Thursday, August 15, 2013

Cucumbers with smoked trout, turnip, herbs and creme fraiche

via Huckberry
1 Side of Smoked Red Rainbow Trout (sub: hot smoked salmon)
5 Cucumbers (try a variety of Armenian, Lemon, and Persian)
1 Purple Top Turnip (small)
1 Lemon (for juicing)
1 tablespoon Fresh Dill
1 tablespoon Crème Fraîche*
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
*Timmy Tip: Making your own Crème Fraîche is simple. Just mix 3 cups heavy cream with 1 cup buttermilk, then let it sit (covered) at room temp for 2-3 days.

Directions: Peel the turnip and grate it in a microplane. In a container, sprinkle the grated turnip with salt, stir and let sit at room temp for 30-45 minutes. Cut the cucumbers into chunks and slices (no wrong answers here). Toss them in a bowl with lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt to taste. To plate: Spread Crème Fraîche on plate, then top by placing a layer of cucumbers, then picking apart the trout in chunks, place among the cucumber. Repeat until desired serving size. Then, place salted turnip and dill on top, adding a few cracks of fresh ground black pepper to finish.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Got pencils. Will carve.

These pencil carvings are absolutely dope. See more here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Typographic posters with pop-culture reference

Pretty cool posters from the Visual Etiquette, a U.K. based design collective.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Parsi Tomato Chutney

This is another recipe from the the And apparently this one has changed quite a number of hands before landing to As they put it this recipe is "derived from My Bombay Kitchen, a collection of Parsi home recipes by Niloufer Ichaporia King, by way of The Traveler's Lunchbox, by way of The Wednesday Chef, who says, "I could almost guarantee that you will find yourself hoarding it, instead of giving it away as you might think you would after lining up all your neatly-filled crimson jars just after filling them."

Niloufer Ichaporia King's Parsi Tomato Chutney
Source: The Traveler's Lunchbox
Makes about four 8- to 10-ounce jars; recipe can easily be doubled

3 pounds (1.5 kilos) ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely-julienned peeled ginger (about one 2.5-inch/6-cm-long piece)
1/2 cup thinly-sliced garlic (about one large head)
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup (75 to 150 grams) raisins (optional)
2 cups (400 grams) turbinado sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 small cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt

Photos courtesy of © All rights reserved.

1. Open a window or two in your kitchen. Place all the ingredients in a heavy nonreactive pot and, over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring well. Continue to cook, stirring every five to seven minutes (more frequently towards the end of the cooking time), until the chutney has the consistency of a soft jam, about an hour. Be careful not to scorch the chutney.

2. While the chutney is cooking, sterilize four or five glass jars and lids in boiling water or a hot oven. When the chutney has finished cooking, ladle it carefully into the clean jars and quickly screw on the lids. Turn the jars upside-down to cool. If you plan to eat the chutney within a few weeks of making it, there's no need to can it; simply keep it in the fridge.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Steamed sea bass. Chinese style.

One of my favorite dishes to order at Chinese restaurants in Chinatown is steamed fish. The fish is usually really fresh, coming either from the fish tanks within the restaurant or from the abundant Ctown's fish mongers. I'm convinced that this is the only way to order fish, as the recipe is a relatively healthy one - it doesn't have any of those mysterious gooey sauces and you actually know what type of fish you're eating.

It is also a very easy and quick recipe to replicate at home. It takes about 15-20 minutes to make, including prep time. You will need however either one of those Chinese wooden steamers or a wide enough pot with a steamer rack. The rack can be picked up at any Chinese store that sells cooking appliances for about $3. The good thing about Chinatown is that everything is cheap and nearby. And you can buy all of your supplies in a matter of an hour.

First thing you need to do is find a shop that has the freshest fish. For this recipe I like to use sea bass, which is easy to find. This is a great fish because it is not bony, has beautiful white flesh with a good amount of meat and mild flavor. If you order this dish in a restaurant the chances are you will be given a choice between sea bass or flounder, which is absolutely delicious but is often frozen.

So to the way to pick out the freshest fish is, first of all, not to be afraid to get your hands a little dirty. Don't ask the guy to give you one, select it yourself. Step right up to the counter and start touching. There're four things to look for.

1. Size. I like them at about 2lb or 12-14" including head and tail, so I can fit them in my pot.
2. Clearest eyes. Fish eyes tend to cloud and become milky-white if the fish has been lying there for too long.
3. The flesh should be firm and bounce back when you press it with your finger.
And finally, probably the most important sign,
4. Lift one of the gils, it should be healthy, dark red. If the gils have brown tint, the fish is not fresh.

Now ask the guy to gut it and clean the scales. Normally you would steam it with the head attached, but if that's not how you roll, tell him to cut it off as well. Then you need peanut oil ( or use a mix of vegetable oil and sesame seed oil), good quality rice vinegar, some good soy sauce (I prefer Premium Dark kind, it's more concentrated and you can use less of it so it's not that salty). You can get some Chinese cooking rice wine to marinate the fish, but I have tried without it and can barely tell the difference. You need some cilantro, green scallions, ginger and garlic.

Here it is in more detail:
1 sea bass - 2lb, about 14" long. Gutted and scales cleaned.
1/4 cup of peanut oil
1/3 cup of light rice vinegar
2 large cloves of garlic, cut into thin strips
Same amount of ginger, cut into thin strips
Half a cup of cilantro, coarsely minced
3 whole stalks of young green scallion
3 stalks of scallion cut into 2 inch segments on an angle and halved

First wash the fish, pat it dry and set it on a plate. With a sharp knife make quick diagonal slashes across one side of the fish, taking care not to cut too deep. Slice garlic and ginger, take a pinch and spread it inside the fish's gut. Drizzle some of the vinegar over the fish and let it stand while you prep the rest of the ingredients. Meanwhile, place the steam rack in your pot, pour some water in so there's about an inch of space between the surface and the rack. Bring water to a boil. When the water is rolling, reduce the heat, take three whole stalks of the scallion, cutting off and discarding the softest green tops, and place the scallions diagonally across the steam rack. This will prevent the fish from sticking to the rack. Finally, carefully place the fish on top of the scallions, making sure the fish rests comfortably and the entire surface is straight and even. Cover the pot, bring it to an even boil and let it steam for about 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the oil into a small sauce pan and heat it over medium heat, until the oil starts to crackle and there's a whiff of just a slight smoke. Reduce the heat to a minimum and check your fish. You can tell the fish is ready when the diagonal cuts open up and the flesh is uniformly white. Turn off the heat under the fish and carefully, using a spatula and taking care not to tear the fish appart, transfer it into a large plate, large enough to accomodate the sause. When that's done, sprinkle the rest of the garlic, sliced scallions, ginger and cilantro over the fish. Take the heated oil and very carefully pour it over the fish. There will be crackling and slight splattering as the oil comes in contact with the fish's skin, crisping it. When the oil is poured take the soy sauce and the rest of the vinegar and drizzle over the fish. It's done.

One note about serving the fish. You will need two table spoons. Use a side of one spoon to cut across the spine of the fish, while lifting the meat off the bone. Use the second spoon to help you separate the bones as you fillet the fish and flip it butterfly open. Lift the spine with the attached bones, it should separate right off, and discard it. Check for renegade bones along the spine and pour the sauce over the meat.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pure Thai Shophouse

766 Ninth Ave

Some people call the stretch of Ninth Ave between 56th and 42nd streets, a little Thailand. And it's true that there's at least one and perhaps more Thai joints on nearly every block. But you realize very soon that most of those are either tourist trap versions of what the Thai may think Americans must think of Thailand and Thai food, or mini fast food chains with food akin Chinese greasy-spoon take-outs but more saccharine if not nauseatingly sweet. (Yes, I am talking about you Yum-Yum Bangkok I, and II, and III, and IV, and V).

It would have been a complete waste if it wasn't for some rare exceptions. Won Dee Siam, the one between 52nd & 53rd, and uber trendy Room Service have been satisfying my Thai food cravings with consistently solid if slightly generic menu. Until recently, that is.

Pure Thai Shophouse has opened it's doors in October 2010, and right away became a place to go for excellent and authentic Thai food. As soon as the construction scaffolding came down you could sense the difference. The restaurant brakes the mold with tasteful storefront design that includes a simple type marquee, surrounded by iridescent bulbs, and a sign featuring an iconic elephant. Inside shows the same degree of restraint and good taste. To recreate a feeling of an authentic Bangkok noodle shop the designers used unfinished wooden boards for the walls and old corrugated metal sheets for the ceiling. Not without a number of cute gimmicks, such as pulley suspended tip bucket, Pure is an exercise in maximizing space without sacrificing comfort and functionality, and good taste.

Photo courtesy of Lush Life Productions. © All rights reserved Lush Life Productions

Curiously enough, the design and concept of the place reminded me of one of my other favorite spots called Recipe, on Amsterdam Ave on the Upper West Side. Although entirely different - Recipe serves a version of new American cuisine, with some excellent terrines and pickled vegetables, they both make use of vintage styling and found objects and both of their menus hark back to the do-it-yourself country grocery ethos. As I later found out to my surprise, David who owns and is an executive chef at Pure, also owns Recipe.

But what about the food you ask? Well, in short, It's excellent. To me, it's one of the best restaurants in the city. Period. No matter the cuisine. The combination of taste-to-price-to-quality is simply unbeatable.

First hint that it's not your regular Thai is the amount and power of spice these guys use. They love chilly, and don't try to modify the recipe to appeal to a broader crowd. The waitress will warn you however if the dish is spicy, and her spicy is VERY spicy. She will also love you afterwards if you have enough balls finish it.

Pure does offer some of the Thai stand-bys such as Pad Thai and Pad See Ew. But if you are in the mood for noodles, skip those and head straight for the house specialty - Ratchabury. These home-made egg noodles, a family recipe by the way, come flawlessly cooked with slices of pork and real crab meat in light and fragrant broth. Order it with a poached egg on top.

But I would strongly recommend exploring more original items on the menu. We all had Green Papaya Salad, right? Not really, until you try it at Pure. It's spicy and tangy and explodes with fiery chilly flavor. It comes with dry shrimp, as a true green papaya salad should. But ask to include a salted blue crab (+$2), and you're in for a real treat. The crab is marinated raw in fish sauce, cracked, its top shell removed, and tossed on top of the pile of green papaya. As you suck on the creamy salty flesh, trying to put out the flames in your mouth and, at the same time, shedding tears that are 50% pain and 50% bliss, you're already planning your next meal here. Because that dish is addictive.

Equally addictive and, probably the spiciest item on the menu, is Wok Chili Turmeric With Beef. I have tried a similar dish at Jitlada in LA. There it's called dry curry beef and is a recipe LA Times food critic Jonathan Gold swears by. To my taste Pure's version is better - the balance between the flavors of green peppercorns, kaffir lime, turmeric and hot chilly is mind boggling. Literally. It feels like it burns direct pathways to your brain's addiction centers. You suffer with every bite, but unable to stop. And it's hard to tell wether the speed with which you devour the dish relates to it's actual taste or more to your desire to extinguish the heat engulfing your whole being sooner.

Another fantastic dish on the menu, albeit not spicy at all, is Fried Rice With Lump Crab Meat. This too is a true masterpiece, as I have never tasted rice that fluffy yet chewy, and ingredients so flavorful that you want to just scoop it up with a spoon. For extra kick ask a waitress for a mix of fish sauce and fresh green chillies. And it's guaranteed to send you to heaven.

The wait staff is great and attentive and specials change every three days. Pure bliss this place is.