Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Girls Cooking Night: Pumpkin

For our most recent girls cooking night, we went seasonal with an all-pumpkin feast. The most interesting thing was that given pumpkin's squashy-absorbent nature, all five dishes had very distinctive flavors.

I steamed sticky rice in the pumpkin. I made the sticky rice first, then mixed it with stir-fried diced shitake mushrooms, dried shrimp, green onions, shallots, and since I don't like Chinese sausage, sweet Lebanon bologna, mixed with sesame oil and a little soy sauce. I stuffed the rice mixture in the pumpkin and steamed the whole thing for about an hour. I think it could have gone quite a bit longer to soften the pumpkin flesh even more, but well we had plenty of pumpkin to eat that night.

We started with Debbie's pumpkin lentil soup. The yellow lentils were still a little crunchy -- toothsome, as brownie likes to say. The yogurt added a nice tang.

Melissa made a wonderful rich pumpkin beef curry -- great flavor, lots of kick.

Kim made a pumpkin risotto, yet another totally distinct flavor. With lots of butter and rosemary and thyme or tarragon, someone said it reminded them of Thanksgiving.

Brownie finished us off with a delicious pumpkin cheesecake. I don't even like cheesecake, but this one was really tasty, especially with its gingersnap crust.

Finally, Marian couldn't make it that night, but on a previous occasion, she had wowed us with a nice, creamy, and fluffy pumpkin souffle.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Amish Country, PA

We took a trip to Lancaster, PA this weekend, and sampled many great Amish delights. First stop was the Bird-in-Hand Farmers Market, where the meat at Hummer's looked so good, we actually went and bought a cooler to take stuff home: scrapple, bacon, Canadian bacon, and sweet Lebanon bologna. We sampled all sorts of other goodies at other market stands like pickles, relishes, jams, pretzels, cinnamon bread, pecan sticky buns and more.

On the side of the road, we saw a sign for homemade root beer, and had to pull in. Down a long drive to a farm where in addition to root beer, they sold whoopie pies and homemade potato chips. The root beer was lightly carbonated and strong and rooty.

The next roadside stand we stopped at was Zook's, home of famous chicken pies. We bought 2 frozen ones, but haven't baked them and tried them out yet. We also stopped at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, PA, but it was way too crowded with tourists. Much better was the Intercourse Canning company, where we ate our fill of more pickles, jams, and relishes.

Dinner was at Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant, an all-you-can-eat Amish family-style meal. Starters included chow-chow, applesauce, bread with apple butter, and pickled cabbage. Then the main courses came -- meats included fried chicken, homemade sausage, and Stoltzfus's own homemade ham loaf. The ham loaf was really good - imagine the meatloaf concept, but made with ground ham instead.

The sides included: yams, corn, green beans, buttered noodles, and potato filling. This was my favorite - it was like stuffing but made with potatoes mixed with bread and herbs. It was light and fluffy but deceptively so, as about 20 minutes later all that starch expanded in my gut...

I didn't really have room for dessert, though it was included. 1000yregg got cherry crumb pie, redneckhunter got apple, and I ordered the shoo-fly pie. I love this stuff -- leave it to the Amish to create a pie made entirely of sugar: gooey molasses topped with brown sugar crumb topping. With no other vices but food, you can't blame them for their love of meat, starch, butter and sugar.

Bird-in-Hand Farmer's Market
2710 Old Philadelphia Pike

Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant

Route 772, Intercourse, PA

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Octuberfest X

This past weekend, I went to visit a friend, ol_ironstomach for his annual Octuberfest party. The theme- tubers, tubers, tubers.
This presented a wide variety of interesting dishes. First off, despite being off the theme, the hosts had a 1 year aged ham they brought back from a recent trip to Kentucky.
I brought Fougoo/Redneckhunter's White Trasherole as my dish. I actually won favorite of the night.
There was Jicama salad, odd potatoes wrapped in salmon, a delicious pork pie, potato kugel, potato croquettes, empanadas, and a sweet potato with sausage casserole.

There was also an interesting variety of desserts - sweet potato pie with and without walnuts, nice strong gingerbread cookies, ginger bread, a nice sweet potato flan, and tapioca pudding. One person made chocolates with butter cream- the tuber was in potato used in the butter cream- they diappeared quickly.

This was a tasty batch of Vegetable Samosas from a Northern Virginia place- they even added little chile flecks in the potato inside.

These were french pastries stuffed with mashed potato and bacon.

Hands down, my favorite dish was the Lancashire Hotpot- slow cooked in a large pot- it consisted of lamb on the bone, some lamb kidney, onion, seasoning, stock, and a layer of potatoes sliced thin on top. Wow, the flavor, then tendon, the moistness.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lunch at Soba-ya, NYC

Fougoo, Redneckhunter, our friend Melinda, and I met up for lunch in the East Village at the Japanese restaurant Soba-ya over the weekend. The place is known for it's homemade buckwheat soba noodles made on the premises.
We started with an appetizer of Uni Tororo- sea urchin with Japanese yam. The urchin was fresh, and went well with the stickiness of the yam.

Soba-ya offers pretty amazing lunch specials, all accompanied by a plate of fresh soba noodles. Redneckhunter got the hot lunch special that included tempura, a piece of salmon, and some nice vegetables including lotus and burdock.
Melinda got the Maguro Don rice bowl - the tuna was really nice a fresh.

I ordered the Sake Oyako Don rice bowl- with salmon and salmon roe. Fougoo got the Sakuraebi Seiro soba bowl which was topped with tiny shrimp and mitsuba leaf tempura.

For dessert, Redneckhunter got a serving of sweet milk tofu with strawberry. The rest of us shared a trio of ice creams also made at the restaurant.

They were black sesame, honey wasabi, and yuzu (Japanese citrus). The black sesame was like oreo cookie, the yuzu had an orange peel like flavor, and the wasabi- was interesting.

229 E 9th St Ste 3
New York, NY 10003-7536
Phone: (212) 533-6966

Monday, October 08, 2007

Food Stands at the Red Hook Soccer Fields

Over this Indian summer weekend, Fougoo, Redneckhunter, and I went up to New York City, and since we had a car, we drove to Red Hook to visit the much buzzed about food stands at the soccer fields.
The place is known for food stalls that serve a variety of cuisines from Latin America including Mexican, Salvadora, and Honduran. The pupusas looked pretty fantastic. I also saw them making tacos and tamales. We grabbed some Aqua Frescas from one stand- I had watermelon, Fougoo had canteloupe.
My favorite part of the visit was my first time trying roasted corn on the cob Mexican style- after it comes off the grill, they coated with mayo, rolled it in cheese, sprinkled it with chili powder, and a squirt of lime. Unbelievable combination of flavors.