Monday, November 30, 2009

How safe is that supermarket chicken?

A commercial meat chicken production house in ...Image via Wikipedia

The latest issue of Consumers Reports (January 2010) discloses results of tests on supermarket broiler chickens  for salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of foodborne illnesses. This is a long, informative article, complete with photos, charts and graphs. The headlines:

How safe is that chicken?
Most tested broilers were contaminated

Nature's Promise poultry from Stop & Shop is included, but two brands of chicken available in North Jersey are conspicuous by their absence: Readington Farms' antibiotic-free birds from Shop Rite and Murray's free-roaming chickens from Fairway Market in Paramus.  

One definition caught my eye. When the label says no antibiotics are administered, "don't assume this was verified unless you also see the label 'USDA organic.'" But the article doesn't name brands that do this. It does urge consumers to cook chicken to at least 165 degrees. We eat mostly dark meat and can cook it to 170 degrees or 180 degrees without affecting moistness.

Is there a difference between broilers and fryers? Can you broil a fryer and vice versa? Consumer Reports doesn't say.

The tests found the cleanest name-brand chicken to be Perdue, but the article doesn't discuss the use of antibiotics and possibly animal by-products to raise those chickens, two additives that are harmful to humans. Click on the link below to read the entire article:
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Greek Island Grill in Hackensack

Italian olive oil, both oil and an oil bottle ...
Extra-virgin olive oil.

We lived in Englewood when the first It's Greek To Me chain restaurant opened, and it soon became one of our favorites. 

But as the years passed, its popularity grew, and so did the prices. After we moved to Hackensack, we no longer made the restaurant part of our dining-out routine.

So, last night, we finally tried Greek Island Grill, a BYO on one of Hackensack's quietest stretches of Main Street, a vivid contrast to Englewood's congested Palisade Avenue and the noisy families that flocked to Greek To Me. 

We were the first customers to arrive for the evening, but soon two more of the dozen or so tables were occupied and there were no screaming little kids.

The staff turned on a Greek music soundtrack, but did not  turn off the wall-mounted TV, which showed Spanish-language movies where so many people were shot to death or blown up, I soon lost count.

It was apparently a movie festival called "Kiss of Death."

We liked everything we ordered, but the service was a bit slow and clumsy. 

Why do restaurants bring you a salad or an entree to share without serving utensils? It's an enduring mystery. Still, we'll definitely return.

We ordered a terrific salad ($7.50) -- beets, potatoes, chick peas and red onions -- to share, but it could have used a serving spoon and a lot more dressing.

There was plenty of Greek pita to soak up olive oil and lemon juice.

Our entrees were jumbo shrimp with orzo in tomato sauce ($16) for my wife and a simply grilled, whole fish with rice ($24.95) for me and my 12-year-old son. 

My wife liked her dish, which she had often at Greek To Me, noting the shrimp were crunchy and not overcooked. 

And the fish was great, too, though I don't think it was the red snapper we ordered. The waiter forgot to bring the Greek fries my son asked for, but I caught the error on the bill.

Greek Island Grill, 77 Main St., Hackensack; (201) 489-4733‎.
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Luke's Lobster in Manhattan

Lunch (Lobster Roll)-Amagansett, NY 1991Image by amg2000 via Flickr

We took a break from Thanksgiving leftovers yesterday and drove into the city for some terrific lobster rolls at Luke's Lobster in the East Village.

Luke's says it has the best value in lobster rolls in Manhattan, thanks to a direct supply of crustaceans from the owner's father, a lobster man in Maine.

We tried the regular lobster roll ($14), which is 4 ounces of meat on a hot dog roll. For $2 more, you get a bag of great chips, a Maine root drink and a pickle. This was tender, moist lobster, but I was so hungry, it was gone in a couple of gobbles. And I wondered if  I could have gotten them to warm up the lobster, which had been removed from its shell and refrigerated.

We also tried a couple of soups -- lobster bisque ($7.50) and crab chowder with sweet potato ($5.50), and both were delicious.

Of course, we spent about $75 for three and the ambiance was a cramped storefront with counter seating for eight and plastic utensils. We were served from behind the counter and when I asked if I could use the bathroom, I was told there is none.

When I got hungry last night, I assembled two simple, soft turkey tacos at home.

 Luke's Lobster, 93 E. 7th St., Manhattan; 212-387-8487
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Friday, November 27, 2009

We forgot to eat the stuffing

roasted turkey

It took a cleaver and a mallet to cut through the bones of our 13-pound heritage turkey yesterday, but we managed to finish most of the half  that we roasted with white sweet potatoes, yams and dried apricots. With only one drumstick, though, I ended up eating the white meat, which was juicy and flavorful.

I seasoned the bird with salt, cinnamon, allspice, cumin and Aleppo red pepper. I put the apricots in right away and they burned, so next time they'll go in with the boiled potatoes after an hour or so. And the sausage-apple stuffing, which I bought at Abma's Farm, was on a rack below the big enamelware pot with the turkey, and I completely forgot about it until we finished our meal.

We started the meal with lobster bisque from Costco after I found a container of it in the freezer. It was a delicious meal, with a few glasses of new beaujolais wine, and my wife and son didn't have room for the pumpkin pie. I had a few slices of Spanish fig cake, cheese and almonds a few hours later.

See earlier post: "Our half-turkey Thanksgiving"
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Food for thought: 'Edible Jersey'

A New Jersey FarmImage by Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr

Here's a link to a magazine that celebrates local, seasonal food in the Garden State:

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Our half-turkey Thanksgiving

Dried Apricots
Faced with a 13-pound heritage turkey and the inevitable leftovers of mostly white meat (not our favorite), I've decided to cut our fresh bird in half and roast it with Middle Eastern spices, sweet white potatoes and yams, and dried apricots. The other half will go into the freezer. Next year, we'll invite relatives or friends or go back to preparing only turkey drumsticks, thighs and wings from Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff.

I got into this mess because I wanted to try one of those sleek turkey breeds that were around for hundreds of years before the industrial white broad-breasted turkey was developed and pumped full of antibiotics and butter and who knows what else. When I was growing up in Brooklyn, my Sephardic Jewish mother would roast a turkey for Thanksgiving, but always prepare side dishes of  white rice, sour sauce with kibbe, stuffed grape leaves and other specialties.

Here is the rest of this afternoon's menu in Hackensack:

Sausage-apple stuffing and cranberry relish form Abma's Farm
Quick collard greens with garlic
Pumpkin pie from Mazur's Bakery in Lyndhurst
Spanish fig cake served with Manchego cheese and almonds
New beuajolais wine

Happy holiday to all.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Back to the Wyckoff turkey farm

Narragansett Turkey

It took two phone calls and an 18-mile round trip to exchange the bird that was standing in for the heritage turkey I had reserved for our Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow.

The Narragansett turkey I brought home today from Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff  (a cooked one is shown in the photo)  weighs 13 pounds and cost $90.50 -- about $40 less than if  I had mail-ordered it from Heritage Foods USA, but its bigger than the 8-10 pound bird I asked for in a conversation with the owner yesterday afternoon.

It turns out the original order taker didn't hear me say "heritage turkey" and put me down in the computer for one of the farm's broad-breasted white turkeys, which are raised on vegetarian feed and without antibiotics. That's the one I picked up Tuesday.

I heard an employee refer to the heritage turkey as a "wild turkey" with a gamier taste, and in fact, my turkey is labeled "wild turkey," but it's farm raised and not one of the really wild turkeys I have seen near the Palisades. The label also says it's free range and raised without steroids, antibiotics or animal by-products.

Still, that's a lot of turkey for our family of three. Just this week, we argued over why my wife wanted to prepare another dinner, rather than eat leftover whole fried whiting and parts from a 5.6 pound chicken we roasted with fingerling potatoes and dried apricots. Stay tuned.

See earlier post, "Thanksgiving food and wine run."

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New beaujolais, lower price for Australian lamb

Cheap Wine
I have been very happy for decades drinking the new beaujolais from France with my Thanksgiving turkey, and may choose the light, fruity wine again this year. Total Wine & More in River Edge is selling the 2009 red wine from producer Georges Duboeuf for $7.49 a bottle. I bought the same wine for $7.99 last week at the liquor store next to Costco in Hackensack (you don't need a membership card to shop there).
We had some nice dinners of  free-range, grass-fed Australian shoulder lamb chops I bought on sale for $3.69 a pound with a store card from Stop & Shop, but they were a lot bonier than pictured in the sale flier. Now, Pathmark is offering these same chops for $2.49 a pound with its store card, from Nov. 27-Dec. 3. The lower price may make the bone factor easier to swallow.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving food and wine run

Heritage Turkeys at Springfield Farms in Spark...Image via Wikipedia

I made three stops this afternoon, gathering ingredients, prepared dishes and wine for our Thanksgiving dinner at home.

First, I went to Total Wine & More in River Edge to replenish my supply of red wine. The most expensive bottle I bought was $9.99 -- a malbec from Argentina. I also brought home shiraz, bordeaux, pinot noir and some Italian bubbly, nine bottles in all for a total for $70.53, including tax and a $5-off coupon on the purchase of $50 or more. I'm no expert; all I want is drinkable wine. (135 Kinderkamack Road, River Edge; 201-968-1777)

My second stop was the store at Abma's Farm in Wyckoff, where I picked up prepared sausage-and-apple stuffing ($9.99), cranberry relish (cranberries, sugar and oranges, $6.49), yams and sweet white potatoes. We already have a pumpkin pie. (700 Lawlins Road, Wyckoff; 201-891-0278)

Finally, I drove to the Goffle Road Poultry Farm, also in Wyckoff, to pick up the sleek heritage turkey I had reserved. It was a 12 -pounder for $32.25, which seems low. When I got home, I called and was told they charge $2.29 a pound live weight, before the bird is killed, cleaned and so forth.  (549 Goffle Road, Wyckoff; 201-444-3238)

I'm still not sure I got the right turkey. This is what I wrote Oct. 8 after calling the poultry farm:

This year, we plan to buy a heritage turkey, which was developed in the United States and Europe over hundreds of years. The Narragansett variety sold in Wyckoff will be going for $5.95 a pound (live weight) and the bird we get will weigh 8-10 pounds after gutting and cleaning. Compared to the ungainly, tasteless, broad-breasted white turkey, the Narragansett is an athlete with flavorful meat.

It was pretty busy today and tomorrow will be a zoo. I'm not sure what I will do. If the bird I have is not one of the heritage breeds, at least I know it was raised  on a vegetarian feed and without antibiotics. Last year, I wanted a heritage bird, but the Web site didn't mention the farm had them and we settled for turkey parts.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Supermarkets that overcharge

Tesco Receipt

I do a lot of food shopping in North Jersey and hate to be overcharged. Typically, the store hasn't reset its computers to the sale price and an item scans at the higher price. Sure, I look at my register receipt before I leave the store, most of the time. But on occasion, I don't discover the mistake until I get home, then have to decide whether returning to the store is worth it.

Here is a link to a story in the New York Post on overcharges by supermarkets in the city. You'll see a lot of familiar names:

See next post: "Is there a supermarket price war?"

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Is there a supermarket price war?

FairwayImage by roboppy via Flickr

There's a lot to digest in the full-page ad from Fairway Market in Paramus that ran in The Record on Friday. "We've slashed our prices and you save up to 30% on over 12,000 grocery items."

But there's a couple of caveats: Only items in Aisles 7-11 are covered and the sale, which started Friday, ends Dec. 31. The ad also contains a coupon giving you $10 off a purchase of $75, good until Dec. 6.

The ad says you'll save 30% off  "our already every day low prices." But if the sale is limited to Aisles 7-11, I don't believe you'll find any deals on Murray's free-roaming chicken or fresh-ground coffee -- two of the items I usually buy there.

Also, there is a note of desperation in this ad. Has this small, New York-based supermarket chain that is so full of itself found the North Jersey market too tough to crack?

It delayed opening a North Jersey store for several years, fearing it couldn't compete with ShopRite, acknowledged by many as the low-price leader. But that assumed all food shoppers judged their stores by price alone, ignoring consumers who want a wide variety of drug-free meat and poultry, organic produce and dairy products, and conventional produce that doesn't rot on your counter overnight.

By the time Fairway opened this year, it had to contend with a new Whole Foods Market in Paramus -- with a far better selection of healthy meat and poultry. And ShopRite stores offered more organic food.

And you can't discount the location of the Fairway Market, in the unfashionable Fashion Center on Route 17. I hadn't been there for years. The rent must have been terrific and the landlord must have made many concessions to lure Fairway there, putting over a fast one on the arrogant owners, who claim, "Enter Fairway once, you'll be hooked for life." The Glickbergs may be the only ones who are hooked.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

The zing of Aleppo red pepper

Bread Head 2

Four of us met for a tasty and filling lunch yesterday at Aleppo Restaurant, one of my favorites in the exotic Middle Eastern food bazaar of South Paterson.

We ordered maza -- small plates of dip, fried and raw kibbe, salad and other appetizers -- and used the fresh, chewy pocket bread as our scoop or to fashion sandwiches.

At least a couple of dishes were made with the coarsely ground Aleppo red pepper that has taken the name of Syria's northern capital. I have a couple of cups of it in the freezer and sprinkle it over fried eggs, hummus or rub it into chicken.

At Aleppo Restaurant, the red pepper gives a nice zing to the muhammara, a spicy, Aleppan dip made with bread crumbs, walnuts, olive oil and other ingredients. And I loved it in the small, raw kibbe we were served.

I buy my Aleppo pepper at Fattal's Bakery, where it is sold for about $4 a pound, but don't bother with the bakery's muhammara, which is not as good as the restaurant's (975 Main St., Paterson; 973-742-7125).

When we visited Aleppo Restaurant yesterday, the staff was preparing two whole lambs stuffed with rice for a party of 50. I wish I could have been there.

My family's ties with Paterson's Syrian community were established long before I moved to North Jersey and started shopping there nearly 30 years ago

My Sephardic Jewish mother used to regale me with stories about excursions from Brooklyn to Garret Mountain so her extended family could enjoy a celebration of music and food called hefle (phonetic spelling, pronounced HEF-leh ). One time, my elegantly dressed Uncle Halfon, who always seemed to have a glass of scotch or arak in his hand, was stopped by police for drunken driving and jailed overnight.

Aleppo Restaurant, 939 Main St., Paterson; 973-977-2244. No alcohol permitted.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Price of imported clementines falls

When Spanish clementines started appearing this month in stores, a 5-pound box was priced at $9.99. On Friday, I picked up a 5-pound net bag of them at Costco for $6.99, but the first two I tried were
ShopRite logo (1974 to 2001)Image via Wikipedia
a little sour.

If you have a ShopRite card, you can buy 5 pounds of these clementines for $4.99, Sunday through next Saturday, at the Rochelle Park, Paramus and Englewood stores.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

On a food run down south

The Thistle                   This is Scotland

A friend and I took a drive yesterday into southern Bergen County and part of  Hudson County, looking for good food. We found a heady ethnic mix of Italian, Portuguese, Peruvian, Scottish, Brazilian and Colombian fare, though we didn't sample all of it.

We started out on Ridge Road in Lyndhurst, where every block seemed to have an Italian trattoria, bakery or deli.

Our destination was the corner retail store in the Pechter's factory, which occupies a full square block in Harrison, suffusing the neighborhood with the comforting smell of fresh-baked bread. We bought and split a sliced, three-pound seeded rye (about 2 feet long) for $3.75, and I grabbed some small onion and large poppy seed rolls. (840 Jersey St., 973-373-1200, cash only.)

On the way back, we stopped at The Thistle Restaurant in Kearny, one of the reliable places for Scottish fish and chips. I took out a dinner serving of battered and fried haddock and french fries (from a bag) for $13.95. My 12-year-old son managed to eat about half of it last night; he liked the fish and didn't complain about the fries. (87 Kearny Ave., 201-998-3443.)

Our final stop was Mazur's Bakery in Lyndhurst, where I picked up a pumpkin pie ($7.98). My friend was delighted with a large raisin bread for only 99 cents, a permanent special, the clerk said. (323 Ridge Road, 201-438-8500.)

One of the places I'd like to return to is Oh! Calamares, a stylish-looking Peruvian restaurant in Kearny. The takeout menu lists dishes I haven't seen in other Peruvian places, such as Pollos El Chevere in Passaic, including rabbit, tripe, potatoes in a black-mint sauce and black-conch ceviche.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Two store-bought Thanksgiving dinners

I've reserved my sleek heritage turkey and I'm planning a simple menu at home for Thanksgiving, but you can avoid all the work by buying complete dinners at several North Jersey markets.

Comparing offerings by Fairway Market in Paramus and Maywood's Marketplace, you'd get a far better deal and can feed more people with the dinner from the mid-size specialty market in bustling Maywood.

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Fairway is preparing dinner for six at $119 and dinner for 12 at $199. For six, the Maplecrest turkey is 10-12 pounds and appears to be raised conventionally with antibiotics. Also, Fairway doesn't say whether the bird's feed was vegetarian. You might be able to substitute a drug-free, free-roaming Murray's turkey or an organic bird, at higher cost.

Maywood's Marketplace says its dinner will feed 12 people for $99.99 or $129.99, if you want fruit salad and steamed veggies. The turkey weighs 18 pounds and appears to be raised conventionally.

Dinners from both markets include the turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy and one (Fairway) or two pies. Fairway also gives you soup, sweet potatoes and dinner rolls.

The Fairway flier that came with today's paper is heralding a Thanksgiving stock-up sale Nov. 20-26 in Parmaus "priced like it's 1999 -- woo-hoo."

Fairway Market, Fashion Center Mall, Route 17 north, Paramus; 201-267-9700.

Maywood's Marketplace, 78 W. Pleasant Ave., Mayroood; 201-843-8361.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fresh pita bread in Hackensack

When I run out of soft, chewy Syrian bread from Fattal's Bakery in Paterson, getting more involves a 16-mile, round-trip drive. The other day, I was running an errand in another part of Hackensack and found fresh bread at Sahara Stores on South Summit Avenue.

Hummus garnished with whole chickpeas on a Yem...Image via Wikipedia
This is a small, Middle Eastern deli and grocery store, with prepared food and shelves of imported goods, and now, fresh pita bread delivered seven days a week, the friendly owner said. (Despite the name, it's only one store.)

I found Nouri's Syrian bread there and another brand I had not seen before, Kings Pita, a thinner Lebanese-style bread, both from Paterson and both $1.50 a package at Sahara. You get more with Nouri's -- 12 loaves weighing 22 ounces versus 6 larger loaves that weigh only 14 ounces. But what I like about Kings Pita is that after a minute or two out of the fridge, it is soft and chewy -- not card-boardy like some Lebanese bread -- perfect for scooping up hummus or wrapping around spicy lamb sausage.

Sahara Stores, 242 S. Summit Ave., Hackensack, 201-487-7222.

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A hot sauce that won't break the bank

The spiciest version of Valentine Mexican Hot Sauce carries a black label.

After we moved to Hackensack in 2007, we discovered a wonderful, mid-size ethnic market not far from home, Hackensack Market on Passaic Street.

We love hot sauces and found Valentina Salsa Picante among the store's wide selection of Hispanic and Jamaican products. 

We started buying small bottles and even brought some back from Mexico last year. 

This red sauce is thicker and far less expensive than Tabasco from Louisiana, so you can use it liberally. 

This month, I brought home a liter bottle of Valentina, 34 ounces for a mere $1.99. The regular price is $2.49. 

Hackensack Market is at 120 Passaic St., 201-996-9177.


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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Florida tangerines, not 'domestic clementines'

The "domestic clementines" I referred to in the last post, "Tasting and shopping notes," actually are tangerines from Florida (I just looked at the box). They look like clementines, but I guess all the pits I found should have been the giveaway.
I took this photo of a tangerine from the tree...Image via Wikipedia

The biggest words on the box are "FLORIDA CITRUS." If you examine the smaller type of the grower's Web address, you'll see the word "tangerines." And this morning, my wife and a house guest said the tangerines they just ate were sweet, not sour, so there are both kinds in the box.
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Tasting and shopping notes

I sliced six or seven pieces of giant bluefin-tuna sashimi as part of my dinner last night and wasn't disappointed. Veined with fat, the raw fish just melted away in my mouth with a minimum
of chewing. Heavenly. I also had small, green obah leaves (wrap for the sashimi), seasoned fish eggs, cooked eel sushi and roll, and a triangle of seaweed-wrapped cooked rice stuffed with spicy cod roe, all from Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, where I bought the tuna Sunday ($62.99 a pound). See earlier posts.

Clementines from Spain and black figs grown in the U.S. have begun appearing in markets, but at higher prices than I remember from last year. I haven't seen clementines for less than $9.99 for a 5-pound box. My wife bought domestic clementines for half that at ShopRite in Englewood, but they are sour and full of pits. An employee of H Mart in Englewood said the price of the imported clementines will fall next month.

I bought a box of 24 black figs at H Mart in Little Ferry yesterday for $9.99. I saw then for 99 cents each at Mitsuwa Marketplace that morning as I gathered items for my sashimi and trimmings dinner. The figs I bought were ripe and sweet, and I'm storing them in the fridge. I want to try them with Manchego sheep milk's cheese and almonds for dessert one night or split open and drizzled with honey.

I have been buying California rice for two or three years now to avoid rice from the South, where it is sometimes grown on old cotton fields laced with arsenic, which was used to kill the boll weevil, a beetle, according to Consumer Reports. The problem is many bags of rice don't specify where it is grown. That's not the case at H Mart in Little Ferry, which has a large selection of California rice in all sizes, but it can be expensive, especially after a price spike last year.

Yesterday, I picked up a 20-pound bag of Kokuho yellow rice that was over a price sign of $19.99, one of the lowest I saw, and it rang up as $12.99 (it was on sale). The reference to yellow rice may have something to do with the yellow seal on the bag. The rice looked the same as other brands when we prepared it.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Some tunas should only be eaten raw

Cold Tuna

 After my bad experience cooking bluefin tuna yesterday, I've decided that some tunas are suited only for eating as sushi and sashimi. See earlier post, "Pushing and shoving for giant bluefin tuna."

And in view of dwindling supplies, I may swear off eating the sushi, too. See the following link on rejection of a proposed fishing ban:

Not only was cooking the giant tuna's collar a mess, I don't like the smell of the oil that came out of the fish in great abundance. Now I have a container of leftover, cooked fish I'm not sure I want to eat, because of the way it smells. This was nothing like the small, grilled collar of yellow tail, or hamachi, I have tried in Japanese restaurants. I've never seen cooked bluefin tuna on a menu, perhaps because it is too expensive.

Michael, the narrator during Sunday's "cutting performance" at Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, said he is a commercial fisherman who catches bluefin tuna with rod and reel, and enjoys a raw meal of it two or three times a week, without concern about mercury. But he seems to have incomplete knowledge about mercury in fish, believing the deeper the fish swims, the greater the mercury, when most experts say the biggeest fish have the most mercury, which is said to be especially harmful to young women and children. He said he believes swordfish has more mercury than giant bluefin tuna.

He called the species giant bluefin tuna, while others refer to it as Atlantic bluefin tuna.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pushing and shoving for giant bluefin tuna

A sashimi dinner setImage via Wikipedia

Hundreds of Mitsuwa Marketplace customers watched in awe today as more than a dozen workers reduced a giant bluefin tuna caught off the coast of Spain to sushi and small blocks of sashimi.

The narrator, a Long Island commercial fisherman named Michael, said the dressed fish -- minus head, tail and innards -- weighed 680 pounds, the largest ever at the Edgewater Japanese supermarket's annual "cutting performances." The total weight was around 1,000 pounds.

Michael is clearly fascinated with this magnificent creature and he pointed out how the giant tuna can retract its fins into "pockets" for further streamlining. This tuna was caught by rod and reel as it was gorging itself  in preparation for migration to warmer waters, so it was near its maximum weight. It was then bled and immersed in icy water before being flown to the U.S.

They grow so large, the Japanese refer to them as "swimming buffalo," he said.

Michael said giant bluefin tuna -- the biggest tuna species --  contain beneficial Omega-7 fatty acids and that pieces of oh-toro, well-marbled belly meat, are sold in Manhattan sushi restaurants for $12 to $16 a piece. At last year's performance, the oh-toro cost about $60 a pound and I bought a quarter pound  for about $15. The price this year was $62.99 a pound, and I had to take more than a half pound for about $33.

As the fish was being cut into smaller pieces, weighed, labeled and wrapped, people in the crowd started pressing forward and reaching over others for packages from individual workers, signaling a breakdown of the system where people lined up to make purchases. I even saw one worker give free, unwrapped fish to people he seemed to know. Michael said that on Saturday, when two giant bluefin tunas were cut up, he witnessed a shoving match between two men.

Also this year, one section of the tuna's large collar was offered for sale, and I grabbed it for $30. They gave it to me in a large garbage bag with a price label affixed. The piece was about 21 inches long and weighed close to 9 pounds, but when I got it home, it didn't fit into my pan. I roasted it for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees and I've never seen fish give up so much oil, which dripped onto the bottom of the oven and started smoking.

I ate some of the medium- to dark-red flesh raw before putting the collar into the oven. When cooked, it was a little easier to remove the meat and I harvested about two pounds. The kitchen was a mess, with oil and bits of fish, cartilage and skin all over the place. Buying the collar turned out to be a mistake. Luckily, the harried cashier rang it up for 30 cents, instead of $30.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Turkey drumsticks, custom-ground coffee

The crowds are building at the Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff, where we stopped to pick up turkey parts I ordered over the phone and to reserve a heritage turkey for Thanksgiving. All of the birds sold here are raised on a vegetarian diet and without antibiotics.

As a special treat, I also got six duck eggs -- which are yolkier than the ones from chickens -- because we have been using egg beaters for about a year now to help keep our cholesterol down. For the eggs, three turkey drumsticks, three thighs, three wings and four pounds of turkey neck, I paid a total of $26.80. (549 Goffle Road, Wyckoff; 201-444-3238.

Duck Eggs
Our next stop was Fairway Market in Paramus, because I had run out of their custom-ground coffee. I picked up three pounds of dark- and medium-roasted beans, ground Turkish style, for $4.99 to $7.99 a pound, several dollars below anything available at Starbucks.

But I noticed some of the Fairway sale items weren't all that they seemed. The store is selling three one-pound containers of Campari tomatoes for $5 -- a good buy -- but these were not herbicide-free. Jumbo white shrimp from U.S. waters are $5.99 a pound, which is a good price if they were wild-caught, which they are not.

I did indulge myself with the purchase of a wedge of Spanish fig cake with nuts. However, it seemed pricey at $8.99 a pound.  (Fairway Market, 35 E. Ridgewood Ave., Paramus; 201-444-5455.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Tossing the guacamole

In preparing dinner last night, I had second thoughts about serving guacamole from 2005 I found in the back of the freezer. See post, "What's in your freezer?"

I just now tossed the package into the garbage.
Young collard plants growing in a containerImage via Wikipedia

But I did serve two other side dishes with antibiotic-free Australian shoulder lamb chops that were quick, easy and nutritious -- Middle Eastern fingerling potato salad and collard greens with garlic.

The multicolored potatoes came in a 5-pound bag from Costco. The salad is quick to prepare, but boiling  about three cups of potatoes, which I cut up, took about 20 to 25 minutes. You could do that while the chops are roasting in the oven. After draining the potatoes and running cold water over them, I added:
Juice of one big lemon
Two to three ounces of extra-virgin olive oil
Cumin, allspice, Aleppo pepper and salt to taste
Toss and serve

I washed and cut up the collard greens (from H Mart), then blanched them for a few minutes in boiling, salted water. (I have found that if you don't first blanch fresh greens, spinach and similar items, they turn brown.) Using tongs, I transferred the greens to a pan in which I had heated heated extra-virgin olive oil and dehydrated garlic chips, sauteeing them for another four or five minutes. Then I turned off the fire and covered the pan to let the greens steam until I served them.

The only problem, my wife said, is that I didn't make enough. My son thought they needed salt.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's in your freezer?


We have a side-by-side refrigerator-freezer and the freezer side is stuffed, to the point where we "lose" food that gets shoved to the back of  shelves or bottom of drawers.

I did a quick inventory yesterday and found a package of guacamole from 2005, presumably from a multi-pack I bought at Costco. I am going to serve it tonight with Trader Joe's chipotle salsa, shoulder lamb cops from Australia, collard greens and potato salad with extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, cumin and allspice (photo above).

This is what else I found: uncured all-beef hot dogs and bacon from Tader Joe's, spinach-cheese ravioli, lobster bisque and wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, all from Costco; coarse, red Aleppo pepper, cumin, spinach pies, meat pies and spicy lamb sausage, all from Fattal's Bakery in Paterson; potato fritters and frozen pancakes from IKEA; three or four kinds of Korean dumplings, including meat-less, from Best Dumpling and H Mart, both in Englewood; pizza and focaccia from Jerry's in Englewood, Readington Farms' antibiotic-free whole broiler and chicken parts from Shop-Rite, some Turkish borek from Taskin Bakery in Paterson, and those Australian lamb chops, from Stop & Shop.

We have a house guest arriving tomorrow and plan to serve her some of these freezer "treasures."

 See next post: "A quick bread salad for breakfast."

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A quick bread salad for breakfast

Manchego cheese

My wife didn't know what to have for breakfast today, so I served her an open-face sandwich of melted Spanish Manchego sheep-milk's cheese on thin, broad slices of the pain de siegle rye bread I picked up yesterday at Balthazar Bakery in Englewood (see post, "Shopping notes"). Before I put them under the broiler for about five minutes, I added sliced plum tomato, Italian seasoning and extra-virgin olive oil.

When she finished, I was surprised to see she had trimmed off all of the wonderful, now-crispy but cheese-less crust. I scooped up the pieces, grabbed some organic salad greens from the fridge and cut up the rest of the plum tomato, then drizzled all with olive oil and balsamic vinegar

I ate the salad with a red salmon-tuna salad sandwich with sliced Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, sides of kimchi and Korean-style stewed tofu, and black tea.

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