A finicky guy's exploits in finding gustatory (and other) satisfaction in his kitchen, his neighborhood, and beyond.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Lots of eating, little cooking

Sorry, folks, but I don't have much to report in the way of weekend cooking.   Perhaps you'll be able to make do with a little review of my ginger grater, which I ended up not using last week in my gadget analysis:

Do you have one of these little tools?  They use little ceramic nubs rather than metal blades to turn the fresh ginger root into pulp, which works because of the relatively soft texture of the root.  You don't even have to peel the ginger root first, although I usually do unless it's organic.  The downsides are 1) the fibers of the root tend to tangle up into a mess which has to be periodically cut off to expose a fresh surface, and 2) the palm-sized tool is a bit too small.  It tends to capsize while grating and doesn't hold much grated ginger before needing to be cleaned off.  If I ever have occasion to replace this one, I'll get a larger model.  By the way, this grater works really well for garlic cloves too, although your fingers will become permeated with the smell.

I used my ginger grater just this morning in preparing my ingredients for Sikh Kebabs.  Thanks to Elle C, who provided the recipe in a recent comment!  I made the mixture pretty much exactly according to the recipe, including the optional ground almonds, although I used only about half as much ginger as it called for, because Peter is not overly fond of fresh ginger.

We're going to have these "Kebabs" for dinner tonight, formed into patties and cooked in a frying pan.  I've chopped some green cabbage, which will become some sort of coleslaw — probably mildly flavored, so as not to compete with the complex flavors of the meat.  And we have a little rice pilaf left over from an Indian take-out meal, which I'll heat up to finish out the menu.  A lot of prior preparation will make for an "easy" supper at the end of my teaching day — I won't finish until 8 this evening.

The activities of this past weekend didn't allow for much cooking.  On Friday evening, I attended a very enjoyable dance concert in which a friend of mine appeared, along with his company, the Bang Group.  They infuse their choreography with a big dose of humor and an untraditional approach that defies traditional gender roles.

Jeff of the Bang Group
Anyway, as much as I enjoyed the dancing, it didn't leave me with any time to cook on Friday evening.  Then on Saturday, I didn't cook at all because Peter and I ate enough to last us for a month at brunch.  We'd been invited by our neighbors, John and Irma, whose mail I had collected recently while they were away in California for 6 weeks.  I felt like I truly earned the brunch just on account of the volume of catalogs I had to schlep up every day.  (Irma has ordered something from every mail order company you can think of, and continues to receive catalogs and special offers from all of them.)  Oh yes, and as she was dropping off her mailbox key to me on her way to the airport, Irma slipped in that she would like me to pay any bills that came while she was gone.  She then handed me her checkbook and a roll of postage stamps, and I became her accountant for six weeks.  All in the service of preserving good neighborly relations.

As much of a pain as it was to attend to Irma's finances, the brunch truly did make up for it.  She — a Cuban transplant — had chosen Alma de Cuba for the restaurant and made very good recommendations as to what we should order: empanadas, ceviche, snapper filet over paella with lobster tail, tres leches cake, mojitos, sangria, and special Cuban sweet coffee.  You can see she did not stint on the offerings.  We gobbled and slurped it all down and decided that we'd be returning soon to Alma de Cuba.  (Sadly, on our own dime — or Peso — the next time.)

We were still so stuffed at dinnertime on Saturday that we never really had another meal, although I had made a beef stock using a soup bone from the Amish and the contents of my frozen stockpile, which I used to cook some dried limas overnight in the slow cooker.

Well, that was my intention, but when I woke up I noticed that I'd accidentally set the dial to "warm" instead of one of the cooking settings, so we had a large pot of warm but still crunchy beans.  I corrected my mistake and let the beans cook throughout the day on Sunday as well.  They turned out really good.  I had never made dried limas before — they get frighteningly big when you pre-soak them, and grow even more as they cook.  Still feeling the effects of over-eating Cuban food the day before, we had a light dinner on Sunday of the beans served with garlicky steamed chard and some WF cornbread.  And no wine.  (Peter couldn't even bring himself to eat the cornbread.)

Facing a fairly heavy teaching schedule this week, I am glad to have a couple of containers of the beans left over, as well as some additional stock, which I'm hoping to use later in the week to make an aromatic basmati rice and spinach recipe from Madhur Jaffrey.

I still have some pictures I took a week ago of a yummy vegetarian pasta dish I created using radishes and their greens, among other ingredients.  I'm hoping to write about that in a day or so.

Have a great week, everyone!


  1. The photo of Jeff of the Bang Group looks interesting. I envy you the diversity of entertainment in your area. I shouldn't complain, though. We will have a Spaghetti Fundraiser at the local high school this weekend. And there's always karaoke at the Portgage Inn every Friday and Saturday!

    I've never seen a ginger grater before. Occasionally, we do get fresh ginger at the local market, but not often. I have put larger pieces of dried ginger in to a (clean) pepper mill to get a better flavor than the powdered ginger in a jar.

  2. Michael, I have never seen one of these before. Have you ever had a ginger martini. Great use for that little gadget of yours.
    1/4-1/2 tsp fresh ginger-grated
    1/2 Fresh squeezed lime
    1/t fresh basil
    Simple syrup

    Muddle all but vodka together into a paste. Pour over ice with vodka, shake, strain. Garnish with fresh lemon Viola!!!


    It is 5:30 pm and when I came to the post I was hoping you were going to cook me dinner tonight. Ahhhh what to eat, what to eat. Wishing I had some left over beans in the freezer.

  3. Mmmmm, those "ginger-tinis" sound delicious! I hope you eventually found something tasty for dinner.....

  4. I had never heard of cuban coffee before, so of course I had to try it! I only just got round to trying it out, and WOW! its completely not what I expected, but also completely delicious!
    Ashley x

  5. Yes, we were surprised by our first sips too, normally preferring unsweetened coffee, but we were quickly won over. Of course, after the mojitos, we were push-overs, so there wasn't much of a battle.