I love having sharp knives in my kitchen. I clean them, hone them & inspect them on a weekly basis. Most of them are a mix mash of popular knives found in high end kitchen stores but recently I got the mother load from my friend Josh. On a recent trip to Japan he bought me a Yanagi, but that’s another sordid tale. This is about my current cutlery quiver and how it bit me.
With the sharpness they posess I have a respect for them. Just like a tiger trainer, I know that at any given moment they can turn on me. They can slice and dice any piece of vegetable or meat and just as soon can turn on me and chop off a thumb or nick a nail. All the “curled finger” knife skills tips try to prevent 85% of injuries. But sometimes you just take for granted that the tiger does like to show its fangs as you look away for a second and get bit… or cut in this case.
And yes I looked away from the tiger today while making myself a snack. A fucking snack… not some dinner party fare or a thinly sliced piece of Hamachi but some piece of bleu cheese for goodness sake. I cut the tip on my pinkie chopping off the rind of some bleu cheese. The funny thing is I am usually careful when I do that because I hear horror stories. And as I was doing it was thinking “You know people who cut themselves doing this are idiots” and then bam… shock… blood… panic. It happened that fast. I thought to myself “Nice job moron you cut your finger like all those people you make fun of on Chopped… Now you’ve been chopped son!”
So let this be a word to the wise. Even if you have cut a million chifonades, diced a thousand onions and know your knives limitations inside and out at one point you are gonna take your eye off the tiger and get bit. Let’s just not get to cocky and keep it to a minimum. And yes, I am writing this from the emergency room in Brooklyn Hospital waiting to get stitches for cutting bleu cheese.
The first time I ever went to Texas was over a winter break many years ago. It was to be a quick trip but when I got to the airport to come back home my flight had been delayed for a few hours because of a snowstorm back East. Snowstorm… in NYC.. what a surprise. I was pretty pissed and just wanted to get back to my NYC apartment and get under the covers watching tv. Being that I was going to be stuck there for a few hours, I think it wound up being 6, I needed to eat. The person I was with, a native of Texas, took me over to the breakfast place they had in the airport. It smelled pretty good of sausage and carbs as we slowly walked over. I figured some scrambled eggs and bacon would hit the spot. Just as I was about to order she says “Have you ever had Biscuits & Gravy”. Now in my Yankee state of mind and upbringing I thought that meant some brown diner gravy with some Pillsbury instant biscuits. The thought kinda grossed me out and I wasn’t drunk yet to get into that. I said “No thanks, that sounds straight up nasty”. Then she proceeded to explain to me what real Biscuits & Gravy was. A very classic poor man’s dish from the South West found in truck stops where buttermilk biscuits are halved and covered with pork sausage cream gravy. It has both German and Cowboy influences and is a perfect example of the first American fusion food.
I placed my order for 3 biscuits smothered in gravy. As I waited I could smell the familiar baked bread smell that is so penetrating to our primitive senses of hunger. The sausage in the gravy was rich with sage, thyme and pepper deeply penetrated my northern sinuses. As I sat down it wasn’t the most appetizing looking dish, it really never is, but I could tell I was in for a treat. The creaminess of the gravy that is loaded with black pepper and bits of pork sausage layered over flaky buttermilk biscuits is a match made in heaven. That first bite was an awakening in Americana cuisine and simplicity. I will never forget that experience and flavor profile as long as I live.
If it’s a Sunday you should be having one of these. Especially with a little Ricks Picks Mean Beans thrown into the mix
I won’t post my recipe just yet but do know it incudes such things as horseradish, Sriracha & pickle brine.
My mom has a little subscription based organic farm in Upstate New York. It’s really cute, gives her something to do & yields me alot of free random produce. I think half the time she doesnt have a clue what she is planting. But I look at this as a blessing in disguise. It gives me a chance to try something new and add to my cooking repertoire.
This time around my mom brings me a bag and says “This is some Asian carrot thing that I don’t know what it is…figure it out”. I look deep into the paper bag and look up with a smile and say “Mom, it’s daikon radish and I want any of it you have on your farm”. Now I haven’t ever made anything with daikon before but one of my favorite things is pickled daikon radish. It is always so crisp and bright that it’s the perfect addition to anything you need to cut through fat with. I was obsessed with finding a simple recipe that I could adapt to make a few jars of it for the house. I looked around and found a few tips and recipes online. I combined the best and added my own twist. The tumeric gives a nice depth and the addition of the grated fresh ginger gives it a brightness over the vinegar that takes it to the next level. Here’s a recipe I adapted that made perfect use of my mom’s “Asian carrot” and I hope you enjoy it too.
1 lb daikon radish peeled and cut into 3/4 inch chunks
1 cup of water
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of un-seasoned rice wine vinegar
1/2 lbs of ground pepper
1/2 tbs of ground tumeric
1 tbs of grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp of kosher salt
In a saucepan bring to boil the water & vinegar. Once at a boil add the sugar, tumeric, ground pepper & ginger and stir well to dissolve and combine. Let mixture boil for 3-4 minutes and then remove from the heat and let it cool for an hour. As the mixture is cooling put the daikon and salt into a bowl and toss well for a couple of minutes. Next place the daikon and salt mixture in a colander and let it drain over a bowl for an hour. Take the daikon radish and rinse with water followed by a nice de-dampening with a few paper towels. Put the daikon radish into a sterilized mason jar, within an inch of the top, and cover with a piece of cheese cloth. Pour the cooled vinegar mixture into the jar through the cheese cloth until the the daikon radish is covered. Close with an airtight lid and place in fridge. It’s best to wait at least overnight before enjoying. Note it can last for 4-5 weeks if refrigerated properly.
This might be a little late but if you are in the area today try to stop by the last Food Truck Rally of the season at Grand Army Plaza. This is a great way to try out some of the NYC food trucks that you might have not had an opportunity to. My favorites have to be Gorilla Cheese NYC & Kimchi Taco.
Here is a list of the participants: Bistro Truck • Coolhaus • Gorilla Cheese NYC • Joyride • Kelvin Natural Slush Co. • Kimchi Taco • Mexicue • Mud Truck • The Red Hook Lobster Pound • Rickshaw Dumpling Truck • Souvlaki GR • Taïm Mobile • The Eddie’s Pizza Truck • The Treats Truck • Vanleeuwen Ice Cream • Wafels and Dinges
There is also a Raffle for an iPad2, which seems like the worst gimmick idea ever…
Stay tuned for all new food entires in the next few weeks. For now here is a pic of a past brunch.