Wednesday, August 24, 2016

5 easy steps to a healthy fish dinner, cooking with Middle Eastern spices

A pan of Icelandic haddock with fresh spinach, eggplant slices, cherry tomatoes, pitted olives and other ingredients takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and cook. Complete the meal with a glass of wine and a big salad, below.
A 1-pound package of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix was $4.89 at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro. Small cucumbers were $2.50 a pound at ShopRite in Paramus.


I love the ease of preparing a fish medley -- a fresh, wild-caught fillet cut into serving pieces and combined with fresh spinach, pitted olives, tomato, shredded cheese and other ingredients.

You pop the pan into a preheated 400-degree oven and in 15 minutes or less, dinner is served.

The Fish Dock, owned and operated by Icelanders, is where I first encountered and purchased a medley, but because the seafood market is about 10 miles away, I usually make my own version at home.

See the photos below for how to assemble a medley: 

I lined a large pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil and added about a half-pound or more of fresh organic spinach ($3.99 for a 1-pound package at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro), drizzled the spinach with extra-virgin olive oil and added a little sea salt.

I added thin slices of a small eggplant from my garden and brushed them with extra-virgin olive oil.
Then, I added pieces from two skinless and boneless fillets of fresh wild-caught Icelandic Haddock ($8.99 a pound at Costco Wholesale), topping the fish with fresh lime juice, Aleppo red pepper, cut up cheery tomatoes from my garden, pitted black olives and a reduced-fat shredded cheese.

Torn basil and mint leaves from my garden were the last touch before I put the pan into a preheated 400-degree oven for up to 15 minutes. This time, I pulled the pan out after 12 minutes and the fish was cooked through. The 2.36-pounds of fish is more than enough for four people, at a cost of about $5.25 each.

The finished dish. The high heat toasted the herbs, but the haddock remained moist and flaked beautifully.

The next day, I enjoyed some of the leftovers over organic brown rice I had prepared in a rice cooker with organic chicken stock, organic diced tomatoes and organic beans.
A breakfast or dinner side dish of fresh spinach is a snap to prepare in a non-stick pan over medium or medium-high heat with a little olive and sesame oils, plus cheap sake or just a little water. Here, I added two Middle Eastern spices -- ground Aleppo red pepper and za'atar, a dried thyme mixture with salt, both of which I buy at Fattal's, a bakery, grocery store and butcher shop at 975-77 Main St. in Paterson.

Aleppo red pepper is a mildly spicy accent for omelets, fish, soups and whole organic eggs. Here, I served the eggs over boiled skin-on sweet potatoes and peeled garlic cloves mashed with extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with a little salt and just about every spice I have, including ground cinnamon, curry powder, red-pepper flakes and black pepper.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A bargain lunch but no surprises at a Greek temple to fresh seafood

An entree of Shrimp Saganaki, above, and a Mediterranean Meze Plate appetizer, below, were among the choices on the $29 price-fixed lunch menu at Estiatorio Milos, an expensive Greek fish house in midtown Manhattan.

The Meze Plate: Hummus, Tzatziki, Taramosalata, Spinach Pie, Greek Olives, Radish and Cucumber


The New York City Restaurant Week lunch menu at Estiatorio Milos hasn't varied much since my first visit to the expensive Greek fish house in August 2011.

Then, a three-course lunch cost only $24.07, and one of the entrees you could choose on the limited menu was a thick lamb chop.

By August 2013, the same fixed-price lunch, featuring pretty much the same appetizers and entrees, went up to $25.

At the end of July, the price had jumped again -- to $29, plus tax and tip.

Last Thursday at Milos, the lamb chop was a $10 supplement, and you could even get Lobster Pasta in a light garlic tomato sauce for an extra $15.

All-year lunch menu

The Summer Restaurant Week promotion ended last Friday, but Milos serves this $29 three-course lunch year-round.

You might find other Manhattan restaurants extending the promotion until Labor Day. Restaurant Week returns in January.

The New York City Restaurant Week promotion began in 1992 at lunch only (3 courses for $19.92, plus tax and tip).

Each year, the price jumped 1 cent, but in 2010, the lunch went up to $24.07; in 2013, three courses cost $25. 

Last week, lunch for two at Milos cost $74.75, including tax and a 20% tip, but I paid with a registered American Express card and will be getting a $5 statement credit. 

My appetizer at Milos last week: Two perfectly grilled Canadian Scallops served with orange and mint salad. They were smaller than the scallops I was served in 2011.

The open kitchen at Milos boned, butterflied and grilled a whole Dorade Royale or Mediterranean Sea Bream, serving the wild-caught fish with steamed broccoli crown, and extra-virgin olive oil and capers.

My wife chose the Shrimp Saganaki with couscous, Mediterranean Meze Plate and Karidopita or Walnut Cake with ice cream for dessert.

My dessert was Fresh Fruit of the Season, including a wonderfully sweet slice of cantaloupe. Below, the fresh-fruit I was served in August 2013.

On Thursday, deep-sea Cardinal Prawns or Carabineros at $95 a pound were one of the choices from what Milos refers to as the restaurant's fish market, below.

If you love seafood, the display is a feast for the eyes. But who are the customers willing to pay $50, $60 and more for a pound of fresh fish or shellfish, if they aren't on an expense account? The a la carte menu says Milos will grill or fry fish, or serve it as sashimi or tartare.
Small Red Mullet were $61 a pound on Thursday.

We were seated in the dimly lit bar area of Milos, a cavernous space with plenty of exposed concrete, ceiling beams and electrical lines that do little to muffle noise. The wine cellar is on the second level, above right.

After you are seated, a server pours extra-virgin olive oil into a small bowl, snips leaves from an oregano plant on the table and takes both away. But this bottle of My Sister's Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the next table was easily within reach, and I used it once or twice.

A large basket of toasted bread disappeared quickly. We were offered more, but declined.
Estiatorio Milos at 125 W. 55th St. in Manhattan (between 6th and 7th avenues) occupies the first two or three floors of an office building. Milos has branches around the world, including a luxurious yacht called Milos at Sea. Website: The freshest fish on ice

Friday, August 19, 2016

Choripan, a popular Argentinian grill restaurant, reopens in Hackensack

Choripan Rodizio reopened about a month ago at 10 Sussex St. in Hackensack, a little over a block from the original location on the ground floor of a Main Street building destroyed in a fire on April 26, 2015.


Choripan Rodizio in Hackensack appealed to both meat eaters and salad lovers before the grill restaurant was destroyed in a fire nearly 16 months ago.

Now, the popular Argentinian steak house is back in business at 10 Sussex St., near the Bergen County Courthouse.

A woman who was unlocking the front door about 20 minutes before today's 11:30 a.m. lunch service explained the restaurant reopened about a month ago, but the owners haven't been able to update their website.

One of the restaurant windows calls Choripan an Argentinian steakhouse, which also offers empanadas and pasta, the last reflecting heavy Italian immigration to the South American country. 

Open 7 days

I picked up a copy of the lunch menu, which is served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Five salads are listed, four of them for $6.95 each; and All You Can Eat Rodizio with two side dishes runs $20. 

Choripan, a grilled Argentinian-style sausage sandwich, is $10.

The Choripan Burger is served with french fries and includes bacon, egg and American cheese, also $10.


Choripan Rodizio, 10 Sussex St., Hackensack; 201-880-7941. BYO, open 7 days from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. A parking lot is behind the restaurant.


You can easily skip the meat

A welcome sign of renewal

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

In Englewood, Emma waiter has a bad day and Starbucks is a mess

Emma Restaurant in Englewood has a comfortable waiting area, but I found only a couple of other tables occupied when I had lunch there with a friend on Tuesday.


I had a wonderful dinner of beautifully composed pan-Latino dishes at Emma Restaurant in Englewood in May 2015, but didn't return until I met a friend there for lunch on Tuesday.

The restaurant was nearly empty.

Still, the waiter was having a bad day after serving a half-dozen spoiled teenagers who left behind a mess on their tables and on the dining room floor. 

Yes, he said, sit anywhere you like.

When I saw a seafood salad listed on the lunch menu for $18, I asked whether the dish was a ceviche -- raw seafood cooked in lime juice.

No, he said emphatically, he knew ceviche well, even caught fish and made the dish in his native Ecuador.

No. Certainly not ceviche, but good.

I ordered the Baby Kale Salad with brioche croutons and shaved Parmigiano in a Caesar dressing, and my friend chose Choripan, chorizo or pork sausage sandwiches in a chimichurri emulsion with french fries ($10 each).

When I asked for the check, our server showed us an image on his phone, said the total was $21.50 and asked how much of a tip we wanted to leave.

I said $4, and he said he could email me the receipt. Then, he disappeared.

I wrote down my email address on a pad at the front desk and waited almost 10 minutes for him to come out of the kitchen so I could give it to him.

More than a day later, I haven't received an email receipt.

Coffee at Starbucks

Across the street at Starbucks, the front counter where we placed our order for medium-roast black coffee was covered in crumbs, and the only empty table we found also was a mess.

The baristas were so busy handling the crush of customers they ignored basic housekeeping.

My consolation prize was a Cheese & Fruit Bistro Box ($4.95) I took home free, using rewards on my Starbucks card.

I've eaten a lot of kale, but never tasted anything as tender or as delicious as the baby kale in Emma's salad.

My friend filled up on the tasty Choripan, but couldn't finish the fries.


Emma Restaurant, 34 E. Palisade Ave., Englewood; 201-227-6103. BYO, metered parking on street or in a municipal garage about a block and a half away.

See post on our May 2015 dinner: Art on the plate

Monday, August 15, 2016

Moroccan-inspired fresh wild sockeye salmon is delicious hot or cold

DINNER FOR FOUR: A platter of grilled fresh wild sockeye salmon accented with Moroccan-flavored organic diced tomatoes and fresh herbs. At $9.99 a pound, a 1.77-pound fillet from Costco Wholesale in Teterboro provided six serving pieces, enough for four people with leftovers.


I combined a fillet of fresh wild sockeye salmon from Costco Wholesale, a can of diced organic tomatoes and spices from a Moroccan apricot stew to produce another great dinner.

I emptied a can of organic diced tomatoes from Costco into a pan, added a few ounces of red wine and spices from a recipe I found in the newspaper -- a tablespoon each of minced garlic and curry powder; plus teaspoons of ground cumin, ground cinnamon and ground coriander; and black pepper to taste.

While that was reducing over a medium flame, I added a little sea salt and fresh lime juice to six serving pieces of wild salmon and transferred them to a preheated stove-top grill I had sprayed with oil.

The fish spent 4 minutes skin-side down before I flipped them over for another 3 minutes. Then, I removed them to a platter and added the hot stewed tomatoes and fresh chopped basil and mint from my garden.  

SEVEN MINUTES: I preheated the grill straddling two burners of my stove over medium-high heat, then turned the burners down to medium before adding the fish.

SALMON AND QUINOA: I ate the salmon with leftover organic quinoa I had prepared the night before. I finished with a small salad of organic spring mix.

SALMON AND SALAD: The next night, I had a piece of the wild salmon cold over a salad of organic spring mix and grape tomatoes from my garden, dressed in extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Editors from Bon Appetit can't teach you anything about cooking eggs

Chopped fresh herbs and Aleppo pepper are two way to elevate an egg-white omelet, which you can stuff with grated cheese, smoked wild salmon, Mexican-style salsa, pesto or a dried thyme mixture called za'atar -- or all of them at once.


I didn't learn anything from a Leonard Lopate Show podcast on cooking eggs with two editors from Bon Appetit magazine.

The WNYC-FM segment sounded like it was aimed at people who have never prepared their own breakfast, and still scramble eggs.

Why ruin organic brown eggs -- like the ones I buy at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro (2 dozen for $6.99) --by scrambling them?

In the Aug. 5 segment, the magazine editors, Christina Chaey and Rick Martinez, didn't even mention egg-white omelets or frittatas. 

I prepare eggs almost every morning, and often pair them with such bread substitutes as organic quinoa or organic whole-wheat pasta.

A big breakfast usually allows me to skip lunch or get by on a snack bar, and helps me to control my weight.

Forget butter

I use olive oil, the only fat that's both good for your heart and non-GMO, and I favor a blend of pure and extra-virgin olive oils from Costco.

We use that same blend for frying whole fish and antibiotic-free chicken.

I use non-stick pans, and medium heat for both omelets and eggs sunny side up. I've found that even with a non-stick pan, eggs will stick at higher heat.

For a stuffed omelet, I pour a little olive oil and then liquid egg whites to cover the bottom of a 10-inch pan, and when the eggs turn white and set, add smoked salmon, pesto, za'atar or other ingredients.

I then use a thin spatula to fold the omelet in half, and accent it with fresh herbs or ground red pepper.

See: How to make a sweet-potato frittata

I usually enjoy a pair of organic brown eggs, sunny side up, once a week and prepare egg-white omelets the rest of the time. Here, I accented the eggs with chopped fresh basil and mint from my garden, and served them over leftover organic quinoa with organic tomatoes and beans, and whole garlic cloves prepared in an electric cooker.

Store-bought Korean-style stewed tofu, top, and homemade shredded cabbage are just two of the side dishes you can serve with a stuffed egg-white omelet.
A stuffed-egg white omelet with sauteed fresh spinach and a store-bought sushi roll with cooked shrimp.
Two organic eggs served over organic whole-wheat pasta in a red sauce with canned sardines and anchovies -- left over from our dinner the night before.