Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Enjoying a delicious, garlic-rich dinner at Lotus Cafe in Hackensack

South Pacific Prawns at Lotus Cafe in Hackensack are jumbo shrimp in the shell that are butterflied and pan fried.


What wasn't there was almost as big of a draw as all of the wonderful garlic used to prepare the dishes we ordered late Saturday afternoon at Lotus Cafe in Hackensack.

Chinese dishes often are made with a ubiquitous "brown sauce" that is based on soy and filled with sodium.

But we ordered two dishes without sauce:

South Pacific Prawns ($17.95), which are pan-fried with shallot, garlic, ginger, scallion and peppercorn, according to the menu.

The preparation also is known as pepper and salty, and we ate the jumbo shrimp shell and all. I dipped mine in Chinese mustard.

You also can get the shrimp cooked without the shell.

Our second dish was Chinese Broccoli stir-fried with fresh garlic ($10.95). 

We asked for the broccoli "well done" to soften the stems.

We were finishing dinner in our favorite Chinese restaurant, and noticed the waiters putting tablecloths and cloth napkins on empty tables.

That's when I knew it was 5 o'clock.

Leafy Chinese Broccoli stir-fried with fresh garlic.

We began with Seafood Soup for Two ($7.95), above and below. 

Our soup contained shrimp, squid, sliced fish cake and vegetables, but I didn't find any of the bay scallops I enjoyed on previous visits.

Lotus Cafe doesn't charge extra for brown rice.


Lotus Cafe, 450 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack, in the Home Depot Shopping Center; 201-488-7070.

Open 7 days, BYO, big parking lot, special fixed-price multi-course dinners for four or more, free delivery within 3 miles ($12 minimum).

Monday, October 5, 2015

From the store to the plate with only a few simple steps in between

ISLAND SALAD: Using cooked conch I brought home from H&Y, a Korean supermarket in Ridgefield, my wife produced a colorful and delicious salad, adding minced garlic; chopped onion, sweet and hot peppers, and lime juice. The result reminded me of the spicy Conch Salad I once had in the Bahamas, where they say "conk."

AFTER DINNER: A quick after-dinner salad made with triple-washed Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix, tomatoes from our garden, extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. You can turn this salad into a main course by adding smoked wild salmon and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, both available at Costco Wholesale.

COMFORT FOOD: Mashed organic sweet potatoes from Trader Joe's, organic carrots from Costco Wholesale and Kabocha Squash from H Mart in Englewood were boiled with peeled garlic cloves for about an hour, below. Sweet potatoes, mashed or baked, are a great bread substitute that you can eat to your heart's content.

NO NEED FOR BUTTER: Drain, return to the pot and add extra-virgin olive oil and as many seasonings as you have on hand, including curry powder, cinnamon, black pepper, red-pepper flakes, a little sea salt and whatever else you like, then mash. I make enough to provide side dishes for several breakfasts and dinners or as a snack at midday.

GOOD BUY: At Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, 10-pound bags of conventional sweet potatoes cost about 79 cents a pound.

BAKED PLANTAINS: A baked sweet potato, with a little organic salsa, and baked -- not fried -- sweet plantains, all served alongside an egg-white omelet stuffed with smoked wild salmon and reduced-fat Swiss cheese. Most of the ingredients are from the Hackensack Costco.
BOTTLE-AND-CAN PASTA: Organic whole-wheat spirals in marinara sauce with drained and rinsed anchovies, sardines, red wine, extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings, including red-pepper flakes and ground garlic. Instead of grated cheese, I added panko bread crumbs as an accent. I used a 44-ounce jar of pasta sauce, one can of anchovies, three cans of sardines in tomato sauce and a 1-pound package of Luigi Vitelli-brand Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli from ShopRite ($1.25), enough for several meals.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wawa store and gas station are under construction in Hackensack

CLARIFICATION: A Wawa store and gasoline station are being built at East Moonachie Road and South River Street in Hackensack, above and below, across the street from the ShopRite shopping center. Earlier, I inadvertently posted a two-year-old item on free coffee available in the week after the opening of another Wawa on Essex Street in Lodi, near the Hackensack border.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

A great piece of fish and more at Jerry's Gourmet in Englewood

A beautiful piece of grouper with aromatic roasted peppers was the centerpiece of a restaurant-quality takeout dinner from Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood.

Editor's note: In Englewood, you can't go wrong stopping for takeout from Jerry's Gourmet & More or enjoying an omelet and home fries in a booth at Jackson Hole.


I was lucky on my Wednesday visit to Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood to find four Meals To Go in the refrigerated case, all with fish.

I picked two with a great fish, grouper; tricolor penne in a Bolognese sauce and vegetables ($7.99).

Two other dinners were made with farmed tilapia. 

After 4 p.m., the pork, chicken or seafood dinners are reduced to $5.99, if there are any left. A week earlier, there were none.

This week, my wife had Grouper Oreganato and I enjoyed Grouper with Roasted Peppers, Artichoke Salad and Carrots with Oil and Garlic.

In Jerry's back room, you'll find 2.2-pound bags of coffee beans from Italy for as little as $9.99 a pound; Garofalo whole-wheat pasta, including the hard-to-find, mouth-filling Pappardelle; and Ponti-brand vinegars for 99 cents to $1.99 for a half-liter bottle.

Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St., Englewood; 1-201-871-7108.

The label of my wife's dinner. At home, I plated and heated up my dinner in the microwave, poured a glass of red wine and finished with a salad of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix and tomatoes.

At Jerry's, the refrigerated case holding Meals To Go also offers salads made with kale or farro, Jerry's Homemade Italian Dressing, sandwiches and other items. In another case, I saw a large Caesar Salad with Chicken for $5.99.

Jerry's Italian Dressing, here with Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix and tomatoes from our garden, is made with canola and extra-virgin olive oils, red onion, fresh garlic, anchovy, mustard, red vinegar, salt and pepper ($3.49).

In yet another refrigerated case, I saw this 32-ounce jar of Tripe Soup.

A Bellini cocktail is a mixture of Prosecco sparkling wine and peach puree or nectar, available at Jerry's. I use Kirkland Signature Prosecco, imported from Italy by Costco Wholesale ($6.99).
Jackson Hole may be known for burgers, but its menu also lists more than a dozen omelets, including this Spinach Omelet with Home Fries ($8.50). Toast, coffee or tea and a small glass of orange juice is included.

The beautifully restored classic Jersey diner, above and below, is at 362 Grand Ave., in Englewood (1-201-871-7444), a few blocks from Jerry's. Most of the seating is in booths, and the service is excellent.