mostly because she lives in freaking Kentucky and has WAY too much time on her hands, and I’m all about charity. But we pretended that we were happy too, and there was only a small amount of awkward throat-clearing, foot-shuffling, and sidelong watch-glancing while I scrambled to make like a million courses to keep them amused.

I’m deep into working on an important project in the studio right now, so I was stressed out and impatient prior to their arrival (which, you know, always makes the food taste better) and even more so after they arrived, on account of she’s a giant pain in the ass. But, because I literally lie awake at night thinking about dinner parties, I even had something ready in the fridge: tartare of miso-cured Arctic char with ramps and crispy skin. I had rubbed the char with miso a couple of days ago (these were the trimmings from the sushi) and gave it a rinse this afternoon, then cut off the skin. The flesh I chopped super-fine–too much, really; it got a bit gluey–then mixed it with finely chopped ramps, and the skin I put in a hot skillet with sesame seeds until it was well-browned on both sides. Putting it skin-side down first helps keep it stuck to the pan long enough to stay flat, so that it makes a good cracker for tartare-eating. I also added sesame oil, usukuchi, sudachi juice, and white pepper to the mix for a nice complex flavor profile. Garlic chive, red mustard, and the crispy skin cracker all added contrasts flavoral and textural.

Read the Post Kvetcher In The Rye

March 3
February 21

The kitchen is almost done. As I write this, I have one more day of serious work before it’s going to be fully operational, wanting only a day or two of cosmetic finish work (molding, trim, and paint). The new stove is like a Lamborghini; everything that used to take meaningful portions of an hour now takes mere minutes, countable on the hand without the spoon. It came in on time, and within acceptable budgetary parameters–meaning that various material/hardware expenses (and I went to the hardware store and/or lumber yard every day) didn’t exceed 5% of the total.

To celebrate, even though the island is still just covered in 3/4″ A/C plywood, we made a feast from some of the bounty acquired at Mitsuwa, where we stopped for lunch and a big shop on our way home from Newark airport. We got lots of Washugyu beef and Berkshire pork for future meals (see tomorrow) and tons of staples in the form of bottled and dried ingredients. And sake.

Last night’s dinner was in three courses, because I was energized by both the sight of the finish line and the quality of the new goodies. To begin, some luscious, artisanal tofu that I would tell you all about but for the fact that every single thing written on the label was in Japanese. Fresh, silken circles of delicate deliciousness, it was. I made a sauce using fresh sea urchin puréed with usukuchi (light soy sauce), rice vinegar, a tiny dab of smooth peanut butter (since I find that uni have a slightly peanutty flavor) and sake with the alcohol burned off. It made for a very pudding-like, seductive dish, especially for those members of the family (everyone but me) who do not love sea urchin. It’s funny, but “slimy orange invertebrate gonads” aren’t that much of a selling point. Go figure.

Read the Post Nueva Cocina

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