Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lenten Recipes: Bamia & Veggies

Mixed Baked Vegetables

2 c (1 can) diced tomato
2 c (1 can) tomato sauce
4 c small whole fresh okra
1 large eggplant, peeled
6 small red potatoes
4-5 red pearl onions, or onion to taste, chopped
Dry Oregano
Dry Basil
Black pepper
Salt to taste (none if canned tomato has salt)

Method: wash okra and cut off top, place in a bowl and sprinkle with 1
cup white vinegar. Add one cup of water and set aside at least 2

Peel and slice eggplant into 1-inch cubes, sprinkle with salt, put in
colander to drain bitterness, wait at least half hour, rinse eggplant.

Peel and cut potatoes into 1-inch cubes or 1-cm slices.

in a small pot, cover bottom with olive oil and briefly sauté onion,
add dived tomato and a little of tomato sauce and cook about 20
minutes, add sprinkled oregano, pepper, basil. Set aside.

In a baking pan - mom uses Corningware, sprinkle olive oil. Place
mixed vegetables, pour sauce over and sprinkle again with olive oil.

Bake at 375 for approximately 1 hour, but check at 30 minutes. You can
cover with foil, and may need to raise temperature. Lenten/vegetarian!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Absolut Bowie: New Yorker 10.15.2001

This was the back cover advertisement for the New Yorker Magazine on
October 15, 2001. It was just a month after the horrible terrorist
attack, and the articles included, "Life in the largest Arab-American
community, and a letter from China on "the disaster as it appeared in
the provinces."
RIP David Bowie, for whom resting peacefully meant being cremated in
New Jersey and having ashes spread across Bali.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

David Bowie: Change, Influences & Chicago Ties

At Bowie Is, MCA Chicago. By Dimitra DeFotis
A good quote for the new year from rock star genius David Bowie:
"I feel confident imposing change on myself. It's a lot more fun progressing than looking back. That's why I need to throw curve balls," Bowie said.
With yet another album from Bowie, a man of many styles, the Chicago Tribune's longtime music critic writes for the BBC on the surprising
list of U.S. artists who influenced Bowie, who Bowie encouraged or who collaborated with Bowie.

I shot the photo at right at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art at the 2014 Bowie Is retrospective, which was financed there with support from some big Chicago hedge fund managers. Here's the BBC piece:


UPDATE: I wrote this post the day Bowie died, not realizing he was on his deathbed. But he had just released his album. The New York Times obituary notes he was 69 and had cancer, Don't we all wish we could go the career retrospective in his honor, planned for March at Carnegie Hall. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year Vasilopita

Yours truly got the coin in her own Vasilopita bread - a Greek new year tradition in honor of a holy saint who gave money to the poor disguised in loaves.
This was the last slice of my loaf, a leftover slice, and the coin was so buried not even I could see it - nor could the people at my New Year's Eve dinner party. Και του χρόνου! To the years to come!

Sunday, December 27, 2015

How To Build A Snowman

Chicago snow rarely cooperates: off from school, the snow is wet enough but not too wet for a snowman with two eyes made out of coal -- or pine cones - and twigs for arms. But a hat is de rigeur.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Central Park View

Soup, bread, water and a wonderful view of 5th Avenue buildings near Central Park. The leaves are still green, but temperatures under 40 degrees last night will change everything.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash carpaccio - a brilliant idea from the new Empire Hotel restaurant in New York via The Wall Street Journal. But one might need an industrial lunch meat cutter to try at home!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Never Forget: September 11, 2001

Things are taking shape at Ground Zero, finally. The grounds are beautiful. I haven't had the courage yet for listening to the recordings of people on planes at the new museum. But the view is great from the high office floors of the new Freedom Tower.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Times Square Room w/Bath: $1:50

Crews have been disassembling a building near my office for more than a year. It's finally down and the walls are talking!
How long ago was it that one could get a room for a dollar, and a room with a bath and lunch in New York's Times Square for less than $2? Well, the hotel opened in 1904.
UPDATE: A blogger who researches old New York dug up a newspaper ad that says the hotel was exclusively male and "absolutely fireproof."
Another image shows that the wall once brushed bricks with a brownstone. That's exceedingly rare in Times Square, today.
See the full post on Jeremiah's Vanishing New York.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Butterflies in the Urban Garden

This butterfly just spotted in my garden, near New York, New York. It appears to be a Spicebush Swallowtail.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

8 Course Menu, One Hot Philadelphia Night

Chef Nicholas Elmi.
Photos By Dimitra DeFotis
I was honored to be a guest at a Chaîne des Rôtisseurs Philadelphia dinner at the petite Laurel Restaurant.

Our party of eight spoke briefly with owner-chef Nicholas Elmi, who was named reality television's Top Chef in 2013. He told us the restaurant has applied for a liquor license, though it remains BYO for now. So each household brought at least two wines. There was alchohol left over - and much tasted and tossed.

Some highlights:  The first course, at left, was one of my two favorites: a light vegetable start, with nearly indiscernible slices of razor clam. With smoked trout roe, green tomato gelatin, cucumber and ponzu, accompanied by Pol Roger 1999 champagne. Some of our wines needed to be on ice -- it was 90 degrees and we were outdoors.

Second course was pink and blue: Foie gras with rhubarb, granola. The Chenin blanc was too heavy - I enjoyed a Sauternes. I think sweet-and-puffy grains belong in breakfast bowls - whole wheat berries might be better.

By the fourth course, with enough bottles tasted to lose count, I was never happier to eat starchy gnocchi - a light ricotta version. It was served with pickled spring onion, potato espuma. It was served with two Italian red wines. And there were still four more courses.

Gnocci, Tuscan & Altesino 
Brunello di Montalcino
Next was a risotto with Australian truffle, which is a new phenomenon that is already $1,100 per pound. But Chef Elmi said Australian truffle is $300 cheaper than the typical truffle. Less fragrant, still earthy. He said it wasn't ready for harvest for years. My review: it's fine but still not fabulous. See the photo of the biggest mound of truffle I will ever see on my plate.

My notes, at this point, say "Lord Have Mercy." This was my other favorite course: fish from the Carolinas, called Walu. Peach Chanterelle, Swiss chard, seaweed butter. Two white wines.

Subsequently there was duck. There was a tiny loaf of bread, and there was a lot of water. The rear garden was pretty.
Tokaji Hugarian dessert wine.

Dessert was just what the doctor ordered: caramelized white-chocolate pudding, almond and cherry. Port and a Sweet wine served. I begged for a coffee. Amazing experience.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

More Sun, More Water

Heliotherapia - salt, sea and sun - somewhere on Long Beach Island, New York.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Nigella at Dusk

First bloom of a plant in my city garden, grown from seed: Nigella damascena. Otherwise known as Love in a Mist. Perfect for a Friday night at dusk!

Actual flower is about 1.5 inches in diameter. Packaging says it is Persian, and is related to the Indian culinary and medicinal spice kalonji, but has a "more showy flower and seed pod." Plant is feather-like. Could be mistaken for a weed and took forever to come up. Probably needs a sunnier spot with more water.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Foodies! Astoria Has A New Loukoumades Truck

New in Astoria: a green and yellow food truck selling Greek honey donuts, with walnuts and cinnamon and many other variations.

You'll love them as much as the ancient Olympians did! And now you can do a 100-meter sprint from the elevated train to a truck that sells them for about a dollar apiece.

The truck is officially called #MrLoukouma: a ~$10,000 outlay on wheels, so eat hearty, with strawberries and yogurt too! So long, Belgian waffles with speculaas spread. Two Greek boys with four wheels took your corner :)

Post script UPDATE: Greek Fage yogurt is co-branded. See MrLoukouma.com - New York City vendor number 1818.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

One World Trade Center at Night

At Ground Zero for a meeting at Conde Nast offices in the new 1 World Trade building.

This is what the main entrance of the new structure opens to. The memorial and windy green grounds are very beautiful at night.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yuengling Lager Coming To Chicago?

In the Slavic Easter tradition, people bring baskets of cheese, bread, eggs, sausage and other treats to the midnight Resurrection liturgy to be blessed for the feast that follows.
At a Chicago gathering I attended, someone also brought Yuengling lager in cans -- thanks to a secret shipment from his East Coast mother! He tells me the Pennsylvania brewer acquired a Rockford, Illinois-area brewery and Yuengling may be available in the Windy City by December. Hopefully in bottles ...